WRITE NOW - I REMEMBER
REPRINTED FROM MEMOIR WRITING COURSE BY ALISON WEARING
~ A Simple Exercise for Every Day ~
This exercise is a popular one largely because it is both simple and powerful, very much like the book that inspired it: I Remember by Joe Brainard.
Brainard’s book is nothing but a list of phrases beginning with the words, "I remember."
I remember a boy who could swig down a Coke in one big gulp, followed by a long loud belch.
I remember record stores with glass windowed booths you could play records in before you bought them, or didn’t.
I remember “pick-up sticks,” “tiddly-winks,” “fifty-two pick-up,” and “war.”
I remember being more than a bit disappointed over all the fluffy gray stuff with tiny red specks I discovered inside an old teddy bear’s stomach once.
I remember “knock-knock” jokes.
I remember the way a baby’s hand has of folding itself around your finger, as though forever.
I remember “Tupperware” parties.
I remember not being able to pronounce “mirror.”
I remember the exact moment, during communion, that was the hardest to keep from smiling. It was when you had to stick out your tongue and the minister laid the white wafer on it.
I remember “spin the bottle” and “post office.”
I remember butter and sugar sandwiches.
In small groups, the phrases might not add up to much, but what is surprising is the complexity of the self-portrait that begins to form as the sentences begin to tackle larger subjects and reveal aspects of the writer's internal life. The book's not for everyone, but it's become a cult classic, and the exercise can be done in one of two ways:
1. Use the words "I remember" as a jumping off point. It might sound too simple to be worth doing, but try it. You'll be amazed what can be lodged in the subconscious beneath the words, "I remember..."
2. Do what Joe Brainard did and write a list of phrases beginning with the words, "I remember." See if one memory opens another, and if that one opens another after another after another after another...
Have fun with this. And don't dismiss it for its simplicity. The most powerful portals are often very small and humble.
Just start and see where it takes you:
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