Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Invention Lunch

I am trimming up a new course I have worked on this year, Apprenticeship Writing Workshop, and I came across this passage on invention I wrote and would like to share. I hope it will pique your interest and you'll enroll for the summer or the next school year!

If you have ever been faced with the horror of a blank page and an invitation to “write about anything at all,” you should appreciate the suggestions in this section. Consider an analogy from non-writing life:

You are a houseguest, perhaps staying overnight with friends-of-friends in a town where you are visiting a prospective college. The woman of the house welcomes you warmly and apologizes for needing to leave for a while, inviting you to “help yourself to lunch.” You’re really hungry, and it will be a long time until dinner. But you don’t know this lady, or where she keeps everything, or what she had in mind for you to make for lunch.

What you really need are materials—for her to set out the things you might make lunch from, so that you know the limits and the extent of what she intends. At the very least she could make a broad sweeping gesture toward the kitchen.

So let’s say she has put out cooked chicken, eggs, cheese, tomato, lettuce, onion, tortillas, bread, and a skillet, and she’s opened the herb cabinet, pots/pans cabinet, dishes cabinet, and utensils drawer to show you where those things are. That’s better.

But you also need some guidance on form—does she intend for you to COOK something or to assemble a sandwich? With the things available, you can make all kinds of things—sandwich, salad, quesadilla, omelet, wrap.

So in writing we need to create for ourselves or have provided to us in an assignment an occasion, materials, and form. This is invention—the beginnings part of it.


Cindy Marsch said...

Have I mentioned what a pain Blogger font management is?!!!!!

desert mom said...

I'm chuckling as I this gives me further insight as to why this workshop has been so good for my son: he makes his own lunch and unless I instruct or provide otherwise he'll make the same lunch most everyday: a cheese sandwich. Many days he doesn't even bother to add condiments :)