Tag Archives: play

Currently Reading: “Pottery Barn Catalogue Descriptions Written by an Aspiring Crime Novelist,” by Kate Hahn

This essay, from McSweeney’s Internet Tendencies, is exactly what the title suggests. Hahn takes pieces of furniture that could be and probably have been found in Pottery Barn catalogues and writes about them as if they were items in a crime novel as well as the catalogue. For example:10

“Our Newport Double Sink Console has turned legs and a white finish reminiscent of a cozy beachside cottage, but tight quarters can ignite tempers. Beside the porcelain sink, M and A’s monogrammed towels lie folded haphazardly, as if tossed down in anger. Clearly, the Carrera marble countertop, imported from Tuscany, was too painful a daily reminder for M of A’s “secret” Italian lover. PB Essential towels in 13 colors, ideal for mopping up crimes of passion, can be stored in the cozy cubby below the cabinets” (Hahn).

While it’s a bit dark, the contrast makes for humorous reading. It also provides great inspiration if you’re looking for a way to get the creative juices flowing! Try taking something “boring” and writing it in a different genre or tone. Write your course syllabi as horror stories. Write your to-do list as a presidential speech. Write your holiday wish list as an advertisement, rap, or screenplay cast list. Have some fun, do the unexpected, and just see what happens. If you like what comes from the exercise, work with it some more and see where it can go. If you don’t, I hope it got the creativity buzzing so you can start your next project with your best foot forward.

Brienna and Cassandra Reborn: A Second Entry

Bri eating some playdoh. Cassie looking on in judgment Brienna and Cassandra, pull free from the persistent claws of death and continue their pursuit of honest consulting. They have learned their lesson with classy brandy and have thus taken up a new vice, play-doh. It is not that they eat it, nor liquify it and apply it to steaks as a salty sauce, no, they roll it…constantly.

Cassandra: I think I like play-doh better than brandy. (She rolls her play doh into a slug.)

Brienna: yes…there is a certain peace to it. (she rolls one slowly into a blue log then very suddenly slams her fist down, flattening the perfect roll before starting again.)

Cassandra: Yes it makes me think about all the consultations that I’ve done. Although I have to admit, not all of them went well.

Every now and then, consultants come to a point where they can go no farther with a client. Cassandra and I have tagged this moment as the ‘failure moment’. While it isn’t technically failure, it tends to give the consultant a similar feeling.

Brienna: The good thing about play-doh, is that there is no failure. If you screw up, you just start again and reform it. I think this method can be applied to consulting.

Cassandra: In what way? I don’t think you can start over an appointment just because it’s not going well.

Brienna: Well, start over no, but reform your approach, definitely. Just as you might reform the play-doh when the dog you were making looks more like a demon grandma.

Cassandra:That makes sense, because I had to do the same thing when I failed in my first consultation. It did not go well…

Brienna: Please Cassandra, tell me more…(she makes a lopsided house, then smashes it with her hand and starts again).

Cassandra: Well a client came in asking for me to review his paper. I looked over his paper and saw a lot of inconsistencies, and when I pointed them out I don’t think he understood. I tried to explain in multiple ways but I think that only made things worse. It could be because he wasn’t a native speaker, but I took it as me not being able to explain my reasonings well enough. Continue reading

The Consultant Diaries: Introducing Brienna and Cassandra

Two consultants stand on the brink of an epiphany. They sit in silence, staring at the wall above the others head, considering where to begin the budding saga of their consultant careers. Brienna twists the top off a brandy decanter and pours the amber liquid into a sifter, only missing the glass once. She swirls it, sniffs it, coughs, and hesitantly trickles the warm liquid into her mouth, hiding a grimace unsuccessfully. Cassandra rolls her eyes at her comrade’s lack of class and snatches the decanter from her hands tossing back a blazing mouthful of the fiery liquid.

The brandy heightens their senses and they tumble into enlightenment.

This is their revelation.

Cassandra: I never had an official interview before I started working at The Writing Center, so when I came here and started consulting I felt like a fish out of water at first, as if I didn’t belong there. (Her eyes glaze over in thought.)

Brienna: (She swirls her glass, and puts on an air of civility). I started off second guessing myself at every turn. I asked myself (and continue to do so) questions like “am I qualified to do this”, and “will this screw up their paper?” It took me at least 10 consultations before I remembered that I was more than capable of helping people spice up their papers. How did you feel Cassandra?

Cassandra: I think for me, I was more worried that other consultants would think I’m doing it wrong. I felt that they were listening in on my consultations, and I wasn’t measuring up as a consultant. Sounds stupid, I know, but I didn’t have confidence at first so I assumed other people were judging me for it. Now I know  it was just me being stupid.

Brienna: I love seeing how other people write, it is one of the main reasons why I was so attracted to the publishing field initially. I love that every person in the world has a story and their own way of telling it.

Cassandra: Me too! I even read some stories that made me want to cry. There were others whose stories so closely mirrored my own experiences, that I felt we shared a bond. That we were long lost kindred spirits.

Brienna: I know! I can’t believe some of the things that people have gone through in their lives. I am baffled by what some people have gone through just to get here (MSU).

Cassandra: But I’m grateful for the opportunity to learn these things. I swear I learn something new from them everyday. It’s not just them learning how to be a better writer, but I’m also learning how to be a better consultant.

Brienna: I agree with that wholeheartedly. Working as a consultant has given me so many opportunities to learn. Not just factual data, but writing styles, and consulting tips that can really help me articulate my thoughts to the writer. I have also gotten a glimpse into the stories of many international students. I feel like I can understand their position better now because of it. Continue reading