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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De-stressing

Welcome to Writing Prompt Pit Stop! Well, it has been a long time...and it’s nice to be back writing on my blog. I didn’t think I would be away this long, but both of my parent’s health took a hit at the beginning of 2017 and it never let up. Here’s the condensed version (and it still is a lot). It was last summer (2016) when I actually posted writing prompts after I first moved back to Indiana from Michigan, and then one of my beloved cats, Graham, got ill and died in October of 2016, and around that time, my dad was having some fluid in the lungs and having to have them drained. Then came January 8th, 2017 and my dad was taken to the ER for bleeding in the bowels. He was in the hospital for 10 weeks straight; during that time he ended up with a colostomy bag.

In early February 2017, my mom was diagnosed with early-stage dementia, by March she’d fallen at home and broken three ribs, so she was in the hospital during the same time as dad. She was discharged first, but had to go to a nursing home for rehab…she was not happy, and she refused to eat among other things. Soon after, my dad was discharged to the same nursing home and they were able to room together for awhile. It became apparent that when mom was discharged she would not be able to live alone. I was still living in Indianapolis and making the drive to see the parents three-four times a week…a little over an hour each way…and teaching five classes. Mom ended up in the memory care unit of the same nursing home. During this time, my dad’s lungs were filling up with fluid again and he was back and forth to the hospital from the nursing home several times. To make a long story short, my dad died on June 19th. My mom did not want to be in the nursing home without dad, she wanted to go home. During the week of my dad’s funeral, she stayed at my daughter, Alison’s, house and I stayed there as often as I could. It seemed feasible that I could move back to my childhood home and be my mom’s caretaker. Everything was set in motion for me to move, then four days before the move was to take place mom fell and broke her shoulder. She was in the hospital for five days, and back to the nursing home for rehab. I was just settling in at the house when the nursing home “kicked her out”…because of insurance limits…without any home assessments, without showing me how to transfer her…nothing.

It’s been a real challenge, but I’ve kept her out of the hospital the required 60 days before insurance will kick in again. She has a lot of issues, and some of the problems we had when I was living here the first 18 years…have been amplified by her dementia. But, I’m learning a lot more about myself than I could have ever known otherwise…because now I see the dynamics I grew up with…and I see why I don’t do well with conflict and why I have always tried to avoid it at all costs. Also, I do have some perks in this situation…like not having to teach so many classes that I can’t do much else. I’m happy that I draw and paint, some, nearly every day. However, I have to be honest, this is the first that I have written anything since my mom came home on August 15th. I’ve either not had time, or I have just had too much in my head to focus. But, here I am…finding my way back to my writing…my therapy (as I’ve always told my students). Also, in the past week I’ve had two people reach out…wanting to have writing prompts, and missing some of the workshops I used to teach. So, this solves my need to write, and I hope it helps others that want to dabble with some prompts.

De-stressing

  1. In your daybook write about one of your most stressful times in your life. What did you do to de-stress? Did you turn to a favorite hobby, did you turn to comfort food, alcohol? How did you handle that time? Are you in it now? Did it make you stronger or are still reeling in some ways from that time? Take that and write for 10 minutes. What falls out on the page, run with.
  2. If you’re working on a novel, play, or short story…remember that life is stranger than fiction…and sometimes life hands us more than we think we can handle. What kind of stress can happen to your main character? Pour it on. Then revise to make it bearable.
  3. Take these words and work them into what you write: dementia, control, sunshine, and cat.
  4. Write about the death of a parent or grandparent and how you processed it. Did it bring back memories that you hadn’t thought of in years? Did it make you wish for a different relationship? Did you find that you understand them more in death than when they were alive? Write on those thoughts/feelings for as long as you can, and then focus on what really is hard…or enlightening. 

As always, if you get anything that you want to share – post it below or you can always contact me at lylanne@lylanne.com

Keep writing (or get back to it)!

Lylanne

Writing & Weathering

Welcome to Writing Prompt Pit Stop! So, I don’t know about you, but the weather is always appearing in my poems and journals. Here in Indiana, well since I moved back in July anyway, has been extremely hot and humid, and now in August we’ve had a couple of weeks of severe thunderstorms, including tornadoes. This past Wednesday there was an outbreak of tornadoes, and an EF3 ripped through Kokomo – just an hour north of Indy, along with various lesser strength tornadoes near there and around central Indiana. We’ve also had a lot of rain, which has caused flooding the likes that haven’t been seen in downtown Indy and around the suburbs. Whether you believe in climate change or not, and I know most of my writing cohorts do, something different is going on…at the very least, tornadoes in Indiana were usually the norm in April-June…not late August; although, I know they can appear anytime…so it seems the seasons are off by a few months. The tornadoes in Kokomo also reminded me of the Palm Sunday tornado outbreak there, and in nearby towns…the same towns I was hearing named on the weather alerts. I have aunts, uncles, and cousins that lived there then, and live there now – in fact, my now 87-year-old aunt’s house was the only one left standing in a block in Russiaville in 1965...the same house that she still lives in. As a child, and seeing the destruction of those tornadoes, and the tears of my family at the devastation of their friends and neighbors, and hearing the horror stories of that day left an impression on me. I’ve written one poem about that day, but it appears there’s more there to mine.

