I think I’m starting to miss that regular rhythm of Friday Non-Dissertational entries I had going. A while back, as an audience analysis lead-in exercise for their persuasive/documented essays, I gave students the following scenario:
You stayed out really late last night partying with your friends, and — as a result — you completely slept through this morning’s College Writing midterm that was worth 40 percent of your grade. Write a note explaining what happened to:
- Your favorite grandparent.
- The Undergraduate Dean, in the hopes of staying off academic probation.
- Your best friend, who last night kept telling you, “Come on, just one more.”
Students immediately asked the obvious question: Can we lie? (My shocked-sounding response: Would you lie to your favorite grandparent?)
Anyway: after that exercise, and in the slowly escalating end-of-semester crunch, I thought we’d do a (hopefully) fun bit of low-stakes writing at the start of class today. I offered the following weblog prompt: tell the biggest, most absolutely ridiculous pack of lies you can come up with. And I must say, I was impressed with the creativity and humor of the results, which are linked from the main course weblog at http://scripta.vitia.org/.
But the reason I mentioned the Friday Non-Dissertatonal stuff above is that in writing along with them, I found myself kinda struck by inspiration for this thing that was more a tall tale than a bunch of lies, and I just had to get it out. And, well, I’m proud of it. There’s a bit of family folklore about my dad throwing a rock through one of the windows in the house, and when Granny asked him why he did it, he told her that the wind blew it out of his hand. I like to flatter myself that my better stories come from a similar impulse towards fiction. So, hey: maybe it’s not as good a lie as the ones that some students wrote, but I had fun doing it today. Check it out.