Memory and Imagination Forum
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Date: 2004-09-22 09:52:05
Link to this Comment: 10905
Hello Memory and Imagination Writers! Welcome to the forum. This is a space for uninhibited creativity and thought exploration outside of the classroom. You can use this space to pose questions that you did not yet get to ask in class to see how your peers might tackle the questions; you can use this space to talk about writing, struggles, joys and insights. Use this space to share as much as you'd like about anything you'd like. Be free!
As a way of starting off the discussion I'm offering three quotations which to me represent three very important aspects of writing. As a place to start, you might write about how any of them speak to what writing is for you.
Perhaps it would be fun if we could come up with analogies or anecdotes for what the writing process is. Is writing like playing in the park, like having a cavity filled at the dentist, like kissing someone? What is writing for you and why? If you don't want to speak directly to any of the quotations below, you might want to explore a writing analogy. It's all up to you! Write anything, then listen to what your classmates say. If something speaks to you within a classmate's post, respond to her! Some pretty amazing insights pop up on forums. Have fun!
Rilke from Letters to a Young Poet:
"You are so young, so much before all beginning, and I would like to beg
you, dear Sir, as well as I can, to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don't search for the answers now, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer." (34)
Bayles and Orland from Art and Fear:
"The ceramics teacher announced on opening day that he was dividing the
class into two groups. All those on the left side of the studio, he said,
would be graded solely on the quantity of work they produced, all those on the right solely on its quality. His procedure was simple: on the final day of class he would bring in his bathroom scales and weigh the work of the "quantity" group: fifty pounds of pots recieved an "A", forty pounds a "B" and so on. Those being graded on "quality", however needed to produce only one pot-albeit a perfect one- to get an "A". Well, came grading time and a curious fact emerged: the works of highest quality were all produced by the group being graded for quantity. It seems that while the "quantity" group was busily churning out piles of work- and learning from their mistakes- the "quality" group had sat theorizing about perfection, and in the end had little more to show for their efforts than grandiose theories and a pile of dead clay." (29)
Maxine Hong-Kingston from The Woman Warrior, White Tigers
"It would seem that this small crack in the mystery was opened, not so much by the old people's magic, as by hunger." (27)
Date: 2004-10-03 15:41:12
Link to this Comment: 11008
I think I've heard the story about the ceramics teacher before, and it really rings true for me. Writing isn't something you can think about until you're ready; writing is something you have to keep doing until you're comfortable with it.
What it reminds me of, I think, is an exerpt from Nanowrimo's FAQ: "Aiming low is the best way to succeed. With entry-level novel writing, shooting for the moon is the surest way to get nowhere. With high expectations, everything you write will sound cheesy and awkward. Once you start evaluating your story in terms of word count, you take that pressure off yourself. And you'll start surprising yourself with a great bit of dialogue here and a ingenious plot twist there. Characters will start doing things you never expected, taking the story places you'd never imagined. There will be much execrable prose, yes. But amidst the crap, there will be beauty. A lot of it."
If I were to add anything, it would be that it's really hard to let go of quality if you know someone's going to be reading what you write, but it's really helpful to let go of those expectations sometimes and just write. I find I learn a lot about what I'm doing wrong so that I can work harder on fixing it the next time around.
|writing to understand|
Date: 2004-10-03 18:54:53
Link to this Comment: 11011
I wanted to comment on Nissa's idea that she learns a lot about what she's doing when she let's go of the thought of expectations and just write. I've heard a lot of people say this, but I was wondering if people actually write actual phrases. I often write when I feel like I need to organize my thoughts, but I tend to make lists or draw graphs or pictures. I find that so much more a better way to understand myself, whether it concerns the past or today, school or social life. What do you mean when you say, ' just write'? In what kind of way do you write?
Date: 2004-10-03 23:09:52
Link to this Comment: 11012
I identified a lot with Nissa's comment because I love to "just write." To answer your question, Natsu, I basically just sit down in front of the computer and write whatever comes to mind. This can be both good and bad, but I find it rather freeing. Through this course I have learned that this technique can work very well as long as the writer is dilligent about revising her writing, which I am not! But I will do my best to work on it... However, I encourage you to try just writing sometime, even if it's simply a journal entry that no one but yourself will see. I think it's a great technique to acquire.
|On Natsu's comment...|
Date: 2004-10-03 23:31:55
Link to this Comment: 11013
I'm not totally sure if this is on the same track, but here goes: I think I tend to agree with Natsu (if I'm understanding you correctly), where it's hard to determine at what point it is that you "just write". In years past I recall having dabbled in stream-of-consciousness writing in English classes and always found these exercises difficult. Having some background in visual art I'm always somewhat confounded when it comes time to translate sensory experiences into words, which I sometimes think are a bit unnecessary. In order to write something even somewhat coherent, I have to process it for several moments in my head. Perhaps this can be attributed partially to ADD, but often when asked to begin jotting down 'random' memories I either blank out entirely, or try to compile scattered, un-relation recollections. I don't think I've done one of those exercises where I have never made an attempt to tailor my thoughts even so that they would seem 'random' or stream of consciousness.
