Friday, November 23, 2007

Three Thanksgiving Top Tens

Posted by Rebecca Wallace-Segall
(Photo: Jeff Segall)

Last night we were having so much fun at our Thanksgiving dinner (what with an Iraqi Muslim immigrant, a female Rabbi, an aging famous rock star, and a scattering of writers, artists, and professors) that we forgot to go around the table and each say what we are grateful for this year. So I will get it all out here...

Ten modern authors that I am grateful for:
Nicole Krauss, Adrian Nicole LeBlanc, David Sedaris, Daphne Merkin, James Baldwin, Susan Faludi, Angela Davis, Hannah Arendt, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and... of course, J.K. Rowling...because she has inspired so many Writopia Lab writers. Also, I am incredibly grateful to all the new graphic novel memoirists--Satrapi, Bechel, David B, etc--for broadening the landscape of entertaining, meaningful prose.

Ten Writopia Lab experiences I am incredibly grateful for:
1 & 2) The enthusiasm and dedication of our tween and teen writers to their work and to Writopia Lab;
3 & 4) The individuals and organizations who have been supporting us with donations sans our 501c3 status;
5 & 6) Our talented and ultra-competent student interns, Nico Grant (Brooklyn Tech) and Andrea Listenberger (Vassar U.);
7) A colleague as prolific, committed, and funny (!) as Dan;
8)The pleasure at seeing the excitement among the Writopia Writers as they anticipated standing at the podium at Barnes & Noble;
9) And then hearing the crowd react (with laughter, gasps, applause, etc) to the writers' hard won prose;
10) Looking forward to going to work each day.

Ten writing exercises I am grateful for:
1) Multiple Narrator Group Story (thank you Ena, Jennan, Carmel, and Julia for developing that one with me. It is so much fun, and incredibly helpful in illustrating the difference between short story and short, short story.)

Character Discovery Scenes: Main character goes through a series of events:
2) Main character interacts with a supermarket cashier; and then 3) A fire breaks out
Alternative versions depending on what needs to be discovered:
4) Main character is at a family reunion; 5) or at a Bday party as a young child; 6) or at her wedding; 7) or at a funeral. (These very serious exercises were inspired, ironically, by improvisational comedy classes I took at the Upright Citizens Brigade)

New Character Find:
8) Writer begins a letter to someone fictional who passed away, who the fictional narrator has conflicting feelings about; or 9) Writer begins a letter to a fictional unborn child who the fictional narrator has conflicting feelings about. (Thank you Leslie... your story inspired these two great exercises!)
10)Is there someone you see all the time, who seems particularly interesting, appealing, weird, or mysterious? Write a scene with the person you chose shopping in a supermarket. There should be physical description of the character and of the contents of his or cart. There should also be some chit chat (or some kind of interaction) with the cashier.


Lily said...

I am definitely SO thankful for J.K. Rowling (I was probably one of the people inspired by her LOL) and also many other authors! I too did not get much of a chance to say what I was thankful for during my actual Thanksgiving meal so I shall need to think about it more carefully later. The last comments really made me want to try some of those writing excercises, I wonder why I have not participated in such activities yet.

Rebecca Segall said...

Hi Lily :-). We never had time in your busy, busy summer workshop to do exercises... but you'll be doing a bunch of them in the fall workshop you're joining this Sunday!

Nico said...

the exercises are tough, but they work.