There is one full week of classes left, and I’m finally getting more comfortable with this blogging business. In celebration, I’ve decided to post some of the earlier class exercises (with very minor edits) that I’ve been keeping hidden in my big gray notebook. I suppose that, at this point, there is enough on this blog that any one piece doesn’t weigh too much, as it did at the beginning. It’s a bit less intimidating. These pieces all have interesting prompts: in some I had to include a specific word, some others were responses to particular images, etc.

1/3/08: A place important to me, incorporate the word “paradise”

You never know what the water will bring — treasures, mud, muddy treasures. The surface cannot hint at what’s underneath, and what’s underneath has no idea of the surface. The same place is grey or navy, welcoming or ferocious.

They say the grass is greener on the other side — that paradise is what you don’t have. The water, not truly my world, is magnetic. Driving over it on a bridge, sitting in a boat, swimming, weightless, in a world that’s not truly mine. Sometimes finding, perhaps, that the mud itself can be the treasure. You never really know.

1/11/08: In response to 2 post cards and a memory, the first step to the first braided essay exercise

Usually it takes a longer life for someone to have that I-don’t-care-what-you-think mentality. A boy, still hairless, long legs, rarely has that challenge in his eye. You-don’t-matter-to-me. He’s standing on sand with little pieces of shell. Do his feet hurt?

Destruction in front and destruction behind, but the lady in the orange needs her pumpkins, and that’s that. Focus past the smashed orange pieces littering the brown ground. Focus centered on the little market — barely tempted by the giant orange blaze behind it. There’s a lot of color in life today.

Recently, after a short evening of sledding (someone got cold) I made my way down to the big tree by McCullough instead of going directly inside to my room. I knew people use the space under that tree as a placeto rub up against each othe, but I didn’t care and I lay flat on my back and looked up through the branches. Mostly, I had to look through squinted eyes because snow was still falling, but the view was lovely. The snow was soft, and though my face was cold my body was nice ans toasty. I didn’t need to go anywhere. I got up to invite a friend to share the view. We looked up together.

1/14/08: Writing from the outside in: mealtime. 3 movements, present tense. This, I think, was one of those aforementioned failures. Why? I just don’ t like it — poorly constructed. Plus, I forgot about the present tense bit until the end, at which point I went through and changed all the verbs, and now they sound strange.

I never eat broccoli anymore, except occasionally in the garden burgers at Proctor when there are no more black bean burgers.

We sit in front of an entire bowl of broccoli at least once a week, ad we can’t leave the table until it is gone. I hate it, but my brother is even worse. We try using soy sauce, which doesn’t fully mask the vile taste. We move on — I to melted cheese and my brother to mustard. To the point where he can feel it in his nose. Still, the broccoli sits there. It comes back for breakfast.

He is a senior in college in Maine when I am a freshman (ahem, “first-year”) in Vermont. I’m usually an unpicky eater, willing to try anything, and he’s the opposite. He makes an awful face with flared nostrils when he is eating something he doesn’t like, and he takes gigantic bites of whatever it is so that he can take fewer of them. We come home from break and find that we both have a diet unusually heavy on the cottage cheese.

Beginning of the re-write of this piece, starting with piece C:

We both come home from college with the strange habit of eating significant amounts of cottage cheese everyday. My friends think it’s gross; my brother’s friends have always found his eating habits strange, even before the cottage cheese.

We’re 13 and 10 or 9 and 6 or 12 and 9 years old. We sit in front of twin bowls of broccoli at the dinner table and can’t leave until it’s gone…

Anyone interested in seeing all the exercises we did in class (and there were some interesting ones!!) click HERE. The link will lead you to the “In-class Exercises” page on the motherblog, J-term Contemporary Creative Nonfiction.

1/20/08: 5-minute fictional piece, use the words “taciturn,” “avuncular,” and “squelch,” the vocations of a carpenter and a taxidermist, and the places Minnesota and a bus stop.

The carpenter found a dead bobcat in his office one morning.  He vaguely wondered how it had gotten there, but he realized that she should send it to his friend the taxidermist down the road before rigor mortis sent in, so that the avuncular taxidermist could mount the bobcat in a fierce position to scare all the students at the University of MN, where he worked.  He had to move particularly quickly because MN was so cold, so corpses harden faster.  he made it to the avuncular taxidermist, who was waiting at the bus stop, within 2 minutes.  Being a taciturn man, he just handed the corpse to the taxidermist silently.  the taxidermist knew that his friend was taciturn, and was unphased.  He grabbed the corpse.  It squelched.  He stuffed it in his bag so they would let him on the bus.


One Response to “Glorious Faliures?”

  1. kylemh Says:

    Miriam, Such courage! I myself can’t bring myself (although this is good incentive) to post my own blunders online. I think the trick is to pull out the good bits of what you wrote here… A few (but not all) things that I enjoyed:

    “significant amounts of cottage cheese”

    “He’s standing on sand with little pieces of shell. Do his feet hurt?”

    “I never eat broccoli anymore, except occasionally in the garden burgers at Proctor when there are no more black bean burgers.”

    I like the directness of the these lines. At the very least, these (and by these I mean, my failed exercises) help me understand what I don’t want to do in my more finished pieces. Call it a process of elimination.

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