Writing Prompt Pit Stop: 60 Years

Welcome to Writing Prompt Pit Stop! Last week I wrote about a milestone for myself – it was actually 40 years ago on the 21st of May that I graduated from high school. This week, and actually 60 years ago on the 29th of May, that my parents got married. So, this week as we get into prompts we’ll think even more about milestones. This past Sunday my two daughters and I actually pulled off a surprise anniversary party for my parents…my joke about the surprise party was that it was a surprise that they made it 60 years (of course as of last Sunday they could have split in the past few days and not made it)…as I lived with them for 18 years…and I know the dynamics of the couple. I also know that I’m happy that they got together, or I wouldn’t be here. However, back in my youth, I spent many a time wondering why these two ever stayed together…now that they’re up there in years they do seem well-suited to one another…so do couples grow together against all odds? I wouldn’t know. As of now, my longest claim to a relationship has been a whopping 8 years…twice, to two different people. At this point in life, I do know that it would be sweet to be in a nice, loving relationship – but I’m still unsure that I would want to cohabitate at this stage in life…or even marry again, if I could here in the U.S.  I also know that both of my daughters married young…and my oldest is coming upon 20 years in June, and my youngest will celebrate 16 years in November…and they’re all happy, and I’m happy for them. So this week for your 41st prompt we’re going to ponder those long relationship milestones in your lives or in the lives of your characters:

“Until Death Do You Part…”

1) In your daybook write about the relationship that you’re in now – what milestone year are you in the relationship, or what one are you nearest to? Is it a surprise that you’ve made it this far? What trials and tribulations have you made it through? Was this the person that you thought you’d spend the rest of your life with? Why or why not? Was it love at first sight, or did your partner/spouse grow on you over time? If you married, did you marry quickly or was it a long engagement? If you’re not married, but still with the same person…what has kept you from marrying? In your relationship, married or not, did you ever go through a patch that you didn’t think you’d make it through together? What was it? What kept you from throwing in the towel?

2) If you’re not in a relationship right now – why not? Is it by choice or by design? What was the breaking point that made you decide to stay single…at least for a while? Or is it just hard finding the right person? Why do you think that is? Is there someone that you wish that you were with at this moment? Why aren’t you? If you could, what would you do to make the relationship work this time around? If death took your partner/spouse from you, how does that make you look at relationships? Do you think you’ll ever find another or was that it? Why or why not?

3) Write about a couple you know well, perhaps parents, that you either did not know how they stayed together, or if you’re a child of divorce how you wished that they had. What sticks out to you about their relationship? How they loved one another? How they fought? How they didn’t talk to one another? Maybe it was how they held hands every night while watching TV, or maybe they played cards together, or the pet names they called each other…. How did this couple affect your expectations of a relationship? Use a photograph from their wedding day (or even your own) and write to that…knowing what you know.

4) Write on any of these prompts for 10 minutes or until you exhaust your subject. Some of the prompts may be harder to write about than others – especially if you’ve lost a spouse or had a bad break-up…; nevertheless, it’s sometimes the hardest things to write about that create some of the best writing. Remember, you don’t always have to write non-fiction/memoir…you can take some of your own experiences and fictionalize them…and give them to a character (or two). Any of these prompts will work in any of the genres: poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, or plays.

5) As with any writing, when you’ve written your piece…revise, revise, revise…until you’re ready to share your work with the world.

6) Once you’ve revised your piece, don’t hesitate to share it with me in the comments section or at lylanne22@yahoo.com

See you next Wednesday! (Yes, I know today is Thursday this week…but it is the 29th…so I waited a day.)

Writing Prompt Pit Stop: 40!!

Welcome to Writing Stop Pit Stop! Milestones come around in all of our lives. They can be anniversaries of relationships, certain birthdays, and graduations from high school, college, etc. Today is one of those milestones for me. It was 40 years ago tonight – May 21, 1974 – on a Tuesday that I graduated from Delta High School. And, quite honestly, it doesn’t seem like all that long ago. I’m not just saying that because I’m older, but I remember the day as if it were yesterday. I was quite nervous about the whole thing…worried about making a fool of myself (I worried about such things back then – so see, getting older does have its perks!), such as tripping while walking across the stage, not holding out the correct hand to get the diploma; things that seem silly to me now.

I also remember receiving a phone call at home before going to the auditorium (Emens Auditorium at Ball State in Muncie, IN) for graduation (back in those days there were no cell phones – it was a rotary wall phone), it was a woman from Siena Heights College in Adrian, Michigan, telling me I’d been accepted to their visual arts program. That also was news that brought mixed feelings…excitement and fear.

