Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Writing 101…Well, Kind of…

So I’m fresh from my writing class and I thought it might be fun to share some of the exercises we did at the class here with you.  Some of them were specific to the stories that each of us taking the class have in mind to be published (like writing a pitch), but others were more general and I think it would be fun for you to explore them, too, whether or not your goal is specific to writing.  What?  This is not your kind of fun?!  Oh, come on now…give it a try!

Before I begin, I would be remiss if I didn’t state that about halfway through the class our instructor said, “Oh, by the way, what happens in this room stays in this room.”  Those of you who know me well know I am a rule follower (well…most of the time, anyway).  However, I took her statement to mean that we couldn’t share anything personal about any of the other participants, which I’m totally down with.  I did not take her statement to mean that we couldn’t share what we learned in general.  On that note…

One of the exercises involved fairy tales/children’s stories and using them to relate to ourselves and/or our lives.  Specifically, the task was to pick a fairy tale/children’s story and write about why we relate to it.  A very broad (and bad) example would be if you had a horrible stepmother and mean stepsisters, you could write a piece about how you relate to Cinderella.

Because this was a one-day workshop, time limits were imposed (which I both loved and hated).  The first part of this exercise was to spend five minutes writing about the fairy tale/children’s story.  For example, Once upon a time there was a girl named Cinderella…blah, blah, blah.  The second part of the exercise was to spend 10 minutes writing about why we related to that particular story/character. 

An example of a way to start was “I was ____ years old and I remember ____.”  This was just an example though.  One of the things I most loved about this class was that before every exercise the instructor said, “There is no right or wrong answer…just write what comes to you.”

I picked Yertle the Turtle by Dr. Seuss.  If you’re not familiar with the story, I highly encourage you to read it, especially if you have young children in your life as it a wonderful story to read out loud. 

I will share with you what I wrote (only to show you an example…not because I think it’s good); I hope you will take me up on this challenge and try it yourself.  It’ll be fun…you’ll see!

Part 1:  Five Minutes (back story of the story, if you will):

Once upon a time there was a selfish turtle named Yertle who wanted to be the ruler of all the turtles.  He commanded them to stack themselves higher and higher so that he could see more…so that he could rule more.  The turtle on the bottom, Mack, finally got fed up. 

Mack knew Yertle was seeing great things up at the top, but he also knew it wasn’t fair that he was doing so at the expense of all the other turtles.  Mack tried to reason with Yertle, but Yertle wasn’t having it.  Finally, Mack, having had enough, burped…and all the turtles came crashing down.  Yertle was no longer the ruler, and all the turtles lived happily ever after.

Part 2:  10 Minutes (how I related to Yertle the Turtle):

I remember growing up feeling like she always got the best.  That’s a pretty normal feeling I suppose; she was the oldest, after all.  And as the oldest she got to do everything first (and when you’re little, first equals best).  That’s all well and good, except I felt that I was always left picking up the pieces; I was always left to clean up her mess.

She moved out of the house to live with a boyfriend at the ripe old age of 15…I stayed home and did what I was told.  She turned to drugs and broke our dad’s heart…I stayed home and did what I was told.  She ended up pregnant and unmarried…I stayed home and did what I was told.

I was the reliable one, the steady one, the nice one.  And then one day…like Mack, I had had enough.  I was tired of covering for her, I was tired of trying to be perfect because she was so screwed up, I was tired of being the calm to her storm, and most of all, I was tired of picking up after every single one of her messes.  So one day, I cut my losses, washed my hands of her, and, like Mack, lived happily ever after.    

Okay, now it’s your turn…go on now…get that pen and notepad and get to work…NOW!

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