Archive for the ‘writing prompts’ Category

Pirene’s Fountain 2011   Leave a comment

This image was taken in 1986 by Thierry Noir a...

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To read the poem, click here

Middle school is never easy. It’s especially tough when you’ve always been a little socially awkward. As I was. And, ok, continue to be. I think most writers, most creative people, live within their minds to a degree that interacting with other people isn’t always easy. Add to that an embarrassing childhood illness, and you’ve got a made for tv movie in the making.

Or, in my case, fodder for good poetry. A great example is the poem Pirene‘s Fountain published of mine earlier this year, entitled “When the Wall Came Down”. The wall of course refers to one of the big historical moments during my youth, Perestroika, and the tearing down of the Berlin Wall. Also, great fodder. Especially when you combine it with preteen angst.

Today, make a list of all the defining historical moments of your youth. Thinks about where you were, what you were doing, how it impacted you, how it didn’t. Start brainstorming how one thing mirrored the other, how history could be used as a metaphor for the first person you kissed, the bully that pushed you into the mud, the joy of making the soccer team, the defeat of not gaining a part in the school play.

 

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The Legendary 2011   Leave a comment

Coffee and Sunshine

Image by Frank Gruber via Flickr

The Legendary had a special Flash issue in March, and included two pieces of my flash fiction. I love being in the Legendary, because every issue is well put together, the stories and poems are always excellent, quality work. Katie and Jim have a good eye, a good ear. Thanks guys!

Male/Female is a flash about the maybes, the could have beens, that occur in our lives every day. A moment between coworkers allows a woman, trapped in an unhappy marriage, to imagine what life would be like with the IT guy. Personally, I’ve known some perfectly wonderful IT guys, and gals for that matter, but none I’d necessarily like to date. At least, not yet.

Hermit is a flash from the mind of someone terrified of the world. Written as stream of consciousness, they go to Dunkin Donuts for coffee, and survive the trip to tell the tale. Again, not necessarily a situation I’ve found myself in. I’ve been at parties where I’ve wanted to shrink into the wallpaper, but never while purchasing fast food.

It’s a fun challenge, writing from a perspective that isn’t exactly yours. Taking experiences, twisting them, expanding them in a way you’d never take them in your normal everyday life.  For example, in the novel I’m writing now, the protagonist is in the middle of a divorce from her husband, who happens to be a zombie. Divorce I’m all too familiar with, but I don’t know many zombies.

Today, try to write from a different point of view. Write from a different race, or gender, from your own. Take something you’ve experienced, and imagine how someone else might handle that same experience.

 

To read these stories, click here

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Juked 2011   5 comments

Steacie Science and Engineering Library at Yor...

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To read the poem Between Meals, click here

Getting laid off is hard. Getting divorced, is hard. Put them together, you have the hell that was my 2010.

The lay off was made better, or worse, by the fact that the school system offered me another job, that I wasn’t necessarily qualified for, that I hadn’t spent years and money training for. A job that took me out of the library and into numerous classrooms, with nowhere really to safely store my purse, my lunch, no desk or shelf of my own. Coming from three years of pretty much having a giant library to myself, that was hard. I almost didn’t take it, but had to weigh in the economic needs of my family, including health insurance.

So, I took the job, and this poem is born from that experience.

Happily, another library position became available and I was able to leave that other position, with no regrets. It turns out, this is a better place for me than my old library would have been had I stayed, so the lay off was a good thing. God knows what He’s doing.

Today, write about an unhappy or uncomfortable situation. Between Meals is,  I think, one of the best poems I’ve ever written, that comes out of one of the worst situations I’ve ever been in. Use your own worst experiences to create something beautiful of your won.

3K Down, and No Ending in Sight!   2 comments

Zombie Love Forever

Image by Walt Jabsco via Flickr

Writing during the week is difficult. By the time I get home, get kids, get everyone fed and washed and asleep, there isn’t much drive left. On the weekends, however, even with kids, I get a nice little gap of time to write. Naptime is my time, and I squeeze as much as I can out of it. Today, that squeeze got me over 3ooo words, and 6 pages. I don’t think I’ll have a whole novel at the end of the month, and I haven’t even touched the project I went into NaNo with the first week, but progress has been made, and I’m grateful for the push into longer projects.

Today I introduced new love interests for both of the main characters, creating two separate love triangles. Oooo, tensiony, right? I mean, especially considering two of the four people involved are zombies??? Jane has a best friend as well,  and her favorite pizza is Hawaiian barbecue chicken. The back story is just about wrapped up, and a lot of the action is going to pick up very, very soon. Considering I myself don’t have a clue as to where it all ends, I’m pretty pumped.