It was a beautiful spring evening, everything went smoothly during the ceremony – except when I walked across the stage to get my diploma, one of my friends, Pam, let out a wolf whistle that made everyone laugh…including me. I’ve never forgotten that, or who my friends were back then – or the party that was at my uncle’s restaurant afterwards. It felt great to be able to leave there and go to other fellow graduate’s parties that night too…it was a feeling of being an adult; yet, still not being adult when one thinks about it – especially when I was seventeen when I graduated. I had my whole life a head of me – a clean slate, so to speak. I ended up going to Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana, just a few miles away from my hometown. I dropped out of college after two quarters…because I was afraid I was failing English Composition. Life! So many interesting twists and turns.

So for, coincidentally, my 40th prompt here we will write about graduation milestones, whether they be high school, college, or the school of hard knocks:

“Pomp and Your Circumstance”

1) In your daybook write about the day that you graduated (from somewhere, even kindergarten), what do you remember? Do you remember the weather? Any specific moment that comes to mind? Who were the people around you then – friends, family? What were your plans on that day for your future?

2) After writing that, take some time and write about how your life has changed since you graduated. Did you follow your plans? Has life thrown you a few surprises? Have those surprises been bad or good? Are you doing what you thought you’d be doing? Why or why not? Write about any of these things for at least 10 minutes or until you exhaust the subject.

3) Think about what genre you’d like to write in – if you write poetry or creative nonfiction, you can utilize these as a form of a memoir – either in a poem or an essay. If you write fiction or plays – take one of the incidents, or life-changing moments and toss that into your story/play, or give your character some of the conflicts that have happened to you.

4) As always, once you’re finished writing – revise, revise, revise – until you’re ready to share your work with the world.

5) Once you’ve revised your piece, don’t hesitate to share it with me in the comments section or at lylanne22@yahoo.com

See you next Wednesday!


Writing Prompt Pit Stop: Plot Your Conflict

Welcome to Writing Stop Pit Stop! Life. Life shapes a person, life can get in the way of a person, life can change a person. Once you’ve lived enough life you’re going to have so many experiences (a.k.a. conflicts) that will make you a better judge of character, make you know you can survive the knocks and the pain, make you strong and will undoubtedly make you protect yourself a little more…making you appear “tame” and reserved to some. It can also cause one to be cynical...not only of love, but of all other opportunities. It all makes for a lot of conflict that can interfere with making good choices, taking chances, and believing everything will work out the way that it’s supposed to in the end.

Conflict sucks in real life, but conflict is wonderful for fiction, storytelling, drama (for the drama queens!) and even poetry…a writer doesn’t want everything to work out perfectly for everyone/everything involved or it’s going to be real yawner for the reader. Obviously, we don’t want over the top conflict/drama in our own lives, but as writers/poets/playwrights we can all draw from our hard life experiences to utilize in our writing. For writing prompt thirty-nine we’ll take some of those experiences and put them to good use:

Roadblocks and Heartbreak

1) In your daybook write out a list of some of your toughest times in life. Maybe it was the loss of a relationship, or a divorce; maybe it was being fired, losing a dream job, flunking out of college, maybe it was being homeless, broke, or just having one of those years that pull the rug out from under you. Maybe it was something so far-fetched that it causes one of those truth is more strange than fiction reactions…write it down!

2) Choose something from your list and write on it for 10 minutes or until you exhaust your subject. Take a look at what you’ve written. Can you develop a character that will take on this particular conflict? Is it something you want to explore in an essay, a play, or a poem? If so, work on that until you have a writing that you’re happy with.

3) Once you’ve revised your piece, don’t hesitate to share it with me in the comments section or at lylanne22@yahoo.com

Here’s wishing you a lot of conflicts for your characters and stories, but a more tranquil life for yourself. 🙂

See you next Wednesday!

Writing Prompt Pit Stop: Prompting Again!

Welcome to Writing Prompt Pit Stop! It’s Wednesday, and that means another excursion into some writing prompt that I decide sounds like fun this week. As most know, I was posting a poem a day here last month during National Poetry Month, and whether you followed along or not, there were plenty of prompts provided there following each of my Oulipost poems. Nevertheless, some of you might enjoy more “conventional” prompts, so we’ll do a little of that here too, but from time to time I will toss out an opportunity to experiment with writing “found” poetry or prose, or just writing to some photo that I’ve taken and decide might create a good jumping off point to a story, an essay, or a poem. Today, we’re going to ease back into the prompts and make it a simple one.

