Writing Prompt Pit Stop

Welcome to Writing Prompt Pit Stop! Since it’s November and Thanksgiving is this month, it seems like a good time to write about what we’re thankful for. As writers we may do this in many ways already: maybe we honor a grandparent or a family member with a poem, or maybe we write about our hometown, or where we’ve spent a lot of time, as a setting in a novel, short story, or an essay. We may be thankful for that love of our life, that special person who broke through our defenses, and pour our hearts out in a sonnet or a prose poem. Or we may be thankful that we escaped a rotten relationship and write the next big drama for the stage…the things we’re thankful for should be endless, and should give us endless possibilities to write about.

So, I’m going to guide us through four Wednesdays to touch on a few of those possibilities and as you write and read the prompts, you may come up with so many more of your own. With this week’s prompt we will explore the idea of being thankful for our friends. If you’re lucky you have more than you can count, but inevitably you have your closest friends, those friends that you would confide anything to and never worry that they’ll betray you, you have those friends that are ones that make you laugh and that you enjoy going out with and letting your hair down, you have friends that are your office or work buddies, friends that are ones you’ve made through mutual interests such as clubs, hobbies, church, or activism, and sometimes if you’re lucky enough you have lifelong friends that have known you since childhood. No matter what type of friendship(s) you have, or have had throughout your life…they are something to be thankful for as they get us through the highs and lows of our lives – and those friendships are all just waiting to be mined for stories or poetic moments. I have written many a poem involving my friends, and a few of them appear in the book I co-authored with Jayne Marek and Mary Sexson, Company of Women:New and Selected Poems (Chatter House Press, 2013). I’ll share one poem and an excerpt from my section of the book What She Taught Me:

Our Night Out

In a dark bar on a Toledo Saturday,

too early for the happening crowd,

too late for two friends who decide to stay

in a place that pulls our memories

from “far-out” places – the music patronizes

our middle-age while still flirting with youth –

swigging liquid courage, musing over Dancing

in the Dark, and “Who’s going to drive you home,

tonight?” Remembering loud nights

that didn’t seem too long, way back when,

when we were not paying attention to time,

tick, tick, tocking forward. Our minds reflecting

refracting pieces of our disco selves unraveling

like an off track 8 track tape and when we twirl

around we see each other in the bar mirror –

cynical and dark. (51)

And, here’s an excerpt from the title poem “What She Taught Me” which is dedicated to my former high school art teacher, mentor, and one of my dearest friends, Ann Johnson:

                     I

If she hadn’t been that teacher

who pushed me past my limits,

made me give a voice to purple,

in front of the class, who praised

my Polka Horse block print and

asked to keep it for her own,

 

who gave me unlimited hall passes

signed AJ, to ditch my dreaded Home Ec

at the end of the school day to come

to the art room, where no one cared

if I could sew a stitch, or sauté an onion.

 

If she hadn’t been that teacher

who flunked me for not painting

by deadline, who teased me

out of my shell, who didn’t turn me away

when I dropped by her house to say “hi,”

dressing so funky that

she didn’t care who stared.

 

If she hadn’t been that teacher

who was vibrant and different,

in school convocations, who dared

to show vulnerability, I would not have

kept going back to school,

each day a new reason to live. (61)

This poem continues on and has a second part to it as well – you can see how in both poems that I was writing about specific incidents…reflecting on my feelings and the friends that I was writing about.

So let’s get to it! Here is your nineteenth prompt:

“Forever Friends”

1) In your daybook write down a list of friends, you can start as far back as you can remember and list as many as you can all the way up to present day. Some of you will have pages and pages, and others will have an intimate few. Then with that list go back and write down a few memories that you have of each. You can see how this can explode into so many ideas that you could spend months just writing down memories and incidents, let alone picking one or two to really concentrate on. Be as detailed as you can with your lists and memories because that will help you when you go to write the specific story, essay, or poem about the friend(s) that you select.

2) You have a ton of friends to choose from on your list, now write about the friend you’ve had the longest. Write about a friend you lost and never thought you would. Write about a friend that betrayed you. Write about a friend that was so generous you don’t know how you’ll ever repay them. How about those Facebook friends? Friends or not…that is the question…now write!

3) Write a thank-you letter, note, poem to a friend and really send it.

4) Take any of your prompts and write until you have something you’re happy with in your genre of choice…and then as always, revise, revise, revise!!

As with all writing, this “Forever Friends” writing should be fun! And I remind you that if you ever want to share any successes or attempts that you get from these prompts, don’t hesitate to let me know. You can contact me here.

Look for another prompt next Wednesday! Until then, keep writing!

Lylanne

 

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