Writing Notebook

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Be like an athlete training for the Olympic Games. Fill a journal jar with the Writer's Digest daily prompts. Print out the pages of prompts, cut them into strips and store them inside the jar. Sit the jar on your desk and randomly select a prompt when you want to do some warm ups. I use a jar like this when I begin a session with a class that are trained to make writing a daily practice.

The British Museum has a stunning collection of elaborate Egyptian mummies and coffins. As I wandered around, mouth open in wonderment, I was remembered the time my Year 12 class made funky coffins in their visual diaries and then wrote pieces about death. The Emory Collection is one place to see some wonderful Egyptian artefacts. Design a coffin and see what rises from your word cauldron.

Sunday, August 01, 2004

I am fascinated by the dimensions of narrative and so happening upon these two Australian sites was like finding treasure in Aladdin's Cave.

Fellow Australian, Sharon Boggon runs a project called Shareware. Sharon says that "In the past explorers used beads as a means of exchange in order to open new trading routes just as the development of the silicon chip has opened up a means of exchange in the "information" age." She has devoted a section of her site to providing a dictionary of embroidery stitches. She requested that people who use this resource send her a piece of fabric, or a button, or some lace or ribbon. If items have a story associated with them she wants to know about them. Sharon uses these objects in a work to provoke ideas about the slippery exchange between the virtual and the real. Personally I am intrigued by the stories that can be woven from these artifacts.

Another of Sharon's fascinating and highly innovative projects is Playing False. Playing False was a body of work Sharon produced for an exhibition "Playing False" held at the ACT Craft Gallery, Canberra in September 1997. In this series of panels she explored how women are representing themselves on the World Wide Web and the connection between 'home making' and 'home page'.

David Chin, an inventive Australian, is running a collaborative photographic project online under the title A Picture’s Worth. David is soliciting images and an associated story from the public. "Visitors are invited to share the memories, emotions or creative stories triggered by a photograph of personal significance." David Chin has been doing this since August 2003 so that now there are nearly 300 + photo essays published. A new image is going online almost daily.

Rummage through your draws. Pull out photographs and buttons, ribbon, fabric. Lace, old clothes and hats. Drape an old fur around yourself.

There are thousands of stories just waiting to be written. When you have written the story put it in your visual journal with the photograph or artifact.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Cyber Pathways

Lace up your cyber boots and follow the footprints I have left. Check out Picture Book Art and use the artwork to kick start writing a story for a young child. For example, illustrator, Robin Brickman provides spectacular watercolor and cut-paper collages that will not only inspire text, but should cause gasps of wonder

Lisa's Nostalgic Cafe is one place to drink from the well of remembrance and her material is sure to trigger some memories and help you to write a little nostalgia.

Why have I never been to this Halloween Ball before? Now this is an amazing site.

This Secret Japanese House is filled with magical images. Make sure to use Babel Fish to get a basic translation from Japanese to English.

Read a story, written by Elena, about a ghost town near Chernobyl that one can ride through with no stoplights, no police and no danger of hitting any living thing. The people have long gone and nature is blooming. There are beautiful woods and lakes. Perhaps that is why Elena is an optimist.

Monday, June 21, 2004

The companion website to a 3-hour PBS documentary entitled Memoirs of A Secret Empire is a beautifully crafted site. When you enter Edo you will discover an ancient kingdom where warriors, scientists, artists and tradesmen created an isolated civilization that would shape the modern world.

After becoming supreme ruler in the late 16th century, Tokugawa Ieyasu moved Japan's capitol to Edo, (now known as Tokyo)transforming the sleepy fishing village into the country's premier political
and economic center. Perhaps one of the really exciting elements of this site is that you can tour the ancient kingdom and meet characters who lived at that time. My favourite is the writer. Drawn from all levels of society,writers were not assigned a specific caste position. With merchants spending lavishly on entertainment and fine arts, idle samurai increasingly put their creative energies toward intellectual pursuits. Among the results was an outpouring of prose and poetry.

