Class Pick/Friday, 11/3 class plan

“Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.” — George Orwell, “Why I Write

  1. Discussion of Andy’s Pick:
Transit by K. E. Ellingson
In this piece, the author takes two separate looks at transportation: the first being her commute to work on Monday morning while the second was prior to her commute home Fridayafternoon. She uses very detailed language to explain how vastly different she felt and how different the world looked each of those days too. This piece probably speaks most to people that have similar types of commutes.
I enjoyed this piece because it reminded me very much of my commute back and forth from high school each day, especially that of Monday and Friday. My favorite quote in the piece for Monday and Friday, respectively, are “Actually, an eternity of this cramped, vibrating misery under these cold lights would make a dandy prototype for hell. All of us damned, bilious and miserable, jammed into a black and gray tube, hurry-hurry-hurrying to what?” and “It couldn’t be any afternoon but Friday. Half the crowd on the sidewalk strides along purposefully while the other half saunters, yet there are no collisions and all appear pleased with whatever pace they keep.” The expressions of myself and others engrained in my memory from 4 straight years of commuting in the transit system.
2. Reflective Writing Activities (kicking off X5s)

Take a few minutes and think about why you write. How did you get into writing? How do you feel when work is going well? What are your favorite things about your work? Jot down short phrases that capture your thoughts. Don’t worry about making sense or connections. Don’t delete, cross out, or throw out that sheet of paper to start fresh (in other words, no editing!).

Next, make a list of words and phrases that communicate your feelings about your work and your values. Include words you like, words that make you feel good, words that communicate your values or fascinations. Be loose. Be happy. Be real. These are all potential compost ingredients. It’s no time to be selective.

Continue your exploration by answering these questions as simply as you can. We’re not editing yet — let it all hang out:

What is your favorite genre? Why?
Do you ever play with other genres? Why?
Do you like to begin your work from a grand idea? from a small detail? from a character/person? from place? Why?
Do you prefer to write long-hand or using a computer? Do you use a digital recorder and transcribe thoughts and notes? Why?
What do you do differently from the way you were taught? Why?
What inspires you?
What patterns emerge from your work?
What do you like best about what you do?
What do you mean when you say that a project has turned out really well?

Go back to your word list. Add new words suggested by your answers to the questions above.

Choose two key words from your list. Look them up in a dictionary. Read the definitions, and copy them, thinking about what they have in common. Look your words up in a thesaurus. Read the entries related to your words. Are there any new words that should be added to your list?

Write five sentences about your relationship to your work. Be truthful. How do you feel when your work is going well? How do you start? How do you know a piece is done?  What do you want your readers to experience?

Take as much time as you need to brainstorm. To get good dirt, you’ve got to add a lot of material and keep turning it over. If you’re patient, it’ll do all the work for you.

Can you smell it? What are some words that you love?

(The above questions borrowed with thanks from Alexandra’s blog)
What did you learn about yourself this semester with writing and revising? In retrospect, what surprised you about the craft and process of creative nonfiction writing?  How are you a different writer now after completing this course?

In specific terms, how has your experience in this writing class influenced…

a.       your view of your own writing,

b.       your view of the writing process,

c.       and your view of others’ writing?


If all else fails, take a journalistic research approach:
  • Why do you write?
  • Why do you write what you write?
  • Why does it matter that you write?
  • Why do you put the time and effort into writing?
  • What are you trying to convey to readers through your writing?
  • What do you want your writing legacy to be?
  • How did you become a writer?
To Do:
  • Draft of X5 (writer’s statement) due Monday by midnight
  • Read Olivia and Allie’s class picks, come ready to talk on Monday

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