August 1, 2011 · 8:20 am
Photo by lowjumpingfrog, courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons license. Rule number one of the timed exercise (freewrite): Don't let your hand stop moving!
If you want to write, I recommend that you first go buy a copy of Natalie Goldberg‘s book Writing Down the Bones. Just go to your local bookshop and have a look at the first few chapters (chapters are typically 1-2 pages long). If you are intrigued, pick it up, along with an empty notebook and a pen. Go home, and set a timer for ten minutes, and do some writing exercises. It will free your soul.*
I won’t belabor this story, but the first time I read Writing Down the Bones, it was the fall semester of my freshman year of college; I was 18 years old and it changed my life. Our freshman composition teacher had assigned it, along with a book of writing mechanics (punctuation, MLA citation rules, and so forth). So when I settled down to read a few chapters of Goldberg’s book, I had no idea what was about to happen. Continue reading →
October 17, 2010 · 9:31 am
Click here to see Hakuna Matata in Chinese: it's awesome!!
Greetings, dear GMF readers! My recent absence has been due to a recent flailing attempt at immersion in Chinese language, a perhaps ill-advised challenge I recently posed here. It has been one week, and somewhere between losing myself in Chinese grammar, abandoning the experiment all together, and losing my mind, I have come to some conclusions about language pledges:
1. Above all, do no harm. (Like the medical oath this means to myself, to others, to the poor electrodes in my brain. Really, it’s just not worth it!)
2. It’s easier to speak Chinese (or your chosen foreign language) to strangers, classmates, or those who cannot or will not speak English to you. It is IMMENSELY tricky to speak it to good friends who do speak English, or in any situation where you really need something specific and important.
3. It is also very difficult to speak solely in a foreign language if you lack certain vocabulary, especially such relevant and vitally important words as “need,” “shoes,” “whiskey,” “valium,” and/or “return flight home.” (Just kidding! And I actually know that last one: 直飛到紐約, I think!) Looking up several unknown words at a time in a dictionary, in public while people are waiting expectantly, can get frustrating real quick! Continue reading →