Thursday, 26 March 2015

Malcolm's Twenty

Another response to the Lois Peterson prompt "Write a list of 20 things you know a lot about" from her book *101 and More Writing Exercises."

1.      Pain
2.      Self-pity
3.      Humour
4.      Laughter of that stinging, accusatory kind
5.      Humiliation
6.      I said “pain” already
7.      Peace
8.      Inner-peace
9.      Alcoholism
10.  Eating disorders
11.  How to make people unhappy and sad
12.  How to make people leave
13.  How to make myself so miserable no one wants to be my friend
14.  How to make people laugh
15.  How to make myself laugh
16.  How to hide how I really feel
17.  Well, not always because I blush a lot
18.  Words
19.  Fabrications
20.  Love, and it's not what you think

Monday, 23 March 2015

Writing Memoir (one topic at a time)

Writing Memoir (one topic at a time)

A family memoir journey of discovery (not all of it pleasant) that began with an inheritance of little ceramic figurines:

Edmund de Waal inherited 264 Japanese netsuke (pron: “net-skay”) from his great uncle. deWaal was a potter. 

Netsues are toggles which in kimono-wearing days were used to fasten purses to kimonos. 

He decided to research their history in his family and ended up five years later with what one interviewer said “took the world by storm”The Hare with the Amber Eyes: A Hidden Inheritance. 

Given de Waal’s interest in ceramics (Rachel Cook called him “perhaps the most famous potter working in Britain today” in a 2010 Observer review), he was drawn to these ceramic figures. 

Certainly their history was going to reveal a lot to him as time went on.

Marion Roach Smith interview on writing memoir (with a very distracting interviewer with nice teeth):

Marion defines memoir and understanding memoir as “your territory. In other words we all have territory and walking its borders, what you discover is it’s a lot smaller than you think. 

"And if you want to be a successful  memoir writer, what you do is define your territory by your areas of expertise—one area at a time.

"Most people think that memoir is that big book that starts with your great-great grandparents and ends with what you had for breakfast today. And those are the books that don’t sell and nobody really reads. 
"But if you want to be successful of memoir, you think in terms of size: blog post, personal essay, long form memoir, all the way up to book size.
"And you think about your areas of expertise: I’m a woman, I’m a college trustee, I’m a mother, I own a home, I own a dog I sail boats, I write memoir. 
"I write from all those different areas of expertise – one at a time. Memoir is about your territory, and if you make your territory small, you will be a good memoirist.
"Of course it’s about the truth. But it’s about your truth. 
"And too much truth—too big—is exactly where most memoirs fail. Because they think that they want to write about their life when really I would like them to give me a little insight into how they recovered from their alcoholism, I’d like them to give me a little insight into how they developed a sense of humour about being married, I’d like them to give me some insight about how they raised their dogs. This is a brilliant difference.
"The great Caroline Knapp, whom I always quote on this topic, knew it. When she wrote her first bestselling memoir, she wrote a book that has the best title of any book ever; it’s called  Drinking: A Love Story and that’s what she wrote about. 
"When she wrote her next memoir it was called A Pack of Two—about her relationship with her dogs. Had she not died tragically young, she probably would have written seven or eight memoirs, each from one area of expertise at a time. That’s the difference, and if you get that you can succeed.”

Pick up the rest of this video interview here at 4:51:  where she will also tell you the difference between narrative nonfiction, memoir, and autobiography, unmuddles the waters, and does “not talk in MFA.”

-- Margo Lamont

Margo's Twenty

On the prompt "Write a list of 20 things you know a lot about" from 101 and More Writing Exercises by Lois Peterson.

In no particular order:

1.        Calligraphy
2.        MS Word, Publisher
3.        Fonts, typography
4.        Five men
5.        The Windsors; Amarna Period in Egyptian history
6.        Alexander the Great > Cleopatra & Rome; Greek history; Roman history; bull leaping in Crete
7.        Changing diapers – cloth and paper
8.        Reiki
9.        Giving cats medicines
10.     Nonverbal communications
11.     1950s cars; 1940s songs
12.     Preparing 3x7 meals a week for kids
13.     Kuan Yin, Chenrezig, Avalokitesvara; HHDL & 17K
14.     Fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue; managing pain
15.     Oracles, divination, pendulums, scrying
16.     Autogenics; visualization
17.     Low income creativity
18.     Journaling
19.     Overcoming tedium
20.     Sleep hygiene; cleaning toilets

Jane's Twenty

This is Jane writing to the Lois Peterson prompt, "List 20 things you know a lot about."

I am four time zones and god only knows how many miles away from my list [the one she did at The Grind Writers], so I am going to make another one. Probably very similar. 

What fun it was to think that through. It is so easy to NOT make an inventory of what I know a lot about...
  1. Travelling - but still a lot more to learn...
  2. The people I love.
  3. How to fake it in Spanish (talking language:)
  4. Building design and construction and the practical logic of buildings. But I watched a documentary about Frank Gehry twice on the plane and realised there is so much I do not know.
  5. Contemporary literature. Have forgotten most of what I knew about early lit (except Shakespeare). See 6.
  6. Contemporary art. Making and enjoying. See 5.
  7. Helping people find their arty parts.
  8. Colour.
  9. Unitarian ways.
  10. Family history.
  11. Ireland.
  12. The Cuban example.
  13. Teaching English as another language.
  14. Efficient cooking.  
  15. Haida Gwaii. (These are not in any particular order of dearness to my heart)
  16. The sacred headwaters and other sacred places and why they must be saved.
  17. Friendship. (Marriage remains a mystery to me. Why and How)
  18. The salmon fishing and canning industry.
  19. Academic action.
  20. The joys of belonging in groups. Dancing, book clubs, round the fire, church, singing, making things together, working together, and I am glad I found the Grind too.

