aTi – Day 1

Today Peter told us that we should write like a guppy, because, although many of their babies won’t survive, their gestational period is short and they produce more young than elephants.  He also said that guppies eat their babies.  Perhaps, I am not doing his analogy justice, but it makes sense.  You (by you I mean me and writers) are going to write a lot of stuff.  Not all of it is going to be golden.  Some things you may write and then never look at again.  Others you may revise for days?months?years?

I found myself really frustrated in the morning (a lot of it due to my non-writing activity of the past year).  During lunch I was completely preoccupied with having no idea of what to write about.  With 90 minutes to come up with something, I ventured out to find a good writing locale.  My intention was to relax by Lake George, hoping inspiration would find me.  I didn’t make it that far.  I squatted in a gazebo for a minute before deciding that wouldn’t work either.  I walked around for a few more minutes before concluding that I didn’t want to be outside at all and then made my way back up to the 2nd floor.  I collapsed on a chair and swung one leg over the arm.  As the wood dug into my thigh, I learned this position also would yield no good writing.  I finally found myself on the carpet with my notebook on the table.  Hunched over my notebook, I began to scrawl some words onto the page.  Apparently, environment influences writing generation.

I felt a little self-defeated before I even started.  I just didn’t think I had anything to write about.  But then I remembered a moment from when I was a teenager and I spun the physical experience of it into a different emotional truth.  In the end, it wasn’t so bad for a first draft.  It is also just an intimidating experience, because there are so many great writers in the group.  Everyone was helpful by responding positively to things, but also gave constructive feedback.

So as per the usual I had a difficult time with the free-writing, because I can’t let go (which I fully acknowledge and accept).  I also have a difficult time sharing my writing out loud.  But I don’t think it is ever going to be something I enjoy really.  It is a necessary evil I have to accept.  I think many people probably share this feeling.  I am not predisposed to vulnerability and sharing your writing out loud is about as vulnerable as it gets.

Peter asked us to begin our poem with a subordinating conjunction and then also include another one near the end.  I never understand the madness.  But what I later appreciated about this request was how it gave the poem momentum, propelling it forward.  This is definitely something I can ask my students to try.

It was fun going to the Boardwalk and just writing down things we observed.  I don’t know what the specific writing assignment will be, but at the time it felt like a low-risk situation.  And there was plenty of material for fodder.

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