Saturday, March 28, 2015

Ink and Wax

I went to the session on writing personal essays. We were first told to go read a good sample size of personal essays starting with Eugene England. Then we were presented with a "nearly perfect" essay to look at called Joyas Voladoras by Brian Doyle. Some of the reasons it was so well created is because it began by asking us to consider. Then it began to give us further information to consider often starting with large units and reducing to smaller units. It also quickly alerted us to the theme of hearts by using well-placed repetition. Perhaps most importantly though was the skill with which the easy transitioned from interesting facts about the world to a personal, contemplative understanding.
One quote I really liked was "the world is everywhere whispering essays."

Photo by Bunches and Bits {Karina}
From there we moved into a workshop period where we applied what they called "the artful trick." We began by listing 10 things we considered ourselves masters of. This came from the idea that the most interesting and important things are found in the tiny masters of tiny domains that we all are. I only got to 6, but I listed 1) considering new perspectives, 2) Writing wax-sealed letters, 3) Reading what I want to read, 4) Having a one-on-one conversation, 5) Playing with Spencer's curls, 6) Missing my family. 

From there, we were supposed to choose just one topic and free write/free associate for five minutes. I wrote: "I've always felt romantically toward writing letters on parchment sealed with red wax. They way the wax bubbles and drips as it globs onto the crease only to be pressed into an identity, is fascinating. To watch it seal away secret contents and hidden feelings. Wax can be unwieldy though. I have a red stain on my pajamas and underclothes and a small red spot on my leg to prove it. But then again, so is ink. Just like wax being pressed into distinguishable form, ink etches itself into meaning.

Then we were to free write on a person somehow related to the topic. I wrote: "I always hoped to sometime have a person to give a wax-sealed letter to. When I met Spencer, I figured I'd found him; he was my wax-sealed match. And believe me, I wrote a few, got burnt in the process. But I have since stopped because there is no utterable word with which to etch in ink or seal with wax.

Finally, we were to free write the opening to our essay. I wrote two openings: "Contemplate the similarities of ink and wax." And, "Why must words inscribed with ink and wax be secretive?"

I even got some interesting feedback. The general tone they felt was a romance edged with mystery. Not what I was going for but, hey, no big deal. And a comment I really liked was the idea that ink is more permanent than other forms of communication, similar to the drafts of our lives and the desire to find someone to write to permanently. 

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