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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Movies and Crazy Good Writing

By Marilyn Friedman and Noah PohlThe Writing Pad Movie Club class series gives me an excuse to invite cool peeps over to Writing Pad for some socializing and gourmet indulgence. Movie watching always helps me relax and escape after a hard day at work. But movies have a lot to teach us in terms of storytelling techniques. An artfully crafted movie can also remind me of all the great story material I have in the well-stocked pantry of my mind, especially when my brain is feeling blank.

We are very lucky to have the renowned film critic/freelance writer, Tim Grierson (pictured below), as the teacher for our Movie Club classes.

Check out these links to see some of Tim’s latest film reviews:

Below is a sample of what Noah Pohl wrote in our last Movie Club class: “From Crazy Love to Crazy Good Writing.” We watched Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and then Tim led some fab writing exercises and did a mini-craft lecture to help us to write our own love stories. Take one of the next Movie Club classes, “Spice Up Your Settings Pt. I and Pt II,” and you too will be inspired to write something as amazing. We'll be watching Metropolitan and Little Children. We'll learn to use setting to enhance our stories, characters and conflict, and feasting on decadent brunch tasting plates like the homemade croissants and waffles made by our talented chef, Adel.

“Every time someone mentions the brand, Hello Kitty, I am crushed. I remember how excited she got when she told me that she’d decorated her bathroom with Hello Kitty -- and that she thought I should too. I refused.

Listening to In Rainbows hurt for about eight months. The black mini fridge that smelled like ass and rotted, seeping onions until I scrubbed it clean and gave it to her, is now sitting in her room, forever, or until she sells it on Craigslist. BMW cars make me turn my head. If I see a bright green jacket, a black turtleneck, hoop earrings, or peach vodka, I get pangs in my stomach.

I will forever associate Michael Phelps winning the gold medals with cuddling on her lumpy, creaky bed. The turquoise lingerie she had. The smell of her neck. The magnets from New York on her fridge.

The way she angrily compared her co-workers to pieces of fruit: one was a pear. Now, I can't eat pears. I'm wrecked whenever I think of any of these things.”

Writing Prompt: Make a list of five very intense emotional moments that you associate with significant relationships from your past. Add a sensory detail (smell, taste, touch, sound, sight) to each moment. Pick your favorite and write about it for ten minutes.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Writing Pad Nature Walk

By Amy Robinson

Sunday, April 19th was a perfect day to mix my loves of hiking, writing, and eating at the Writing Pad Nature Walk class. At 10 a.m., a merry band of ten Writing Pad students gathered at Temescal Canyon Gateway Park in Pacific Palisades, an oasis of nature in our bustling city.

Marilyn, ever the gourmet food pusher, handed out delicious, freshly baked carrot/coconut muffins whipped up by Adel Aschenbrener, Writing Pad’s culinary genius. The muffins were a good energy boost for the two mile round trip hike in front of us. As the sun climbed, so did we. I told the group to keep all of their senses open; to pay attention to the sights, sounds, smells and touches of nature around us. I noticed the sweet scent of cedar rising from the trees, and I felt the sun’s heat sear my shoulders. Several fat lizards popped out into our path, offering themselves as fodder for future journal entries.

Pausing for a breath about ¾ of a mile in, our little party of explorers could see the Long Beach Peninsula through a crack between hills. It was a clear and gorgeous day, but it was the hottest April 19th in the past 35 years. We were all red-faced and sweaty.

Just when our quads and glutes started to burn, we reached our destination: the tiny waterfall and creek bed in the mountainside. Ready for a rest, we all perched on some rocks and wrote again. The water burbled, the shade dappled and small creek flies tried to take refuge up my nose. It was a very peaceful scene of 10 writers bent over journals, letting their imaginations meander over hill and dale of the Santa Monica mountain range.

After we completed our hike, we spread out picnic blankets under sweet shade in a quiet corner of the lower park. We feasted on Adel’s amazing, flavorful quinoa and kale salad and a scrumptious assortment of local and organic cheeses from The Cheese Store of Beverly Hills (including creamy goat cheese from a Paso Robles farm packed in its own bamboo cheese skirt (held by Marilyn below) and a nutty, mild Petit Basque from France).

We sipped on some Moroccan Vanilla iced tea and wrapped up the class with Adel’s killer brownies and one last free-write. One of my writing prompts was to invent a natural phenomena, give it a name, and describe how it occurs. Although Writing Pad confidentiality rules do not allow me to reveal the hilarious and fantastic stories that our class participants wrote, I will tell you that I wrote about a special wind that magically removed cellulite (picture a group of naked women standing on the beach, waiting for a storm to smooth thighs and bellies). Marilyn wrote about a penis rainstorm in the finance department of the large media corporation that she works at.

Everyone left the class rested from a healthy jaunt in nature and a brief respite from the noises and stresses of city life. I can’t wait for our next adventure hike (and more of Adel’s brownies)!

For other fun and productive short classes check out Writing Pad's One Night Stands/One Day Classes. The food is always yummy, and you'll get a lot of writing done.

Writing Prompt: If you controlled the weather, what would you do? Start by making a list of 10 natural phenomena (rain, wind, hail, etc.). Then add your own special touch to your favorite 2 phenomena--invent something special that happens when it rains, hails, etc. (ex. a special wind that removes cellulite, a rainstorm of penises). Give it a your natural phenomena a name, and describe how it occurs. Write for 10 minutes!