Welcoming 2020! A New Year, A New Look!

I don’t know how others feel about it, but writing 2020 is pretty surreal. Of course, I’m old enough that reaching 1984 was stunning (and now we’re living it – with Big Brother everywhere, among other things), and then it was 1999 – the year we were all going to party like, because Prince was so cool (and now, Prince is no longer with us). For me, 2006 was another milestone year. It was the year I graduated with my master’s degree, and turned 50 all at once. Now, the next major year will be 2024 for me (and not because it’s an election year) because it will be 50 years since I graduated high school! 1974, where did you go? Anyway, with each year, if we’re lucky, we all get older. And, as they say, aging is not for sissy’s! However, I do feel lucky as my only complaint is my lower back pain, and it’s not every day, but some days I do feel like I must be 90…as slow as I get up out of a chair. The problem is – I don’t feel my age, and that seems to be something that happens when we all reach a certain age. So, you younguns can say “Ok, Boomer!” all you like – but it is true, and someday you will be talking about your aches and pains with friends and you’ll also begin wondering why the youth think you’re so “far out” there in la la land. LOL! Also, I am a “Boomer” and I’ll admit it. Nevertheless, I also am not as old as, say, a lot of presidential candidates who are not Boomer’s but get called that all the time. I’ll give them the president is a Boomer, but right at the very beginning. Goes to show, labels are not a way to lump everyone together. You’d think with all the technology that people could look up information and find out those facts, but that’s a whole other can of worms.

With that all said, you will notice (if you’ve followed me over the years) that my blog is not just Writing Prompt Pit Stop anymore. I have added other things to this site as my “hub” in 2020, but I will always leave you with at least one or two prompts – just for the fun of it – if that’s what you originally followed me for. I will begin blogging here about things that interest me, and of course, writing is a big interest, but also about art, and theatre. I may share things that are going on in the world, I may choose to write a book review, I may choose to interview somebody in the arts, but the main thing is – I’m changing it up. It’s a new year, it’s a new decade! I’m getting too old not to write and do what I want…which could mean I’ve finally turned into an “old codger” or it could mean that I’m keeping myself young, engaged, and hoping to do the same for others along the way.

I hope you join me as I make new discoveries this year! Don’t forget to check out the new page headings above which include: Home (where you are now), About, Contact, Plays, Poetry, Poetry Sisters, Visual Arts, and Writing Prompts. I will also add new things there as they come along. For those of you that would like a writing prompt or two (or three!), here you go:

1. No matter your age, you’re older than you were last year. Write what you like about being the age you are now. What would you tell younger people about what it’s like to be your age? What scares you about getting older? Do you fear death? Why or why not?

2. I made reference to 1984, and 1999, which are titles of the novel by Orwell and of the song by Prince. Can you write a poem or story that is devoted to a year in the future? Maybe you want to journal about something that happened to you in one of those years. Something could come of that…you know?

3. Maybe I brought up something you want to challenge or that you made a connection with. Maybe you don’t like the term “OK, Boomer!” Maybe you’re someone who says it all the time. Write your feelings down! Write for 10 minutes on whatever it is…and then see if you want to continue it into a story, a poem, or a short play. Go for it!

I hope you enjoy the new look, I hope you enjoyed the prompts, and I hope you will pay a visit again. If you feel like it, leave a comment or contact me directly.

Keep writing and creating!

Lylanne

Welcoming 2019, Bidding 2018 Farewell

Welcome to Writing Prompt Pit Stop! Well, it’s been a while since I posted and I don’t have any super excuses, except being busy: teaching, writing, and drawing. In addition, since my dad died in 2017, I’ve been my mom’s caregiver…which since she has dementia, is time-consuming and oftentimes, frustrating. So, I gave myself permission to miss a few months of posting blogs and now I’m re-surfacing. However, I know that is not a good commitment to this blog spot, so one of my goals this year is to post at least one blog every month, if not more, throughout 2019.

