Concrete Details (2)

The second session of our Eight Weeks to a Book Object Writing Workshop at the Bixby Library marked a return to full strength in participants.


Our first exercise of the night was a warmup exercise to help getting our brains in writing mode. With a three minute timer, we each listed as many words as we could think of that begin with the letter “F.” I think, you’ll be surprised how many you can come up with.


We discussed each of our proposed projects for our seven remaining weeks. Each writer told us named a working title, the genre and format, described a synopsis, and explained what goals they would be holding themselves accountable to.

We have a wide diversity of projects. A children’s story, lyrical poetry for younger readers, a science fiction story, a collection of poetry, anecdotal reminiscences of childhood, fantasy stories.

We finished this section of the meeting by reading anything people had worked on over the last week.


We transitioned from reading our own work to reading a short essay by Susan Wooldridge, author of poemcrazy, suggesting the benefits of carrying a journal. It’s a logical extension of the principles Natalie Goldberg supports in “First Thoughts” that we are always open to the energy that is arriving. A journal and pen at our side allows us to record thoughts as they come to us. Wooldridge’s suggestion that we eschew worrying about whether writing is a poem, an essay, a short story, etc. is useful in further our attempts to turn off our inner editor until we need her in revision, too.


The next exercise is an example of one way to fill that journal as you pass through your days. You can do this exercise anytime, anywhere. If you don’t have something to record, use your memory until you do. Wherever you are, notice your surroundings, and record three observations.

In our meeting, we performed the exercise, then observed which senses, if any, we predominant in our observations. The group agreed that sight was dominant, which echoes the basic understanding of human’s interactions with their senses. Most of us predominantly use our sight to know our surroundings. Just try to go about your day with a blindfold and compare it to blocking any of your other senses…

Writers, however, must use all five of the senses to bring their writing alive, so practicing awakening those other four senses with this exercise.


This week’s prompt continues to plumb the depths of our memory. I asked people’s favorite holidays to break the ice at the beginning of the session, and we return to holidays for our prompt. Think of one of your family’s holiday traditions. Describe either first time you remember this tradition or the last time it happened or a time that had more conflict than usual. Take eight to ten minutes to do it.

Then, read this memoir, “Delivering,” by Suzy Vitello. You will notice that it was written in second person (like this sentence, “you” is the subject.” What effect does that have on the narrative? If you have time or the interest on top of your other project, turn your narrative of a holiday tradition into a second person narrative. Notice how it affects your story.

Good luck!