Writing Prompt Pit Stop: Summer Daze Redux

Welcome to Writing Prompt Pit Stop! Well, another summer semester is drawing to a close, and in a mere few weeks another fall semester begins. Last week I wrote about how much I’m enjoying this summer, and I still am. I just don’t know why the summer season seems to fly by faster than any other – even though autumn is actually my favorite season of the year. I’m just worried with as cool as it’s been this summer (only three 90 degree days so far here in Toledo…yet, I’m not complaining about that! Ha!) that our winter will be another like the past one…and, ugh, well I wrote about that winter way too often. So let’s think of good, positive things such as more warm days, more days out on the patios, more relaxing times than taxing times, and more times with friends and loved ones.

I feel that there’s plenty of things that we haven’t tapped into when it comes to summer and writing about the things we like about this season, or about some of our favorite memories, or the opposite, and because of that I’m going to add on to the prompts I gave last Wednesday and keep the summer fling going. So in this, my 50th Writing Prompt Pit Stop entry, I’m going to encourage you to explore some more summer season ideas, and give you another image to work with:

“Summer Daze Redux!”

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Frog at Wildwood Metropark

1) Frogs have been having a banner summer around these parts. I’ve seen more frogs in the pond at Toledo’s Wildwood Metropark than I’ve seen there before, and when I went to Indiana last weekend to be with family, at their pond there were tons of bullfrogs calling out in the evening. I’ve even painted a few pictures of frogs this summer! So, from this photo I took at Wildwood Metropark, maybe it will inspire you to write about some memory involving a frog, or will inspire you to write a poem about this particular one. Remember the lyric “Jeremiah was a bullfrog…” from “Joy to the World” by Three Dog Night? Maybe there’s a memory or a story there. Have you ever read Annie Dillard‘s Creative Nonfiction “The Giant Waterbug”? If not, you should…it’s an excellent example of imagery and how, if written well, those images will stick with you…for better or worse. You won’t forget the frog in that essay…. Have you ever eaten frog legs? I haven’t. I’m not sure I ever will, but I have friends and family that have and love them…see, there are stories and poems everywhere.

2) Last week I suggested to write about the sounds of summer (did you write about frogs?), so this time around let’s concentrate on the tastes of summer. How about all of those grand veggies from the garden or the local farmer’s market? What are your favorites? How do you prepare them? What do you wait all year for to eat at the State Fair or other festival? Have you ever got the taste of bug spray in your mouth? What’s some other tastes of summer you can think of, good or bad? Make a list of them…then choose what interests you most and write on that for 10 minutes or until you exhaust your subject.

3) Write about your favorite song from any summer. There are times that songs sort of get ingrained into your mind during a specific summer, and we all know that music can take us back to a specific place or person. What song brings back your favorite summer memory? Your worst?

4) Write on any or all of these prompts for, yes, 10 min. each or until you exhaust the subject. Then once you have something on the page – decide if you can make a poem out of it; maybe there’s a story there, or an essay. Once you write that out, then revise it – share it here in comments if you wish.

Keep writing!

See you next Wednesday

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Writing Prompt Pit Stop: Summer Daze

Welcome to Writing Prompt Pit Stop! This week, things have calmed down a bit and are getting somewhat back to “normal,” if any of us really know what normal is.  Anyway, before the burglary two weeks ago, and even after…I’ve been really taking in the perks of the summer season. I guess that is a result of having such a horrendous winter as we had (at least here in Toledo, OH) this past year and I recall as I was writing the weekly blog back then that I couldn’t wait for summer, for the warm weather, etc., and that I wouldn’t complain about the heat & humidity either…and I haven’t. Because anytime it’s been really extremely hot and humid (which hasn’t been all that often!), I’ve reminded myself of all of those inches of white stuff on my lawn, all over the roads, and all of that shoveling…it seemed it would never end. And, even though I look out and see that my yard needs mowed again, I’m not complaining.

What I’ve really enjoyed about this summer is taking in the times that I’ve been able to sit outside on patios with friends, have a decent dinner, and good conversation, how I’ve been able to go to the park and walk and not feel I’m going to pass out from heat stroke, being able to have windows open (well up until two weeks ago!), and let the birdsong come into my home along with a warm breeze, and I’ve been carving out more me time…without the guilt…taking time to just enjoy the moment, and whatever I’m doing…instead of worrying about things I should be doing or what I should be doing for tomorrow. It’s been a lot less stressful, I’ll tell you…even when I’ve had plenty to keep me stressed. But stress, isn’t going to accomplish anything but more stress…and possible health issues, worry, and a depressed state. I choose not to live that way, and like I told myself this past winter – I’m going to enjoy this summer, no matter what – and I’m keeping that promise to myself.