Date: 2004-10-04 12:14:24
Link to this Comment: 11015
I found the story about the ceramics teacher to be really encouraging--that if I just practice enough I may write something decent some day.
As for the idea of "just writing," I find that simply writing down whatever pops into my head is a good way to get started on a paper (or whatever I'm writing). A long revision process is necessary, but at least I feel like I have something to work with.
Name: Emily Korn
Date: 2004-10-06 10:58:18
Link to this Comment: 11031
It seems as though a majority of you guys who have posted comments are taking the exact approach I am when I go to write my papers. It's great to read some of your comments on how you collect ideas while you're writing, and that mabye essays aren't always as organized as we want them to be. I love the passage on Perfection, especially now that I know what it takes to produce a great paper. I guess it's really true that pratice makes perfect!
|images and words|
Date: 2004-10-06 12:17:59
Link to this Comment: 11032
Many thanks to Nissa for her wonderful link and for Natsu, Katie, Kathryn, Leah and Emily for continuing the conversation. Thanks also to those who have been following along! Exciting to see you all here! I was very struck by certain threads which seem to be evolving in various posts. I thought I'd offer a few of my observations.
Great to hear Kathryn's thoughts about the connection between visual imagery and writing. This reminded me of
a conversation that I had in images this summer. What do you think about this conversation? As a viewer do you understand or feel compelled by the pictures? What would happen if there was a web site which had no words at all. Would you feel lost? At ease?
We seem to be a society that is pretty word driven. It is interesting to consider that Professors usually don't ask that people draw or paint essays. Why do you think this might be? What is the value of communicating in words? What do words give? Is it just as effective to talk in pictures? What are the drawbacks of this? These are questions which sometimes float around in my mind...I often see things in pictures and have learned to use this in ways that help my writing. Rather than blocking the pictures out, I've learned describe them, translate them into metaphores, similies and other verbal images in my writing. There is room for them even in analytic essays, I have found. Have any of you found this technique helpful to your own writing processes?
Katie said that she often sits down in front of her computer and write what comes to mind. To me (and many of you) this seems an excellent way to free thoughts and get them down without a certain anxiety that can happen when writing. I was wondering if any of you have any other processes? Do some of you find that you do most of your thinking before you sit down to write? Or like Natsu do any of you make pictures or lists before you write?
I often find that I can write best creatively if I take some time away from my usual writing spaces and do something playful, like going on the swing sets. While this seems like procrastination, it actually makes my writing time more focused. It's a way of preparing my mind for the task at hand. Sometimes I have to trick my brain into writing mode or relax it. Does anyone listen to music when they write? There are many ways to make words come forth. I've learned that it's best to be kind to one's mind and one's learning style. College is a great time to experiment with different ways to write and find processes which work best for you. Even if it sometimes feels safer to stick with what you know, trying new ways of sitting down to write can be helpful also!
You guys are wonderful! Really fun to work with those whom I've seen at the writing center!!! Looking forward to seeing more of you in person there and to the continued conversation in this space. If any of my questions feel compelling feel free to jump in, otherwise continue the conversation as you see fit! Excellent stuff going on!
Date: 2004-10-07 21:48:07
Link to this Comment: 11055
Here's my own personal writing analogy: it's like having ticker-tape pulled out of your ear...like a kid's book I had once called Jed's Junior Space Patrol...there was a character in it that was a giant robotic teddy bear on roller skates and messages came out of his nose on ticker tape. That's the mental image I have of the writing process---that is, ideas have to be extruded out onto paper. That said, as much as that's an uncomfortable-sounding analogy, I do enjoy writing.
Date: 2004-10-07 21:50:20
Link to this Comment: 11056
I write things and then look at them a day later and it's like I've never seen those words before. So then it's easy for me to pick things apart, yes, but I don't always maintain the same train of thought, which is unfortunate. I suppose I should outline.
|ways of communication and epression|
Date: 2004-10-10 14:01:59
Link to this Comment: 11078
Thanks everyone, on telling me your ideas about 'just writing' and thank you Elisabeth, for your word on our comments!
About Elisabeth's question on the value of communication
with words, I'm not too sure how to describe that,
but personally I think that there are many ways of
communication, and the one that is the best for a person, differs.
Last year I was working almost everyday
with a Autistic boy who had a lot of difficulty concerning communication.
He couldn't talk in sentences and he mixed up his words a lot.
He also hated to draw.
But he jsut loved to dance and sing.
He would make up his words and moves and just jump around singing very loudly.
This was his way of communication.
