Wordstock 08: The Blank Page I

Image courtesy Mary K. Baird at morgueFile

I spent Friday attending an all day teacher education event hosted by the Community of Writers in conjunction with Portland's annual Wordstock festival. All four of the classes that I chose to participate in offered insights about how best to engage reluctant creative writers in the classroom. There is a good reason that continuing education workshops like this are often referred to as intensives; it tends to take a day or two to recover from the information overload. In looking back I realize that I was asked to produce a tremendous amount of writing in relatively short periods of time over the course of the day. 

While I don't claim to be any great shakes as a writer, I thought it might be interesting to post the results of these quick responses to prompts with a bit of contextual information.

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The workshop entitled The Blank Page presented a wide variety of prompts and exercises that could be used to move students beyond their fear of an empty white paper. It was skillfully managed by Erin Ergenbright, who provided ample enthusiasm and a respectable amount of collegiate-worthy quotes from literary luminaries past.

When asked to write a quick response to the prompt "Now I know. . ." I produced the following:
Now I know there is no pickle bush. I'd always puzzled over the lack of discussion about them in my elementary school studies of farming and food. They certainly weren't in the Central Valley that we drove through every summer on our way to Grandma and Grandpa's house in Sacramento. Dad had never planted a pickle bush in his desiccated raised garden bed out back. Visits to the nursery offered no clues.

I decided that pickles, and the bushes that birthed them, were an exotic crop imported to America as a means of moistening the mealy cardboard of cafeteria hamburgers.
That was as far as time constraints allowed. I never even got to the revelation of pickles being a common vegetable that was simply pickled. Imagine my surprise at age 22 when this mind-blowing fact was presented to me. Oh, the sheltered upbringing of a suburban child. . .

Our next task was to respond to something visual. Join me again soon for the tale of Esmeralda May Eddy; told in two parts, with strong Emo overtones.

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