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Welcome to chapter 11 of Write After Reading: Living the Life Poetic, weekly online book club with poetry participation. It alternates between my blog and Laura's blog. Last week,  over at Laura's blog, we're chatted about Chapter 9. Feel free to hop over there and see what you might have missed.

This chapter is about thinking outside the box when it comes to using sensory descriptions. Instead of thinking what lonely feels like, we try to imagine what it tastes like, sounds like. By using unusual and unexpected sensory definitions we get a richer experience. I loved the idea behind this chapter. It's something I've been doing with students for years but, as often happens with me, I don't practice it nearly enough myself.

I will say that kids amaze me when I use this sort of writing with them. When I'm doing a residency, one of the first writing exercises we do is to identify the senses and then brainstorm expected words/phrases to go with them. Then I have them them throw out a word and I write it on the board...say "honesty" and then they have to use each of their senses to tell me what home looks like, feels like, tastes like, sounds like and smells like. I will often preface this exercise with a reading from the fabulous Book of Qualities by Ruth Gendler.

I think this chapter reminded me of what I am trying to accomplish by doing this Write After Reading project - actually WRITING the exercises. Exercises are good for us. Physical ones and written ones. I don't do them enough. I think what happens to me after reading an exercise such as this is that there's a soundtrack in my background that says, "Yes, that's a great idea. Wow, look at those examples. Those people are so creative. If I do these exercises I will be more creative too. Except I hear the dog asking to go outside and it's almost time to go to the dentist. And I'm not really awake yet...." And so I close the book and forget about it. I'd like to be kinder to myself and take a little time each week to play with some no pressure exercises like the ones in this chapter.

I am off to the dentist to fix a lost crown but when I come back, I think I'll work on the following exercise:

Who does red love?
What kind of shoes does anxiety wear?
What does jealousy eat for breakfast?
Where does fear live?
What did blue borrow and why?
How does pink sing?
What does truth taste like?

The idea is to answer the questions very fast....don't over-think them.


There are so many stories only you can tell.Tell them, please.


( 28 comments — Leave comment )
April 6th, 2011 07:09 pm (UTC)
How does PINK sing?
I guess like this:


But I'm not a big fan.
April 6th, 2011 10:34 pm (UTC)
Re: How does PINK sing?
I'm not a fan of THAT Pink either. :)
April 6th, 2011 10:33 pm (UTC)
Okay...I couldn't get into LJ for a while but here are my responses to this exercise.

Who does red love?
Red loves pink for the softness it brings to her life but has had a long-standing affair with black because they share a love of risk-taking and strawberry ice cream.

What kind of shoes does anxiety wear?
Anxiety wears comfortable shoes made of softest leather to cradle her tired feet. They are cushioned with little air pillows that make it feel like she is walking on clouds but she is always afraid they are going to pop. She won't wear them in the rain though, as she fears they will be ruined.

What does jealousy eat for breakfast?
Jealousy eats eggs covered in hot sauce for breakfast then washes it down with a side of Pepto Bismol. She knows she should eat better but she can't break the habit.

Where does fear live?
Fear lives in a cave on the north side of the hill. The sun never quite reaches the entrance so he is always coming and going in shadows. He has a candle he stole from Hope but he's afraid to light it.

What did blue borrow and why?
Blue borrowed my paintbrush to paint the sky.

How does pink sing?
Pink sings slightly off-key but no one seems to mind because her smile makes you forget her voice.

What does truth taste like?
Truth tastes like a deep, dark wine, full-bodied and satisfying.

Edited at 2011-04-06 10:34 pm (UTC)
April 6th, 2011 11:45 pm (UTC)
Love the Pepto Bismol image! And I like pink's smile, too. Who cares if she's off key.

Fun exercise. I'll get to mine tomorrow, but couldn't resist throwing in this comment that's totally off track. There's a billboard in my town for a funeral home. "Think outside the box."
April 6th, 2011 11:52 pm (UTC)
Oh gosh...I LOVE that billboard. You have to use it in a story somehow.

I'm sure if I went back and revised I would come up with different things but I really tried to do it right in the heat of the moment. Looking forward to yours.
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(no subject) - dorireads - April 7th, 2011 04:36 pm (UTC) - Expand
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April 7th, 2011 03:40 am (UTC)
Oooh, I like that image a lot.
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April 7th, 2011 03:41 am (UTC)
I know LJ has been a real pain lately.
April 7th, 2011 09:44 am (UTC)
Interesting exercise -- it was fun to read your answers, Susan!

Most of the time, I don't think jealousy can even eat anything for breakfast. Her stomach is all in a knot. But sometimes, she will eat what she thinks YOU'RE having.
April 13th, 2011 04:19 am (UTC)
Oh Tabatha...yours is fun....she will have what everyone else is having and she still won't be happy.
April 7th, 2011 10:57 am (UTC)
I couldn’t guess where to begin until I saw Susan’s post. Here’s mine (by ellie).

Red loves lips and lipstick, for there it can shine.

Anxiety wears warm, waterproof boots to keep her feet safe.

With breakfast, Jealousy drinks mimosas in public, as if she didn’t care, but in reality, to dull the pain of envy.

Fear lives behind the eyes in unsuspecting, unprotected minds.

Blue borrowed the ocean to raise fish.

Pink sings the Star-Spangled Banner loud and strong, red and white stripes running together with tears of pride over the years.