As has been noted, 2017 was an awful year, but 2018 was a bit of a relief. It wasn’t nearly as traumatic, even though I lost an aunt, and several cousins…which is something that some of us of a certain age, unfortunately, have to grow accustom to. Nevertheless, loss is never easy whether expected or not. On the other hand, I have much to be thankful for in 2018. I had my first trip to Arizona, with my friend, Ann. I had never been to New Mexico or Arizona, so by driving out there in January I was able to cross two more states off my “been to” list. Now, California is the lone state out west (and Hawaii and Alaska) that I’ve not ventured to. I’m only missing New Hampshire and Maine out east – so goals! I don’t know whether I’ll make those this year, but I’m always open to travel when it presents itself. In addition, speaking of traveling, I spent a week in Florida and one in Atlantic City with my daughters and grandchildren, so I loved 2018 just for those trips, if nothing else! But there was something else. My creative ventures saw a good year as well. I ended up having my visual art accepted into 11 juried shows, and winning an HM at Art Association of Madison County’s show at the Anderson Museum of Art and a Judge’s Choice at the Northern Indiana Pastel Society’s Annual Exhibit. I also exhibited at other venues throughout the year, was the Muncie Artist’s Guild Artist of the Month in July; I took part in the 31 pastels in 31 day challenge in October (and successfully completed 31), and I had some nice sales of my work throughout the year. In 2019, I’d love to double those juried shows, sales, and maybe shoot for getting some art published in some lit journals. I’ll never know until I try!

I took part in the 365 Women a Year Playwrights Project again – my 3rd time in the 4 years it’s existed. So, by the end of 2018, I wrote three new plays, and two monologues. Also, one of my plays, “Frida Kahlo: Heartbreaker,” from a previous year was produced at NoPlays’ Herstory 3: Journeywomen in New Haven, CT in March (of which I was able to attend!), and that same play was produced at the 365 Women a Year Play Festival at FSU, produced by White Mouse Theatre Productions in November. So, I keep on keeping on with my playwriting goals in 2019. I hope to get more productions, and be even more prolific in writing plays.

Finally, poetry is where a lot of my writing flows and I guess there must be something about the number 11, because I was published 11 times (which for me is not a good average…meaning I didn’t write as much or submit as much to up my odds), but the major news: two books! My full-length collection, It’s Not Love, Unfortunately, was published in July by Chatter House Press, and Red Mare 16, my chapbook collection of Paparazzi for the Birds was published by Red Mare Press in November. I had several opportunities to read poetry this year, twice as a featured reader, once in Fishers and once in Toledo, OH. And, towards the end of 2018, my friend, Mary Sexson and I, formed Poetry Sisters…which you’ll hear more about during 2019. So, my goals for poetry in 2019: write more and submit more. I will also be officially launching It’s Not Love, Unfortunately, at Poetry on Brick Street in February. So, along with my books, and Poetry Sisters, I hope to be reading a lot more across the region in the coming year.

If that were not enough for 2018. I did become a great-grandma again in May, and I was selected to be on the board of the Midwest Writers Workshop, of which I’m quite honored. So, 2018 was a darn good year for me, personally. You notice I didn’t mention politics…all these good things happened despite what is playing constantly in the background.

So, I call this blog Writing Prompt Pit Stop, so I guess I should post a few prompts!

  1. In your daybook, write about a time that you’ve given yourself permission to take a break from something important to you, perhaps a blog, writing, painting, family, a person, and then picked up later better (or worse) than before. Take about 10 minutes and see what surfaces.
  2. Unfortunately,  a lot of us don’t get through any year without suffering some loss of some kind. It might be a loss of a loved one, a job, a friendship, a dream… So, make a list of losses – maybe from one year, or maybe a compilation. Then from that list pick the one that is either the hardest, or that comes easiest…and write. Maybe, have one of your characters suffer the loss(es), if that makes it easier.
  3. Write about traveling someplace that you’ve never been. Maybe you finally got to go, when you never thought you would. Was it as wonderful as you hoped? What was the most surprising thing about the destination? What is something that happened on this trip that you will never forget? Is it memoir worthy?
  4. Use these words in what you write: Fresh start, trigger warnings, Cactus.

As always, if you get anything that you want to share – post it below or you can always contact me at lylanne@lylanne.com

Bring on 2019, and keep writing!

Lylanne

 

Memories: Good for the Soul

Welcome to Writing Stop Pit Stop! Yes, it’s been a while since I’ve blogged and posted some writing prompts, but I’m hoping with the summer months upon me that I can get some more prompts posted and get back into the swing of blogging again. I’ve got a lot of good things going on, with my full-length poetry collection, It’s Not Love, Unfortunately, coming soon from Chatter House Press, and more good poetry publication news coming soon.

Just this past Monday, my prose poem, “Sunday Drive” appeared at Flying Island…and since it’s a poem about a childhood memory, I thought this might be a good time to revisit some memories for writing. No matter how old we are (or young), we have memories of summers past, with the 4th of July fast approaching, of Independence Day’s past, or of how different America is from years past. We also have special memories of family, friends, pets, etc.

