Tuesday Tryouts: To Thine Own Self Be True, Then Lie

23 Oct

8:08 a.m. — Atlanta

listening to My Little Town, with Simon and Garfunkel

Hi, everyone. I hope your weather is as stunningly gorgeous as mine. I want some place with this weather always! I know, I know, let’s get back to reality. Today’s prompt will be the last heavy-duty prompt until January, given that so many of you will be part of NaNoWriMo in November, and December is a whack month. I’ll be looking for light exercises that play more to prose during November.

For today, we deal with emotions. There are many things we can, and do, write that we only know what we see, or have read, or have heard about. It’s hard to do that with emotions. How our speaker feels about what s/he is saying has to ring true. Otherwise, why should our readers buy into it?

List the emotions you have felt, at one time or another. As you list, if specific moments appear in your mind, jot those moments down. If, as you jot, specific feelings arise, write those down. The more jotting, the more fodder for poems.

Choose one that you want to play with. Can you remember something that allows you to reinhabit the emotion, literally? The something can be else. Like actors searching their emotional banks for anything like what they want to feel [as they need to ring true for things they may never have undergone, but need to sound as if they have], you can pull on different resources to recreate the feeling you remember, but that is faint, now. Although, if you threw a plate against a wall, yesterday, out of sheer frustration, you can probably reinhabit that emotion without difficulty. The trick is stepping back enough to analyse the components.

Let yourself and your writing wander. Now write how you really felt when undergoing your chosen emotion. Mentally? Physically? What happens?

Write a poem that recalls the/an event with this emotion. Or, thread aspects of the emotion through a poem on another subject, entirely. Whether the story is yours, or someone else’s, you want to create a speaker with a clear voice. Whether the story is yours, or someone else’s, you may certainly change details to fit the poem you see. The thing here is to recreate an emotion while writing about something. While I am asking you to strip naked for your mental workings, even for your notes, remember, always, that you are using the material as a tool and may do anything you wish with it. You aren’t writing about the emotion. You are letting the emotion come through your writing.

I had a student, many years ago. He was a junior, taking my creative writing class. He had a bit of a reputation as a bad boy. I had asked the class to describe an emotion and he was giving me grief. He didn’t know how to go about it. I walked his way, needling him. By the time I got to his desk, he had steam coming out his ears. I asked whether he was angry at me. He practically stuttered his yes. Then I asked him to turn inwards and tell me, literally, how he felt. He didn’t stop writing for twenty minutes. I’m grinning as I write this. We were both pleased with ourselves.

Give it a try. The objective, as always, is to stretch our writing muscles, to learn what we do well, and not so well. If all you manage with this is a series of notes, but they show the emotion[s], put them in an order, tell us that, and post. Exercises never have to be complete. This is a working arena. The people who read your blogs will understand this, if you tell them. Yes, I am cajoling :-D.

I shall see you Thursday for stuff [that’s the short version]; Friday, for the week’s round-up; and, next Tuesday for a visual prompt.

Happy writing, everyone.


Posted by on 23/10/2012 in exercises, poetry, writing


Tags: , , , ,

28 responses to “Tuesday Tryouts: To Thine Own Self Be True, Then Lie

  1. JulesPaige

    23/10/2012 at 9:06 am

    OK – Now this is just dang Twilight Zone time… I penned this piece this morning (before this your prompt just popped in), maybe an hour ago. It might not fit the total bill of fare here…but then does lying to one’s own self ever fit that bill.

    Hey I’m freezing my fingertips off here – send some of that good weather north please 🙂

    • margo roby

      23/10/2012 at 9:11 am

      Well, you and I do tend to run together. I admit, this instance is a little scarier than usual, but hey.

      I didn’t say it wasn’t cold!

  2. vivinfrance

    23/10/2012 at 11:19 am

    Is frustration an emotion? I am in the midst of a time-struggle to finish a quilt before my daughter comes on Saturday,. It was made to the size she gave me, but she told me at the weekend that that wouldn’t be big enough. I was almost ready to start quilting, but I set to adding bits all round jigsaw puzzle fashion until I had used every scrap of fabric I possess in the right colour. It is so big that it keeps slipping, so I decided to hand stitch round the edges to hold it together before I can begin to quilt. The weight on my knee is vast, progress slow and painful, and I am about ready to put the whole thing in the bin! No time to write a poem to this prompt, so this will have to do for me contribution this week!

