3.24.2009

Naming the World



I always love getting a new book in the mail, especially one that I bought used for a fraction of the cost. The book that arrived last week was Naming the World and other Exercises for the Creative Writer
edited by Bret Anthony Johnston.

" A delicious book. Imagine yourself at a cocktail party crammed with literary lions. You have the
chance to spend a few moments with each of them. Wit and wisdom abound."
Julia Cameron, author of The Artist's Way


It is like spending a few moments with great writers. This book includes exercises from Dorothy Allison, Joyce Carol Oates, Tom Robbins, and Elizabeth Strout. It is divided into sections such as Getting Started, Point of View and Tone, Revision, and Daily Warm-Ups.

The chapter I just digested was entitled" Untold Stories: An Exercise To Generate Fiction" by Dorothy Allison. She introduces an exercise where you write a piece beginning with the line, " I never told anyone..."
Here is my rough draft.
" I never told anyone, but sometimes I wanted to hang out in Room 222. It made school look cool.
I never told anyone that I wished I was a boy so my dad would come and watch me do something.
Once when I was on a date when our raft capsized and we were swept into the river. I was terrified, but I never told anyone.
When I took lifesaving lessons in the old YMCA pool, the basement was creepy, but I never told anyone.

You can also shift to the line " I never told anyone, but I'll tell you..."

I never told anyone, but I'll tell you Mom that you showed amazing grace during your fight with cancer.
I never told anyone, but I'll tell you Sherri that I miss you when I need a recipe with 'secret ingredients'.
I never told anyone, but I'll tell you DR that you have helped me through a dark tunnel with your words of wisdom, listening ear, chocolate, a safe place, and a standing appointment.

I think exercises like these can help to begin a story or a memoir piece. I look forward to moving through other chapters in the book and practicing some other parts of the written word.

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