Eat Snow Proceed slowly. Pay attention. Look around. Don’t talk. Feel everything. Wake up your nerve endings. Close your eyes while tasting. Don’t stay gone too long (frostbite!)
On a piece of notepaper and in a couple of paragraphs, describe/ summarize what you just experienced. Don’t ask any questions. Write “Snow” as the title.
Under that last writing, write a new title, “Snow 2.” Describe the experience again in 4 paragraphs. Use every one of your senses. Do not use any of the following words: Cold White Childhood Crunchy Melt Freeze Frozen Imagine that your reader is either: 1.An alien from space who has never been to earth before. 2.Someone who has spent her entire life in a warm, dark basement, eating only oatmeal. 3.A kid from Florida who has never traveled anywhere.
The Thing Itself vs. The Thing as Launch Pad The thing itself: super vivid, clear, accurate, precise description. Do whatever you have to do with language to make the thing present. To make it there. This isn’t about you. This is about the thing. Respect the thing. “No ideas but in things.” The thing as launch pad: the thing resembles other things and reminds you of other things. It shoots you off to other things, thoughts, subjects. Anything. Anywhere. Goodbye, thing. A couple ways to think about things.
Read Elizabeth Bishop’s “The Fish.”“The Fish.” What is the difference between concrete and abstract? Rewrite “Snow #2,” but now REALLY describe the thing. The thing itself. I mean, come on! Be concrete. Be specific. Be minutely detailed. Title this new segment, “Snow #3.” This is worth 4 pts. The main criterion is that the reader should be able to really see, feel, experience the thing. Hand it in. This is warm-up writing as we start the semester.
For Next Week, Jan. 28th QUIZ ON READINGS: QUIZ ON READINGS: In Wolff, read “Cathedral,” pp. 108-124 and “Lawns,” pp. 445-466, focusing on character development. In Wolff, read “Cathedral,” pp. 108-124 and “Lawns,” pp. 445-466, focusing on character development. Online, read flash fiction samples. Linked on schedule. Online, read flash fiction samples. Linked on schedule. Go into Blackboard “Discussion Board” and make an entry in “Self Profiles and Art Views.” Go into Blackboard “Discussion Board” and make an entry in “Self Profiles and Art Views.” Be writing in your notebook! Be writing in your notebook! Submit workshop material! Email AND BB. Submit workshop material! Email AND BB. Watch for email (again) about possible room change. Watch for email (again) about possible room change.
How did you do in “Eating Snow #3”? Some great, precise perceptions and accurate, vivid language. True to the Thing. I’m not sure that everyone did this, though. Instruction was: “rewrite Snow #2, but now REALLY describe the thing. The thing itself. I mean, come on! Be concrete. Be specific. Be minutely detailed…The main criterion is that the reader should be able to really see, feel, experience the thing.” Too much thinking. Too few senses. Some cleverness. I’ll probably give everyone full credit this time. I’m a bleeding heart mushball. Remember, for this particular exercise, I wanted you to forget yourself. Respect the Thing. Love the Thing. With words. See “The Fish” and Ponge.Ponge
In your snow writing, I also saw a lot of over-writing, with elegant, surprising, resonant tid-bits buried inside. So here’s a little demonstration in editing.
Eating Snow The shivers that begin to track up my arm and into my skin, tell me it's time to taste.
Kristen The shivers that begin to track up my arm and into my skin, tell me it's time to taste. Sniffing delicately, the fresh smell bites my nose. I close my eyes and push it into my awaiting mouth. It burns for a moment, then for just an instant I swear I can feel each individual crystal as it rests on my tounge. However the heat of my mouth wins over this small part of winter and smoth as the coldest of silk it slides down my throat.
Eating Snow Brussel sprouts, cauliflower and broccoli.
Hattie Authority has directed me to eat the snow and think about it. The snow is brussel sprouts, cauliflower and broccoli. It is the last thing I a child of mother earth want to eat. I, the child, am dreading the meal of brussels sprouts, cauliflower and broccoli. The color is dull and unwelcoming. The steamed vegetables that were once frozen in a zip locked container stare at my glaringly. I, the child, ingest the horrific meal as quickly as possible. After it is in my stomach and the damage is irreversible I am made to think about it. The side portion of snow was enough. If I had been made to count ten bites before I was allowed to leave the table I would have been belligerent.
Eating Snow I reached down slowly, looked around to see where everyone else from my creative writing class was along with authority figure they call the teacher.
Bethany I reached down slowly, looked around to see where everyone else from my creative writing class was along with authority figure they call the teacher…I felt the chills it brings to my tongue and immediately disappear as it dissolves in my mouth and my mouth return to its normal warm state. I realized that this little task was nothing difficult. It was only difficult in the anticipation of preparing to put the snow in my mouth. I began walking back to the building, following my authority figure like the rest of the students
Eating Snow It is very reflective, shining sunlight in every color.
Josh It is very reflective, shining sunlight in every color. It forms high up in clouds, and falls to earth under very specific circumstances, namely temperature. Snow burns to the touch. It feels as though being burnt by an infared source, but this runs counter to what we know about snow from science. I like to think of the taste of snow as sort of an empty canvas. IF the snow is clean, which is rare, it is essentially whatever flavor your conscious thought infuses it with. It also has the enviable ability to smell sort of clean and airy, much like its composition. a heavy snowstorm is a silent fury. it can bury everything, yet seems weightless. But when it is on the ground, it can be noisy underfoot. The non- sound of a heavy snowfall is something that a nodak guy like myself finds strangely comforting.
Eating Snow Move away from the others to a snowbank nearby. Snatch a fistful of snow and look for who's watching. Close your eyes to their eyes and just feel the stares.
