Earlier this month, I led, with Theresa Hutch guiding yoga and art, a writing intensive with a group of outstanding young women. The nine writers ranged in age from thirteen through seventeen. Our focus was process, not product, but the girls nonetheless produced some very intriguing work. The following piece, by thirteen-year-old Moselle, was generated by a four-part exercise during which each writer: 1) conjured a powerful memory starting with a sound or a smell; 2) opened a favorite book by an admired author (to a random page), selected and recorded the first twenty words (excluding articles, pronouns, and the like); 3) folded and handed the paper with those twenty words to her left; 4) and finally, each writer then attempted to write about her own memory while incorporating the words she inherited from her neighbor. Surprises emerged, such as this sample:
Memory of a Game
By Moselle Van Santen
We were orphans, running from the witch-queen, two lost princesses, ages twelve. We were sure that our plan would be successful. We wore enchantments in our hair, silvery-white in the light of the first star. Maybe some thought us lost--but if they would just open their eyes to the world, they would catch a glimpse of two girls, running with bags in their arms.
Perhaps if we were orphans in a fairy tale, our parents would be crying: "Alas! Alas!" But we weren't. So they didn't.
Maybe our brother, the prince (if we had a brother), would no longer wish to rule and come away with us on an adventure.
So many ifs, perhapses, maybes…
Even if they had been true--it was too late now. We were gone forever.