So, it’s good to be back…even with a brief intro – but with some new prompts! Let’s get started:

  1. In your daybook, write a memory from a specific time you, as a child, were in the car with your parents…where were you going? What was on the radio, tape deck, or CD? Who else was with you, or were you by yourself with them. What were the smells, sights, sounds, all around you? Once you have a few things jotted down, formulate your memory into a poem, prose or verse, an essay, or a story.
  2. Write a memory from a time you were in a classroom. It could be from your elementary years, junior high or high school years, or college. It could be that you were the teacher, or the student. It could even be from Sunday School. Again, think about who was there, what made this time stand out to you? Was it a humorous, sad, or scary time? Once you have exhausted the memory, see if it could make a good story or essay, maybe a 10 minute play or a poem…
  3. Write about your first kiss. Use all of the senses and just go until you can’t keep writing. When you look at what you’ve written, could you use that incident with a character you’re developing? Can you write a romantic story of some kind, or a poem?
  4. Use these words in what you write: Sunglasses, bonfire, walking, sour.

As always, if you get anything that you want to share – post it below or you can always contact me at lylanne@lylanne.com

Keep writing!

Lylanne

Lylanne Musselman on Frida Khalo, Painting, and Identity

My play, “Frida Kahlo: Heartbreaker” will be produced this weekend as a part of Herstory 3, in New Haven, CT.

I’m so pleased to be a part of this event. Here is my interview with Natalie Osborn of NoPlays! Enjoy!

NOplays

Lylanne Musselman discusses her new play Frida Khalo: Heartbreaker, part of the HERSTORY 3: JOURNEY WOMEN. Interview by Natalie Osborne.

Q: Can you tell us more about your experience writing for 365 Women a Year? 

A: I’ve been on-board from the beginning. Jess Eisenberg is doing a great thing where women are concerned with this project to get women, well-known and obscure, on stage. I’ve met a few of the other playwrights from the project, and I was even Festival Director for the 365 Women a Year Festival in Detroit in 2016. I can’t say enough good things about 365 Women a Year!

Q: What drew you to Frida Khalo?

A: Well, I’m a visual artist too and I’ve always loved Khalo’s work – she’s so colorful! I especially love her “Self-portrait with Cropped Hair.” I was so happy to write a play featuring her for the 365 Women a Year project…I…

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Farewell to 2017…An Overpowering Year.

Welcome to Writing Prompt Pit Stop! Here we are at the end of another year, and for me this has been a year like no other. Yes, there have been difficulties in other years…but this one seemed overblown on both the personal and the social front. When I think of years that I wouldn’t want to live through again, 2017 will be right up there with 1983, 1998, 2010, and 2014. Those years were all bad years involving divorces, heartbreak, totaled cars, break ins, custody battles, money woes, deaths of grandparents and friends, and sometimes those lows come in bunches it seems. Of course, that is not saying that there’s not rewarding or redeeming events that happen in those trying years…and that’s not to say that there are not other years that bad things don’t happen…but of all the years of my life, and I have lived quite a few years, thankfully, I’m thinking 2017 was one of the worst. It was not only that way for me, but for a lot of people I know personally and for those I don’t. As a country we’ve been on a ride like never before…politically, with a president the likes we’ve never seen before…and it seems like just when you think things couldn’t get any more surreal…it does. It is hard to comprehend and when you try…the news just keeps coming at you: fast and merciless.

That would make 2017 a hard year in itself, but it took a turn for me just 8 days in…when I was at a poetry reading in Indianapolis and I got a call that my dad was being taken to the emergency room. From that day on, he was in the hospital…then in the nursing home for rehab…and then he died in June. It was just a month into 2017 when my mom was diagnosed with dementia, and then by March she’d fallen and broken her ribs, and then she was in the nursing home…where I thought she might be for the rest of her life…until my dad died…and she begged to go home. She’s fallen several more times this year, another time breaking her shoulder and putting her in the nursing home for a month from July 15 – August 15. 2017 is when I moved from my independent life in Indianapolis to being my mom’s caretaker back in my rural hometown. I was warned about being a caretaker, but until you’ve done it you never really know what the experience is like. It’s also been a year that has taken older cousins and younger cousins, one of my grand cats, and it’s been a year that had others share diagnoses of diseases…maybe it’s just a sign of getting older, but it sure seems like this has been an overpoweringly negative year.