    • margo roby

      23/10/2012 at 11:32 am

      You’re in with that one, ViV. I looked it up [I love looking things up — it’s a family problem]. Primary emotion = anger; secondary emotion to that = Irritation: Aggravation, irritation, agitation, annoyance, grouchiness, grumpiness; tertiary to anger is: Exasperation = frustration

      Your emotion comes through loud and clear. Do remember, your well-being first, the quilt’s, second.

    • ladynimue

      23/10/2012 at 3:33 pm

      Goood Luck with your quilt.
      As much as I love the pics you share of them , I will say take care Viv ! I like your poems better 😀

      • margo roby

        25/10/2012 at 10:37 am

        I’m late, I’m late… I feel like the white rabbit! Sorry i took so long to respond. Coming over now, Lady N.

    • barbara_

      25/10/2012 at 10:31 am

      She will love it, even if you’re hating the thing by the time you give it to her. Bet it turns out gorgeous. I’d have slapped a couple of wide borders and washed my hands of the whole, but I’m not a mother. Or a form-loving poet.

  3. ladynimue

    23/10/2012 at 3:33 pm

    You actually prompted me to dig up something I rather not write.

    thanks !

  4. Hannah Gosselin

    23/10/2012 at 9:49 pm

    I’m not sure if I captured the emotion as much as I captured the moment but it was one of the first memories that floated to the surface so I wrote it for you.

    Thank you for the try-out, Margo!! Smiles!

    • margo roby

      25/10/2012 at 10:38 am

      Hannah, I am a firm believer in taking the first thing our brains give us. After all, they are smart :-).

      • Hannah Gosselin

        25/10/2012 at 5:44 pm

        This made me laugh!!! Your awesome and smart, too!! 😆

  5. val dering rojas

    23/10/2012 at 10:29 pm

    Going to give this one a try tomorrow, after the kids leave. I may need to be alone for this. 😉

    • margo roby

      24/10/2012 at 7:13 am

      Understood, Val. I agree that this might require more focus!

  6. Pingback: Buckled « Misky
  7. Misky

    24/10/2012 at 9:34 am

    Bonjour. I am of fewer words today.

  8. barbara_

    24/10/2012 at 11:48 am

    Well. I wound up using it, but I didn’t really encapsulate the emotion like I wanted.

    • margo roby

      25/10/2012 at 10:40 am

      It’s a tough exercise, Barbara.

  9. purplepeninportland

    24/10/2012 at 3:32 pm

    Deep, deep, deep! Mine is up.

  10. carolisle

    25/10/2012 at 12:20 pm

    Margo that was brave of you getting a high school boy into his emotions. Having taught for years I certainly can imagine the other outcomes.
    I was already working on this point of view post where a plant in my garden takes on my feelings see what you think.

  11. carolisle

    25/10/2012 at 1:32 pm

    I can’t quite get to the emotion but this is a sharing of how I feel about what i do

  12. PJF Sayers

    25/10/2012 at 10:47 pm

    Another prompt for my files, Margo. I like this one as well. My brain is simply not wanting prompts right at the moment. I am thinking vacation on the coast and trying to coax the husband in that direction. If you know what I mean …


    • margo roby

      26/10/2012 at 7:44 am

      Pamela, I know what you mean for both. I am squirreling prompts, but not writing. I haven’t even done a wordle in a while. If he doesn’t coax, grab him by the ear. We’re heading to a BBQ festival. Not exactly a vacation, but good food.

      • carolisle

        26/10/2012 at 11:29 am

        BBQ festival, yum, you must be in the South 😉 All we have around here is vegetable festivals. You know artichoke, garlic, zucchini , oh and pumpkin! Enjoy the meat 🙂

        • margo roby

          29/10/2012 at 9:05 am

          Would you believe a BBQ festival without BBQ?


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