So with weather on my mind, I figured it would be a good time to use weather as writing prompts:

  1. In your daybook, write about a time you’ve experienced a tramatic weather event, be it a tornado, hurricane, flood, blizzard, etc. You may even have more than one – so in that case, make a list of those experienced and then write for 10 minutes on the one that seems the most interesting to you.
  2. Maybe you (or your character) are petrified of storms, write about how you (or your character) handle that – especially in public situations when you’re usually a calm and collected person.
  3. If you write essays, you may want to tackle climate change in a more personal way than the political angle.
  4. If you write plays or short stories, you may want to write about a situation that has arisen from a shared weather event. Take into consideration the Starbucks in Kokomo that was demolished; yet, the workers and customers were unharmed because of taking refuge in the bathrooms.

As always, if you get anything that you want to share – post it below or you can always contact me at lylanne@lylanne.com

Keep writing!

Lylanne

 

Settling IN

Welcome to Writing Prompt Pit Stop! Well, July 8th was moving day and it went off without a hitch, so that is a relief. Now that the cats and I are in Indianapolis, we’re settling in quite nicely. We’ve been here just a little over a week, and the only thing left to do is unpack one more box of clothes, and hang pictures/paintings on the walls – and it will feel like we’ve never left. I never had a doubt that I wouldn’t feel right at home, and that I do. I’ve even had visitors already at my apartment, and a lot of people that I need to see now that I’m back. It’s funny, I was so anxious to leave this state six years ago, and it’s quite a newsflash to me how wonderful it feels to be back home. I’m happy, and look forward to the opportunities and the creative adventures that await me here. It’s also nice that I have friends in OH and MI who have been in contact with me through snail mail, and social media – it’s all the connections we make with others along the way that makes life so rewarding isn’t it?

Whether you’re going through life changes, mind changes, or just trying to adapt to this ever changing world we live in, here are a few prompts in hopes of helping you get some thoughts on paper:

  1. Write in your daybook about a time that you felt truly settled. Maybe it was/is a relationship. Maybe it was/is a home/apartment. Maybe it was/is a place that you lived/live. Maybe it was/is a job/career. Or maybe you’ve never felt settled – ever. Write what that feels like.
  2. Write about a place that you were anxious to leave. Did you? Why or why not? If you left, did you ever want to go back? As they say, the grass is always greener on the other side…do you find that…that way of thinking has helped or hindered you? Take a character that you’re working with – and see what they feel about where they’re “stuck” in your story/play.
  3. Use these three words in a poem/story/play: unpacking, incense, wine.
  4. Write about a connection that you, or your character, has made – was it a good one? Is it one that will stick for a lifetime? Was it one that should never have been made? Explain.

Enjoy the prompts! If you get something that you’d like to share – post it comments below, or email me at lylanne@lylanne.com

See you next week!

Keep writing,

Lylanne

Writing Prompt Pit Stop: In a Fog

Welcome to Writing Prompt Pit Stop! I don’t know where you are or what you’re doing, but here in SE Michigan we’ve been in a perpetual state of fog for the past…well, four or five days…but it seems like it’s never ending. By the same token, “in a fog” could be taken metaphorically as it is the last full week of most of my face-to-face classes, and with that comes a deluge of final papers, revisions, presentations, and the atmosphere feels really heavy at times; yet, soon that “fog” is going to lift and let in brighter, lighter days ahead, as will the meteorological fog. So here’s to those clear days ahead…where I can concentrate on my own writing, enjoy some friends and family time and, yes, prep for the upcoming semester that starts in January!

For those that are looking for some writing prompts this week, here’s a few for you:

  1. In your daybook, write about how being in fog feels – what type of senses does it bring out? Does it make you claustrophobic?  Does it make you feel hopeless? Does it make you romantic? What does fog sound like? Does it have a taste? This exercise could lend itself to an interesting poem or essay…maybe even a start to a story.
  2. Speaking of fog, what has been the most interesting thing that has happened to you when you’ve been in a fog…weather wise or mind wise? Or maybe there was something that didn’t go so well…getting lost, a wreck, depression…maybe one of your characters can relate to one of these happenings from your own life – or maybe you can make something up for them that is freaky or cool.
  3. An overheard conversation in a restaurant yesterday: “out of four years of college you’re lucky if you get one instructor/professor that you connect with.” Think back to your experience in college, or your present one, or your anticipated one – do you think this is true? Write about an instructor/college professor that you connected with…or one that you didn’t.
  4. Use these words in something that you write: tolerance/Trump/toy.

