Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Answer Me This

As a very young child, I loved to go shopping with my mother at the Co-op store in Berkeley. Besides the Kiddie-Coral, which was my first nursery school-like experience, the Co-op had fluffy jelly donuts that reminded me of clouds, and raw green beans that I munched on while Mom made her way purposefully up and down the isles, filling our cart with the week's groceries.

As I got older, I still loved to accompany my mother to the Co-op, but instead of shopping with her, I'd head right to the next-door bookstore, where there was an entire shelf of creative writing books for kids. I can't remember the name of the series, but each book consisted of writing prompts, with space to write a story right there on the page!

"Your favorite food comes alive while you're eating dinner. Describe the evening."

"You can blink yourself to anywhere in the world. Where are you and what do you do?"

"Describe, in detail, how to peel an orange."

It never occurred to me to ask Mom to buy one of these books, though I'm sure she would have. Instead, I settled onto the floor in front of the bookshelf and mentally filled every page. Then I'd go home and write my story on simple lined paper, remembering every word and every detail of the story I'd created earlier in my mind.

A few years ago I found a book at Barnes & Noble called The Book of Questions. Thumbing through it, I was immediately reminded of the story-prompt workbooks at the Co-op bookstore years earlier, and of course I bought the book.

The Book of Questions is not a children's book, so the questions are more complex and require deeper, more analytical thought:

"Would you rather die peacefully among friends at 50, or painfully and alone at 80? Assume that most of the last 30 years would be good ones." (I'm sure not ready to die now, peacefully or otherwise... so that's a 'DUH!')

"Which of the following restrictions could you best tolerate: leaving the country permanently or never leaving the state in which you now live?" (Tough one. I think I could leave... but I'd be very homesick for the state in which I now live!)

"If you could spend one year in perfect happiness, but remember nothing of the experience afterward, would you do it? Why or why not?" (Nope. So much of what makes happiness, for me, IS the memory. Take that away and it's all fleeting and meaningless to me.)

"If you knew that in one year you would die suddenly, would you change anything about the way you are now living?" (Yes, I'd immediately stop looking for a job and start seeing the world, meeting new people, and learning at least three new things per day.)

Today I found a website that's like the digital equivalent to the Co-op bookstore and to The Book of Questions. It's called Daydreaming on Paper and it poses a never-ending list of questions and writing prompts, one per click on the "Inspire Me!" button.

The first random question I got was, "Do you prefer print media or digital media? Why?" (Interesting that I should get that question, since I've produced both kinds of media! And really, I couldn't choose just one. I prefer any media well-produced and impactful!)

"List 10 moments or events that took your breath away." (Well, the organ "concert" at the Heidelberg cathedral in Germany last month is certainly the most recent!)

"Write your own manifesto or creed." (I don't have a clue...)

"List 10 words that you like." (I think I'll address that one in tomorrow's post... because you know, it's 8:47 and I'm... zzzzzzzzzz!)

Now YOU try it!

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1 comment:

Jen said...

Wow, that site looks like a treasure trove! Thanks so much for sharing it. And thanks for stopping by my blog.

I can't imagine what your father must have gone through as a mishling in the 30s/40s.

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