Yet, I can’t write 2017 off as horrid as it seems…because I’ve reconnected with my visual art, and have been really happy with that. I’ve reconnected with friends from the past that I haven’t seen all that much because I’d been away from the area. I’ve spent much more time with my daughters and grandchildren.  Two of my grandchildren graduated high school and went to my alma mater, Ball State. Another of my grandchildren got married in June, and now is expecting my second great-grandchild. 2017 was the year that saw my one-act produced at the RCP One Act Festival in MI; my chapbook, Weathering Under the Cat, get published; a featured poetry reading in St. Louis at Poetry at the Point, and a few other poems published here and there. It was certainly not my most prolific year, poetry wise, but looking back…overcoming all the obstacles…I’m happy with what I got. I’m appreciative of my family and my friends, and I’m looking ahead, to hopefully, a healthy, happy, creative, and prosperous 2018. Here’s wishing the same for you that are reading this blog…and here are a few prompts to help you reflect and then move forward:

2017…an Overpowering Year

  1. Write in your daybook a list of all of the things that you consider accomplishments in 2017, then in another list (as a column or below that list) jot down all of the obstacles that reared their head. Take one item from each column and then write about how one couldn’t be appreciated without the other…, if that doesn’t work for you take one of the items from your list and write about it as an onlooker into your life and see what happens.
  2. No matter your age, think about some of the most overpowering years of your life – write down what made them that way. Did you feel you were never going to get out of that one year? Did you feel powerless? How did you survive that year? Who were the people that were there for you? Who weren’t? Was that a surprise? Explore the most powerful of your memories.
  3. Get out those notes to that novel, poem, essay, or play that you were working on earlier this year. Even if it’s for 10 minutes, write some more on it so that you can say that you wrote more in 2017 than you thought you would.
  4. Use these words in what you write: 2017, wind-chill, framed.

 

As always, if you get anything that you want to share – post it below or you can always contact me at lylanne@lylanne.com

Happy 2018!! Keep writing!

Lylanne

Writing…When Uncovering Old Hurts

Welcome to Writing Prompt Pit Stop! Most former students, and poet/writing friends who know me well…especially in the past twenty years, have known me to be a cheerleader of writing and know that I dedicate myself to writing something each and every day…even if just a few lines or an idea for a poem/play/story…. That held true all the way up until the past few months. What changed? I became my mom’s sole caretaker after her physical therapy at the nursing home was discontinued and she did not want to live there, in memory care, after my dad died in June. So, being the only child I decided that I could do it for as long as I could…physically and mentally. It’s the emotionally that I wasn’t prepared for. You see, I had given myself so much space from her over my adult life that I thought I’d given myself enough time and healing to not fall back into anything toxic she handed out. Well, I was wrong. Yes, she has dementia…and it has taken away the filter that could make her thoughts and opinions (on everything) tolerable. So, I have plenty to write about…but for the first time in twenty some years of doing it to heal, to add my own twisted sense of humor, and to explore things in a different way…I find that I can’t. It’s all too close, and old wounds have re-surfaced that I thought were dead and buried. However, I am looking on the bright side. I may not be able to write about this particular situation now, but eventually I will be able to. In the meantime, I’m using my creativity wisely and I’ve reverted back to my visual art for solace…and in many ways that has been an unexpected gift. Another unexpected gift is seeing (and understanding) why I struggled for so long to find confidence in myself, never knowing how to stick up for myself, or how to state what I needed…because I was never given that chance as a child…. I also have realized that my dad had good reason to be a grouch…and now I wish I had the chance to tell him…“Wow, now I understand.” Anyway, I have hope that my ongoing writing drills and aspirations come back with a vengeance. I believe this is the resurrecting of those feelings in this brief “confession.”

The last post I touched on Conflictbut it was not getting to the heart of the matter… the Hurt.

So, here are some writing prompts to hopefully get you to share (or at least get on the page) your hurt to begin healing:

  1. In your daybook write something that scares you or makes you feel uncomfortable. Maybe it’s something about a parent, a grandparent, an ex, a current partner. Usually when things scare you…that’s where the energy is. If you can’t bring yourself to write the truth, then make it one of your character’s problems/concerns/incidents.
  2. Write about a time that you were shocked by something your parent said. Were you a child, a teenager, an adult? What made it so shocking? Was it something about you, your other parent? Something mean about someone you know or a stranger?
  3. Write about a time that you were shocked by something your parent did. Maybe you found out they were having an affair. Maybe they were abusive to you or your siblings. Maybe they were an alcoholic or an addict. If you don’t have a shocking experience, maybe you can create a character for your story or play that is based on having something like that happen to them.
  4. Use these words in what you write: Hurt, Dinner, Mirror, Lilacs.

As always, if you get anything that you want to share – post it below or you can always contact me at lylanne@lylanne.com

Keep writing!

Lylanne