Rip the Page:Adventures in Creative Writing by Karen Benke arrived just before we left for our 4 week trip to the west coast. I had been contacted by Shambhala Press to see if I’d be interested in doing a book review. Sure! I said, I like writing and I love books. Send it along!
When we arrived home from the trip, there was so much to do: adjusting back, homeschooling, Christmas gift making. Rip the Page moved from spot to spot in the house, each time engendering a feeling of responsibility tinged with failure. It became something that had. to. be. done. Yuck.
Imagine my delight, however, when I pulled it out – with a bit of sigh it must be admitted – and discovered a zesty, playful book that made me itch to get back at writing. Words, I love words! I thought. How could I have forgotten for so many months?
The subtitle splashed across the front cover should have keyed me in: includes wordplay, encouragement from writers and poets, and enough blank pages to let your words roam…
Karen Benke has created a book that is more like a treasure chest than a book – you can simply paw through until you find the something shiny that ignites your inspiration. Writing is playful and personal here, and there’s no wrong way to do it. It’s the protection of an umbrella with the passion of a flare. And as a word person, I truly love the little collections of words found in the book.
The exercises, and I hesitate to call them exercises because then it feels like maybe we should be doing them because they’re (ick) good for us, fall into a few categories, not that you’ll notice that while the playful possibilities are flipping past you:
Try This – nudges to get you thinking, writing, creating (8 wishes, acrostics, the imagination’s world record, i.e. brainstorming the deepest thing, the flattest thing, the kindest thing…)
Definition Decoders – writing concepts explained in ways that make you want to play with them (think personification, haiku, cliche)
A Note From – the things writers wanted to tell you, little nuggets from writers such as Carol Edgarian, Avi, Karen Cushman, Lemony Snicket
Word List – my favourite is the list of small words (pg 29), but there are word lists for far distances, what fits in your fist, and more
Suddenly a Story – prompts to get your pen moving across the page
Rip the Page – places to really rip the pages out and follow the prompts for more playfulness
With it’s playful style and passion, it’s a winner. It’s easy to dive into, too, since it isn’t full of that pompous front matter that just puts roadblocks between the reader and creativity. Yes, some of you other writing books, I’m looking at you. I’d put this in the hands of anyone 12 and up, and eager beavers younger than that. Definitely for the budding novelist or faithful diarist you know, but also for the recalcitrant writer – there’s so much zip and zest that it can’t fail to carry them away.
Homeschoolers, you’ll find a lot to love in here. Whether you want to use it to ‘salt’ the home with a resource your unschoolers can encounter, or whether you want to use it to be the mom who assigns the coolest writing assignments ever, you’ll find this fits. I’m thinking it should always be given with a snazzy journal, but maybe that’s just my word-nerd meeting up with my inner paper-fiend.
Flip through a sampling of the pages here.