Friday, October 1, 2010

Online/Offline Writing

I've been taking an online writing course through the Elizabeth Ayers Writing Center, and I can't recommend it enough.

The very first time my family and I vacationed at Ghost Ranch, NM, I took a week-long writing seminar taught by Elizabeth. She has developed all sorts of exercises to get your creative juices going and to make writing fun. The eight other participants and I would wrote and read our pieces to each other, giving one another positive feedback.  I really enjoyed it.  And I'm enjoying the online version too.  Elizabeth is there, as well as the other participants , even though they're physically located in such far spread places as Connecticut, Washington, D.C., Seattle, and Alberta, Canada!  We all read one another's assignments and respond to them.

   Here's something I wrote for one of the exercises.  We started by listing various sounds, colors, and other elements (there's more to it than that ...but you need to take the course:-) ) and then we put them altogether.

I saw him squatting by the river, splashing his hands in the water, almost playfully. Almost…if it weren’t for those large, forlorn eyes dominating the emaciated face. Sizing him up, I figured he was about 7 years old. Later I found out that he was almost 12, just extremely small for his age due to malnutrition.

“What’s your name? “I asked him. “Vidu,” he said, and as he stood up a homemade toy dropped out of his shirt and fell to the ground making a rattling sound.

  He looked at me expectantly, although he didn’t hold out his hand. In retrospect, I’m amazed that he still had faith left in any adults who approached him,considering how little they’d cared about him (and about Lakshmi, the crippled little sister he cared for as best he could). Seven years old, I thought, the age when I made my first Communion. Me in a white lacy dress, him in a whitish rag that just about covered him where he needed it most. His brown baby face and eager eyes transported me back in memory to my kitchen, where I used to whip up batches of mini chocolate chip-banana muffins for my kids. How I wished I had a half-dozen to give him. I’d love to see his eyes light up as he tasted them. I laughed to myself, remembering how disappointed I was when I tasted the host for the first time. Panem de coelo praestitisti eis, we used to chant in Latin. “You gave them Bread from Heaven filled with all sweetness and delight.” Well, to me it tasted like a piece of white cardboard.

What did I think I was accomplishing here, anyway? I’d journeyed from an Italian-American neighborhood in Chicago to a teeming village in Delhi, recruited by a transnational conglomerate to teach English to a bunch of teenagers… so they could get accepted into the Indian equivalent of a trade school and get a job where they would make the Indian equivalent of 25 cents an hour. Why on earth they were respectful of this know-it-all foreigner was beyond me.


Writing with Elizabeth is fun!

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