Prepared by: Rhéal Nadeau
Posted on: Sun, 30 Jan 2005
This is another exercise in our
"Remembering" series. The idea
behind these exercises is that our own life is our most basic writing
resource. By remembering key moments, and how they felt, we can inject
those emotions into our writing. For example, I will never win an
medal - but I can remember a sporting success and use that to imagine
it would feel like.
I've known love, grief, hope, fear, and so
on. Those are experiences
to draw on in order to make my characters come alive. (This applies to
nonfiction as well as to fiction; the very best nonfiction lets us know
what the people involved feel, and why they act as they do.)
Of all the emotions, few are as powerful,
and as corrosive, as hate.
can cause people to lose all rational powers, to perform stupid or
unjustified actions. Think of the terrorist suicide bomber; think of
divorcing couple fighting over who gets the dog, when neither actually
wants the dog all that much. Much of the violence in our world, overt
subtle, derives from hatred. (Note that hatred is closely related to
which we have covered in a previous exercise.)
So, for this exercise: 300 to 500 words,
write about a time when you
someone or something. Be honest, don't embellish. Tell us what brought
the hatred, what it felt like and how it changed your behaviour. If
applicable, tell us the outcome - did the hate fade out over time, or
you learned more? Did it lead you to words or actions you later
Do you still feel the same way?
Of course, be careful. This is a sensitive
subject, so don't write
something that could get you into trouble, or that would be too
embarrassing. You don't need to evoke the most extreme example of
your life; pick something you can remember well, but are comfortable
sharing. In this particular exercise, you can hold back some of the
information if needed (but do so with care, so you don't defeat the
of the exercise.)
When critiquing, look at how well you can
understand what the author
feeling at the times; if things are unclear, or cliched, say so.
we are not here to judge anyone's emotions. Our emotions are not
or moral, they are our most basic and immediate reactions to events.
Rhéal Nadeau's wrap-up
Posted on: Sat, 5 Feb 2005
I'm always nervous when we run a
remembering exercise - and even
when the exercise deals with such a loaded topic as this week's.
But every time, the list members prove
themselves up to the task,
validate the decision to run the exercise.
We had some great submissions this week,
many of them powerful or
disturbing (and I mean that in a positive way - writing must be able to
tackle the disturbing topics!) We saw many forms of hatred: against
oneself, abusive parents, strangers, entire groups, even against god or
fate. Some of the memories must have been painful to recall; I can only
hope people found it worth the pain.
Another lesson I always learn from these
exercises (and yet, it
comes as a surprise) is how dramatic the lives of so many of us are.
is a very important point for us to make note of. We tend to dismiss
we don't know well, or who play minor roles in our lives, as not
interesting - but let's remember that their lives are likely as
to them and as full of drama (if not more) as our own.
We did have a few submissions that fell
outside the scope of this
One or two wrote of having hate directed at them - a valid topic (and
we may well cover someday), but not the one we were looking for. A few
wrote about hate they witnesses (without experiencing it directly). And
or two submissions seemed to be fiction.
Now, some of these submissions were very
good, but please remember
future that there is a reason we're running an exercise, and that there
value in sticking to the exercise limitations. (We are then free, of
course, to write anything we want once we have done the exercise!)
Web site created by
Rhéal Nadeau and
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Modified by Gayle Surrette.