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.”

Prompts

Dinner Party . . . Prompt #570

“Imagine a dinner party post-pandemic. Which humans will be with you around the table? Where will it happen? What music will you listen to? What will you serve? What stories will you tell, what toasts will be made? What truths do you want—maybe need—to share? — Carla Fernandez Prompt inspired by Carla Fernandez, a creative entrepreneur and cofounder of The Dinner Party, the nation’s first community fighting the isolation of grief and loss for 20-40 somethings.  Her work has been featured on NPR, Good Morning America, and O Magazine, and as a case study in a dozen+ books. A Senior Innovation Fellow at USC, she was named one of the city’s “most fascinating people” by L.A. Weekly. She currently lives between Accord, NY, and Joshua Tree, CA, with her partner Ivan and rescue dog, Biscotti. Originally posted in Suleika Jaouad’s The Isolation Journals.

Just Write

Real Names in Memoir?

When writing memoir, the question often comes up, should you use real names? There are no cookie-cutter answers. No one-size-fits-all. In “Between Two Kingdoms” Suleika Jaouad handled the situation by stating in the front of the book, “To preserve the anonymity of certain individuals, I modified identifying details and changed the following names, listed in alphabetical order: Dennis, Estelle, Jake, Joanie, Karen, Sean, and Will.” Tara Westover, author of “Educated,” changed the first name of her parents and siblings. Phuc Tran, author of “Sigh, Gone: A Misfit’s Memoir of Great Books, Punk Rock, and the Fight to Fit In” decided to keep “the real names of all adults and changed the names of minors not related to him and adult names he forgot. He said his ‘tenuous’ relationship with his parents meant he didn’t care about their opinions and made his book easier to write, noting, ‘I wrote without worrying…

Quotes

Illuminating Ordinary Life

We read for many reasons and different kinds of pleasures. One of those pleasures is recognition—of a moment, a place, a feeling state. It’s the writer’s job to find language for those moments, those feeling states, that allows the reader to access their own feelings, that makes them think, “Oh, I never thought of it that way before. I could never find the words or the language for that.” Illuminating ordinary life, to me, is one of the most beautiful ways to write and to read. —Dani Shapiro, in conversation with Suleika Jaouad

Guest Bloggers

Suleika Jaouad and The Isolation Journals

Guest Post by Suleika Jaouad, creator of The Isolation Journals. The Isolation Journals was founded on the idea that life’s interruptions are invitations to deepen our creative practice. Suileika: When I started The Isolation Journals project, I had no idea so many would join me. In late March 2020, I was quarantining in my parents’ attic, having left New York City as Covid-19 was surging. I was no stranger to isolation. For much of my twenties, I was in treatment for leukemia, unable to travel, eat out, see friends, even take a walk. Now isolation was back—this time on a global scale. The Isolation Journals is an artist-led community and publishing platform that cultivates creativity and fosters connection in challenging times. We are in an unprecedented moment. This is one small way to stay grounded and hopeful to transform our isolation to connection. Suleika’s August 2, 2020 Isolation Journals Post: Today’s…