Beware liars, for to you, truth tastes like lemons.
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(no subject) - (Anonymous) - April 7th, 2011 11:23 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - susanwrites - April 13th, 2011 04:21 am (UTC) - Expand
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April 7th, 2011 04:35 pm (UTC)
Re: What I Needed to Hear
I agree. That was a great line. It's so easy to be stuck in the same old rut. It's so easy to get attached unconsciously to a word or a phrase and run it into the ground. I recently revised a middle grades novel and removed countless incidences of "just." I was just so easy to stick it in.
Re: What I Needed to Hear - susanwrites - April 13th, 2011 04:23 am (UTC) - Expand
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April 13th, 2011 04:25 am (UTC)
Re: The Exercise
Oh Laura....love the close-toed shoes for anxiety and fear in a mindshaft...ooh!

Pink's singing seems to really bring out some creative thoughts for us all.

Love blue writing a love note because I don't normally associate blue with love so I like the unexpectedness of it.
April 7th, 2011 04:30 pm (UTC)
Alas, I did read the posts before completing my exercise, so I had all your images in my head. I tried to do it fast and come up with my own.

Red loves a hand-me-down dress she can wear with no makeup.

Anxiety wears mules too big for her tender feet.

Jealousy eats hot mustard on toasted bread washed down with brown beer.

Fear lives in the root cellar where it can seep deep in the hidden darkness and twine itself around half rotten potatoes.

Blue borrowed a ship to sail beyond the gray line of sky into the black beyond.

Pink sings poorly with a mouth full of Bubblelicious.

Truth tastes like bread with butter, steak with eggs, shepherd's pie heaped with mashed potatoes. Solid, staples, plenty of protein.

April 13th, 2011 04:26 am (UTC)
Dori I love the hand-me-down dress for Red and fear in the root cellar. What great images.
April 7th, 2011 06:33 pm (UTC)
I did this exercise quickly when I read the chapter, giving just one or two word answers. After reading all yours, I wish I'd given it a bit more effort. Yours were much more fun reading.

I did like this chapter. It gave me a good kick to get me out of some ruts I was too comfortable in and opened my eyes to how I could change it up a bit.

April 13th, 2011 04:27 am (UTC)
Thanks for playing along with us. I think it's great to have little jaunts like these exercises to shake us up.
April 7th, 2011 09:42 pm (UTC)
This was a fun excercise. Here are mine.

Who does red love? - Herself. Only Herself.

What kind of shoes does anxiety wear? - Practical loafers. She wouldn't want to trip and fall.

What does jealousy eat for breakfast? - She'll have whatever he's having. Except she'll have more.

Where does fear live? - Somewhere far, far away.

What did blue borrow and why? - A bright red peony. She thought it would good look in her hair.

How does pink sing? -- Too soft and slow for my tastes.

What does truth taste like? -- Ice cream. It's cold and sharp and it bites.

Barb T.

April 13th, 2011 04:28 am (UTC)
Love that red loves only herself. Of course!

And truth...wonderful description of truth.
April 12th, 2011 10:08 pm (UTC)
What does red love? White cheeks to blush, white sheets to stain
What kind of shoes does anxiety wear? high heels with straps that wrap her legs to the knee
What does jealousy eat for breakfast? More than you do or less than nothing
Where does fear live? Gut bound or running around in my head
What did blue borrow and why? pancake turner for blueberry pancakes
How does pink sing? Punk? Ponk? Plop.
What does truth taste like? broccoli with lemon
April 13th, 2011 04:29 am (UTC)
Truth tastes like broccoli with lemon? Lovely image! Thank you for sharing.
April 13th, 2011 12:15 am (UTC)
I haven't read the chapter yet, I am going to do that and then sleep on it and see what comes up in my dreams. For now, here's the top of my head:

What does red love? soft flesh & new buds
What kind of shoes does anxiety wear? brown loafers with scruffs on the toes
What does jealousy eat for breakfast? something she can't afford but wants because she thinks you have it
Where does fear live? right under your nose & deep in the corners of every room
What did blue borrow and why? my new skirt, because it's such a lovely day
How does pink sing? far too sweet & sentimental & mushy
What does truth taste like? dirt & tomatoes
April 13th, 2011 04:36 am (UTC)
I love all the answers people are coming up with for shoes for anxiety.

Ooh, truth tastes like dirt and tomatoes. That's an interesting image.

Thank you for joining us, Andi.
April 19th, 2011 09:32 am (UTC)
While the answers are all fun, I like the questions as their own poem!
April 20th, 2011 06:40 am (UTC)
Aren't the questions great? If you haven't seen that book, The Book of Qualities, check it out. It's an oldie but a goodie.
( 28 comments — Leave comment )

Who am I?I was born on the Cancer/Leo cusp and share a birthday with Ernest Hemingway and Robin Williams. The similarities don't stop there as I can go from depressed to ecstatic without ever passing go. I feel scared most of the time though my friends call me brave and I find it easier to believe in my friends than to believe in my own abilities to make what I want out of my life.

Who am I? A wife, a mother, a daughter, and even, gulp, a grandmother.

Who am I? A writer who never gets tired of playing with words, even when the words are hard to find. A writer of books for children and articles for grown-ups and many things in-between.

Who am I? A motivational speaker, writing instructor, workshop leader and full-time follower of dreams.

Who am I? Read and find out.

Susan Taylor Brown

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