Monday, March 23, 2009


this is the fair and mighty Alyssa, a brilliant cellist, singer and songwriter, and a great friend. she volunteered to lead an exercise at the last meeting of our songwriters' group (B.A.D.A.S/S.), and it was a beaut.
it was taken from Laraine Herring's Writing Begins With the Breath - embodying your authentic voice.
Lyssy asked us first to write freely for fifteen minutes on one of the assigned prompts (no choice - do what you're told):
1. When i am at a crossroads, I...
2. Change means...
3. Fear means...
4. Risk means...
this was just to get us started. we would not have to share any of this with the group.
i got number two. i will share with you, so you might see how my mind works on things in the very early stages. i like to call it "thoughtbusting":
future collapses with each breath, each step, each going in to, fray or glory or both. others change you - you change for others. others of mothers you'd like to be brothers. your family grows, CHANGES, new roles that are old roles changed.
underline words go ahead in thought and deed and spreading whatever light you can generate, from the change in your energy. flat tire, barbed wire, sailing calm and beaten by wind, take your shoes off, get a grip, and change what you thought would be.
but it's not good when it takes other folks to point out that you've changed. jaysus, figure it out, you're the one living with yourself, get a grip and get on out.
out is where you figure out where you want to be, caught in a web of friends so when you go in to colour your skin show the world the change is free
and 15 minutes is up.
Lyss then asked us to identify an abstract idea, to be turned into a concrete image which we would expand on for another fifteen, this time to share with the group.
abstract: change is inevitable. go with it
concrete: change is a river.
crash and fall, return to the mother, a home for the fleet of fin and diggers who go without breathing. at the end of it all you know is the sea, no coming back after the flood.
it's the moon again, chains the tide and marks the days with its comings and goings, waxing, waning, disappearing on the change.
how can one not move on, in the country of seasons? everywhere is proof of faith, things die and regenerate to days of glory and sun-scudded sky
and 15 minutes is up.
a simple and brilliant exercise, and one that i will certainly borrow for my classes and workshops. if you only had time for one, this would be it.
it covers so much - abstract, concrete, free flow and more thoughtful writing, private and public.
one thing we realized was that the prompts weren't important in themselves, and were almost interchangeable. but it's good to have an assignment to give you some focus. it's much easier to write something than it is to write anything.


Laraine Herring said...


I'm glad that exercise was beneficial to you! I really appreciate you mentioning it. I never know what happens once the work is out in the world. All best to you!

Laraine Herring

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the exercises. They work for all types of writing!
I have a music and words festival coming up and would love it if you could send some info out to your BADASS group. It's called the Blue Bridge Festival and takes place on June 5, 6, 7 in Sutton, Newmarket and Unionville repectivly. Please go to for more information.

Alyssa said...

Hi Paul - and Laraine (nice to "meet" you!)

If you think that exercise was helpful, the book is FILLED with 'em. Everybody should go get it. No, I don't get any money if you do. It's just a fabulous book, and exactly what I needed to get myself out of my latest rut. I've only made it through the first two chapters and I'm already thinking so differently. It's fabulous!!!