Exercises

This week’s exercise: You might be surprised to learn…. (include a famous person). 

Write for 15 minutes. From the opening line of a Robert Olen Butler’s story.

This week’s exercise: Six things to do while sitting under a tree

Write for 15 minutes. Post your draft as a comment!

This week’s exercise: I have wasted my life

Write for 15 minutes. Post your draft as a comment!

This week’s exercise: What’s wrong with that girl?

Write for 15 minutes. Post your draft as a comment!

This week’s exercise: “Life is not working out exactly how I planned it.”

Write for 10 minutes:Post your writing as a comment!

4 responses to “Exercises

  1. Hello Marjorie:
    You asked, during class last week, for us to send a line from what we wrote that day. I am responding to that request–more than a line, a paragraph:

    “If George Bush could claim to be “The Decider”, then my mother could just as easily have titled herself “The Non-Decider” or “The Undecider”. Trouble is, when somebody decides not to decide, they are deciding. Circular, perhaps, but true.”

  2. This Isn’t The Way My Life Was Supposed To Turn Out

    Myrna Merron

    They sat around the large oval table in a room composed of more burnished wood than I had ever seen, collectively in my 16 years. How many bodies filled those high-backed seats? I don’t recall—a dozen perhaps, but the numbers could have ranged from four to fifteen. I focused mostly on the one empty chair at that table—it was waiting for me, at least temporarily. As long as this interview lasted. And then it would welcome a different body.

    Fear was not a characteristic of my personality at 16. Wearing a dark blue suit, new, I felt assured, although common sense would have indicated otherwise. I had no truly positive experience to support my feelings. If my high school teachers had influence over me, I would not be in this room, in this place.

    They all smiled at me, the four or six or eight or dozen other people at the table, made small chit chat at first, relaxation conversation. They were as experienced as I was not, these leaders of the Philadelphia community. Many before me had occupied my chair, several, at least, would follow.

    So much could be gained or lost in the next half hour.

    Then came the question for which I was not entirely prepared. What would you like to do after college? What do you envision as your career?

    Career? A world that didn’t seem familiar. All my 16 years, “job” was the key word.

    Before my brain formulated a cogent response, I was talking—a fault I’m still trying to conquer—“I’d like to be the drama critic of the New York Times.”

    Nobody laughed.

    That honest, but unformulated response, might have won me the scholarship to the University of Pennsylvania.

    I never did achieve that lofty goal. Stories of legions of bright young English majors becoming secretaries infiltrated the school and although I began my life at Penn as an English major, I switched to psychology in my sophomore year. I determined it was necessary for me to be more “practical”.

    In my life dream, I was supposed to be an author, or at least a writer, spend a couple of years in Paris engaging in erudite conversations, indulging in wild romances. The result would be a stream of fascinating stories. Instead, I married before I graduated—although I did get my degree with honors—had four children in five years and spent the next 15 years tending the hearth—and reading the drama reviews in the New York Times.

    Eventually I did have a career. It developed around parameters set by the mores of the ‘50s and 60’s—husband and children first. So, in a great departure from the way my life was supposed to be, I went back to school and earned a master’s degree in special education; over the following years I was a classroom teacher, school psychologist and college professor. I also attained a doctoral degree. It wasn’t the same as spending my nights on Broadway; there was, however, an abundance of satisfaction.

    I resurrected my aspiration of being a writer, albeit on a much less monumental scale. Deriving inspiration from the death of my husband, and my subsequent experiences dealing with pragmatic issues–alone after almost 30 years of dual decision-making–I wrote and published several small articles in small publications. I reveled in the experiences of accomplishment, of seeing my words in print, my name under a title. I would like to say that from that point it was a straight line up to more and better publications, but alas I hit a very dry spell when life issues intervened, sapping energy.

    I don’t know–how could I–if the drama desk at the New York Times would ever have been within my grasp, but that statement uttered at that oval mahogany table defined a turning point in my life, a major milestone. For almost four years at Penn, I had not only a superb academic education, but I glimpsed a world of privilege and sophistication that enlarged my scope of understanding. Philadelphia wasn’t Paris, but I learned that any setting provides only what the individual gleans from it.

    For a few years, the urge to put pencil to paper, fingers to typewriter and then keyboard keys, diminished but never quite extinguished. I must have been waiting for the right time and place. So after a long winding journey here I am, in Pittsboro, in a writing group that offers inspiration and instruction. The words are beginning to flow again.

    Perhaps this is the way my life was supposed to turn out. And it hasn’t been bad, not bad at all.

  3. A favorite line: Philadelphia wasn’t Paris, but I learned that any setting provides only what the individual gleans from it. I love where you took this, Myrna! and the words are beginning to flow….

  4. I love this. Keep writing!

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