NaPoWriMo #29 – I Remember

Welcome to Writing Prompt Pit Stop! One more day left of NaPoWriMo after this is posted. It is hard to believe! On this next to the last day, I used the prompt from NaPoWriMo, but I didn’t end up sticking with the “I remember” format – instead I just delved into one of the memories and used that. It’s funny, the memory I chose, because it’s not near Christmas, yet today’s weather still feels a bit like December! For some reason the April PAD Challenge site is not opening for me tonight…maybe everyone is hurrying and posting 29 poems there at once! Anyway, here is a snippet of a memory in my poem, “I (used to) Believe in Santa Claus,” and the prompt used.

I (used to) Believe in Santa Claus

I rue the day when I heard
Santa Claus was not really real – and
my parents didn’t stick up for my dreams;

crushed were the reasons to watch
for Santa’s sleigh with Rudolph
heading up the herd of reindeers

kick gliding through the air among the stars,
as I sat in the backseat of a warm car on a
dark country road, in PJs, head against the back window

while on a thirty minute ride to celebrate
Christmas Eve with family; dashed was
the wish for snow each year so Santa

could land softly on our roof, even though we
had no chimney to shimmy down
because he was smart enough to find a way

to leave unwrapped gifts near the tree just for me;
with Santa Claus, anything was possible,
until the fateful day Santa became fiction in my eyes.

The Day 29 NaPoWriMo prompt:

Poet and artist Joe Brainard is probably best remembers for his book-length poem/memoir, I Remember. The book consists of a series of statements, all beginning with the phrase “I remember.” Here are a few examples:

I remember the only time I ever saw my mother cry. I was eating apricot pie.

I remember how much I cried seeing South Pacific (the movie) three times.

I remember how good a glass of water can taste after a dish of ice cream.

The specific, sometimes mundane and sometimes zany details of the things Brainard remembers builds up over the course of the book, until you have a good deal of empathy and sympathy for this somewhat odd person that you really feel you’ve gotten to know.

Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem based on things you remember. Try to focus on specific details, and don’t worry about whether the memories are of important events, or are connected to each other. You could start by adopting Brainard’s uniform habit of starting every line with “I remember,” and then you could either cut out all the instances of “I remember,” or leave them all in, or leave just a few in. At any rate, hopefully you’ll wind up with a poem that is heavy on concrete detail, and which uses that detail as its connective tissue.

If you get anything that you’d like to share, post it below in comments!

Keep writing!


Writing Prompt Pit Stop: Songs of the Season

Welcome to Writing Prompt Pit Stop! For me this time of year means the end of the semester, and another chunk of classes to grade…and this particular semester that means eight classes! However, I’ve been doing some bit by bit, and I’ve got it all planned out to do some each day to save my sanity. The other happenings this time of year are the celebrations of the season, and whether you celebrate Christmas, as I do, or Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa...,it usually is a time of year that is looked forward to. One of my favorite things this time of year, besides the pretty lights everywhere, are Christmas Carols. I remember learning them as a child and loving to sing them, and I still do. If memory serves me, one of the first songs I memorized and was able to sing as a child was “Away in the Manger,” and then there was “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” etc. I also remember hearing on the radio Santa Looked A Lot Like Daddy,” by Buck Owens, and thinking that song was so funny (I was 8 or 9!). Songs bring joy and memories, and especially the special songs that are tied to this time of year. By the same token, they can also evoke sadness…at the loss of loved ones, a relationship that ended, or a sense of loneliness if you don’t have others to celebrate the season with. Again, it’s an example of how powerful words can be. So, for your 56th Writing Prompt Pit Stop Prompt(s) I thought if would be fun to re-imagine or create new songs for the season!

“Tis the Season…to Write a New Song!”

1) In your daybook, write a list of Christmas Carols, Kwanzaa, or Hanukkah songs that you’re familiar with and love the melody. After making your list, pick one of your favorites and re-write a new lyric to it…share it with others, turn it into a poem, or add it to a story you’re writing.

2) Make up a brand new song, either serious or humorous, religious or secular. Think of the song by Buck Owens that I mentioned earlier, or “Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer.” Why can’t you come up with a new “classic?”

3) I mentioned recalling the first Christmas Carol that I learned. Do you remember what Holiday Song you learned first as a child? How old were you? Did you learn it for school, church, or just because you wanted to? Do your still sing that song today? Why or why not?

4) Switch it up, is there a Christmas Carol or Holiday Song that you don’t think you can hear one more time? It’s played or sung to death, and you wish you would never hear it again? Why? Was there too much exposure, or was it connected to some event in your life that was not a good one? Write about it. Maybe have your character in a story make this “confession” if you don’t want to make it your own.

5) If you feel up to it, I’m always open to any sharing of your work, or comments on the blog…or you can contact me at

In between grading, I’m hoping to be back here again next week! 🙂

Writing Prompt Pit Stop

Welcome to Writing Prompt Pit Stop! It’s exactly one week before Christmas, and as a writing instructor I just recently got all of my grading completed and can finally relax for a few weeks before another new semester begins. So this week with the holidays on my mind, there’s always a couple of other things as well – one, I have free time so I can catch up on even more writing and maybe finish a full-length play or novel that I’ve been working on for years and, two, that it never goes unnoticed that two days before Christmas, when I was twelve years old, my paternal grandma died. This year will mark the 45th anniversary of her death, and that doesn’t seem possible that it’s been that long, or that I’m so old! If that wasn’t enough, in 2007, on that same date (December 23) my beloved cat, Jonathon, who I had in my life for eighteen years, took ill and had to be put down.

Image     Image

Jonathon pics circa early 2007 – one with a wink and one helping me write on my laptop.

Loss is hard to take at anytime of year, but it does seem like it happens quite often near holidays – be it Christmas, Thanksgiving, etc. And, if it’s not loss – there’s always plenty of illnesses to around at this time of year. I was just telling a friend of mine last weekend that as a child I was sick nearly every Christmas with strep throat and a 102 degree fever, and I bet a lot of you had experiences like that as well.

So I was thinking that for this week’s prompt we’ll focus on loss/illness/disappointment…give the holidays a little twist instead of the happy, happy that we always idealize this time of year to be. Here’s your twenty-fifth prompt:

“Melancholy Holidays”

1) In your daybook write about someone close to you that you’ve lost near the holidays. It doesn’t have to be Christmas, it could be the 4th of July, or even your own birthday. If you’ve not lost someone near any holiday, write about someone that you’ve lost that you especially miss during one of these special days. Write about a memory that you have of them at the holidays, did you have any special traditions? Write down anything that you can remember.

2) Write about a Christmas/Winter break when you were sick. Did you miss something you’d been looking forward to? Did you get special treatment? Did you get left behind with a babysitter, or by yourself?

3) If you don’t want to write about loss or illness, why don’t you write about your biggest disappointment during the holidays. Was it something you asked Santa for and didn’t get? A Christmas or New Year’s Eve spent alone?  Flip that and write about the best gift Santa brought you, or the best Christmas or New Year’s Eve ever!

4) Write on any of these prompts for 10 minutes or until you run out of steam. After you get to that point, work your writing into your favorite genre: a poem, a play, an essay/memoir, or a short story. Then, as always, revise – cut/add – give your writing plenty of energy and imagery!

As with all writing, this Melancholy Holidayswriting 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!