He seemed so alive, free and happy when he danced
that I thought the scene must be the most beautiful thing in the world.
Although I'd heard a lot of people say that art can be a form of communication,
I hadn't really been too sure about that idea before.
I had been doing ballet for over 10 years, but I had been concentrating just too much on getting my steps perfect, that I never really
thought about expressing myself through dancing.
But from this boy, I learned something really important,
dancing is a way of communicaiton.
I did a lot of dancing with him,
and I think that must be why I understood him very well,
even though we could never really communicate with words.
|reflecting on Natsu's dancing comment!|
Name: Maeve O'Ha
Date: 2004-10-16 13:02:10
Link to this Comment: 11097
Wow...Natsu, what you said about communicating through dance was so beautiful! I agree that there are many different ways to communicate, and that people have a tendency to lean towards a certain way. For instance, I am someone who communicates very well verbally, person to person because I use hand gestures and things like that. I cannot however express my thoughts very well on paper. I am struggling with this...the people in my small revision group know haha...I have all these thoughts but I just can't seem to get them out very well. So I guess I must work on this over and over to perfect it huh? Just like the story about the potery.
Date: 2004-10-17 19:24:20
Link to this Comment: 11106
Not to detract from the interesting conversatin occuring here, but I have something other to contribute.
As many of you might have deduced by now, I have absolutely no life. What do I do with the time void produced by such a lack of uninteresting occupations? I scour the internet looking for flash animations.
In my sojourn through cyber-turf, I came across an author who mixes literature (short story, excerpt, etc) with flash animation to produce a new medium for creative expression. I personally really like, seeing as true, coherent creativity is somewhat lacking in common flash productions. I invite you to check out, in particular, the animation titled "craziest."
Have fun, and don't poke your eye out.
|Once Upon A Time|
Date: 2004-10-19 17:40:04
Link to this Comment: 11141
I loved the idea of writing being like "having ticker-tape pulled out of your ear." I can relate to this and think it's very funny. It also makes me think about ears as orifices for entry and exit to the head... an alternative to the mouth, so to speak. I've recently realized that I'm very conscious of thoughts happening in my head when I'm thinking. It's not that my head hurts but I have a definite feeling that thoughts are coming from my head. Once I'm more in the groove it feels like they are coming from more of my whole self, my whole body. I also see writing, as something that is inextricably linked to my body (which is female) so therefore I see writing as having a certain connection to my femaleness. MANY people disagree with me here, or rather, this has not been their experience. What do you think? I love this... Have been wanting to get a collective opionion about this for a long time. Is writing an act that has ANY relation to gender? When you write do your thoughts come from your brain or your body or both?
Also felt that Natsu's thoughts were so beautifully expressed. They are written on the forum like a poem, no? Whether or not this is intentional, I find it very moving. How do we make a place for people who communicate best via dance or other creative forms? How can we help them become better integrated into our society and respected and how can we help others to open up and understand their means of expression as Natsu did? Is this the goal?
Also REALLY enjoyed Jessica's post with that excellent link. The scrabble video (you should all check it out!!!) seems to me to be quite related to what we're talking about...writing as storytelling. Also something about the mixture of images, text and sound; the compiled nature of the narrative video which led to what was for me an inevitable? postmodern? bleakness at the end. Also made me think about the human need to make patterns and stories. Is our impulse to write like the narrator's impulse to play scrabble? How much of writing is about pattern-making? What do you guys make of the gun at the end of that video? Very rich and very fun! Am hungry for more if any of you go surfing on the web and find something which to you may seem unrelated...
My new theory is that sometimes the things we do to distract ourselves and what we find in distraction is quite relevant to our lives and our learning.
On a separate but related note, my art installation Once Upon A Time is Now is opening this Friday, October 22nd in English House basement at 4:30. I hope you'll be able to come! There will be cookies and coffee and I'd love to see you. (If you come, introduce yourself to me... I want to know more of you by face and name!)
Date: 2004-10-19 22:47:21
Link to this Comment: 11142
I speak with hand gestures also. Am thinking about what would be the equivalent of hand gesturing in writing... or other visual clues that you give the reader in person which may get lost when one puts the pen to paper? Do hand gestures have a word equivalent? One aspect of writing is that the audience is often not there to ask you questions, especially if you are engaging in academic writing for a larger group of people... how does one deal with this? Are there NEW ways that we can think of to try and get clarity in writing?
|Once Upon A Time Thanks|
Date: 2004-10-25 19:34:42
Link to this Comment: 11219
Maeve, for a concrete illustration of the above post, see this picture from my opening.
Thanks to everyone who came (and/or are coming during the exhibit hourse this week...last chance to see the show)
Tuesday, October 26th 6-7
Wednesday, October 27th 4:30-6
Thursday, October 28th 5-7
and thanks to those who have posted on the Once Upon A Time Forum.
Have a great week!
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