Prompts

Write Your Story. Prompt #436

An article in the Mail Tribune, Medford, Oregon, September 14, 2006 described how Betty Henshaw wrote about her childhood in the Oklahoma hills and her family’s move to California.  Author Sandra Scofield read a collection of Betty’s work and said her history needed to be in the hands of a university press. Texas Tech University Press published her story and Betty did a book tour in 2006. Here’s an excerpt from that newspaper article. “The family hired an auctioneer and sold their cows, horses, pigs, chickens, farm tools, the potatoes in the barn and the home-canned fruits and vegetables. Mama kept her sewing machine. The next morning I helped herd the younger children into the truck before first light. Daddy and Robert had placed a feather mattress on the pickup bed. The babies crawled to the back, grabbed a pillow each, and rolled up in quilts. Sadness washed over me…

Prompts

Write what is hard to admit. Prompt #435

“You don’t grow up missing what you never had, but throughout life there is hovering over you an inescapable longing for something you never had.” — Susan Sontag, excerpted from The Rainbow Comes and Goes by Anderson Cooper. Anderson Cooper continues: “As a child, you generally aren’t aware that your family is different from any other. You have no frame of reference.”   The following is excerpted from What We Keep by Elizabeth Berg. “I am thinking of how right he was when he said that people want to be deceived. I have learned the truth of that notion over and over; but I never admitted to its obvious presence in my own life. After all, I claimed I did not need my mother. I said I had replaced her.” Prompt: Write about something you have been unwilling to admit or something you have been deceiving yourself about. Note: No one…

Prompts

Flashbacks . . . Prompt #433

A flashback is a scene set in a time earlier than the main story. Sometimes when you are telling a story, or writing a story, you need to backtrack and tell what happened previously. A flashback is a shift in a narrative to an earlier event that interrupts the normal chronological development of a story. From Make a Scene by Jordan Rosenfeld: “With flashback, you want to focus on action, information, and character interactions.” Flashback can also be thought of as backstory.   Use flashbacks to explain, enlighten, and inform. An example is What We Keep by Elizabeth Berg. The story takes place during a woman’s travels to meet her sister and mother. We learn what happened thirty-five years prior through flashbacks while the woman travels in space. Other examples of using flashback to tell a story: To Kill a Mockingbird: The whole story is a flashback told by Scout a…

Prompts

Ouch. Prompt #434

Write about someone in your life who is consistently critical of you or what you do, and this could be yourself. I recently read a Facebook post by Prince Ea about the four letter word that ends all arguments: Ouch. Suggestion: As you write on this prompt, think of what words and actions hurt and add “ouch” to your writing. Frame your situation as experiences that had an “ouch” factor. Next, write what you wish you had said, or could have said, to lessen the hurt. Next, write a love letter to yourself. List your strengths, your qualities, your capabilities that make you uniquely you. Be generous with yourself. You deserve it.

Prompts

Five minute writing exercises . . . Prompt #431

~ Write for 5 minutes about something difficult, challenging, or painful. It’s only five minutes. Go ahead. Do it now. We’ll wait. Humming in the background while writing gets done. Quiet while writing gets done. Are you still reading?  Write!  Just write. For five minutes. After five minutes . . . ~ Write for 5 minutes about something comforting, happy, or joyous. Yes, you. Now. Just write. Go ahead. We’ll wait. Waiting. Waiting. Patiently waiting. I’ll write, too. After five minutes . . . ~ Write for 5 minutes about images of nature, the natural world. Hmm . . . what will you choose from nature to write about? Feathers, rocks, trees, birds, rocks, dirt, peach blossoms, river, waterfall, penguins, geese. Write whatever comes up for you about nature. Shhh. . . Writers are working here. Doing what we do. Writing. Just writing. Keep on writing. For five minutes. Next…

Prompts

An object that “speaks” to you. Prompt #430

Picture the house or apartment you grew up in. If there was more than one house or apartment, choose one to focus on for this writing. Imagine standing outside, looking at the door you usually entered. Stand outside for a moment. Walk in and wander until you see a piece of furniture that speaks to you. Describe the object. Write about the memories and feelings it brings up for you. Write until you feel done with this object. Another time write about another object from your childhood or adolescence.

Prompts

Secret Anniversary. . . Prompt #429

From Simple Abundance, by Sarah Ban Breathnach From the June 15 page: “The Secret Anniversaries of the Heart” The holiest of all holidays are those Kept by ourselves in silence and apart, The secret anniversaries of the heart  . .  —Henry Wadsworth Longfellow This is the traditional month for orange blossoms, lace, and rice, but wedding anniversaries aren’t on my mind. Today I am thinking of singular rites of passage, the secret anniversaries of the heart. These are the anniversaries we never talk about, kept in silence and apart. You might remember a first kiss, while I can’t forget the last time I held my father’s hand. I was speaking to a good friend this morning on the telephone. She was enjoying the preparation of a special dinner for a marvelous new man in her life. Last year her marriage of twenty years ended and she says she’s grateful her…