March 8, 2010

Couches

noah on a couch
Noah, circa 2001

It was a futon couch, brown, probably dirty but it didn't smell. My first apartment in Chicago on my own- my roommate's couch. We had the couch, a houseplant in the windows, and a TV. For a while my Gustav Klimt poster hung with ticky tack to the white wall. But then I moved it to my closet door. I think my roommate hung a Pearl Jam poster instead or something I don't really remember.

I don't know why I picked to write about this couch. I never really sat on it. I'd sit on the hardwood floor. My roommate's ferret would scurry around & always slid inside the cushions from underneath and we'd have to get him out.

I'd come home from work (Art Institute) and make peanut-butter and jelly sandwiches with day old bread I'd get around the corner on my way. I'd come up the back entrance most times. I had a lot of keys on my keychain and I never could get the alarm code right the first time.

I was always alone in the apartment and I'd sit cross-legged on the floor, with my peanut butter sandwich (or sometimes Taco Bell) and I guess that couch sitting there by my side kept me company. My life was so full of lots of things back then but couldn't have been emptier.

Then I moved back home-



[I performed this writing exercise with pen and paper, to ensure no "backspace" editing. I set a timer and then just wrote. I transferred it word for word here.]

[P.S. three minutes goes FAST!]


[I kinda want to keep on writing this story.]


Please visit Casey (Moosh In Indy) for her couch post: the constant stuffed it.

Instructions:

At Blissdom, in our Writers Workshop with Hallmark writers Sarah & Molly, & Casey from Moosh In Indy, attendees were given a writing assignment:

"In her amazing book, What It Is! writer/artist Lynda Barry shares (among other flashes of genius!) a simple exercise she learned from her college professor and mentor Marilyn Frasca. It's one I use all the time to get my mind in gear.

Here's how it goes: With pen and paper, make a list of ten couches you've known in your lifetime. (This also works with other words, but couches are my favorite because they are central to many moments in your memory.)

When you've made your list, take a deep relaxing breath and find the couch that has the most powerful emotional charge for you. Then begin writing about it in the present tense. Describe the scene.

What's behind you?
In front of you? To your left? To your right? Above you? Below you?

Who
is there? What are they saying? How does the scene unfold?

Keep writing for three minutes until you've reached the end of the vignette. Keep the pen moving. Three minutes will seem like a long time. But don't stop. If you run out of words, doodle a little till they come again.

Don't edit! Keep the memory and emotion there in all its raw glory!"


Link up your post (not your blog, your post) here in the linky below and visit others as they write along with us.





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32 comments:

  1. I've been looking forward to reading everyone's entries! I am SO not an inspirational writer, but I think I squeaked a little feel good into mine.

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  2. I'm so happy this is finally happening. Apparently my brain thinks in lists while yours works in full paragraphs.

    I'm going to go hug my old and new couches now.

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  3. I loved this simple exercise, Steph. I have so many deep thoughts rumbling around in my head these days. I know some of them will eventually materialize as a post, but right now, I just needed something simple to focus on. Thank you for providing that focal point!

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  4. Look at how little your big guy was! That couch was really pretty, too, and I loved reading your story!

    Nell

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  5. I tried to do this, and it ended up being kind of inappropriate for my blog. But I love the prompt so much that I'm going to have my students do it!

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  6. PS

    I realize I didn't even follow the rules with tense and such, but I just wrote!

    Steph

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  7. Oh, man, I didn't follow the rules, either.

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  8. Are the rules or just suggestions since we aren't being graded?? (we're not, right??)-- very fun idea--will there be more prompts?

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  9. I'm sure mine is way off from everyone else, but I'm kinda proud of how it turned out. I actually wrote most of it *in* the session before you said we were to take the assignment home. I'd been talking about that couch for weeks. I had fun with this - thanks!

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  10. I think I love that we all let ourselves get caught up and then we make our own rules!

    I am starting to think we should do a monthly prompt?

    Steph

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  11. I love that idea, Steph! I was telling Corrin last week that I pounded out the post in just minutes - because I had a topic & the nudge. I wish someone would assign my writing all the time!

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  12. this was fun! Can we do it again?

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  13. I think I failed because once I started writing, I couldn't stop. It didn't take long, but it wasn't 3 minutes. I just kept going and the thoughts kept coming and the words were just there.

    And I cried. A whole lot. So thank you, I think. ;)

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  14. I couldn't manage to do the exercise exactly. I'm bad at following directions.

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  15. I too did not follow the directions very well-- but I love the meme... what a great excersise and way to tap into some wonderful memories-- thanks!

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  16. I have to say that posting without editing it was HARD. I actually did edit it and then went back because it felt dishonest to change what my brain had said in the first place. And YES, monthly prompt!!

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  17. Its amazing how one can't find 3 minutes in a single day to get a writing assignment done.

    I loved your story, I purposely didn't read any of the couch stories until I got mine posted....so now I am off to read the links.

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  18. I am truly savoring all this great writing and enjoying peeking into everyone's memories.

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  19. What an interesting assignment. Something so seemingly mundane and yet such good writing! Good idea. Even though I wasn't at Blissdom, I participated...hope that's okay. :-)

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  20. This was SO fun, Steph.

    I read and commented on each and every entry. They were all fabulous in their own way.

    stephanie@metropolitanmama.net

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  21. Love this Steph. I'm a huge fan of free writes. I'm part of a writing practice that meets weekly and we do a sitting meditation followed by a prompt and a twenty minute free write, pen to paper, in motion the whole time. Love it. (better than therapy. cheaper too.)

    Is this going to be a new segment of yours over here or just for fun now and then?

    -elizabeth

    p.s. if you're up for it, come play along every now and then with my new creative collaboration I'm starting up. :)

    pss super cute picture of Ivy above. what a honey.

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  22. I finally got mine up & added. It was fun and as a reward, I'm having a bowl of ice cream with chocolate syrup - I'm going to go now and sit on the couch and eat it :)

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  23. This was such a fun exercise...a couch!...who knew?? ;-)

    I don't think I got a chance to thank you for doing the workshop. You guys did an incredible job and would recommend it to anyone who writes!

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  24. I really love this! How cool that it came from a prompt like that.

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  25. Hey,
    what do I do if I forgot to link to my post instead of my blog? Can I change it? I just realized my mistake. Oh well- if I can't change it I will live.

    Kelly
    PS I am # 31- 'the stripey one'

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  26. I loved this exercise. I cannot believe the memories that came up as I reviewed in my mind all the couches in my life.

    You write a lot of words in 3 minutes! Looks like a great couch.

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  27. Love this exercise, thanks! I hope you do more in the future.

    I always sat on the floor when I was in college. Couches were for wimps ;)

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