I recently had the pleasure of chatting with author Lucy Corin about playing in the studio. I asked her to share what writing games she plays, its rules and influence on her practice. Here’s what she wrote.
Ok so I think you are thinking of games in a really concrete, no fudging, this is a GAME kind of way. I try to incorporate “play” into my process regularly– try to make myself lighten up when I am taking myself too seriously for too long. To do that, I make up technical tasks for myself– like a poet would invent a form to write in, I’ll make up a prose pattern to write in. Or I’ll collect stuff– like everything I can find out about the history of the name “Frank” and then try to make a page out of it. That’s a kind of game. Or my whole “100 apocalypses” project was a game– write 100 apocalypses– start with any sentence you like and try to turn it into an apocalypse as quickly as possible– Or to lighten up I will do something visual b/c I am not trained visually and therefore cannot attach any ambition to doing visual things.BUT when it comes to flat out writing games the only one I can think of, which I don’t play myself anymore b/c I assigned it to my students so often I got sick of it myself– is this– based on being a kid and not being able to get anyone to play Boggle with me as often as I wanted to play Boggle, and making up games I could play by myself with the cubes:
You get 16 letters at random. That’s your alphabet. Using only those letters make words. Using only those words make sentences. Arrange those sentences into paragraphs. Two main points: 1. By limiting your letters you instantly intensify sound. 2. You start to understand/experience sentences as things that construct meaning rather than “represent.”
Lucy Corin is the author of the short story collection The Entire Predicament (Tin House Books) and the novel Everyday Psychokillers: A History for Girls (FC2). Her stories have appeared in American Short Fiction, Conjunctions, Ploughshares, Tin House Magazine, New Stories From the South: The Year’s Best and a lot of other places. She’s been a fellow at Breadloaf and Sewanee, and a resident at Yaddo and the Radar Lab. She recently won the 2012 American Academy of Arts and Letters Rome Prize.