The writer’s antennae

Early in the quarter I draw a stick figure on the board.


And here, I say, are the writer’s most important tools.


Your antennae are how you pay moment-to-moment attention to the texture of your own felt experience. The good news? Everyone in this room has antennae. (They’re not so sure it’s good news.)

Everyone has them. But a lot of student writers don’t know they have them. Or they know but they don’t trust them. Or they would trust them but they have trouble hearing the signals.

And so one theme of the weeks to come is,


it’s good guidance. Excitement, curiosity, expansion. Another,


it’s just as intelligent as your pleasure is. Dismay, contraction, anger. You might not think so but it’s as great a gift.

And then I put them to work, noticing spots, in something they wrote for that day, where they feel noticeably excited or bored. Because that’s how the signals register. Not as good ideas but as immediate spontaneous intuitive perceptions.

POSTSCRIPT. Notes drawn from a presentation last spring for a panel called “Poems of Ours We Hate.” Hope, when I have time, to post the whole powerpoint thang, with animations! voice-over! For now just its title — “Dismay. Erasure. Monsterface.”

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I write draw teach blog in and from the Pacific Northwest of America.

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