Word Toss

10 Jan

This is my third post based on an oulipo exercise.  I learned about oulipo at a November meeting of the Ridgefield CT Writers Guild.  Everyone in the group did five exercises that evening, each with a different set of constraints.  For this particular exercise, writing adheres to five constraints.  The following clause and phrases were tossed out by the meeting moderator as we were writing:

  • naturally, automatically
  • at 5 in the morning
  • perfectly appropriate
  • enormous needy
  • let’s talk about the money impact
The goal was to immediately include each constraint wherever we were in our writing and continue our story from there.  Here is my story:

Lately I’ve been watching people around me slip away from the people closest to them.  It’s embarrassing.  They ask how I am.  I say “Just fine,” and they share confidences like these:

  • My mother doesn’t remember me — not even the time the two-year old me graced our family’s Thanksgiving dinner as a second bird plucked naked.  She naturally, automatically draped her apron over me and got me out of sight.  Now she’s the two year old and there’s no apron to drape over that.
  • At 5 in the morning the adoption agency called to say the baby we’d hoped for these past 3 years was going to another couple.  We’re getting too old to wait to adopt.
  • My 8 year old son lives for soccer, perfectly appropriate for boys.  Now he has a tumor engulfing his femur — an enormous needy parasite devouring his life.
  • My best friend has mostly recovered from her head injury two years ago, but not enough to work.  Those bills still linger.  They used to talk about their kids’ antics.  Now all they say is “Let’s talk about the money impact.”

Nobody is “fine” but me.  They can’t outrun life and I’m lurching along with them.

I’ve learned not to promise a weekly turnaround :-), but I’m committed to using this writing in a visual image that I post on this blog.  Wish me luck!



Copyright ©2012.  Adrienne May and WinsomeWays, Inc.  All Rights Reserved.


6 Responses to “Word Toss”

  1. buddhafulkat Thursday, Jan 12, 2012 at 7:49 am #

    How interesting – the exercise and what you came up with. Each blurb was well written and pulled me in. I look forward to seeing more of your writing!

    • Adrienne May Thursday, Jan 12, 2012 at 9:11 am #

      Thank you. I was very unsure about posting this at all. None of the blurbs reflected sunny attitudes. However your comment has lit a fire about returning to a couple of middle grade and YA manuscripts. Even now they’re lurking on an external drive. 🙂

  2. Abby Thursday, Jan 12, 2012 at 2:23 pm #

    Cool, I’ve never heard of oulipo before! This seems really challenging, and you did a great job.

  3. Adrienne May Thursday, Jan 12, 2012 at 2:53 pm #

    Thanks Abby. I never heard of it either until last November. If you want to read more about oulipo, check out these links:

    Buddafulkat (http://buddhafulkat.wordpress.com/) — see her comment above — is doing the “100 Word Challenge.”

    Once SCBWI in NYC is done at the end of January, I may do the challenge also. Maybe I’ll see you there.

  4. bunnyplanet Saturday, Feb 18, 2012 at 11:10 pm #

    Wonderful response to that exercise. I’d love to hear more about the person in this who inspires others to confide — is it you? Reminds me a little of Nick in who says in the beginning of “The Great Gatsby” that people always seem to confide in him…

  5. Adrienne May Monday, Feb 20, 2012 at 8:29 am #

    Thank you for reading this post BunnyPlanet. “The Great Gatsby” is flattering company.
    This exercise reflects variations on confidences shared with me over the years. I modified each one for the sake of privacy. I think most people have moments when they want to share their feelings, and in spite of this post many times those confidences are the happy feelings.

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