May Assignment

May Assignment: Taking the handful of interesting ideas (4-6) from the April Assignment, create some sketches, including as many vivid, concrete details as you are able and willing to write. Allow yourself to work freely, going wherever your memory and imagination take you. Work organically, and with patience. You might grant yourself a fixed period (3 days, a week, etc.) regardless of how much is produced for each idea so that the anxious or worried parts of you will be allayed. For each idea, consider focusing on a single “polaroid” moment at a time.

Edward Hopper diversion by Nastya Ptichek
Edward Hopper diversion by Nastya Ptichek

Anne Lamott encourages her students to narrow the lens in order to really observe everything in a single space or “polaroid.” The example she gives in Bird by Bird is an exercise in sketching about school lunches. The exercise begins with Lamott describing types of sandwiches and their personal and familial implications. Later she discovers emotional energy in describing a band geek sitting alone by the fence eating his non-regulation sandwich. The idea is to explore through the act of writing, since you never know what will turn up. Simply brainstorming and thinking won’t do for this assignment. You must act.

Edward Hopper diversion by Nastya Pticheck
Edward Hopper diversion by Nastya Pticheck

After sketching characters, landscapes, or small scenes, you can also consider writing concise synopses (3 sentences or so) of the underlying stories in your sketch(es) to help focus the various ideas and possible directions. Let this writing be play and work. Encourage your creativity and avoid criticism or judgment during this period.

At the end of the month, narrow your selection of ideas, sketches, synopses. What sketches or scenes hold the most emotional energy? What project(s) do you feel most excited to work on over the next months?


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