- Wedding Pictures by Jayne Anne Phillips
- Through the Senses by Robert Olen Butler
I enjoyed the Wedding Pictures exercise, because it was fairly free-form and allowed me the freedom to take the writing in the direction I wanted. The picture I used for the exercise was the one on the right.
What drew me to this picture is how odd the couple looks. She looks like she's thinking "it's about time I'm getting married" while he looks terrified, like he's going to his own funeral. Also, I don't know if it's the unflattering dress, but the bride looks several years older than the groom, which for the time period seems a bit backwards. This made me think that maybe this marriage is not as free-willed as one would like to imagine. Notice how deftly the bouquet covers and hides her midsection. Perhaps some premarital indiscretion makes this the Victorian equivalent of a shot-gun wedding? You tell me.
Through the Senses
This exercise made me want to scream. I'm just going to say it: I hate guided writing exercises. Anyone who knows me will agree when I say that I don't respond well to orders. Being coaxed or cajoled... I can live with that. But taking orders? No way.
All right, maybe I'm going a little overboard, but this exercise really did feel like it was telling me exactly what to write and how to write it. And I didn't get that flash of discovery halfway through the way I usually feel when I do a writing exercise. It's that a-ha moment when I finally discover what it was I had to write about and the piece suddenly comes together. I don't know if it was the step-by-step format or the way each step spelled out exactly what I was supposed to write, but I found this exercise utterly unhelpful.
Also, telling a writer who hates following orders "Don't Read Ahead" is pretty much as useless as telling Pandora not to open the box. I was pretty good, actually. I got to step 6 out of 7 without reading ahead, but then I caved and did so anyway. Frankly, I didn't find the "surprise" of the next step all that surprising anyway so I'm not quite sure why Butler insists that students do each step without reading ahead.
Exercises Remaining: 84
Days Left: 85