Monday, July 10, 2017

CLMOOC 2017 Make Cycle #1

Being a writer, the more visual, artistic elements of creation often come to me in different ways. When we start thinking about coloring pages and books, I started thinking how would I think of a coloring page for a novel or a story. 

Honestly, I wanted to make a coloring sheet for a character -- what they look like, motivation, and outcome. People could fill in their responses and have a visual sheet for a character. But once I started creating this - I started having an existential conversation with a would-be character. I am not sure how this turned into a kind of conversation but I made some interesting comments here about how I feel about creativity - writing, the process, and the muse. Not sure if this fits into the coloring page idea completely but it showed me some insight.

What I started to think about was how this sheet could hold a variety - perhaps limitless conversations. What happens when we place out subconscious on the page (in the shape of an outline) and ask it questions, give it reason, and converse? Perhaps it would shift a visual brain? Perhaps it would inspire someone to see interconnections? I want to color one of these and accent some of the elements that are important to me. I want to use this type of creation to show and bind a visuality to words, and the ownership of words to the visual.  Thanks for your time in looking this over to everyone in 2017 CLMOOC -- it is such an important place to consider the world.

Add On: Sometimes, after making something like this, I sit and think about it or have a conversation with someone and I find more to think about. While this image was meant to be a coloring page for a character -- based on the idea from Janet Burroway concerning conflict and desire, and then spiraling out to something else -- it would be interesting to take an essay or a chapter from a book and see how it would map out in a visual diagram. What would be the focus, what would be the elements that we need to know the most? And then how would we color this in? What significant details mean the most to make the scene work? And how does it work emotionally? I could see people using scales and meters to measure emotional investment. I could see readers taking pull quotes out and adding them to make impacts around their maps. 

One of the best books on literature and creativity that I've read and admire is Maps of the Imagination: The Writer as Cartographer by Peter Turchi.

It is from that influence that it is easy to see how the imagination can be very specific and wonderfully complex, needing a place for maps and signs, way-points and directionals.

In a class of thirty students, taking one scene from a book and mapping them out will create thirty unique maps. Then we could compare them, and see what elements are common in them all (characters, setting, action), but more importantly, what beats, what moment, what words specifically changed the reader? That will be unique and different. We are constantly coloring our imaginations, we are constantly rediscovering a childhood memory (recoloring perhaps), and I am constantly trying to contribute to why books, writing, stories, and literature is important. (Maybe that's just me) The black and white outlines are the form, the frame, and the logic we need to speak to one another. The colors are the imagination, the turn of a phrase, and vision. Visually, I don't think I've thought about the craft of writing this way. I've spoken a lot about form and content -- but now perhaps there is a new dimension there. The beauty is that it brings into the discussion whether writers color in the lines or embrace the infinite possibilities that blur the human experience. 

Ron's Words: On Art and Writing by Kevin Hodgson


  1. "the imagination can be very specific and wonderfully complex, needing a place for maps and signs, way-points and directionals." Our imagination is wild and we tame it when we share it with others. Here's a twist on readers and writers and coloring that helps stretch our own perspectives.

  2. I am always intrigued by maps, and how they can be a bridge between writing/reading and art, and a bridge between the known and unknown. Fascinating to think of an entire class creating a book of maps as text interpretation.
    PS -- We wondered if you might be interested in joining the first Make with Me hangout. See my tweet. (that sounds rather ridiculous to write, but ...)

  3. Thanks for reading. When I teach writing, students hate to outline. But if we think of outlines as something more visual, more cartographic - students might have a bit more freedom in what they can see and where they can orientate themselves. Thanks Kevin and Sheri for your comments. Sorry I missed the hangout. Hangout next time, I shall.

  4. One of the areas I struggle with is assessment in reading. If I assign two chapters in a novel, I can quiz them or ask them all questions that prove the work was done. But what I don't have is the connective inspiration that the students had. What was the image that drew you into the story? What was the dialog or action that made you empathetic or angry or surprised? Even better, I am not sure they even know what changed them, the student just feels changed. Creating a map or a diagram about those chapters can allow the student to define their own path, their own colors, their own focus points. Then I can see (not only if they have done the work), but how they see the world they are reading. I am not getting a simple dispatch from the student about something that happened far away -- but getting a detailed panoramic view of their interpretation of the scene. That is a vast difference in realizing their comprehension!

  5. Hi Ron, It's great to see you in the #clmooc space. I've participated since 2013 and have learned much from many participants. I was intrigued by what you write in this article about visualizing and mapping ideas and "Perhaps it would inspire someone to see interconnections?".

    I've been creating visualizations to communicate ideas for nearly 20 years and created a new concept map to show how I found you through my participation in this week's #clmooc activities.

    I look forward to connecting with you more as the journey continues.

    1. I am interested in some of your work. I work with interns in a masters program and I am always thinking of new ways to challenge them. You have sparked some ideas from your website.