So for the 49th prompt(s) of Writing Prompt Pit Stop, I’m going to give you one visual prompt and a couple written ones to write on:

“Summer Daze”

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1) Monarch butterflies aren’t too plentiful of late, but I saw this one (in my photograph above) in a meadow on one of my walks last week at the Wildwood Metropark. Is there a poem, a story, or an essay that this image conjures up? Does it bring back any memories of your childhood – chasing butterflies? What do you you know about butterflies? Could you write a good essay about their plight right now? Is there a children’s story just waiting to be told with this butterfly as the main character?

2) It’s summer! How nice it is to get outside and enjoy the great outdoors! I mentioned that I love sitting on patios with friends in the summer, and I miss that in the winter. Write about something that you enjoy doing in the summer, that you don’t get to do in the winter months. Write about your favorite summer activity, sport, or travel spot. Write about your most leisure activity that you enjoy in the summer.

3) Write about the sounds of summer. What does that mean to you? Is it hearing the roar of motorcycles traveling up the road? Is it the bullfrogs singing in harmony? Is it your favorite bird singing? Crickets? Cicadas? Have you listened lately?

4) Write on any or all of these prompts for 10 min. each or until you exhaust the subject. Then once you have something on the page – decide if you can make a poem out of it; maybe there’s a story there, or an essay. Once you write that out, then revise it – share it here in comments if you wish.

Keep writing!

See you next Wednesday!

Writing Prompt Pit Stop: Burglars, Cats, and Clouds, Oh My!

Welcome to Writing Prompt Pit Stop! So, one week ago today when I posted earlier in the day because I had to leave the house for a while, it was never in my wildest dreams that that would be the last time I would see my beloved laptop. A device that was nearly my left hand as often as I used it. If I could see into the future I would’ve done several things differently, but I’m not a clairvoyant and as they say: hindsight is 20/20. When I returned home around 9 PM…one of my three cats did not greet me, which was unusual, but not unheard of. I came into the house and noticed that a cabinet housing some books was open a bit, and I had not left them open…but silly me, I thought the cats might have done it while playing or something. The thought never crossed my mind that an intruder had been in my home. Then I walked up the few steps to the landing by the two bedrooms…and I saw my jewelry box dumped on my bed. The panic set in. I ran to the other bedroom where my cat (the one that didn’t greet me) likes to sit on the bed and look out the window…that window was wide open…and no Graham in sight. I shut the window so the other two cats wouldn’t get out, and turned and saw my laptop was gone too! It felt like I was in a nightmare. I dialed 911 and reported the break-in as I was heading out the front door to look for my cat…in hopes I could at least find him.

The woman on the phone took my address and said the Toledo police were notified. I called for Graham and turned on my cellphone flashlight in hopes of seeing his eyes shining somewhere. Nothing. My heart was breaking. I called my best friend, Glenn, who was over to my place within 10 minutes. We both looked for Graham and he asked if I’d used the treat bag…as Graham doesn’t miss a treat. Obviously, I wasn’t thinking clearly. I went inside to get that as he still looked for my kitty. As I came out, he came from the backyard saying “Look who I’ve got!” It was Graham! That was a miracle to me as I was afraid they’d stolen him, hurt him, or worse (since he’s a black cat), or I was afraid he’d gotten lost…or hit by a car since he’s not an outdoor cat. (Yes, I’m a writer, so my imagination runs wild!). So, in the big scheme of things…besides a loss of a sense of security, the loss of my laptop with many new writings and various other things I’d saved on there and had not taken the time to backup recently, the loss of a few jewelry items (more sentimental than of monetary value), and the loss of an indoor security camera (and no, I did not have my system on because it hadn’t been working correctly when I was out of the house and I’ve not had the $ for a house call, ugh!) I feel pretty lucky. They could’ve taken so much more…they could’ve destroyed things, they could’ve harmed the cats or let them all outside, or I could have lost Graham forever – but I didn’t. So for that I’m thankful.

The cats (and I) were very skittish for several days and nights…where every noise from outside, or any “normal” house sound we heard…we’d all jump…but little by little, we’ve all settled down. I’ve found (and always knew) that I have some of the best friends around, near and far. Thanks to my best friend, I’ve got new locks on all windows, thanks to two other friends I have the loaner laptop that I’m writing this blog on, and my security company is coming here tomorrow (free of charge!) to fix my door lock so I can lock it when I’m away and feel secure again, and replace that stolen security camera of theirs.

