Linda Berry created this interesting writing prompt at the outset of the pandemic; I used it with a few of my classes, and some students found the process comforting. I know that I did. It was published in the New York Times and titled “Documenting All the Small Things That Are Easily Lost”.
The instructions provided in the Google Classroom were written like this:
“Documenting All the Small Things That Are Easily Lost” By Lynda Barry
Before you begin, learn a bit about the author.
An introduction to the author: (3:05 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z1YnT5dopGI)
And her identity: (to 3:30 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2CfmeTPQHLE)
An assignment for all of us to help capture an extraordinary time.
When you think of the time just before now, what do you remember? If this is easy for you, then write; if this is complicated, try the following steps:
1. Draw a slow tight spiral and let your mind’s eye drift to scenes that come back to you when you think about what started to change, what became important, where were you, what were you doing. For 1 minute, spiral and drift.
2. For two minutes, make a list of those scenes and any other scenes that come to you. Look for scenes you can picture like snapshots, things you were doing, places you went, where and what and who.
3. Imagine yourself in one of those scenes and answer these questions. Complete sentences are best, but don’t limit yourself.
Where are you?
What is the time of day?
Where is the light coming from?
What’s going on?
What are you doing?
How did you get there?
Where were you two hours ago?
What’s the weather like?
Why are you there?
What can you hear?
What’s in front of you?
What’s to your right?
What’s to your left?
What’s behind you?
What’s around your feet?
What’s above your head?
4. Now write for about 8 minutes, describing the scene you just envisioned so clearly. Add dialogue, thoughts, ideas, questions… whatever.
Coincidentally, Angela Stockman’s newsletter arrived this morning and I skimmed “Thinking Differently About Documentation”.
While I’m still feeling the effects of the spiral described above caused by forces other than the spiral described above (I do this to myself, so it must be centrifugal forces), I decided to follow her advice.
This is the week to capture the light!
4 thoughts on “Documenting 6/31 #SOL”
I really like the Linda Berry prompt and have thought often about the before and after pandemic life. In terms of capturing the light, I find myself thinking about light and noticing it all the time. I try to focus on light and its effect in photos. The light changes a place and thing.
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Yes, and it’s metaphorical associations are so vast. Now you’ve got me thinking about another day of writing about light as both weight and reflection.
Thanks for sharing Linda Barry with us. The writing prompt is great, as I was reading about drawing the slow tight rope , so much came to me. I ask your permission to use the contents of your slice to come up with a slice. Thank you
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Please do and I’d be honoured, Juliette 🙏
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