If you get anything that you want to share, you can always share it in comments below, or contact me: lylanne[at]lylanne.com

See you in a week! Don’t forget to keep writing!

Lylanne

Writing Prompt Pit Stop: No NaNoWriMo No More

Welcome to Writing Prompt Pit Stop! It’s November 30th – the last day of the month and the last day for NaNoWriMo. I don’t know whether you participated or not, but as you know if you’ve been following along – I didn’t. Not for lack of want, but because of the busyness of teaching 10 writing classes (yes, I’m an adjunct in case that’s not clear), and this being a crunch month with a lot of student’s larger papers due it didn’t allow for a lot of “me” time. However, being a poet and a playwright I can never let any month pass by without writing. I try to everyday…even if it is for 10 minutes or less. That certainly doesn’t get me full-length plays or a manuscript of poems, but it keeps me in good writing shape…just like a little exercise is better than just sitting around wishing to be fit.

Anyway, with that being said – with several “free” days over Thanksgiving, I got some major things accomplished. I actually got a full-length poetry manuscript put together and sent out into the world! Whoo hoo! Now let’s hope it lands somewhere good. Nevertheless, that was one major goal to have done by the 30th, and I had it completed and sent on the 28th. I also got several packets of poems sent out as well, so we’ll see what happens there. That takes care of some poetry needs, but I fell short of getting the three plays written that I’d hoped to have by today. However, the deadline for those are the 31st of December – so, I bet by the 28th they’ll be submitted…at least that’s my new goal for Dec. What is yours?

Here are some writing prompts to get you started for December:

  1. In your daybook write about a time that you lost an argument that still makes you mad. What was it about? Who was it with? Perhaps your character can have such a grudge…
  2.  Make a list: 50 excuses not to write. (See? Now you’re writing!) Pick one, and write for 10 minutes…see what comes to mind.
  3. Guns are a controversial topic. No matter what side of the “argument” you land on…utilize it to get yourself writing – maybe it’ll turn into an essay…or a poem…or it seems like a good topic to involve a character, or to have for the theme of a story or play.
  4. Use these three words in what you write: Kennedy/Art/Mexico

If you get anything that you want to share, you can always share it in comments below, or contact me: lylanne[at]lylanne.com

See you in a week! Don’t forget to keep writing!

Lylanne

Writing Prompt Pit Stop: Week 4 No NaNoWriMo

Welcome to Writing Prompt Pit Stop! Well, we’re into week 4 of NaNoWriMo, but as we’ve established in the first three weeks – I’m not participating in it this year. However, as sad as that makes me, I’m still trying to keep my writing chops honed in during this month, even though I have so many other commitments that take up my time…mainly grading a lot of writing classes! Anyway, this week I have been able to brainstorm and get more ideas down for my three short plays that I’m bringing to life. And, although by this time in this month I’d hoped to have had at least one of the three completed, I have no doubt that after this week that I will have one done before November ends. I’ve also got a few poems ruminating around, and the end of the semester is within reach so I feel certain that I’ll have some new work then too. My only other writing challenge that I made for myself this month is – to have my full-length poetry manuscript pulled together to submit by the 30th as well. I know I can do it, I know I can do it. So, wish me luck! I hope that you’ve had some writing successes this past week!

If you’re following along with me, here are a few more writing prompts:

  1. Since this is the week of Thanksgiving, in your daybook write down the top 10 things that you’re thankful for. Once you have your list, choose one that calls your name and freewrite on that for at least 10 minutes.
  2.   Here in Michigan we’ve had our first big snow this past weekend.     Write about what you love, or hate, about snow. You could certainly write a poem about winter/snow. Heaven knows I have many on that subject, but you could also utilize it in one of your stories/plays, or it could be a trait of a character…that they love, or hate, snow.
  3.  This political season has certainly opened up potential for stories, poems, essays, plays about the absurd. Most we don’t even have to imagine. Sometimes it’s not easy to include political themes in your work, but it seems that now would be a good time to at least be writing down some of the day-to-day happenings for future use in some way. You might just sit down and vent for 10 minutes on something you hear – it might surprise you what comes of it!
  4. Use these words in something that you write:  Adele/ice/turkey

 

If you get anything that you want to share, you can always share it in comments below, or contact me: lylanne[at]lylanne.com

See you in a week! Don’t forget to keep writing!

Lylanne