I’ve gone through the five stages of loss (usually thought of as a loss of a loved one through death or divorce, but I think the loss of security is right up there with one’s well-being)…I’ve been in disbelief that it happened (and have kicked myself a few times for leaving that back window open a crack…thinking it was too high off of the ground for anyone to bother with); I’ve been terribly angry…and I’m usually such an easy-going person, but thieves truly do suck, and I do hope they get their comeuppance; the bargaining…thinking, and over-thinking, of what I could’ve done, should’ve done, and what I can do; I’ve been depressed…I’m already hanging on by a thread financially and this just seemed like the last straw, I’ve mourned over writings lost or the time that it will take to recreate files, etc. And, then I’ve finally gotten to the place of acceptance. It happened. It can (and does) happen to most anyone (I’ve also found that it’s happened to more people I know than I ever dreamed…it’s way too common!!). I will write and re-save what I lost, and it will be better. I will be more vigilant about everything…

And that brings me to Writing Prompt Pit Stop #48 or better known as this week’s prompt(s):

“Save, Save, Save, and Make Yourself Secure!”

1) This is not so much of a prompt as a reminder: Save your writings! Diligently. Not only to your laptop, or a flash drive, but to a cloud of some sort. I always saved my work…but always to my laptop, and maybe once a month I’d remember to stick in the flash drive and back up my work…well, not anymore. It’s getting emailed to myself, saved on a flash drive religiously, and I’ve chosen to keep work on Dropbox. There’s many services like this out there, but a friend recommended it and it’s free…so there’s that. There’s also Google Drive, iCloud, etc. There’s also places that will back up your work for a small fee, and if you can do that…that’s a good option as well. No matter what you do, do save your writings as when they’re gone…it’s too late.

2) This is not writing either, but it’s important. I was someone that saved passwords on emails, FB, Twitter, etc., just because it was easier and I knew no one else had access to my laptop. Well, now there’s the possibility that someone does. So, I’ve had to go in and change all passwords (that I’ve thought of) and I will never save them for easy access again…maybe it will save me from Alzheimer’s by having to remember them all, who knows? But at least I feel more secure. So don’t save passwords on your laptops (or other devices)!!

3) Now let’s do some writing…I know I have a whole lot of new ideas for poems, plays and stories from this horrendous incident. How about you? In your daybook, write about a time that you or your personal space were violated. How did that change you? What would you say (or do) to the violators if you had the chance?

4) Besides theft, there are other ways that writers and artists lose work…through fire, floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, etc. Have you ever had one of those horrendous things happen to you? How did you cope? How did that change you? What do you do differently now?

5) Take any of those bad/sad incidents of loss, and turn them into something positive…a poem, a story, a play, an essay, a memoir. Send it out into the world! Or just simply share it here in comments.

No matter. If we’re writing and creating, we’ve survived. That is a major positive.

See you next Wednesday!

Writing Prompt Pit Stop: Metamorphosis

Welcome to Writing Prompt Pit Stop! This week I’m thinking about transformation, or metamorphosis if you will. When I think about metamorphosis I associate it with two things usually: caterpillar changing into a butterfly, and a cool art piece I did once changing myself into my pair of sunglasses (an assignment to change into some possession we used often and could bring into class). Lately, I’ve been thinking about change a lot as it seems like so many of my friends have been going through transitions of sorts whether it be dating new people and fumbling their way through that experience to having monumental writer’s blocks. Both are totally different experiences, but they both bring about a transformation in one way or the other, good or bad.

Since I post writing prompts here, we’ll focus on that aspect of it. I have posted here and elsewhere that I don’t believe in “writer’s block” but I do admit to having writing slumps. I believe that as long as you write something everyday you’re not going to have a “writer’s block,” and something can come of that writing even if it doesn’t happen that day. Recently, I’ve had several different writer friends share by phone, in person, or by email that they’ve either stopped writing everyday and it was something of a “guilty confession,” that they can’t get back into writing their novel but they’re so close to “getting done and finding an agent” – yet they’ve become like that proverbial deer with eyes in the headlights, and the most extreme (to me) shared that they’d “burned every one” of their journals because they were over their own writing.

I sympathize, and empathize, with every one of these friends. I also have been going through some strange writing phenomenon (for me), in that I have been writing – but not poems, and not with the intent of poems. Instead, I’ve been writing plays, writing art reviews for another blog, and revising a few short stories, but it’s like my poetry well has dried up. I know it’s not permanent as I’ve gone through it before…not often mind you…but it has happened where I thought the poems were gone. In fact, I once wrote a poem “Poetry Lets Voicemail Pick Up At 3 AM” where in the poem I “confess” that I’ve been cheating on poetry with fiction! Gasp! It’s a fun poem, and it was a way of getting myself back into writing poems. Here’s a stanza from that poem:

I’m not devising a way to take advantage of your imagery.

You used to lay yourself naked on my empty sheets!

We were so well versed together!

Please don’t leave me to the prosaic life, a structured suitor to bitter ends.

