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Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Generating ideas

Last night's writing class involved a brilliant idea-generating exercise! We had a big box of random objects and the idea was to pass each object in turn around the class. As each object arrived on your desk, you had to scribble down the first thing that popped into your head.

Some of the lines I ended up with are wonderfully surreal... here's a sample:
  • Tinkle like a gypsy bell
  • Bleach the skull of Jefferies
  • An English shade of blue
  • Hedgehog by air mail
  • Crushed beneath a marble shell
  • Call yourself when young
  • Snap the slate of life

After all the objects had been passed round, we all ended up with a lovely long list of random lines. We then chose one of the lines to use as a basis for a poem. I'm still a kid at heart, so I chose the item that generated the "Hedgehog by air mail" line, namely a tobacco tin bearing this picture:

Christmas hedgehog postman by Molly Brett

We then had to write a list of ten facts about the item we'd chosen. Here's mine:
  1. The postman is a hedgehog.
  2. The hedgehog is wearing a dark blue hat.
  3. Birds are perched all around, being nosy.
  4. The hedgehog is delivering parcels to a family of rabbits.
  5. There are three kids in the rabbit family.
  6. There are three parcels being delivered, so presumably that's one per rabbit kid.
  7. The hedgehog can drive.
  8. It's a bright sunny day.
  9. It's been snowing. Lots.
  10. The entrance to the rabbits' burrow is *huge*.

... and then we needed to write a list of five feelings we got from the item:
  1. Pleased for the young rabbits, because I'm assuming the parcels are their presents.
  2. Hopeful for the hedgehog that this is his last job of the day. (He looks a bit sleepy, poor guy.)
  3. Worried the rabbit children may bicker over their presents (e.g. the green parcel's a lot smaller than the yellow one, which might cause a bit of jealousy).
  4. Amused at the birds being so nosy.
  5. Impressed how the hedgehog has managed to drive his little van over a snowy field (there's no sign of a road).
  6. (Bonus feeling! 6 for the price of 5!) Worried the rabbit construction workers have not considered how easy it would be for a fox to fit through the massive entrance to that burrow.

The final part of the exercise was to write a little piece about what the item would say if it could speak. I forgot to do this bit (oops) but I'm sure Postman Hedgehog would be unable to speak as he climbed that hill - he'd be all puffed out. The rabbit children are, no doubt, squealing in excitement, and the parents are whispering to each other about how they're hoping Amazon hasn't screwed up their order.

So with all these facts and feelings and ideas, it was time to write a poem. Come on Brain, let's hear it! Give me assonance and alliteration! Give me consonance and rhyme!

Actually, no, not rhyme. We weren't allowed to rhyme. Sad face :-(

Brain rummaged in its poetry suitcase and decided it didn't know what to do. So it gave me this:


The blue hat
of the hedgehog
is dark.
Here is a line
break.
Line breaks show you're good
at poetry.


Thank you, Brain. I will print that out and put it on the wall... as a reminder not to try and write poetry any more.

Brain then decided it wanted to rhyme (it really likes rhyming), so off it went and I was forced to follow along:

The postman is a hedgehog!
Imagine, if you can,
Him dealing out his presents
From his bright red van.
The rabbits in their burrow
Peer delightedly
Out at Mr Hedgehog
Coming round for tea.

Thank you, again, Brain. I asked for something deep and you gave me something daft. And why is the hedgehog postman suddenly coming for tea? Was that just to make the last line rhyme? Yes, I thought so. Sigh.

I think that's enough poetry for now. Brain, go back to sleep.

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