Archive for the ‘Baby Girl’ Tag

Doorknobs and Body Paint   Leave a comment

Body-painted naked cyclists, a longstanding tr...

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The fun thing about Doorknobs and Bodypaint is the prompts they give in the guidelines for each issue. They are split up into Dorsal, Doorknobs, Hayward Faultline, Tapas, and the Cairo Room. The Cairo Room can be anything within the issue’s theme, such as the theme for my issue, in February, was Love,  the most recent one was Hot Summer Nights.  Each of the other sections must include a certain word, or turn of phrase, or setting. For example, the Hayward Faultline prompts for the Work issue last May were:

HAYWARD FAULT LINE (shake us up)
1. Maximum length: 450 words.
2. The sub-theme is: toil.
3. The setting is: Auckland, NZ.
4. Within the story, you must use this bit of text: gum up.

Fun prompts like these give a writer a chance to stretch out of their comfort zones, look at new ideas and old stories in ways that they hadn’t thought of before.

For example, the story I had published there in February, “Hello Young Lovers” was already pretty much written when the guidelines came out, but I hadn’t found a home for it yet. It was the only real love story I had sitting around on my hard drive, but the prompts from DK & BP required the story to take place in the mid fifties, and my story was a modern one. So, I changed Baby Girl‘s Juicy Couture jeans into pedal pushers, played a little with the language, changing a few words to include the phrasing the Dorsal prompt required, (charity of second chances was originally just plain old second chances), and a masterpiece was written. At least, I convinced myself and the editors of DK & BP it was so.

Today, click on the link, read through some of the old and new guidelines for Doorknobs and Body Paint, and try your hand at one. Send it to them, or post it here with me.  Stretch those writing wings a little.

Snow Monkey   1 comment

Photograph of Edna St. Vincent Millay

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This May, Snow Monkey published my poem, “Funny, You Don’t Look Like a Grandmother“. Giving credit where credit is due, the title came from a book I once bought my mother-in-law for her birthday. This was a running joke with us, since she was in her mid thirties when I had my oldest son. Her husband, my ex-husband’s step-dad, was twenty seven, but it’s funny, I never did find a Funny, You Don’t Look Like a Grandfather book. Freud would have something to say about that, I’m sure.

Anyway, the title may have come from a funny little book, but the body of the poem came from the life of Edna St. Vincent Millay, one of my favorite poets. According to Nancy Millford’s excellent biography, Savage Beauty, when Millay’s mother thought her daughter might be pregnant, she forced her to take multiple scalding hot baths, and ride her horse bareback up and down the valleys and meadows near their home. It was such a crazy contrast to how my own parents and in-laws reacted, it stuck with me, more than anything else in the book, and it was a very good book, worth the read if you have the time and wish to do so.

You may notice, though, that I don’t use Millay’s name in the poem. In earlier drafts I did, added more details specific to her own life. In workshopping, others found the specificity distracting, and so I applied a name I had used before, in Baby Girl poems, the fragile and distracted Sweet Baby. It added another slant to the idea of a mother manipulating her daughter’s body, even after the girl is grown into her own sexuality.

This is just one example of how I sometimes get inspired by the lives of real people, and by what I read in books. Take something you’ve read, that has stuck with you, and use it as a writing prompt this evening. When you’re done, pick up a book you’ve been dying to read.  Begin to read it with an eye for inspiration, as well as for leisure. Taste the words and stories within, mull it around your tongue with the spices from your own life. Begin to read like a writer.