(Ed. note: So are we!)

Susan's Twenty

We invited other writers, who weren’t at the Grind Writers the day we did the prompt from Lois Peterson’s *101 & More Writing Exercises.”  to contribute their lists.

Hey! -- I wasn't there but I loved this exercise and would like to contribute it for the blog. Awesome prompt.  Quick but very inspiring.  
  1. Art
  2. Social Media
  3. Dog training
  4. Games boards--Parcheesi and Snakes & Ladders
  5. M├ętis Arts & Culture 
  6. Arts & Crafts architecture 
  7. Prayers in the bible
  8. Entrepreneurship
  9. Wedding & event planning
  10. How to make myself smile even when I don’t feel like it
  11. Jim Reeves
  12. How to travel on a dime, especially in France
  13. Dying children & bereaved parents
  14. Patient- and family-centred care
  15. Marketing
  16. Blogging
  17. How a Bucket List can change your life 
  18. Thrift stores
  19. How to find really cool stuff on Craigslist for free or cheap
  20. How to order my Starbucks 6 pump, no fat, no water, no foam, Tazo Chai Latte in the order the barista writes it on the cup ;)

(Ed. note: Do watch Susan’s “I’m Not Dying, I’m Just a Goal-setter” #17 – also very inspiring.)

*The prompt was: Write a list of 20 things you know a lot about.

Patricia's Twenty

More output from the Lois Peterson prompt (from Use 101 and more Writing Exercises)

Here is my list. I have of course budgeted and made some decisions about numbers.

20.    How to read academic textbooks.
19.   How to spend a lot of time by myself: walking, reading, writing
13.   How to watch many foreign movies in one day. Hint pick documentaries if you don't want to be totally spun out.
18.   The complexity of human behaviour, especially paradoxes
17.   How to discipline myself in somethings like writing and not others like exercising
16.   How to travel by taking risks and making arrangements.
15.   How to observe people in foreign countries without knowing the language.
14.   How to learn dance steps, but it is oh so hard.
12.   How to live within my budget and where to find free things to do.   
11.   I know a lot about espresso machines, popcorn, and single parenting.
10.   I know a lot about things that interest me, like Haida Gwaii, death, and David Foster Wallace
9.    All my body cells know about the cold in the South End of Winnipeg in the 60s.  

Friday, 20 March 2015

G's Twenty

G. was the member who suggested this prompt from Lois Peterson's book, 101-and more-Writing Exercises to Get You Started & Keep You Going.

Prompt: Write a list of 20 things you know a lot about.

I'm sending the first list I wrote when I pulled this exercise as a free writing prompt.
  1. Teaching
  2. Afghanistan
  3. Travelling by myself
  4. Motherhood
  5. Being an immigrant
  6. Tibetan Buddhism
  7. Hippies
  8. Meditation
  9. Living in conservative communities
  10. Owning a house
  11. Raising Zebra Finches
  12. The Virtues Project
  13. Henry VIII and Hampton Court
  14. The Holocaust
  15. Living in a strata
  16. Dogs and cats
  17. Hitchhiking 
  18. Anxiety
  19. Addiction to alcohol
  20. Films

Tara's Twenty

Another contribution to the prompt from Lois Peterson's book, "Write a list of 20 things you know a lot about."

From Tara:

For my 20 things I know a lot about, here they are:

1.     Cats 
2.    Phantom of fhe Opera 
3.    Andrew Lloyd Webber 
4.    Needlework 
5.    History of Gosselin Geneology & Trivia 
6.    History Of Chouinard Geneaology & Trivia 
7.    Lucy Maud Montgomery 
8.    Opera 
9.    History Of Paris 
10.  History Of England 
11.  The English Poets 
12.  Cultural Anthropology 
13.  William Shakespeare 
14.  Star Trek 
15.  Sherlock Holmes 
16.  Anne Of Green Gables series 
17.  Harry Potter series 
18.  Tigers 
19.  Animals from Africa 
20.  Bears

Saturday, 14 March 2015

Mary's Twenty Things

At Grind Writers today we wrote to a prompt which came from Lois Peterson's 101 & More Writing Exercises

Exercise #18, pg. 11. Prompt: Make a list of 20 things that you know a lot about.

  1. Identifying West Coast weeds (as opposed to vegetables or flowers)
  2. The smell of the Pacific Ocean
  3. Mixed media techniques
  4. Myers Briggs personality type
  5. How to visit someone in hospital
  6. Planning workshops, leading meetings
  7. Labyrinths
  8. Cooking soup from whatever you have around
  9. bglttti2sqq issues
  10. Being friendly
  11. Unitarian churches
  12. Kitsilano
  13. The smell of a boy-child's scalp after sweating
  14. How to set up a Google group
  15. Pagan rituals
  16. Ecological despair
  17. Housing co-ops—plus, minus, and interesting
  18. Great arts and culture opportunities in Vancouver for free or cheap
  19. Traffic circle gardens
  20. Being mary/merry

Wednesday, 4 March 2015


Please email before you attend the first time. We sometimes have out-trips and are not at the Grind:

Grind Writers – Meeting Dates 2015
Note we skip any long weekends and go to the following week
Jan 10

July 11
Jan 25
July 26
Feb 14
Aug 8
Mar 1
Aug 23
Mar 14
(Labour Day Sept 7)
Sept 12
Mar 29
Sept 27
(Easter April 5)
Apr 11
(Thanksg. Oct 12)
Oct 17
Apr 26
Nov 1
May 9
Nov 14
Victoria Day May 18)
May 24
Nov 29
June 6
Dec 12
June 21