Here’s something that I think is an interesting prompt to explore. Do you ever feel like you see yourself differently than others seem to? For example, do you think you’re more fun-loving and silly, and then you have others tell you that they see you as more serious and rigid? Do you see yourself as shy and reserved, and others see you as confident and outgoing? The list can go on and on.

What I’m thinking is that you can easily turn those ideas into a poem, have a character that is going through similar questioning or some revelation about themselves, or write a creative nonfiction essay about your own experience when someone sees you as someone you’re not.

Enjoy exploring this idea, and if you want to share your musings you post them in the comment section or send me an email at: lylanne22@yahoo.com

See you next Wednesday!!

Oulipost: The Exit Interview

The Oulipost project was officially over after I posted my Patchwork Quilt poem…poem #30, on April 30th. I participated in the challenge that was put on by The Found Poetry Review as a part of National Poetry Month, along with 67 fellow poets from across the world. When I started the project, I didn’t know what I was in for…I suspected a lot of time spent on working on prompts that I had no idea if I would have time to complete. The surprise was…I completed all 30 prompts, each day, and got to know some wonderful people and their work along the way. We were asked to complete an exit interview, and it’s taken me four days to finally succumb to the fact that this wonderful ride is really over.

The Interview:

Question 1: What happened during Oulipost that you didn’t expect. What are the best and worst moments for you?

I didn’t expect to learn as much as I did, not only about Oulipo and found poetry, but about myself and my own writing style; how even with constraints and others words (taken from the local newspaper, The Toledo Blade) that I found – my humor, my ways of seeing the world came shining through even when I’m not conscious that it’s happening. I really feel the worst moment was the day that I posted my final poem for the project. Otherwise, there was not a bad moment about the whole process.

Question 3: What does your street look like?

My street is going through a transition, just like I am…a rebirth…while my street is bursting with spring colors, and grass that is growing so fast it needs cutting already, birds that are merrily singing their songs – I am bursting with creative ideas, new projects, and singing right along. There’s also a lot of For Sale signs coming down…and going up along my street…and although I’m not going anywhere I feel like I’m moving in new directions. I can’t ignore the potholes and cracks in my road that have come about from this horrid winter we’ve had (and with how cool it’s been here…still hanging on!) and several of them were recently patched; however, some of them are wearing orange cones as hats…waiting for repairs…and waiting…and that is what some of my poems are doing… waiting…and waiting to be revised as I finish up the grading of this spring semester, catch up on reading, DVRing, and visiting with friends…that didn’t get as much attention during April.

Question 4: Who is your spirit Oulipostian?

First and foremost, I felt inspired and welcomed by all Ouliposters who I had interactions with all month. But the ones that I kept up with by either corresponding with or visiting their blog site everyday without missing: Jody Rich, Nancy Long, Margo Roby, Mary Sexson, Amanda Earl, Massimo Soranzio, Barb Crary, & James W. Moore…just to name a few!

Question 5: What are the top three poems you wrote during the project?

1. “Shaken, Then Stirred: A Jarred Version” – Canada Dry: https://lylannemusselman.wordpress.com/…/oulipost-29…/

2. “Controlled Citizens” – Column Inches:https://lylannemusselman.wordpress.com/…/oulipost-14…/

3. “Don’t Fail to Cash in on Chances” – Sonnet: https://lylannemusselman.wordpress.com/…/oulipost-12…/

Question 2: What questions do you have for your teaspoons? What questions do your teaspoons have for you?

My teaspoons would like to know why I haven’t been more vigilant with their bathing during April. They’re use to always being snug against each other safely tucked in their drawer. During April they were sprawled out all over the counter top, tossed in the sink, and soaking endlessly in various coffee cups.

I would ask them: As old as you all are, why can’t you wash yourselves?

Question 6: What will you do next?

I‘m always writing poetry, so it wouldn’t be me if I wasn’t doing that; however, writing more found poetry is definitely in my future…especially while it’s fresh on my mind. I also will be sorting out my “regular” poems to put into a couple of new manuscripts, and I have enough poems leftover to compile some chapbooks. I will also revise some of these poems from the Oulipost project in hopes of having enough to have a chapbook as well. I will also get more sleep, visit family and friends more, and enjoy the outdoors.

I’m also hopeful that a lot of us Ouliposters will keep in touch and continue sharing prompts, ideas, and poems.

This was a a grand experience!