So, what have you got to “confess?” What is the metamorphosis that you’re going through right now? This is what we’re going to use for a prompt(s) this week. Your 47th prompt(s):

“Ch..Ch..Cha…Cha…Changes”

1) In your daybook write what you’re wrestling with right now. Is it something with your own writing? Are you having trouble getting words to come out on the page? Do you feel like you’re writing the same old thing over and over? What changes can you make? Is there something that can be changed in your routine? If you’ve always written in the morning, can you write before bed? If you’ve always typed your writing out first, why not try writing in a hardbound journal…or vice versa? Just start writing your worries out and you’ll find that there will be a breakthrough of some sort. Is it a relationship? What can change? Write what you really want to say…even if you (gasp!) burn it. Is it finances? What can you change? What would you be willing to change? You see the theme here….

2) Be nice to yourself. Don’t feel guilty if you’re taking time off from writing. Maybe when you come back to it, it will be there in force. Maybe you’re metamorphosing from a poet to a playwright, or from a fiction writer to an essayist, or from a playwright to a poet. It’s hard to embrace change, but it also can be exhilarating and bring new life to whatever you’re writing.

3) Give a character in a story or a play one of the issues that you’re wrestling with and let them figure it out. Write an essay or a poem on guilt or some change that needs to happen.

4) Whatever you do, just keep writing! So what if nothing comes of it, the process is the thing…and one day you’ll be writing and all of the sudden you’ll hit your stride again.

If you’re so inclined, share some of your “guilt” over not writing…or feeling like you’re not writing what/how you want…and maybe that will jump start your own metamorphosis.

Even better, share it in the comments here!

See you next Wednesday!

 

Writing Stop Pit Stop: The American Way

Welcome to Writing Prompt Pit Stop! It’s two days away from the 4th of July here in America, otherwise known as Independence Day. However, the America we live in today is certainly different than I ever imagined it would be at this stage of my life. It seems as no one can get ahead (at least the middle class on down), even by working day in and day out, and sometimes working at multiple jobs. At one time, Americans, actually gave our president respect…even if they didn’t agree with whichever one it was, it was the President of the United States. It also seems like the country gets divided more and more each week, with this political squabble or that. I don’t know about you, but it’s really getting tiresome. It appears that America is broken and I certainly don’t know how it will ever get fixed. It’s frustrating and sad. I vote. And, even if sometimes that is frustrating, I will always do so as a woman…because it hasn’t been that long since women had that right, and because I keep thinking one day it really will make a difference. Isn’t that the American way?

One of my favorite writers is Kurt Vonnegut, and that’s no surprise to anyone who knows me or who has read this blog. He wrote a lot about frustrations and problems in America, he used satire as a way to expose some of the truths or disappointments. In his stories he created places, such as the planet Tralfamadore, that were not “America,” but if you put two and two together you got the drift. Some students inevitably (when I’ve been able to use one of his short stories or his book A Man Without A Country in class) misconstrue his intentions as either being too “unpatriotic” or they believe what he is satirizing is how he really believes. This way of thinking is like believing Jonathan Swift encouraged the Irish people to eat babies…that sort of thing. This is also frustrating and sad. However, that’s why I teach because I do know that I can make a difference. I have hope for most of these students. Hope. And change. Isn’t that the American way? It should be if it’s not. Anyway, I’m not writing here to vent (well, maybe) or to start political rants from all sides. What I believe to be true is that as writers, poets, playwrights, essayists, we have a way to express our feelings (and a duty!) in whatever way we want…whether they be liberal, conservative, libertarian, religious, atheist, spiritual, feminist, gay, lesbian, trans, or straight views – and I know that is the American way.

So, for your 46th post I’m advocating you write something about America:

“America: Love It or Turn It Into a Fantasy World”

1) In your daybook write about the America you envision. Maybe it’s some utopia on another planet, or a made-up land. What would your ideal America look like? Who would be the leader? Who would you keep out of your world. Who would you embrace? What laws would there be? Get crazy, get serious, get funny. It’s your story, poem, play, or essay to write.

2) Write about your favorite things about America. Forget about all of the fighting over religion, gay marriage, politics, women’s rights, guns (only for this prompt!) and write what America means to you. It may be interesting that you can’t keep some of those above issues out of your writing….

3) Write about what it is that really bothers you about America. Be honest. Maybe it includes some of those issues in #2, or maybe you can come up with a lot longer list. Write on this prompt or any of the above for 10 minutes or until you exhaust your subject.

4) Simply write about your all-time favorite 4th of July. It could’ve been one from your childhood, or maybe it was just last year’s. What was special about it? Why that one over all of the others?

5) Once you’ve written your piece on America, revise it (as always). Maybe it’s a poem. Maybe it’s a seed for a play or a story. Maybe it’s something to add to that memoir you’ve been working on….

No matter what you come up with, you can certainly share it in comments here if you’d like!

See you next Wednesday! Oh, and Happy Birthday, America.