Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Brevity is the new Black

Lately I've been noticing more frequent evidence of our sound-bite society. Media methods of grabbing our attention have now become routine in so many other ways. Just recently, I bought the six word memoir book, Not what I was planning, as a gift for Marty. I highly recommend trying to write your own six word memoir. It's an excellent exercise. It prompted me to write several on a recent gray Sunday morning with houseguests.

Not that I need prompting, of course. I get exquisite prompts in my Sudden Fiction class, a Portland Adult Ed offering on Peaks.
Eleanor Morse, recent winner of the Maine Literary Award for An Unexpected Forest, taught the most gentle and encouraging class. A group of us met on Thursday evenings for good reason: the opportunity to let the words flow for an hour, and then hear what others wrote. Eleanor's whole approach completely redefined teaching for me. She would introduce the weekly prompt, usually a word or related phrases, ring the bell and say begin! It was exhilarating to walk in unpremeditated, no homework, and write from the hip.
I thought I'd be chewing the ends of my pencils, but in fact, I was able to write non-stop. For an hour. I discovered I had something to tap. After the hour was up (another ding of the bell) the delicious dessert was served: each person would read what they wrote, including Eleanor, who would always weave in some amazing slice of her current novel-in-progress, blowing the rest of us completely out of the water.

We met at Eleanor's house down the street for the final class. After a potluck dinner, we took turns reading one piece we had written during class, polished or tweaked outside of class.
Here is Stephanie Eliot reading her sudden fiction piece.

She's quite the actress. In fact, she IS an actress. We saw her in two plays as part of the Maine Short Play Festival presented at the St. Lawrence Art Center. The series of six short plays by local playwrights was riddled with Peaks Islanders. Michael Levine, co-founder of Acorn, and Julie Goell each directed several, and Stephanie Eliot and George Rosol were actors. What else could get loyal Peaks culture vultures out on a bitter evening?

Stephanie played multiple parts in Bailey's Mistake by Gerald George. Here's our view from the last row; the house was packed.

Short and succinct can be sweet. There's my six word memoir for the day.

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