Birthday Memories Offer Kernels For More Writing

This week, in the last of four articles presenting writing generated from Writing It Real exercises, I have included the work of three subscribers who sent me results from the exercise I proposed in Remembering Your Birthdays, August 19, 2004.   After reading Mitch Albom’s The Five People You Meet in Heaven, I felt certain that … Continue reading

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Instructional Exercise based on Ray Bradbury’s Dandelion Wine

Just before most of us turn our clocks back, and we are well into fall, I’d like to share two subscribers’ results from the exercise I proposed in “Put Summer on the Page,” July 8, 2004. In that article, I excerpted words from Ray Bradbury’s Dandelion Wine and discussed a writing strategy that facilitates collecting … Continue reading

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Remembering Your Birthdays

In Mitch Albom’s tale, 83-year-old Eddie Maintenance, as children call him because of the stitching on his work shirt, dies in an amusement park accident at Ruby Pier, where he has spent decades making sure that all the rides are operating safely.  In the course of the book and our introduction to Albom’s version of … Continue reading

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Put Summer on the Page

Ray Bradbury’s novel Dandelion Wine has long been a favorite of mine. In one summer, the novel’s protagonist, twelve-year-old Douglas Spaulding, encounters the richness of life.  The book opens with the announcement that he is allowed to sleep in his grandparents’ cupola one night a week during summer vacation, and upon waking, he performs a … Continue reading

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Three Days and Three Nights

In The Heart Aroused:  Poetry and Preservation of the Soul in Corporate America, poet David Whyte writes: The core of difficulty at the heart of modern work life is its abstraction from many of the ancient cycles of life that allow the silence and time in which true appreciation and experience can take place.  The … Continue reading

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The Story of One Poem’s Evolution

About 10 years ago, I wrote this poem, which was distributed on a lovely poster illustrated with a picture of a rocking chair with wings on its back and a moon on its seat.  The chair was poised on the roof of a house, amidst a block of other houses without winged rocking chairs atop … Continue reading

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Sow More Seeds for Personal Essay Writing

I enjoy dipping into a collection of short fiction entitled You’ve Got To Read This as much for the pleasure of the fiction itself as for gathering new ideas about how to organize writing.  There is something about the way short fiction writers tell stories that inspires the essay writer in me.  When I opened … Continue reading

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Study a Scene from David Beckman’s Novel-in-Progress

Here is a sample scene from the novel-in-progress that David Beckman refers to in last week’s interview about being mentored in his writing.  You will notice that he has made stylistic decisions in using sentence fragments to evoke the little boy Addison’s point of view.  He also uses terminology of the time period he is … Continue reading

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An Exercise for Finding Starts in Personal Essay Writing

Although it might not be obvious, those of us who write personal essays can benefit greatly from not knowing what we have to write about.  That is surprising to people who think of the essay as researched knowledge with a professorial, didactic tone.  But to write an essay is really to “assay” or test out … Continue reading

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A Strategy for Creating Insight in a Personal Essay

On this September 11, two years after the tragedy at the World Trade Centers in NY, many of us who write believe more whole heartedly than ever that getting our words on the page makes a difference in our lives and in the lives of those who read our words. The World Trade Centers tragedy … Continue reading

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Subscriber Response to Instructional Exercises

“Poetry is a form of necessary speech,” Edward Hirsch writes in How to Read a Poem and Fall in Love with Poetry, and “poems strike something deeper than thought itself…experience that takes us to the very heart of being.” Over the months, subscribers have sent results from exercises in Writing It Real, exercises meant to … Continue reading

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A Prompt for Finding Essay Topic Ideas

At Yourdictionary.com, linguists maintain a page about word definitions and histories. I signed up on the web to have these words and stories about their usage emailed to me each day. Some of the words are ones that I’ve never heard or even read. Others are words I use everyday and never think about.  After … Continue reading

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Writing a Father’s Day Poem

When I was writing monthly poetry writing columns for Writer’s Digest Magazine, I created strategies for writing poetry that utilized as a jumping off place the topical thoughts our culture promotes each month.  I wanted to help those who wanted to write poetry liberate themselves from the influence of the advertising buzz and Hallmark card … Continue reading

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Creating Psychological Time in Narratives

Recently, I had the good fortune to study with Jack Grapes on Tuesday afternoons along with a dynamic group of poets, novelists, screenwriters, and monologue writers.  Together we learned Jack’s method of enhancing writing and hooking readers into our stories and events. In a handout that Jack has given me permission to quote, he summarized … Continue reading

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Listening for A Poem’s Discovery

If March comes in like a lion, they say, it’ll go out like a lamb and vise versa.  I’d like to combine this notion with an idea that Keats termed “negative capability.” He said that a good poem holds within it one thing as well as its opposite.  For example, when we eulogize someone’s death, … Continue reading

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Using Quotes to Spur Your Writing

I like to keep quotes in an 8 by 5 inch blue-cloth covered three-ring binder. I write down or tear out quotes that strike my fancy.  They come from books and magazines, affirmations I wish to repeat to myself, fortunes from cookies, remarks during a lecture, writings in a program, overheard dialog or something a … Continue reading

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Learning Words by Heart

A few years ago, I invented a way of coming to writing during times when I felt overwhelmed by my need to write, yet stuck in my ability to get anything of value on the page.  The exercise I invented ultimately helped me to create vignettes, essays, and poems from life experience when I had … Continue reading

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