Known for his poetry and travel diaries, Matsuo Basho (1644-1694) was the son of a lowly samurai. When his lord died,he became a ronin and moved to Edo. Taking part in the popular poetry writing and debate competitions, Basho excelled in haikai (now known as haiku) a three-line segment poem of five, seven and five syllables which used simple language and every day occurrences to create images that evoked emotion. Basho became the most famous poet of his generation, and when he traveled, locals would gather to match their wits against him.

On this site you are provided with more than enough information and resources to create a historical paper or write a piece of fiction set in that time. However, you may simply be inspired to write Haikai.

Sunday, May 30, 2004

While browsing through a charity store here in Melbourne I happened upon a stack of Dragon and Realms of Fantasy magazines that a fan had obviously decided to clear out to make way for something new.

Finding these magazines was like finding gold. They are filled with ideas about mythical creatures, dwarves, diminutive dragons, suits of armor, elves and even a subterranean city.

All the poor captives, who I have ensnared in my web of intrigue, will be sketching characters and habitat and pouring through the pages of these magazines in order to think of things dark and dangerous, to create magical lands and to devise mysterious creatures. We will be questing and heading for unknown frontiers.

Here at Soul Food you will find some rather charming dragons who have inspired student and adult imagination. Print them out, colour them in and then begin a story with the line 'Once Upon A Time'.

Other outstanding sites, that will inspire anyone who is interested in mythology, symbolism, fairy stories and fantasy, are Shadowscapes by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law and Terri Windling's Endicott Studios.

Our fantasy adventures will be published in the Album of Memories each student is compiling and work will be featured here at Soul Food during the coming weeks.

Thursday, December 11, 2003

Welcome to the world of Forensic Art. The Forensic Art site was developed out of the love of forensic art as well as a means of providing a resource to agencies or individuals that may require the services of a forensic artist. The site covers the various facets of forensic art, giving a brief description of each.

Take time to view the various pages and consider how you can use this valuable research material to enhance your writing.

Some Quirky Writing Starters

1. Five things I sometimes wish I still had

My Banana Splits cereal bowl
My full set of mid-'60s Batman and Tarzan trading cards
My 7-inch of "Silly Love Songs" by Wings
My 1970 VW camper van Easy access to Skyline Chili

Check out this zany list of 5ves and make some lists of your own. Alternatively you could have the characters in your fiction, or your alter egos make up some lists of fives.

2. Potentiality

Main Entry: po·ten·ti·al·i·ty Pronunciation: p&-"ten(t)-shE-'a-l&-tE Function: noun Inflected Form(s): plural -ties Date: 1625 1 : the ability to develop or come into existence 2 : POTENTIAL 1

The concept of potentiality presented itself to me this morning as I roamed about my new favorite web site, Soul Food Cafe. I read this:

Things become what they are because of potentialities.

What I am today was once only a potentiality. Just like the acorn has the potential to be an oak tree (it "...carries within itself is the 'form' of the oak") I had the potential to be a mother, wife, teacher, learner, and friend. In the right settings, with the right nourishment, the form of me as mother, wife, teacher, learner, and friend turned into being those things.

Without prior experience and knowledge, however, I never would have guessed that a little acorn could grow into one of those mighty oaks that line driveways of plantation like homes. Who would ever guess that a huge, leafy, shade-providing tree would come out of a tiny acorn? How often does the form of something not resemble the potential of that same thing?

Use the Merriam-Webster online to write like Karen McComas

Monday, November 10, 2003

Luc Melanson is an illustrator whose Portfolio B, Childrens Book will fire the imagination of anyone considering writing a children's book.

With shades of the Owl and the Pussy Cat sailing off in a pea green boat, Lemurians recently packed up their hampers and set out for Lemurian shores. They have been writing up a storm

Why not pack up your pens, paper, pencils, paint, easels and visual journal supplies and set out for this mythical land? You can visit any time! I have left a key behind the clump of marigolds. Lemuria is peopled by an interesting bunch of creatives with distinctive, unique voices. Why not consider setting up residency?