Monday, June 21, 2010


by Gina Sestak

Greetings, all.  I find myself having difficulty coming up with a topic for this post.   I've thought about my WIPs - I'm juggling novel and screenplay revisions - but fear that would be too boring.   I know I'm getting pretty sick of both of them.   [You know I'm kidding, right?   I love them both, but I won't bore you with the details.]

It occurred to me to propose a writing exercise.  I've been taking a writing workshop through the University of Pittsburgh's Osher Life Learning Institute taught by Walt Peterson.  We've been doing a writing exercise in which we spend 7 minutes writing non-stop on a topic suggested by a literary quotation or a picture.  The idea is to put your pen down on the paper at the start of the 7 minutes and keep it moving until the end. 

For example, the class was given the following line from Kafka's Metamorphosis:  One day Gregor Samsa awoke to discover he had been changed into a large cockroach.   Most class members wrote stories about seeing roaches, being roaches, having roaches.  I wrote:

Cockroach.  A word, compound.  Perhaps obscene - at least in the beginning.  A rooster roach, a combination beast that crows at dawn and scuttles on the floor at night, not seeking hens.  A roach, disgusting bug, all waving feelers, shiny carapace, bold and indestructible.  A roach, the butt end of a joint - don't Bogart it, my friend.  Together, cockroach, rolling on the tongue, raising premonitions of a chimeric beast, six clawed feet and a beak, no need for fighting spurs.  It crawls out of the filth to crow triumphant.  Words.  Descriptive yet misleading.  Cockroach, who would think of such a thing, hiding alone, the darkness in male parts.  When will it venture forth into the light?  Awaking as a cockroach - that would be quite a terrible day, a sign the Rapture was at hand.  Transformed, becoming something, someone else, or two things, cock and roach, the bird and bug, heaven and earth combined and intertwined.  Like us.

For our purposes here today, let's do a shortened version of this exercise.  Write for three minutes on whatever comes to mind when you read the quote below - no editing! - then post your result as a comment. 

Here is the quote, the first line of The Confession, a 1921 Mary Roberts Rinehart novel:

I am not a susceptible woman.

OK.  Ready.  Set.   Go!


Joyce Tremel said...

Interesting! I'll be back later to give it a try!

Ramona said...

Great idea, Gina! I will give it a try, later. (I don't want to go first.)

Gina said...

Come on. Is everybody chicken?
Someone's got to go first!