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Archive for December 2008

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Interview with Charles Barasch, poet, linguistics instructor, crossword puzzle writer, and author of Dreams of the Presidents. Hosted by Shelagh C. Shapiro, Write The Book airs on WOMM-LP 105.9 FM “The Radiator,” in Burlington, Vermont, every Saturday morning at 9:00 a.m.

Prompt: Today’s Write The Book Prompt is inspired in part by the interview you heard today. Charlie Barasch said that when he has trouble writing, he sometimes sets his poetry aside and turns to music. His own instrument is the guitar, and he’ll spend time singing and playing songs in order to jumpstart his brain and motivate the words to flow once more.

Oliver Sacks, in the book Musicophilia, writes: "Given the obvious similarities between music and language, it is not surprising that there has been a running debate for more than two hundred years as to whether they evolved in tandem or independently—and if the latter, which came first." He also says: "We humans are a musical species no less than a linguistic one. This takes many forms. All of us (with very few exceptions) can perceive music, perceive tones, timbre, pitch, intervals, melodic contours, harmony, and (perhaps most elementally), rhythm."

Perhaps this explains why, when Charlie Barasch takes up his guitar, he’s able to break through the occasional obstacle of writer’s block and free up his creative capacity to write poems.

Here is your assignment for the week. If you’re stuck in you work or  unable to start writing, stand up out of you chair, close your eyes, and sing a song. Not all of us can play the guitar, but most people can pick up the nearest object, tap it with a pencil, and sing a favorite tune by Sinatra, the Clash, the Talking Heads, Van Morrison, Tommy Dorsey. If you’re so moved, dance around the room. Don’t feel silly. Do just exactly what you might enjoy, musically, all by yourself, without being told by an inner critic to stop. Play Once In Love With Amy on the piano. Hum Gershwin. Whistle Mozart. Or just clap your hands for a while, in a rhythm that is recognizable or somehow moving just to you. Then return to your work and see what might have changed since that moment when you turned to music for help. Write for at least half an hour and see if you’ve made progress. Good luck with this exercise and please listen next week for another.

Music credits: 1) “Dreaming 1″ - John Fink; 2) “Filter” - Dorset Greens (a Vermont band featuring several South Burlington High School students)

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Interview with Linda Bland, co-author of Don't Stop at Green LIghts and owner of Cahoots Writing Services. Hosted by Shelagh C. Shapiro, Write The Book airs on WOMM-LP 105.9 FM “The Radiator,” in Burlington, Vermont, every Saturday morning at 9:00 a.m.

Prompt: Today’s Write The Book Prompt is inspired in part by the interview you heard today. Linda Bland mentioned that she needs to exercise before attacking a manuscript, either her own or one that she’s reading for a client. With this in mind, today’s prompt is this: if you’re feeling stuck or need an idea before getting started with your writing today, go for a walk. Or, if you prefer, a run or a swim. Put on snowshoes or cross country skies, if the snow is too deep for walking. Before striking out, set yourself an assignment. Tell yourself you need an idea, or you need to develop that idea you had last week. If a particular scene or snippet of dialogue is giving you trouble, suggest to yourself that during the next hour of exercise, you’d really like to work out this problem. Write down what you are hoping to accomplish, then go exercise. Don’t actively focus on the problem you’ve set yourself, just let it be there, within your awareness, as you walk or hike or bike. When you get back, write for at least half an hour and see if you’ve made progress.

Music credits: 1) “Dreaming 1″ - John Fink; 2) “Filter” - Dorset Greens (a Vermont band featuring several South Burlington High School students)

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Interview with Louella Bryant, author of While In Darkness There Is Light. Hosted by Shelagh C. Shapiro, Write The Book airs on WOMM-LP 105.9 FM “The Radiator,” in Burlington, Vermont, every Saturday morning at 9:00 a.m.

Prompt: Today’s Write The Book Prompt is inspired by this holiday season. Love it or hate it, the season is upon us. Probably you have a great many catalogs piling up in your living room or on the back of a toilet somewhere, waiting to be chucked in January. Why not use these to some advantage? Pour yourself a cup of tea or coffee, sit back in your coziest couch, and window shop for your characters. Pick out clothing, furniture, sunglasses. Pick out boots, necklaces, belts. Would your narrator wear new jeans, or faded? Would his fleece have buttons or a zip? Would she be in heels or flats? Boots or strappy sandals? Use your catalogs to fill out a scene whose details have been lacking. Sometimes the poses in magazines look wrong somehow. The snow is synthetic, the beach is off-kilter. Why? What’s missing? How might you write these settings more convincingly? You might look for the things your characters can’t afford. What would substitute? Instead of that pricey lamp, how would she light her desk? A candle in a jelly jar? A flashlight? Look at your catalogs not with the eye of a buyer, but with the imagination of a writer. Make lists of ideas as you go, and then write without catalog in hand for twenty minutes. See what develops.

Music credits: 1) “Dreaming 1″ - John Fink; 2) “Filter” - Dorset Greens (a Vermont band featuring several South Burlington High School students)

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