Writing as play

One of the electives I’m taking this week is called The Well Rounded Writer. Since I don’t have a book (or a poem or a devotional or an anything)in the works and and I’m still trying to figure out just what I’m doing at this conference, this seemed like a good place to start. The class is being taught by Bob Hostetler who has, among other things, co-authored several books with Josh McDowell and he’s not only very qualified, but very engaging. Our first session was on “Rediscovering Writing as Play”. “Have fun with it.” he said. “Just enjoy yourself.” After giving us several ideas of opening sentences he then set the timer for 15 minutes and said – Write. Friends, since you’re in this with me (you are, aren’t you?) – here is what I wrote –

There’s nothing quite like the smell…. that would greet me when I entered my grandmother’s kitchen. Oh, you might think it was the smell of sugar cookies or fresh baked bread that takes me back to that New England kitchen, but it I have finally recognized it as simply the smell of old wood. Wood that had aged with the scent of workers coming home through the barn and had soaked up the wood smoke from decades of cold Vermont winters. I recently caught a whiff of that pungent scent as I entered a friend’s old Maine house and I was immediately transported back to that kitchen where my grandmother waited for her young grandchildren to come in from the cold.

The next exercise was similar, but had us following different instructions instead of opening lines. I chose “Write about your memories, in no particular order, beginning every sentence with “I remember.” ”

I remember when my oldest sister challenged my father (on my behalf, as I recall) and I was dumbstruck at her courage.
I remember the first time my dad came home with a company car – a dark purple impala.
I remember watching my kids and husband on the big roller coaster and being so happy they all had on yellow shirts so I could follow them around.
I remember fishing with my dad in our little cabin pond and then having pan fried trout for breakfast.
I remember my mother practicing her cello as we drifted off to sleep.
I remember always being secure in my father’s love for me, even though I was just as sure that I WOULD get that spanking when he got home from work.
I remember the tears that ran down my cheeks as our sweet 5 year old daughter stole the show at a Disney World magic show.

I sense I am not very comfortable with “improv” writing! (And what an odd assortment of remembrances, I think! Psychotherapy, anyone?)
Oh, well. Maybe next time it will be ‘play’!
It was a good day, nonetheless. Both the faculty and the conferees have some amazing credentials and personal stories, so it’s been lots of fun to just try to absorb all the literary genius around me!

Heading to bed – it’s been a long one, for sure. And I need to recharge those creative juices, right?

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