Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Open Your Mind

Having trouble with a story element? Open your mind.
For several weeks a member of the Advanced Life Story Writing Group had been struggling with her stories. She felt they weren’t interesting, maybe even weren’t “stories.” Then last week she read a piece about an important event in her childhood. She had detail, a beginning, middle, and end. She had emotion and sensory detail. She had a theme that she carried throughout very nicely. Her listeners were enthralled.
After we had told her all the things we liked about the story, she was unresponsive. No comment. No smile. Finally, I said, “This is good. Your story was good. Why is this your response?”
Long silence. Finally, she said, “Huh.” Another long pause. “I’m just wondering how I can do that again.”
Of course, we all laughed because we have all had that same feeling. Something works. How did we do it?
Here’s what I think happened. Consciously, or unconsciously, she opened her mind. The story was written from a child’s viewpoint instead of from a proper, grammatically correct, composition conscious adult viewpoint. We were seeing events through the eyes of the child. She was right back there in her family home, seeing herself, seeing her brother, seeing household items and how they worked from a child’s perspective.
Don’t get me wrong here. The writing, spelling, punctuation, and grammar were all correct. But the explanation of events was through the sensibility of a child.
My advice to this writer was my favorite advice: try to go again to that place in your brain where you were when you wrote that. Or to put it my even more favorite way – Lose your mind and write as fast as you can.

WRITING PROMPTImagine you are your first grade teacher. Write about Little You. Imagine you are your brother or sister. Write about Little You. Imagine you are Little You. Write about your best friend. Open your mind. (See Quote.)