Sunday, 31 March 2013

Spring Break Project Prompt #2

Here is the next one...
Prompt by Luke Neff
I will be on a plane and on the road for most of the day tomorrow so that should give me enough time to think of something.  What's your story? Give it a shot. 

Spring Break Project: "I see you"

The prompt went like this ...

“Some people turn sad awfully young. No special reason, it seems, but they seem almost to be born that way. They bruise easier, tire faster, cry quicker, remember longer and, as I say, get sadder younger than anyone else in the world. I know, for I'm one of them.”

She sees you.  
Actually, IT sees you.
So she stopped using it, the camera.  
She watched it, from time to time though, just sitting there. 
Pleading to be picked up.
Because it knew. 
The camera knew how much she loved to take pictures.  

But it was too much. 
Each time she took a photo she would see more than she should. 
More than faces and surfaces and patterns, she would see beyond eyeballs, skin and bone. 
Instead, she would bear witness to the deepest part of things she snapped.  
She would shoot someone - a stranger, a friend, a loved one, her self portrait - peer through the view finder to compose her perfect shot when the camera would tilt and focus and blur everything but what was most true about her subject at that moment.  
What was most unbearable to see were the hypocritical smiles of people she photographed.
Because underneath it all was this profound, abysmal ...
Extreme, explicable, deep, inconsolable loneliness and despair.  
It didn't matter how big and wide their smiles were. 
She would see the gaping hole that mocked and ailed them. 
The camera wouldn't let her miss it. 
And after awhile, documenting people's pain didn't sit well with her.
Not anymore.
Magical?  What was so magical about capturing that? she asked nobody.

So, she stopped picking it up.
She let it just sit there. 
Like a giant black widow spider waiting, preparing, eager to stab a little boy in the gut.

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Spring Break Project and a Pledge

Hey, I have an idea...

It's the first day of spring break and the possibilities of what can be done during this time seem endless.  I love it that there's this space now and many hours to do the  things we always think about and wish we could be doing when we are extremely busy.  And yes, since coming back from Chinese New Year break,  it has been non-stop teaching and learning action, from reading class novels to discussing and now writing about those texts -- novel/fictionalized autobiography.  Anyway, now that we are here at the very beginning of spring break, the last thing I want to do is watch time slip away in between marking/assessing your work, TV shows, walks along the beach, reading books for pleasure and my recent preoccupation, gaming chapters (in this case, Limbo) -- all of which are worthy exploits especially during the holidays but as much as I want to rest and recover during this time, I also want to be productive and creative. Being creative for someone like me means writing and taking photos.  So, I'd really like to fill my time with words and images.  What does being creative mean to you?

Anyway, taking the photos won't be too hard.  I do it almost everyday through my iPhone and Instagram.  In terms of writing though, I want to be able to create opportunities to work on my craft during this break. No pressure just a promise that I will spend at least an hour everyday writing in these two weeks.  To help me, I will post a visual writing prompt every other day just so that I have a place to start, then use this blog (create a new entry) to write something, anything related to the prompt.  Some prompts I will pull from different areas in the internet, some I hope to create from my own photos and words.  :)

I am writing about it here because it would be great if you could join me.  I know, I've asked you write some kind of a draft for your essay or your feature article during the break and that's fine. (yeah, I love you too).

But maybe during your work breaks or between sight seeing or hanging out with friends, you will also find the time to engage in this Spring Break Project.  I'd love to see what you create and produce.  You can write, draw, compose -- anything, just as long as there is a written component to your creation.  Write me a comment below if you are interested. Then let's follow our RSS feeds to see what people post.  :)


For today's prompt, here's a simple one.   Give it a try ... as will I.
Prompt by John T. Spencer 

So yeah, a pledge and a project for Spring Break. Let the writing begin.  (Um, after I check everyone submissions in Google drive, of course. :) )

Spring Break Greeting

Well, here we are.  Getting ready to face a much anticipated break. Where did March go?  Anyway,  good luck with your submissions tonight and tomorrow.  Whether you are submitting the Feature Article task sheet for Grade 8 or the Literary Essay outline for Grade 7, I am sending you original, creative and innovative writing vibes.  We did a lot of thinking, discussing, asking questions and clarifying this week and now it's time to arrange our thoughts and insights into some structured form to be able to write about our understanding in a compelling way.

Looking forward to seeing all the hard work take its written form when we get back.

Don't forget to start writing a workable draft during the break so that we can workshop what you have first thing when we all get back.

 In the meantime,
Pick up a book while you are at it, why don't you.  I'll ask you about what you read for pleasure during the break as well.

Have an awesome, restful break everyone.

Monday, 25 March 2013

George Orwell's Advice to Young Writers

Whether it's the Grade 8 Feature Article you are planning or the Grade7 literary essay, here are a few words of wisdom from the famous George Orwell.
Good luck, guys.  Plan well, think your ideas through and write, write, write.

