Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Writing for Writers #18

Check out Richard Baker's book portraits at Poets and Writers. Then write a book portrait (interpret this as you wish) of your own.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Writing for Writers #17

Take a look at Joseph Cornell's "Setting for a Fairy Tale."

Then write a stage set. Don't write the action, just create a setting that implies that action will eventually take place.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Writing for Writers #16

Take a look at the Miniature Worlds exhibit. Especialy Tessa Farmer's fairies made of dead insects. Write something miniature. Or miniaturize something in writing.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Writing for Writers #15

Take a look at the Human/Nature project.

Set a piece of writing somewhere noticeably changed by the effects of global warming.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Writing for Writers #14

Look at Julia Fullterton-Batten's series, Teenage Stories. Write about a teenage girl who is a giant.

Writing for Writers #13

Look at Paloma Munoz and Walter Martin's unusual snowglobes:


(my personal favorite: http://www.martin-munoz.com/recent/night/48.html)

Write a snowglobe of your own.
(don't forget the snow)

Monday, September 29, 2008

Writing for Writers #12

My interest in Leonora Carrington has led me to her good friend Remedios Varo, another ex-patriate (Spanish) surrealist painter who lived in Mexico, and who made an appearance (fictionalized) in Carrington's novel, The Hearing Trumpet. Varo liked to play the what ifs. Here are two of my favorites (from Remedios Varo: Unexpected Journeys by Janet A. Kaplan):

1. What if the world was created by schoolgirls embroidering a sampler?
2. What if the furniture in a rented home retained the images of its previous inhabitants?

Varo would explore the possible answers in paintings. Try one with words. Or make up your own what if and write that.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Writing for Writers #11

Political Internet artist Kenneth Tin-kin Hung spoke at FAU yesterday as part of the current exhibit, Political Circus, at the Ritter Gallery. Among other things, he creates web art by manipulating images he finds on the web:


Write something (poetry, prose, whatever) using "images" (I mean, language images) you find on the Internet.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Writing for Writers #10

I just read The Diving Bell and the Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby, a memoir that he blinked out one letter at a time to a speech therapist who transcribed his words. First Bauby would memorize each paragraph, then dictate it. And presumably as a result, the memoir reads as if it doesn't have a spare word in it. So try this:

Write a paragraph in your head, really crafting it, and memorizing it, before writing it down.

And then try this:

Write a paragraph in your head and memorize it, but instead of writing it down yourself, dictate it to a trusted scribe.

It seems to me both acts, writing and editing in your head, and inviting an audience into the process, might lead to some interesting alterations in your usual ways (unless those are your usual ways, naturally).

Friday, July 25, 2008

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Writing for Writers #8

My favorite aspect of the His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman was how every character had an animal familiar who represented some part of their personality. And one of my favorite artists Leonora Carrington said we all have an inner bestiary. So here's a nonfiction exercise: describe your inner bestiary.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Writing for Writers #7

What I like about this painting by Amy Bennett:


is how the viewer is spying on the woman who is spying on her neighbors who are being photographed ...

so write about a spy/voyeur who doesn't know she is being watched.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Writing for Writers #6

Here's an Iron & Wine lyric from "White Tooth Man": "The postman cried while reading the mail".

Write the scene.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Writing for Writers #5

Most writers seemingly use a lot of white space in their collages...space breaks, paragraph breaks... pauses.

Check out some work by Jess Collins and then write a crowded collage.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Writing For Writers #4

I'm a fan of children's illustrations like Where's Waldo and Richard Scarry where there are a gazillion things happening on the page. I'm also a fan of paintings that have a big landscape and some little itty bitty thing happening in the corner:

Landscape with the Fall of Icarus

incidentally also a William Carlos Williams poem.

Or: Virginia Lee Burton's illustrations for The Little House.

So write a scene that shows a big landscape with something small in the corner. Interpret that how you see fit.

Feel free to post any results in the comments if you like.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Writing for Writers #3

One of my favorite contemporary artists is Amy Cutler:



and one of the things I like about her work is how it uses bright colors to tell dark stories.

So write a dark story (scene, poem, essay) in bright colors.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Writing for Writers #2

Read Brigit Pegeen Kelly's poem "Three Cows and the Moon" in Song. It's not online, you'll have to hold the book in your grubby hands.

Then write a piece of prose, however long, but longer than you first thought, about a moment in the falling dark.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Writing for Writers #1

1. View one of Gregory Crewdson's staged, incredibly lit photographs:

Victoria & Albert Museum

Luhring Augustine



White Cube

One of my favorites is Woman in Pool (Twilight).

2. Write a thousand word story or a poem that includes only elements seen in the photo and using the point of view established by the camera. For example, if the camera is outside a window from a middle distance use either a first person narrator who is outside the window or use a third person narrator with a middling psychic distance. (psychic distance is essentially how close or how far the reader feels from the action). Try to find a way to capture what he does with lights in language.