Arizona State University College of Liberal Arts and Sciences



YAWP Writing Ideas

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Georgia Heard writes in her book, Writing Toward Home, about Querencia. She had gone to a bullfight in Spain and learned about the place to where the wounded bull retreats to rest and feel safe -- his querencia:

"In Spanish, querencia describes a place where one feels safe, a place from which one's strength of character is drawn, a place where one feels at home. It comes from the verb querer which means to desire, to want."

All animals, including humans, have querencia. Sometimes it's not a place. Sometimes it's a time of day or a favorite shirt, certain kinds of weather or music.

As writers, our desire to write is our querencia. "We feel awful if we haven't written in a week, if we haven't written in our journals everyday. Writing is a way of finding and keeping our home."

This writing inspiration is from Georgia Heard:

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Write about where you feel most at home, where your querencia is. Describe it in such clear detail that you feel you're there. Gather photographs and pictures of your querencia and tape them to your wall or carry them with you. Search for your querencia. Keep asking yourself: Where do I come from? Where do I feel most at home? Where do I feel most happy and relaxed? What is my ideal writing environment? Where can I write with my full powers?

Thank you Georgia. Georgia Heard's book, Writing Toward Home, Tales and Lessons to Find Your Way, is published by Heinemann.


Begin with your journal. Write everything that comes to your mind:

Think about your name (first, middle, last, nickname, given name or name acquired by marriage, etc.) What does your name mean to you? To others? How are you a reflection of your name? Do you like your name? Does your name tie or link you to others in your family, your clan? Have you lived with an unusual name or one that is frequently mispronounced or misspelled?

Now, working with the material generated in your journal, write a short piece about your name. You may choose any format you wish -- poetry or narrative prose. Just don't rhyme.

Some Hints and Suggestions:

-Give your piece a title (but wait until you have finished to title it).

-Take care to include specific details that SHOW your feelings, reflections, pain, blessings, etc. Feel free to experiment!

-Experiment with your name as a "symbol" of your sense of your self. Think about the generations who came before you. Do you feel the physical or spiritual presence of other people in your name?

-Most importantly, take your time with this. Allow yourself this moment and let it take you where it wants to go. Then, when you feel you have said all you want or can say, rest your pen. Then, go back and make changes, add or fix what you need. Do this as many times as you need until it says what you want it to say.

"Thank you, Lynn Nelson, for this writing inspiration."

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Updated: January 9, 2007