Drop-in Writing at the Ypsilanti Libraries

April 29, 2011 | 826 Blog Post

What with our Spring Workshop Schedule posted and nearly full, it is common for parents and students alike to experience feelings of sadness, remorse, and/or nausea. Fear not, dear hearts. While it is true you may not have made it into a particular workshop you were feeling particularly excited about, we have many other avenues through which you can write with us!

Exhibits A, B, and C: Drop-in Writing.

We offer Drop-in Writing three times a week at three different locations. As the name implies, you never need to pre-register for drop-in, just show up! Monday nights, we host drop-in here at 826 from 6-7pm for 8-18 year olds. It is led by Jeopardy! champion Amy Wilson (and yes, thank you for asking one of my very favorite questions, it was regular Jeopardy!, despite the fact that she was indeed a college student at the time).

We also offer Drop-in Writing at both branches of the Ypsilanti Library. On Tuesday nights, for 13-18 year olds, you can find us at the main branch on Michigan Avenue from 5:30-6:30pm; and on Wednesday nights, for 8-12 year olds, you can find us at the Whittaker Road branch from 5:30-6:30pm. Both of these sessions are led by AmeriCorps member and all-around-do-gooder Katie Jones. Curious about what happens at these sessions?

About a month ago, at the Whittaker Road session, the students did Reverse Mad-Libs Stories. If this sounds intriguing and you are looking to replicate it at home, here’s how:

Reverse Mad-Libs Stories

Have everyone make up an answer for each of the following prompts:

1) Make up a character (name, age, career).
2) Provide a setting (place, year).
3) Briefly describe a problem.
4) Write down one of your favorite words.
5) Write down a verb (action word).

Then, cut the answers into strips and divide them into five piles. Have everyone pick one strip from each pile and write a story using all five elements.

Here’s an example from Erin, age 12.

“Area Random”
Setting: Area 51, Nevada, in the year 2022
Problem: His pencil broke and he doesn’t have a sharpener
Favorite word: Fudge
Verb: Singing

Bob screamed. His pencil had broken and there wasn’t a sharpener on his desk. He started hyperventilating and pulling things off his desk. He threw everything on the floor and screamed again. No pencil sharpener. He ran out of his office and down the hallway, screaming as he went. He reached the front door and stepped outside. The sign, Area 51, Nevada stood in front of him. He pulled a piece of fudge from his pocket and gulped it down. He sighed, starting to calm down. At least until he remembered his pencil was broken. He started screaming again and ran laps around the building until he was shaking and out of breath. Bob gasped, and put his hand over his heart. He slid down to the ground and sat down. Then he started singing, “My pencil, my pencil, it’s broken my oh my, my pencil my pencil, oh how it makes me cry. My mama always told me to have a sharpener at hand, but now I don’t and my pencil is broke and now I’m really mad.” Bob screamed the last note, and ran back into the building. He went to his office, pulled out his VISA card, and threw it at his boss. “I hate you!!” he yelled randomly, and slammed the door.

Seconds later, the door opened again, and Bob’s boss stood there, holding a piece of hair. “You knocked off my toupee,” he growled in a heavy French accent.

Bob laughed, and smacked his hand to his head.

Bob’s boss yelled, “Sacre bleu! You, Monsieur Bob, are FIRED!” And with that Bob’s boss fled out the door. Bob still didn’t stop laughing. Until he remembered he still didn’t have a pencil sharpener. Then he started to laugh hysterically until tears streamed down his face. He sighed, wiped his eyes, and chuckled. He looked at the broken pencil on his desk. He simply picked it up, and snapped it clean in two. When he did that everyone in Area 51 including the aliens started to laugh, and soon Area 51 was recognized in 2022 as not a secret government facility but a place where nothing is serious. So HA HA HA.

Here’s part of the group who usually gets together on Wednesday nights at the Whittaker branch:

Erin, Katie (who, although she has the glow of youth about her, we can assure you, has a college degree and is getting her MFA in the fall, CONGRATS KATIE!), Alex, and Ben.

So ditch those feelings of sadness and remorse! Start eating again! Don’t despair over how quickly our workshop schedule always fills up! Come on and join us at Drop-in Writing, happening now.

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