Writing Exercises, Deep-Fried, On A Stick.

There’s this writing exercise in Natalie Goldberg’s innovative book on, Writing Down the Bones.  Part memoir, part workbook, there are lots of great prompts and exercises to get the creative juices flowing.  The one I’m thinking of asks the reader to make a random list of items, then choose a profession and write down verbs associated with the profession.  Now, use the verbs with the nouns.  The goal is to find innovative descriptions.  Her example uses chef-related cooking verbs, resulting in a sentence about dinosaur bones marinating in the earth.

The L.A. County Fair (yes, we have one) is going on this month.  It is a magnificent land of carnivals, games, pig races, living libraries, craft villages… and every food you can imagine, dipped in batter and deep-fried on a stick.  (For a complete list, click here and choose the “fried food” category.  There’s deep fried cereal for cryin’ out loud!)

It’s like a culinary school drop out played madlibs with the phrase, “Deep-fried (noun) on a stick.”  For example (and these are real things), insert:

  1. Watermelon
  2. Cheesecake
  3. Pineapple Upside Down Cake
  4. Bacon-wrapped pickle
  5. Snickers Bar
  6. Reese’s Peanut Butter Big Cup
  7. Ribs (okay, not on a stick, unless you count the bone.  They are described by a new word, “fry-b-que.)

The game has also been played with “Bacon (noun)“:

  1. Cotton Candy
  2. Nutella Bun
  3. covered in chocolate, sprinkled with sugar

And “Krispy Kreme (noun)“:

  1. Double Cheeseburger
  2. Sloppy Joe

Now, the list is not as shocking broken up like this, but when you say:

  1. Deep fried watermelon on a stick
  2. Bacon cotton candy, or
  3. Krispy Kreme Sloppy Joe

… it hits you like a heart attack, or heartburn, or worse.

If you could put any random food items together and deep fry them, what would you pick?  And how would you describe the flavor? 

I watched a young woman take her first bit of watermelon on a stick.  It looked like a giant, triangular chunk of battered fish drizzled in streaks of red (presumably watermelon) sauce.  Her first bite was all batter, which she said she liked.  The second, deeper bite resulted in something resembling a fried raw meat pocket as the pink interior fruit was revealed.  She began to laugh, covered her mouth to keep her tasty treat from escaping, and stopped laughing long enough to say, “It’s good.”  I asked if the watermelon was still cold.  Nope.  “It’s hot… and that’s weird.  I like cold watermelon.  But it’s good.”

Is it?  Really?

Now, you’re probably wondering, where does the writing come into this?  Here, a simple exercise:  What non-food item can you insert into the above phrases to come up with a new way of expressing things?

  1. Jed left Marla with nothing but an old sock and a case of deep-fried heartache on a stick.
  2. It was what Stevie called a bacon blind date– started out good, got even better, ’til you wondered if it was too much of a good thing.
  3. She wrapped him up in one of those Krispy Kreme hugs, soft, sweet and a little nauseating.

Hmm.  Not too bad.  Like the deep-fried watermelon.  Now, if I can use “hot watermelon” in a sentence, you’ll be the first to know.

Oh, wait:  Turns out kissing your best guy friend after discovering he has a crush on you is kind of like eating hot watermelon– weird, but you know, still pretty good. 

Thank you, and good night!