Pick your favorite quote from the quotes scattered throughout this chapter, and write a brief paragraph explaining how these words are similar to your own ideas about the creative process. Variation: Choose the quote from the part opener to this section that most speaks to you personally, and write a short paragraph explaining why you like these words. If none of the quotes speak to you, find one of your own.
Bring in a passage of writing that absolutely transported you at some point in your life. You can often easily find the books you adored as a kid at your local community library. The young adult section of your college’s library is also a good place to browse and reminisce. Alternatively, if your childhood and high school life was spent in a book-free manner, write a one-page description of something that did completely absorb you, so much so that you wouldn’t have heard your name called from across the room, not at first. Make us be in the moment with you, visually.
Try an imitation of Dinty Moore’s alphabet essay “Son of Mr. Green Jeans: An Essay on Fatherhood, Alphabetically Arranged,” writing from your life, about a topic (puberty, motorcycles, objects of your affection, parental secrets, coming into knowing, etc.) that is pretty mixed for you—some really good parts, some terrible parts. Reveal some of your secrets, your strengths, and your fears.
Write a more current imitation of Jamaica Kincaid’s story “Girl,” inspired by what’s going on now in your life. In this imitation, list the commands, instructions, reminders, cautions, and rules you hear from the authority figures in your current college life, repeated over and over. Write in the command form, as Kincaid does. Try to capture the specific details that emerge from your dorm’s subculture, things that are specific to your campus, your world—even if that means you have to write a little footnote to explain the words and references your teacher or the wider world might not get.
Read any of the books in Appendix B on your own (or with a partner or as a small group). Prepare a brief oral presentation where you share the four best writing quotes from the book, talk about the main concept you found most helpful, and take issue (argue or disagree with) two things in the book: one large, one small.
The instructor writes words on notecards, one for each member of the class. Draw cards from a hat, and write a definition poem (imitating A. Van Jordan’s “afterglow”). Words that work well include: chimera, constancy, cable, heartbeat, heartthrob, clot, differentiation, her, mother, father, green flash, sun dog, noxious, fragrant, flagrant…. Option: compile the revised polished definition pieces into a chapbook, authored by the class, a kind of dictionary in poetry.