Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Weekly Workshop: Get Technical

This week's workshop is inspired by John McPhee's recent article in The New Yorker. In the article, he discusses the recruitment of lacrosse players for college teams, and includes a wonderful snippet of a recruiter's cryptic notes. Unfortunately, the online article cannot be read in its entirety, and the magazine copy I was reading had to stay in the waiting room, but it went a little something like this:

steady hands good
dumb hands bad
quick stick
flashy, maybe too cool

The list was like a punchy, rhythmic poem, evoking the movement of the lacrosse athletes on the field. It got me thinking about other areas of study, work, or play where a new technical type of language is required. I'm thinking about the language of mechanics, computer programmers, doctors, and scientists. There's a language for the theater, a language for boating and water sports, a language for landscapers and gardeners...just about any specialized activity has a specialized language.

So here's your challenge for this week: choose one of the above activities, or another like it with a special technical vocabulary, and incorporate that new language into your writing. It might work best if it is a language you know little about. For instance, I recently learned that there are car parts named galaxies. This discovery led to a poem about an astronomer with a lead foot. But what will you come up with? The possibilities are endless.

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