This week’s assignment is taken from James Brown’s essay, “An Exercise in Writing Memoir” in Naming the World and Other Exercises for the Creative Writer.
Write down three personal experiences that you might not want to share with your best friend, let alone a stranger. One could be about doing something to someone that you never should have done. One could be about the loss of a loved one, your mother or father maybe, and what you wish you’d done or told her or him but just never did. Or what about that car wreck you were in? The one you lied about that was really your fault?
Once you have three relative secrets committed to paper, choose one and write about it. Re-create the moment in scene. Recall the specific, most important emotions it conjures up and capture them in movement, thought, dialogue, and setting. Keep in mind that the way you describe a hospital room on the day you gave birth to your first child will be very different from your description of that same room had your father died in it. All you’re after in this exercise is a single, well-visualized scene based on a personal experience that you’ve been unable to forget.
Complete your scene in 500-600 words.