Oh and go and check out your RSS Feeds. There's a lot of great blogging going on.  Will do a round up soon.  Let's just get to the finish line, shall we.

Monday, 18 March 2013

Write On, Mr. Hemingway

I know, I know. 

We are not exactly in the middle of doing any creative writing right now. In fact, from the Grade 8 feature article task to the upcoming Grade 7 literary essay task, the kind of writing we are all preoccupied with at this point in the year involves a critical eye rather than a creative one.  This is not to say that the essays and articles you will be writing shouldn't be captivating, interesting and engaging, but you get what I mean -- we are writing critical responses/articles, not fictional narratives.   But even if we are not writing fictional stories in its strictest sense, I know that many of you are writing short stories, novellas, chapters for novels, etc on your own. When I stumbled upon this article, I thought of you:  Seven Tips From Ernest Hemingway on How To Write Fiction.  
...let it refill at night from the springs that fed it. 

I've quoted seven valuable tips here along with snippets from the original piece. I hope that you get something out of it regardless of what you are writing.  

The article begins this way... 

"Before he was a big game hunter, before he was a deep-sea fisherman, Ernest Hemingway was a craftsman who woud rise very early in the morning and write.

1.  To get started, write one true sentence.  
"Sometimes when I was starting a new story and I could not get it going, I would sit in front of the fire and squeeze the peel of the little oranges into the edge of the flame and watch the sputter of blue that they made. I would stand and look out over the roofs of Paris and think, “Do not worry. You have always written before and you will write now. All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.” So finally I would write one true sentence, and then go on from there. It was easy then because there was always one true sentence that I knew or had seen or had heard someone say. If I started to write elaborately, or like someone introducing or presenting something, I found that I could cut that scrollwork or ornament out and throw it away and start with the first true simple declarative sentence I had written." 

2.  Always stop for the day while you still know what will happen next. 
"The best way is always to stop when you are going good and when you know what will happen next. If you do that every day when you are writing a novel you will never be stuck. That is the most valuable thing I can tell you so try to remember it."

3.  Never think about the story when you're not working.  
"Hemingway says never to think about a story you are working on before you begin again the next day. “That way your subconscious will work on it all the time,” he writes in theEsquire piece. “But if you think about it consciously or worry about it you will kill it and your brain will be tired before you start.” 

4.  When it's time to work again, always start by reading what you've written so far.  
"The best way is to read it all every day from the start, correcting as you go along, then go on from where you stopped the day before. When it gets so long that you can’t do this every day read back two or three chapters each day; then each week read it all from the start. That’s how you make it all of one piece."

5: Don’t describe an emotion–make it.
"Close observation of life is critical to good writing, said Hemingway. The key is to not only watch and listen closely to external events, but to also notice any emotion stirred in you by the events and then trace back and identify precisely what it was that caused the emotion. If you can identify the concrete action or sensation that caused the emotion and present it accurately and fully rounded in your story, your readers should feel the same emotion." 

6: Use a pencil.
"When you start to write you get all the kick and the reader gets none.So you might as well use a typewriter because it is that much easier and you enjoy it that much more. After you learn to write your whole object is to convey everything, every sensation, sight, feeling, place and emotion to the reader. To do this you have to work over what you write. If you write with a pencil you get three different sights at it to see if the reader is getting what you want him to. First when you read it over; then when it is typed you get another chance to improve it, and again in the proof. Writing it first in pencil gives you one-third more chance to improve it. That is .333 which is a damned good average for a hitter. It also keeps it fluid longer so you can better it easier."

7: Be Brief.
"It wasn’t by accident that the Gettysburg address was so short. The laws of prose writing are as immutable as those of flight, of mathematics, of physics."

What do you think?  Do you agree with Hemingway?  Any tip here that you can use even if you are writing a critical piece rather than a creative one?  Leave a comment and let me know what you're thinking.  :)  

Tuesday, 12 March 2013


Thanks, Mr. R for this cool research tool find. 

Do you ever wish that someone or something would help you summarize long articles on the Internet? That some magical force would create short, medium, or long summaries based on keywords and repeating ideas? Wouldn't that be helpful as you read article after article on the Sudanese conflict  for your research or read different articles on poetry or background information for "The Book Thief" by Zusak?  

Getting excited? Watch this:

Have a play with Cruxlight. You can get the Chrome or Firefiox extension here.  Let me know how it works out.

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Red Dot Awards 2013

Hey, if you are a lover of books (just like Liesel in Zusak's "The Book Thief") and/or have been reading the Red Dot books from the library or forming your own collection of must reads -- it would be great if you could cast a vote for the Red Dot Award!
Once a year for one week we vote for the best book in four categories:  Early YearsYounger ReadersOlder Readers, and Mature Readers.  Any student is welcome to vote in any category - as long as they have read at least two of the books in that category (voting, after all, is about choosing).
Ready to vote?
You can do it through a web browser - go to this webpage:
Or use your mobile device and this QR code.  

Vote now! 
 For more information, read this post.