Alas, tomorrow the project goes on  the back burner, as I will be in NYC at the Bowery Poetry Club at 4 pm doing a reading. If you’re in the neighborhood, you can come. If you aren’t, you can watch it live. Find more here: http://www.bowerypoetry.com/#Event/85825

NaNoWRiMo, Day 2   Leave a comment

A Chinese buffet restaurant in the U.S.

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The word today was halcyon, a place or state of calm. I free wrote ideas for a poem during lunch at a local Chinese buffet, which was at that hour quite calm and peaceful for me. Those notes evolved into a poem about zodiacs and grandparents.

I did not get to Cain. Due to a sugar crash from pilfered Halloween candy, I just wasn’t able. I plan on getting to it again tomorrow. One problem is, is that the part I’m working on involves a character I’m just not invested in. He’s quite a cliche, a stereotype, so I’m thinking of cutting the whole section, but I’m not sure. Ergo, no action whatsoever taken.

In the works as well this month, continued work on a short story I began a few months ago about a woman divorcing her zombie husband. It’s good, and deserves some face time. So, maybe I’ll get to that tomorrow if I’m still on the fence about Cain’s latest disciple.

Halcyon, it’s a good word. At the very least, use it in a sentence sometime tonight or tomorrow. Find yourself a halcyon of your own to work in. Escape the misanthropes.

NaNoWriMo- Let the Madness Begin!   Leave a comment

Short Story

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There are two months that make the American writer quiver with fear and anticipation, April and November. April is National Poetry Month, and most poets, and not a few people insisting that they are NOT poets, attempt to write a poem a day for all thirty days, scouring the internet for lists of prompts, fellow poets to workshop with, encouraging one another to write just. One. More!!!!!!!!!!

November, as National Novel Writing (Write, Writers?) Month,  or NaNoWriMo to its friends, opens up the floodgates a tad further. In November, the sky is the limit. Not excluding the muse to poetry, many writers use November as the push to get that novel they’ve been dying to write started, or finished, or, (as in my case), started again somewhere in the middle of the beginning. Short stores, flash, and yes, even poetry, are typed, scrawled, scribbled,  or elegantly handwritten in overwrought cursive loops. It doesn’t matter the hows or whys or what, just as long as something, ANYTHING! gets down on paper or drive, one day at a time.

I usually take November off. There’s enough to do with Thanksgiving, Christmas looming. But this year has been pretty productive, publishing wise, and I’ve got a lot of new ideas bottled up, just begging for release. NaWRiMo seems as good an excuse as any.

I’m also studying up for the GRE. If you’ve ever taken it, you know that vocabulary plays a huge part on the verbal section. And so, in the spirit of my Three Dollar Word series, I’m going to take a word a day from the “Hit Parade” lists found in the Princeton Review‘s Cracking the GRE book, and at least write one poem around it. If I’m feeling up to it, I might also incorporate it into a short story, or a work already in progress. At some point during the day, I will post the word I’m using for that day, to help along any other writer out there eager to get something written, but needing a place to start.

Today, the word is Misanthrope. I wrote a poem about a Mr. Misanthrope, and threw the adjective misanthropic into a fresh page of Cain. Go me!

A misanthrope is someone who hates other people. I am not a misanthrope, but I know misanthropes. Oi do I know misanthropes.

Haruah: Breath of Heaven   Leave a comment

Northern lights on the road

Image by Tom Olliver via Flickr

To read this poem, click here

2007, when “On the Shores of Gitcheegumee” was published in Haruah: Breath of Heaven, seems like a lifetime ago. Even more distant is the even that inspired this inspirational piece about grieving, loss, and hope.

My grandmother died almost 20 years ago, but the trip to Montana my family took is fresh in my mind to this day. Growing up we made the trek to Montana by van many times, but this particular trip was fraught with roadblocks along the way. The minivan broke down in Michigan, the part needed had to be ordered, the only campground nearby with a spot for us was run by a crazy old man who hated kids.  It was like something out of a movie, but the best, and worst, was yet to come.

At weeks end, we sped across the prairies, not stopping at night, my parents taking turns sleeping. During one of the brief stops along side the road so Mom could wake up and take Dad’s place, we were blessed to see the Northern Lights, my sister and I for the first time. The next day we learned that my grandmother had passed around the time we witnessed Aurora Borealis.

My family, my life, have always been a main source of inspiration for me, and this poem is representative of some of my earliest work, drawing on one of the bigger moments. Over time, of course, I have to delve further, draw from memory buried over time, more subtle. It’s nice to look back and remember a simpler, bittersweet time.

How deep into your own memory do you go for inspiration? Have you simply skimmed the surface in your writing, or have the layers slowly been peeled away? Do some free writing, quickly writing down scraps of memory, phrases, words, see what might be hiding, waiting to come into the light.