Our core exercise in the morning began with our reading through our journal/daybook and highlighting similar topics with one color. I ended up using three colors and found family, nature, and art to be my recurring themes.
Afterwards we were asked to take one of these ideas, not necessarily a large theme but something smaller within that theme, and turn it into a narrative piece, and informational piece, and a persuasive piece.
The experience affected my tone and my voice as I wrote. Taking an idea (a deer approaching me) which I anticipated being best suited for narrative proved to be equally satisfying to writing and more complex to explore as both informational and persuasive essays.
What I learned is that there is still narrative within the information and persuasive essay, but each of those essay forms lended themselves to my experience being about something else. Something bigger than simply a deer approaching me in the Berkshires back in July of 1995.
I was more tempted to look back what I had previously highlighted to search for similarities and connections. One jumped out at me. Highlighted in the same orange ink were brief entries about a bird's nest which I had unwittingly destroyed; a starving dog yapping at me in Seville, Spain; a peacock chasing me on the grounds of a castle in England; and an interactive map demonstrating the ongoing devastation and disappearance of bees worldwide. Other observations in my daybook included regional/personal gardens, plants, and vegetables.
My writing explored both personal and common public experiences when human beings intersect with nature--both intentionally and unintentionally. We are a part of nature yet we've seemed to do a pretty thorough job of almost extracting ourselves from it and with it--responsibility.
With each new neighborhood carved out of our communities we push wildlife into the crowded recesses of what is left. Along with the loss of natural habitat, some of the insecticides we spray kills the bees.
And as is often attributed to Albert Einstein, if the bees go, so do we.
My homework is to continue to draft one of these pieces tonight--and, as our group reflected after we wrote, many of us are tempted to research and read up on the topics which have emerged from us.
Granted, we are adults, and no longer adolescents or teenagers. Our interest and fascination with exploring a thread of thought through several modes generated from process writing may not mirror that of a 14-year-old. However, our generational differences do not counter the fact this is just too powerful a tool dismiss.
I'm immersed within the process and I'm looking forward to bringing it to my classes in the fall.