Michael Move away from the others to a snowbank nearby. Snatch a fistful of snow and look for who's watching. Close your eyes to their eyes and just feel the stares. Press the ball to your mouth and try to taste the water. You felt it too close; your teeth are screaming. They're watching now. The snow is a needle, but you'll tough it out. Grind your jaw against the ache and you start to taste it. A smoky bitter on your tongue and dry through the water. It's exhaust in your mouth. Open your eyes to the staring but you can't see the eyes. Try to taste the water while the sweat starts to bead. Nobody is staring, but you still feel the eyes. The shame is a chill and it's burning hot. The cringe is the wind, but the coat is inviting. Be careful now. Surrender to the cold and keep the shiver inside. Guilt dots your forehead and drips down your back. Grin with the flavor of smoke and stare at the others. Like they stared in your head. Shame them with your stares and wipe the snow from your mouth. Your chin was never wet and your shirt's almost dry. Zip up your coat and walk in.
Emma I find myself staring down a snow bank, scanning for a clean, taste-worthy patch. I settle for a handful that may have sported a few questionable specks. I ingest it. My tongue cools as the snow warms. The end product is a mouthful of mysterious, speckly water.
Little kids usually don’t have too much trouble being fresh and surprising; they don’t over-think the thing. See Kenneth Koch’s experiments in the schools…
So… Consider the way that simple attention to something outside of yourself can reveal something you didn’t intend. Let yourself say a lot of dumb, boring things to get to the brilliant, astonishing, simple things. Writer’s block is a myth. In the editing stages of your work, try cutting the piece WAY down—by half, by three-fourths—and just see what happens. Be a kid again. Play with wrods. Yeah, I mean WRODS!
We’ll probably come back to the eating snow thing soon. But let’s try again with some different stuff, focusing on language, especially figurative language. After all, to really see something in language—to love “the thing itself” with words—
What’s figurative language? How do you say that someone is drunk? How many animal metaphors do we use everyday? Where did most worn-out metaphors come from, and how do we keep the language alive? Look at Lorrie Moore…Lorrie Moore
Sometimes it helps to take a really unusual perspective…say, that of an animal. Once a student wrote a piece from the point of view of a deer. It described a hunter’s gun as “a branch that barks.”
Ok. So. Describe what you see on the table. REALLY LOOK. The thing. The thing itself. Make the object…
Are you being dull? Are you being predictable? Are you thinking too much? Try a thesaurus…
1924: Andre Breton: The Surrealist Manifesto “I believe in the future resolution of these two states, dream and reality, which are seemingly so contradictory, into a kind of absolute reality, a sur-reality.”
“The idea of surrealism aims quite simply at the total recovery of our psychic force by a means which is nothing other than the dizzying descent into ourselves, the systematic illumination of hidden places and the progressive darkening of other places, the perpetual excursion into the midst of forbidden territory” (Breton).
Between WWI and WWII Surrealism: the principles, ideals, or practice of producing fantastic or incongruous imagery or effects in art, literature, film, or theater by means of unnatural juxtapositions and combinations. An attempt, through these random, irrational juxtapositions and combinations, to make make a new reality or a new whole.
Instead of: I saw the rabbit, as soft as cotton, his eyes bright, munching the grass. you get: I saw the rabbit, ripe as a hammer, his eyes boiled, baptizing the grass. (random words from carpentry, religion, cooking) or: I saw the rabbit, as Monday as Van Gogh’s ear, eyes in search of Harvard, document the grass. (random words from stuff on my desk)
Early Surrealists Valued: random CHANCE; “convulsive beauty,” the marvelous, the uncanny, the disruptive, and the unexpected; strange and unexpected juxtapositions; defamiliarizing the everyday so that it once again appears strange and new; liberation of mind from bourgeois modes of thinking; the oblivion ha-ha silly brain brillo stain Here's your fire extinguisher, welcome to the glacier. The names of Aztec gods were on one page, serotonin uptake inhibitors on the other. Here, you said: another baby avocado tree. You threw your shoe. I broke the refrigerator and the fossil fish. I broke my shoulder blade. I tried to make jambalaya. To relax the organism, the cookbook said, pound with a mallet on the head or shell. Don't think I wasn't shocked when you were a traffic signal and I a woodpecker. When a doughboy missed his sweetheart, he couldn't just write, I miss your muffin, because of the censors. Apollo, who ate the most pussy of al the ancient gods, was out. The Holy Ghost was in. Everyone knew where the Holy Ghost stood on cunnilingus even though He was ineffable. I can't make it any clearer than that and stay drunk. I love you. This remarkable statement has appeared on earth to substantiate the clams.
FICTION Small Groups What are the elements of any story6?
Reminder: For Next Week, Jan. 28th QUIZ ON READINGS: QUIZ ON READINGS: In Wolff, read “Cathedral,” pp. 108-124 and “Lawns,” pp. 445-466, focusing on character development. In Wolff, read “Cathedral,” pp. 108-124 and “Lawns,” pp. 445-466, focusing on character development. Online, read flash fiction samples. Linked on schedule. Online, read flash fiction samples. Linked on schedule. Go into Blackboard “Discussion Board” and make an entry in “Self Profiles and Art Views.” Go into Blackboard “Discussion Board” and make an entry in “Self Profiles and Art Views.” Be writing in your notebook! Be writing in your notebook! Submit workshop material! Email AND BB. Submit workshop material! Email AND BB. Watch for email (again) about possible room change. Watch for email (again) about possible room change.
In Wolff: “Cathedral,” pp. 108-124 “Lawns,” pp. 445-466. *Character development*