Welcome

“The way to see how beautiful earth is, is to see it from the moon”  

Ursula K. LeGuin, The Dispossessed.

I start with this quote from LeGuin because, well, I love LeGuin and I’ll find any way to incorporate her work or life. For context, here is a longer excerpt, spoken by the alien Shevek, in reference to the barren moon he used to live on and the moon’s orbiting planet he lives on now:

“If you can see a thing whole,” he said, “it seems that it’s always beautiful. Planets, lives…But close up, a world’s all dirt and rocks. And day to day, life’s a hard job, you get tired, you lose the pattern. You need distance, interval. The way to see how beautiful earth is, is to see it from the moon. The way to see how beautiful life is, is from the vantage point of death.”

[Photo by The New York Public Library]

The phrase that stuck with me was “you need distance, interval.” YES! This is good advice in any aspect of our lives, but it made me think of writing; how on the one hand, we need to give our stories temporal space (leave a draft in a drawer for a few weeks, months), but also how we need metaphysical space from the stories we want to tell. 

That is to say, we don’t necessarily know what we need or how best to approach it…and this is the ultimate purpose of the workshop. How best to trick ourselves into writing well. How to land on a way of telling a story we didn’t expect. How to break the routine in terms of where, when, why, what, who, and how. 

One thing that really stuck with me from my MFA program was when a fellow student used the word “vehicle” to describe a story. A story’s frame is the vehicle for what we want to say, which is always there (be it from a conscious state or subconscious one), but finding the correct medium or approach can be the challenge.

So, how do we find the vehicle? In short, I don’t know! We all don’t know! But that’s not going to stop us from trying!   

Below are today’s writing exercises and prompts. Do all of them or choose one or two. Or stare out the window.