"Images" and the journal
The following sequences should be thought of as "warm-ups" and should be done as written images in your journal. Let me once again remind you not to get hung up on the word "image" or confuse it with pure description.
By "journal" I mean your notebook, a concept closer to an artist's sketch book than a diary. I suggest you start an actual physical journal in addition to this electronic one. Get yourself a nice little composition book, something you feel comfortable carrying around, and use it. All of the exercises and sequences I will be presenting to you in this entire workshop can (and should be) done as entries in your journal, not just once but as often as you please.
Today: Respond in writing to the following prompts. Do not let your responses get too long, but do not settle for "answers" either. Use the first person, present tense. This is important!
Example of first person present tense:
It is autumn. The leaves have turned. The morning is windless, but the leaves fall by the hundreds. In order to see anything-a leaf or a blade of grass-you have, I think, to know the keenness of love. Mrs. Uxbridge is sixty-three, my wife is away, and Mrs. Smithsonian (who live on the other side of town) is seldom in the mood these days, so I seem to miss some part of the mornings as if the hour had a threshold or a series of thresholds that I cannot cross. Passing a football might do it but Peter is too young and my only football-playing neighbor goes to church.
The above passage is by John Cheever. You don't have to write that well. Few of us can.
Prompt one. An object seen in the dark..
How to do it. Choose a specific object and the time and place where it is seen. Write in the first person, present tense.
Prompt two. An person seen in the dark.
How to do it. Choose a specific time and place to "see" your person. Write in the first person, present tense.
Prompt three. A sound heard late at night.
How to do it. Choose a specific time and place to "hear" your sound. Write in the first person, present tense.
Prompt four. A smell encountered unexpectedly.
How to do it. Choose a specific time and place to encounter this smell. Write in the first person, present tense.
What to avoid. Avoid bad choices of material. Don't choose the obvious or the easy unless it really is clear you must choose the obvious. Avoid toilet humor. Don't try to be cute or clever, and don't, under any circumstances, write in such a way that your reader will be required to guess what you are talking about.
Example. Don't write, "It is late at night and I can't sleep because of the steady tick tick ticking of "something" on other side of the room." Do write, "It is late at night and I can't sleep because of the steady tick tick ticking of the clock." Objects have names, most of them do. Use them.
You can submit these warmup "images" if you are not sure you are doing them right.
Or you can go ahead with the major exercise which follows.