A Freefall Exercise
In mid-August, as I’ve noted here before, I attended When Words Collide. At the weekend conference I ran into Judy, a flight attendant I had lost touch with. Over supper Judy told me she was involved in something exciting, something good enough to adjust her flight schedule for: On Fridays, at the Alexandra Centre—a converted inner city school—she was participating in a “freefall” writing workshop. I attended, and liked what I saw: Someone brings along a “prompt,” be it a sculpture, a postcard, or words, and we fall into writing real fast without let up, free of the judgmental left brain—don’t go back and edit, just keep going… The writing time is usually about ten minutes.
One day the prompt was the phrase, “You can learn about people by their surroundings” and I instinctively thought of a certain intellectual:
Blair’s apartment was fitting for a very smart literate man. Apartments were better than owning a home, requiring less upkeep, less energy and less time away from reading. In each room was the expected floor to ceiling bookcase, sans bookends, sans sculptures or knickknacks. No kitsch. No room for anything less relevant than books.
In one room was the usual collection of the modern nerd: computer boxes, keyboards, computers, and one facsimile machine, complete with a telephone handset. The handset came in handy for conference calls. Along the walls were stray papers, boxes, and boxes of papers. Throughout the apartment, the pictures on the walls were in character: No canvas, no fancy frames, no expensive prints. A few souvenir gift photographs. Blair was without an aesthetic sense, but not without friends.
He kept clean counters and a full sink. The refrigerator held lots of interesting things. His abode was in the Bohemian cool part of town. Of course.
Between trips to old Strathcona, (formerly a separate town, with its own armoury) Edmonton