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.

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3 thoughts on “Writing Stop Pit Stop: The American Way

  1. Hi Lylanne, as usual, the poem below is composed of the words taken from your post…it’s how I see America 🙂

    ~

    Something About America

    America, working day in and day out
    to make a difference
    isn’t that the American way?

    To expose the truth and to give hope
    – a duty –
    isn’t that the American way?

    Fighting for the rights of others
    and to share
    isn’t that the American way?

    ~

  2. Man Lylanne, I can imagine the can of worms you just opened! Eat your wheaties if everyone lets loose on you, you are gonna need it.,lol…but that’s the American way right…we all have a voice…

  3. Written by Mary Coulter
    Which side of the line do you stand on?
    I don’t like to join groups. Groups don’t bother me. It is an easy way to group people who are representing themselves as thinking a certain way, even if they really don’t. They are letting you know that, these set of thoughts is what I want people to think that I subscribe to
    The way groups are set up in America is that when you sign up, you read a list of things you believe. So you read it and it sounds good. It fits the image you are going for to project and you sign on the dotted line. So you are saying that you believe the beliefs written on that document. Bif, Bam, Boom, you are in the group. The group of people who believe, everything on that piece of paper.
    Time goes by and the group decides to amend that piece of paper to say, this, that, and the other. Now you also believe this, that, and the other, because you signed that paper and want to stay in the group. So now, you change your mind. You now thing this and are still a part of the group.
    More time goes by and the group decides to amend that piece of paper again to say, this, that, and the other. This time though, you are not comfortable with the change. You are not sure if you really subscribe to this, this, that, or the other. But you want to stay in the group. So you now think this, this, that, or the other also.
    A little more times goes by and you are enjoying all the benefits of the group and have even risen to a certain desirable status in the group. As previously the group amends the prescribed thought of the group. At this point if you have saved all copies of the “prescribed thoughts of the group. The first declaration is very different from the last one. For some reason your subconscious starts to nag you. This latest amendment is really not what you think at all. Do you leave the group? Do you have too much invested? After all, your son belongs to the sports team your group sponsors and is a captain of the team and that is a great status to have. Your wife is the head of the women’s division of the group. You are soon to be the editor of the newspaper of the group.
    Two choices need to be decided between. Do you stay or do you go? Go sucks, so you stay. For a while this works. Eventually thought that nagging conscious will irritate you to the point that you must take action. Leaving is not an option so reasoning kicks in. You will reason with the group and once they see things your way, you will amend the prescribed thoughts of the group. You feel confident. You go to the meeting strong. After all, you and your family have great status in the group. They will surely follow you.
    You present your ideas. “YOUR” ideas. Which is comical because “YOUR” ideas are supposed to be the “IDEAS” of the group. But you have changed “YOUR” ideas. This does not sit well with the group. Your ideas are laughed off. You are humiliated. Members shoo you off to take a back seat. Suddenly “YOU” decide to wake up. The next step is retaliation towards the group. You start to be a thorn in the side of the group. When anyone attempts to amend the prescribed ideas of the group you argue against it. After all, you presented ideas and did not get your way. Why should this lower ranking member be heard? You cause contention.
    Guess who gets kicked out of the group. Guess who throws a fit like a little baby. Guess who begins to seek another group that thinks what he thinks. YOU! This is America and this is why I don’t join groups. I change my mind when I feel like it not when the group does. Americans have stopped thinking for themselves. Now a days you don’t see individuals rise to the top, you see groups rise to the top. Vigilantes are out of style. Anarchist are scary. The do whatever they want. They think whatever they want. And they don’t need anyone else to do and think what they think with them. How UNAMERICAN. How do they function outside of a group? Americans get perplexed so easily. But there is comfort in knowing they can defer to the group to find out what they think! God Bless America.

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