I've been working to establish a writer's group down at Backstreet Arts. It's been tough going, given the clientele's sketchy and ever-changing schedules. (We serve anyone who walks through the door, but our focus is on the homeless and other underserved populations. Go donate.)
Part of the problem, as I have learned on the fly, is that although people are eager to "try writing," they often are prevented by their schedule from doing more than bits and pieces. I went into the project intending to listen to the writers' needs and assist them with whatever they wanted to write, but no one has been able to stick around enough to really begin to write.
So this past month I've been rethinking my approach. Rather than leave the writers to their own devices to discover what they want to write, I'm going back to the basic classroom strategy of providing quickie exercises that anyone can do in one session.
In this I am taking a cue from the volunteer visual artists who work there: they have all developed little projects that even the most timid patron can tackle and accomplish, just enough to make the patron feel comfortable and competent. Are they great art? Hardly, but that's not the point. The studio's motto is "Art Saves Lives," but it can't do that unless the artist hangs around long enough to do art.
Here's my first quickie: the 100 Word Rant. I got the idea from Dave Maleckar's blog of the same name, which came to my attention through The Funny Times, a fun monthly publication of cartoons and wit.
Super simple: write a short rant on any topic using 100 words. Here's mine:
I was astonished at how quickly it became an ABORTIVE ATTEMPT: all those deletions and false starts and arrows and numbering. It's great training to break a beginning (or experienced) writer of the KING OF HEARTS FALLACY.
And the result?
I NEED A NAP
You know how when you've just had sex and have to flop back and not move for a while? That's how I feel after finishing a big project like my book or a piece of music. I don't want to think about that next project which I've been putting off anyway. It means I'd have to find the energy to roll over and get back to work. You might think that I'd be eager, but honestly I'd rather take a break. Wait, are we still taking about making art? I've lost track. I think I need a nap.
You're welcome for the imagery.