- “On Beginnings and Endings” by Jenny Boully
- “Chapter 1” from Lying by Lauren Slater
- “Bird Watching in Fresno” by Steven Church
- “The Experience In Between” by Adam Braver
- “Signs and Wonders” by Rebecca McClanahan
DISCUSSION & QUESTIONS
Jenny Boully says “To begin is to admit an infatuation, a longing, a love.” Which is to say that committing to begin a piece of writing is to show the reader what it is you are interested in, what it is you love and want to write write write about. The beginning is when and how we show ourselves to the world, the place in which we first crack open in order to find ourselves on the page, to be found on the page. Along with this, a sense of urgency must run throughout the piece. Not only do we have to begin, but we have to go forward with that beginning, constantly show how it is so important in order to have an urge to get to the end. By beginning, we also admit that there is an ending, that something will be said and explained, that here is a story you must tell not just to admit something about yourself to the world, but to show how that something means something to you, to the world.
- What are some of the stories you are urgent to tell?
- “Chapter One” is how Lauren Slater begins her memoir Lying: A Metaphorical Memoir. In this memoir, she describes how she has epileptic seizures, but then goes into the idea that she might be lying about this, that she might be lying about everything she tells the reader. Keeping this in mind, how and why is it that the first chapter works?
- Steven Church’s story is told in the second person, and also has an air of urgency to it, of keeping the reader engaged and moving, wanting to see where the story ends up. What are some examples in the text that do this for you? How is it that Church is able to show that urgency in such a small space of a narrative? Would this piece be as effective if it were in first person?
Adam Braver talks about how at times “there’s a need for predictability,” but that where the experience actually happens is in “the spaces between order and predictability.” In other words, our memory is not a solid, linear thing. We remember our lives in bits and flashes, beads of experiences that can be strung together on a string in order to make a complete story out of these separate events.
- What are some of the main events in your life that didn’t happen in chronological order, but that speak to each other?
- What are some of the themes in McClanahan’s essay and how is she able to keep the story contained, to keep it from spiraling out into nonsense by using these themes?
WEEKLY WRITING PROMPTS
(free online timer here)
- Imagine you are going to write an entire memoir about your life, from birth to where you are now. Spend 5 minutes writing out the beginning, then 5 minutes writing the ending.
- Find a picture that is symbolic for a big event in your life. Looking at the picture, describe its importance to your life, what was going on that day, who was in your life at the time, and what you were thinking that day about what the future would hold for you. Write all of these things down for 10 minutes, but write in the second person.
- Write a sentence about how your day began. Now, choose a word from that sentence and use it in the next sentence. That take a word from that second sentence and use it in the third sentence. These sentences do not have to be related in any way other than the word that you chose. Do this for 10 minutes and take note of where you started the story and how it got to its ending.
Turn in one of the prompts you did for this week. Do not worry about editing it. Just write it, read over it once to catch any typos and any glaring grammatical errors, then submit it. This essay should be under 500 words. Also, take one of the essays you worked last week and continue to revise it. You can add to this essay if you choose to, though the piece you submit should be under 700 words.
DUE SATURDAY BY NOON
- All readings
- One Discussion & Question response of your choice added to the comments section below
- (Optional) One writing prompt exercise can be posted in the comments section below
DUE SUNDAY BY NOON
- Submit one new flash essay based on one of the prompts from this week (no more than 500 words) using the button below
- Submit a revised version of one of the flash piece from last week (totally no more than 700 words) using the button below
- Respond to peer comments
- (Optional) Respond to peer writing prompts
Chelsey will email you her feedback on your two flash pieces by Tuesday