Thursday, March 29, 2012

3 x 30 = 90


At the 2012 Conference on College Composition and Communication, Doug Hesse, Nancy Sommers, and Kathleen Blake Yancey led a discussion on a writing exercise they'd assigned themselves. For an hour a day on each of thirty days, these three scholars reflected in writing on a different everyday object each day. In their conference abstract, the scholars ask "What may be learned about the evocative power of objects from a sustained attention to them? How do objects reveal or conceal their origins? And what may we learn about the acts of composing from a sustained project over thirty days?" As they put it, the activity challenged the "traditional boundaries between personal and academic writing."

The three of us, all engaged in academic writing in some way, were energized by the idea of this activity and decided to try it out for ourselves. On each day in April 2012 each of us will write for at least 30 minutes on one of the 30 objects we've chosen in advance. Each of us had a hand in putting this list together, each offering 10 objects to add. Though we'll each write on every object on some day, we may choose to write on them in a different "bookmark" might only show up three weeks after Kobject's "bookmark."

We're not confining ourselves to any particular writing process or genre: today's poem might give way to tomorrow's academic essay. Moreover, we won't erect boundaries between the objects' stories, so Lobject's penguin might commune with my own, and my wine glass might rest on Kobject's kitchen countertop. The objects might mingle and talk with one another. They might meet for drinks in the middle of the night. They might even fall in love.

We look forward to learning a lot about the objects that travel with us every day, unobtrusively, as we reflect on those objects more intentionally. We look forward to learning a lot about ourselves, too, as we learn to take less for granted.

Here are the objects we've selected:

Kobject's objects:

1. picture/story book
2. wine glass
3. bathroom graffiti
4. wedding band
5. vinyl record
6. beach towel
7. gift box
8. train
9. favorite sweatshirt
10. pudding

Lobject's objects:

1. handmade quilt
2. honeysuckle
3. energy efficient light bulb
4. bookmark
5. rocking chair
6. receipt for gas
7. black construction paper
8. aloe plant
9. penguin
10. kitchen countertop

Pobject's objects:

1. blue stick pen
2. house key
3. magnolia tree
4. ladle
5. bowling ball
6. textbook
7. hip flask
8. highway mileage sign
9. left sandal
10. blackboard

Our adventure begins on April 1st. We hope that you will join us in our discovery by reading along...and maybe even by writing something of your own!