We had an exercise to complete for last night’s class which was surprisingly difficult — the task was to write ‘an honest description’ of one of our parents. Most of us, I think, approached this with some trepidation as writing about close family members is often outside a writer’s comfort zone. In fact, it’s a surprisingly common reason why writers get mental blocks — that they worry about whether something unflattering or critical they’re presenting about a character might be internalised by a parent or sibling. And there’s also the inhibiting effect that’s often quoted about writing sex scenes — that a (usually would-be) author avoids these due to anticipated embarrassment if a parent read it. Then there’s the famous quotation ‘When a writer is born into a family, the family dies’ which is attributed to various different people on the web — Philip Roth and the Czech poet Czeslaw Milosz being the two most popular.
In the end, everyone produced fascinating pieces of writing which were a mixture of the humorous, poignant, intimate, touching and angry. They all also tended to resemble quite closely the individual voices of the writers as can be heard in the excerpts of their novels.
Here the 550 or so words that I submitted: Homework 100310 v2