Notebooking Daily Writing Exercise September 26, 2014

September 26: Ekphrasis Day!

Today pick from one of the following images and place yourself in the scene. Give at least two snippets of imagined history, and include at least a whiff of imminent danger.

1) This cityscape by Leonardo Gutierrez

2) This photo of Anasazi ruins by Barry Brukhoff

3) This photo of the abandoned amusement park in Japan called Gulliver's Kingdom

Have fun!


Be Wary Citizens! Arts & Letters is now accepting Flash Fiction

The renowned journal Arts & Letters out of Georgia College is now, as of yesterday, accepting flash fiction pieces of 500 words or less. You may submit up to three pieces a time through their Submittable page under the subcategory Fiction.

A&L is one of the few college lit mags that pays authors per page printed, and not just contributors copies. This helps to justify the $3 Submittable fee that they charge, and, of course, the fact that they're a world class literary journal.

Have fun submitting, and good luck!


Notebooking Daily Writing Exercise August 16, 2014

August 16: Rrrrr sounds.

Now if you write about pirates you get bonus points, but also remember that the scoring is like Who's Line is it Anyway or QI, where the points don't matter. Today Look through these two lists of R words at The Phrontistery and Scrabble Word Finder.

Browse a bit and pick out a dozen or so, some common and some not so much.

Write a short piece using as many of those words as possible.


Notebooking Daily Writing Exercise August 13, 2014

August 13: Ekphrasis Day!

Today we'll work off of a couple pieces of art. Pick one and write about it. Whether you place yourself in the scene, with the artist as they're creating, with people viewing the art objectively (or subjectively even--an imagined insider scoop perhaps), or wherever you decide to approach the piece from, that is completely your prerogative.

1) This photo of three polar bears by the amazing photographer Thomas D. Mangelsen who has an exhibit right now at the San Diego Natural History Museum that I cannot recommend highly enough.

2) Alex Ruiz's surreal imagining of Van Gogh painting Starry Night

3) This deteriorating cityscape by Dudu Torres

Have fun with the pictures, and remember, if nothing strikes you right away, just pick a direction and go with it for fifteen or twenty minutes. Notebooking is about getting yourself actively writing, producing bits to harvest from later.


Notebooking Daily Writing Exercise September 12, 2014

September 12: Narrative day.

Today work with one of the following story fragments, whether you want the prompt to be the end of the story, the prelude to it, somewhere in the middle, or even just the inspiration for a story, it's up to you.

1) Picking cans out of a park's garbage can to recycle, a homeless man makes a gruesome discovery. Across town a child is rushed into an emergency room. These two things are connected, but not in a way that easily meets the eye.

2) A jilted wife sits on the railing of a bridge remembering her relationship and other moments in her life. The second narrative is what is happening on the bridge behind her, that she is completely unaware of, so wrapped up in her memories.

3) Oak trees can live over 1000 years. Tell three or four snippets of things that happened beneath an Oak tree during the course of its millennial lifespan.


Notebooking Daily Writing Exercise September 4, 2014

September 4: Graffiti.

Graffiti can mean many things. The first thought is often of gang tags, shoddy throw-ups. Or perhaps artists you've seen portrayed or covered in the media like Banksy (whose piece is pictured above). If you think Twist, Espy or Ewok, you probably already have a dozen stories to tap into and can get those wheels rolling in the back of your brain. Or maybe you're super into archaeology and when you hear graffiti you think of cave drawings. Or you are raising a little boy right now and have scrubbed more than your share of his crayon graffiti off your wallpaper.

I linked to a really cool page called Wall to Wall, from Cave Painting to Graffiti, if you're not super familiar with graffiti check it out. If you become interested, I'd also recommend the book Graffiti LA. It's a great coffee table book with tons of large photos and interesting text, plus a bonus cd.

For today's writing exercise pick a version of graffiti and put yourself next to it. Whether you're the artist/vandal, someone looking at it either with disdain or appreciation, or something else entirely.

A couple questions to consider/decide upon (just write the a, b, c etc and the answer in your notebook):

a) What type of graffiti is it? Cave painting, ancient Egyptian tomb pillager, a subway car with spraypaint pieces, an abandoned building with a very intricate 'piece', did a kid write the f-word on the wall like in Catcher in the Rye? Did a small child get a hold of a marker, crayon, pen, paint can, chocolate cake? Is a rebel partisan sending a message to the dictator or other rebels?
b) Are you cleaning the graffiti up, placing it there, or just viewing it?
c) What do you think of the graffiti. If your first inclination is to dislike it, try to find a way that you might like it. If you enjoy or like the graffiti, bring in the destruction issue sincerely.
d) What is the graffiti portraying or saying? Why did the artist/you feel so strongly about that statement, or is it a passing bit of juvenilia?
e) What's the weather like? Just pick something, even if it's not important to the story at all.

g) What colors are used in the graffiti? What type of pigment? Ochre, spraypaint, crayon, marker, knife/key?

Have fun, write away. If you have trouble deciding what to do, just pick something and go. Don't worry about the finished product, if it's going anywhere or has any arc or plot. Just write a little bit. That's what notenooking is all about. If you have extra time, here are a few more resources for graffiti: the 1983 documentary Style Wars, a huge reserve of artist links at Art Crimes, a PBS video/article about graffiti called ‘The History of American Graffiti:’ From Subway Car to Gallery about a graffiti history book, and here is Norman Mailer's "The Faith of Graffiti" from the May 1974 issue of Esquire thanks to hi-resolution scans by Test Pressing.


Notebooking Daily Writing Exercise September 3, 2014

September 3: Wordbank day!

I hope everyone's Labor Day was productive and fulfilling. I had a little bit of this and it was delicious.

Today we'll return to the wordbank for our inspiration. From the following links to word sources, pick ten or more individual words that strike your fancy and write them in your notebook, these will be your wordbank words for the day: Washing, Pink, Adventurethis plot synopsis of The Rocky Horror Picture Show and a group of random titles from this sci-fi title generator.

Your words shouldn't be anything too ordinary, but if it's exotic you must do extra research. Do a couple quick searches for each word you've picked. I like to use a few familiar tools (wikipedia, dictionary, thesaurus, rhymezone, google/google news) and let anything catch my eye. The best part about researching the wordbank words is it's pretty free-form. You're just doing some light wading into the world via a single word as a jumping-off point. Write down your interesting tidbits, rhymes, your towns named Magenta, news items about new Laundry crazes. Just spend like twenty minutes (or at least ten, if you're strapped for time) mining the internet for interesting bits of information.

Now do a few of these simple writing exercises involving your wordbank.

1) Pick two words from your wordbank. Write three phrases, poetic lines or sentences that use both of those words.
2) Write three sentences that use one of the word bank words as well as the words "leather" and "stormy."
3) Write two phrases, poetic lines or sentences that use the word pair from exercise one but none of the other words (including articles, pronouns, everything (and no changing the first exercises either, buster!)
4) Using only words you haven't used from the wordbank, construct a paragraph that is at least four sentences long. The sentences should be of varying lengths, and use one different word from the wordbank each.
5) Find a place via wikipedia's disambiguation search function (usually at the top of the wiki page) that has the name of one of your wordbank words. Either do a little research on it, or just imagine the place in your head. Write a micro fiction piece (under 300 words--just over two tweets) that uses at least a fragment of one of your sentences, and is titled the place that you've researched or imagined (for instance "Magenta, Lombardy" or "Magenta, New South Wales")