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

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Writing Prompt Pit Stop

Welcome to Writing Prompt Pit Stop! This winter weather is like a broken record and frankly it’s beginning to get a bit stifling! I guess you can tell that when something is on my mind or bothering me I write about it; hence, at least three posts this month alone that have mentioned winter weather in them or included photos of snow in my yard…and everywhere else piling up. We’ve had a record breaking 3′ of snow here in Toledo just in January. Now we’re on target to break the all-time snowfall in a winter…and it sounds like that could happen within the first week of February…and we still have to mid-March to go! Well, just how much can you milk winter for things to write about? A lot. In fact, just driving in the icy tundra to school today I had a couple of new ideas as I saw the interesting sculptures that the wind has made with the drifts. And, there’s been sightings of something new to me: Snow Rollers. Lake Erie ice balls. Thundersnow. All something that could be written about, and I’m sure something that will now be added to my vocabulary.

Speaking of winter and writing, my poem “Winter Noise” which I wrote after our New Year’s Day snow storm a few weeks ago, was accepted and published in Flying Island! I suggest that if you live or have ties to Indiana that you submit to this journal. It has a long, good history. Check it out!

Finally, I do find that I write about weather a lot. I’ve penned many a poem on tornadoes and heat (although, at this moment I don’t think I’ll be complaining about heat anymore…but don’t hold me to that!) and rain…humidity…and have had success with them. I guess I could attribute my fascination with writing about weather because of the imagery it lends, but in reality it goes a lot deeper than that. I wanted to be a meteorologist for a time in my life. As a child I loved science and was fascinated with the clouds, formation and the like. I read up on it, and when I went to Ball State University the first time around I even considered majoring, or at least minoring in it. There was only one problem with that idea…I needed to be good at math. Math, the bain of many of my dreams!!! Have you ever had something in your life that kept you from fulfilling a plan or a dream? Or at least was a detriment? Weather, math, there’s all a connection and I bet you can see where this is leading…into your thirty-first prompt:

“What’s Holding You Back?”

1) In your daybook write about a plan, a dream, a job, or some goal that you’ve had but couldn’t follow through because of some obstacle. What was that obstacle? Is it something you still struggle with or is it something that you might be able to overcome? Why or why not? Did you overcome it? If so, how? A writing like this can lead you into something nice for an essay or a memoir. It also can certainly lend itself to conflict for one of your characters in a story or a play.

2) While you’re thinking about that dream, plan, job, etc., and have written what obstacles have been in your way – why not write how you feel your life has changed because of not fulfilling that particular dream, etc.? Maybe your life took a turn that you never expected because of that, write about that for a while. It will lead to some interesting discoveries.

3) Okay, yes, you can’t let all of this winter weather, cabin fever, snow rollers, etc., pass you by without writing about it! If you have already, write some more! It really does relieve some of the misery…for the time you’re writing. If you just can’t write about winter anymore (it could be holding you back!!), why not muse about spring – write about your dreams of spring…what’s underneath this frozen tundra waiting to get out?

4) After you’ve spent a good 10 minutes writing on any or these prompts, or until you’ve exhausted yourself, then put your work aside for a while. Then come back and re-read it, revamp it into the genre of your choice, and then as always, revise, revise, revise!!! And then send it off if you feel good about it. Don’t hold back!

As with all writing, this “What’s Holding You Back?” 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

 

Writing Prompt Pit Stop

Welcome to Writing Prompt Pit Stop! As you may recall from last week’s post that it’s the end of the semester for me, and so I’m not going to give long lead-ins to my prompts like I usually do. Yeah, right, I know; once I start writing I can’t stop. But, I’m going to have to try to be brief since I’ve been grading all day and have another full day of it again tomorrow. So, what am I going to prompt you to write about this week? Well, because it’s in the midst of the holiday season and another semester has ended it’s easy to wax nostalgic, as I seem to do quite a bit, but time passages comes to mind. And because I heard the same “old” song twice in as many days in random places, I’m thinking I should write about that and it’ll all fit together…wait and see.

So, I was on my way to an adjunct meeting last night at 7 PM and had my car radio set to the 70s on 7… and what song should come on? Harry Chapin‘s “Cats in the Cradle.” And, for whatever reason it really hit me in a different way than it had before. Probably because I’m getting older, probably because it’s nearing the end of another year, probably because I don’t see my daughters often enough….

Image

Me and my daughters, circa early 1980s

When I first heard the song and loved it, I was young…eighteen and attending Ball State University my first time around…back in 1974. It reminds me of being in a friend’s dorm room and hearing the song come on the radio…long before Walkmans, iPods, and iTunes. I’ve always loved songs that tell a story, and Chapin’s song certainly does that.

Then tonight I was in a grading frenzy and had the TV on for background noise. I happened to have it turned to The Middle, and the episode was about Christmas, being together (or not) and how fast kids grow up. The song the cast referenced several times, was “Cats in the Cradle!” With that, it seemed that I needed to respond to that song this week, so it’s my cat-alyst for your twenty-fourth prompt(s):

“Cat-chy Lyrics”

1) Write in your daybook about a song that has been with you over the years and how it has changed in its meaning to you, from one decade to another, or for you youngsters – one year to another. It could be about love, it could be how you’ve changed over the years, or how someone else has changed…and if you have more than one of those songs, by all means, make that list. Remember, lists are good and always gives you something to come back to if you need ideas to write about.

2) Take a line or the title from that song (or one of those songs from your list) and either use it as an epigraph for your work, or use it as a jumping off place for your own writing. Or reference the song, or the singer in your work. There’s all kinds of ways to utilize the song. Write until you exhaust the subject.

3) If you’re a parent, write about your child/children – listen to Chapin’s song on the Youtube clip referenced above – write a poem or story that starts from birth to their age now…. If you’re not a parent, think about your own childhood and how your parents have changed over the years. Write for 10 minutes or until you run out of things to say.

4) Take any of these writings and shape them into the genre of your choice. Then revise!

5) As with all writing, this Cat-chy Lyricswriting 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