Sparks

Hello, how ARE you?

By Sharmila Rao Writing Prompt on The Isolation Journals: How ARE you? What happened yesterday evening motivated me to attempt this prompt. I dropped in to meet one of my friends whom I was seeing after a year because of the Covid protocols. She is a cancer survivor and I had gotten closer to her during this challenging journey of hers. We exchanged the usual pleasantries and she replied I am fine, Sharmila. I could see her eyes were saying something else though. As we got talking about the past year and how it has affected each one us, I told her of the many changes I have begun to incorporate in my life, one of them being giving due priority to myself—something I felt I had seriously lacked all my life. The moment I mentioned this to her I was taken aback by her soft almost immediate plea to…

Prompts

I’ll say a little prayer for you . . . Prompt #574

Today’s prompt is inspired by Mavis Staples and her essay on The Isolation Journals. Mavis wrote: Many times in my life, I’ve come across someone who won’t smile, who won’t speak to me. I’ll get on an elevator and say “good morning,” and that person won’t say anything in return. My sister Yvonne—she’s different from me. When people are rude or unfriendly, Yvonne’ll tell them, “I didn’t do anything to you! Whatever is on your mind, don’t take it out on me.” But I’m wired differently. I keep a smile on my face, and I say to myself, “Alright. I’ll say a little prayer for you.” And I’ll say a prayer that whatever they’re struggling with, they’ll get through. That whatever is heavy, whatever is burdening them, they’ll find a way to lighten that load. That they’ll realize, even in the middle of great struggle, there are things to be…

Prompts

I was the kid who . . . Prompt #573

Your Deepest Core by Maggie Rogers: Throughout my life I’ve thought of vulnerability as a shield. My logic goes something like—if I tell you my whole truth, everything I’m feeling, then there’s no ammo left for you to hurt me. It’s been my default defense mechanism for as long as I can remember. I was the kid in the second grade telling everyone who I had a crush on instead of trying to keep it a secret.  Prompt: I was the kid who . . . Prompt inspired from The Isolation Journals with Suleika Jaouad, “A newsletter for people seeking to transform life’s interruptions into creative grist.”

Sparks

The Nyx Café

By Ron Salisbury Day stood by our table with her eager smile,pad and pen at ready. “Today we only have two specials,” she said.“The first one includes an amuse bouche;one hour and a half of good sleep. Upon wakingyou wonder why? Then realize you’re still dampfrom a hot flash. The appetizer is a couple of hourswhen the pillows are too soft, too hard, or both,the bed clothes too heavy, cramp in your big toe,wondering if you should call the doctor aboutthat little pain in your side. Suddenly you realizeyou have been asleep because of the dream you hadfilled with people you absolutely don’t know.The main course is filled with noise—traffic, butyou live on a cul-de-sac, the overhead fan butit’s not on, a strange hum from the kitchen,the dogs rushing downstairs and you get upto check and find them both at their water bowls,you might as well see if the doors are locked….

Sparks

The Hum

By Camille Sherman It startled me. The devices were powered off, the lights relieved of duty. The street below offered no atmosphere or background detail. All is still.  I whip my head, crane my neck, squint my eyes. The hum does not become louder, more apparent, more directional. It almost becomes maddeningly softer, like a drop of water has come and diluted its color so its wayward edges are harder to spot.  It doesn’t quite have a pitch. I rule out the heater, much more ostentatious when it kicks on to rescue cold feet. I come to terms with the fact that it is likely the refrigerator, reassuring me that it is trusty and functional. I put my mug in the sink, grab the blanket off the couch, and slide into bed. Lying there, I realize the devices are powered off, the world is asleep. The low hum is the…

Guest Bloggers

A Type of Disconnect

It’s been a difficult thirteen months during shelter in place. From March 2020 to now (April 2021) many of us have felt a spectrum of emotions. Alison Flood eloquently captures what many of us are experiencing: After a month of lockdown, William Sutcliffe wrote on Twitter: “I have been a professional writer for more than twenty years. I have made my living from the resource of my imagination. Last night I had a dream about unloading the dishwasher.” Whether it is dealing with home schooling, the same four walls, or anxiety caused by the news, for many authors, the stories just aren’t coming. “Stultified is the word,” says Orange prize-winning novelist Linda Grant. “The problem with writing is it’s just another screen, and that’s all there is … I can’t connect with my imagination. I can’t connect with any creativity. My whole brain is tied up with processing, processing, processing…

Places to submit

Writer Advice: Flash Fiction Contest

I met B. Lynn Goodwin several years ago at a writing workshop. Lynn is the creator of Writer Advice, a resource for writers. Since 1997, it has grown from an e-mailed research newsletter for writers into an e-zine that invites reader participation and holds four contests a year. WriterAdvice seeks flash fiction, a story running 750 words or less. Sometimes fiction is based on real life, sometimes it stretches the imagination, but we always love or hate the characters. All fiction genres are welcome. Hopefully, your story will touch or move readers in some way. The last day submissions will be accepted:  Wednesday, June 2, 2021. Early submissions are encouraged. Lynn is the author of one of my favorite books, You Want Me to Do WHAT? Journaling for Caregivers (Tate Publishing), Talent, and her memoir, Never Too Late: From Wannabe to Wife at 62. 

Sparks

Studio Apartment

By Deb Fenwick She’s ready to set the world on fire. She’s got the requisite credentials: a freshly printed MBA from Wharton and a studio apartment in Brooklyn Heights. Yes, it’s a studio, but it’s a nice studio—spacious with carefully curated accessories. She even has houseplants. She can’t get to the gym or her Pilates class right now, well, because . . . Covid. She meets up with girlfriends for gossipy, boozy, Zoom happy hours on Fridays where everyone looks great from the waist up. She even puts on lipstick for the calls so that she can see the after image of her lips on the wineglass long after everyone logs off. It’s proof that she had fun. She and her friends are in that sweet spot after college but before the gorgeous weight of marriage, mortgages, and children (in that order) that will bind them to suburban homes with…

Guest Bloggers

Crystallize A Moment

Today’s guest blogger Nancy Julien Kopp muses about capturing and crystalizing a moment. The Wall Street Journal had an article profiling Maggie Smith, a contemporary poet. One of her quotes was simple but said a lot. “A poem doesn’t have to tell a story; it can just crystallize a moment.” I read it two or three times, then copied it on a notepad.  If you’ve ever been stopped by a beautiful sight or sound and wanted to write a poem, you’ll understand her thought to crystallize a moment. There’s no set number of verses to do that, no rhyming pattern, or anything else . . . just crystallize a moment. Maybe you’ve watched your children interacting, and there was a moment that you wanted to keep forever. It’s then that you should get that little notepad you keep nearby and jot down the thoughts you had. If you don’t do…