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

Weathering Under the Cat Chapbook

I’m a poet and not a salesperson, but I find myself in the unfortunate position of having to ask again to pre-order my upcoming chapbook from Finishing Line Press. My chapbook, Weathering Under the Cat, is a collection of poems that I’m proud of and am so excited to see get published. However with that said, Finishing Line Press (FLP) requires enough pre-sales to guarantee it will have a decent press run. If I don’t hit a certain mark, it may not happen…at least with FLP. I’m only 50 short of that mark. I certainly appreciate all of my friends, family, and colleagues that have already purchased my chapbook during pre-sale.

 

Incidentally, my pre-sale deadline did pass (Jan. 20), but with my parent’s health issues, etc., FLP has extended my pre-sale period for two more weeks. So, if you intended to purchase my chapbook during pre-sale and missed the deadline – you have a chance to purchase it now. The chapbook will be published in March, and I will be happy to sign your copy! I also have planned readings in and around Indianapolis and Toledo so far – with hopes of adding a few more places as well. Thanks in advance for your continued support of my poetry!

 

FYI, these poems are all cat related – so if you’re a cat lover, as I am, or if you know of one – I believe these poems are right up your alley. They certainly aren’t ones you’d find on a tame greeting card!

(Incidentally, for Writing Prompt Pit Stop fans – I will be back posting writing prompts soon! I’m also in process of collecting the prompts I already have and combining them into a small book! Look for that in the near future!)

https://www.finishinglinepress.com/product/weathering-under-the-cat-by-lylanne-musselman/

Writing Prompt Pit Stop

Welcome to another Writing Prompt Pit Stop! This week’s writing prompt asks “What is Your Nature?” Some people walk through life never noticing the pleasures that nature has to offer. I was one of those people for a long while; always too busy with life to stop and smell the proverbial roses.

The funny thing is as I’ve gotten older, life hasn’t become any less busy – in fact, in today’s world it’s actually busier with the added distractions of non-stop emails, Facebook posts, Twitter tweets and re-tweets, and catching up on the latest blogs on top of everything else. Nevertheless, I’ve found that I take solace in nature. One of my favorite things to do (now that I make sure I make time to do it) is go to the Metropark, the river, or the lake, and take pictures of various birds.

Image

Image

Inevitably, these feathered friends have found homes in my poems in the last few years. In fact, my most recent chapbook, Winged Graffiti (Finishing Line Press, 2011), is filled with flights of fancy – both literally and metaphorically. I have several bird-related poems in my new book (co-authored with Jayne Marek and Mary Sexson): Company of Women: New and Selected Poems (Chatter House Press, 2013). In addition, I just recently received word that my poems, “Bossy Blues,” and “Turkey Vultures of Thorntown,” will be included in the August bird-themed issue of Cyclamens and Swords. So, it may not come as a big surprise that I’m now working on a full-length manuscript that includes a lot of wings and beaks.

As might be expected then, this week’s prompt is encouraging you to explore your own attraction(s) in nature. You might be attracted to birds, as I am, or maybe you prefer flowers or trees. You may be attracted to mountains, lakes, oceans, or maybe it’s a summer thunderstorm, or a fresh snow in winter. With that idea in mind, here’s your fourth prompt:

“What is Your Nature?”

1) Think about your favorite attraction, and then write in detail everything you can about it – maybe a specific bird or flower – for 10 minutes or until you exhaust your subject.

You may end up with one page or more of information.

2) Mine your work for good imagery or an interesting turn of words or a phrase. Sometimes when we write fast (almost in auto-pilot) we unintentionally come up with some gems. That’s the fun of writing isn’t it!

3) Pull those images, words, and phrases out. Now shape them into your poem or essay. You also might be able to give your love in nature a place in a piece of flash fiction.

4) If you have a hard time narrowing your favorites in nature down to just one attraction, by all means write on each of them, but do so separately first so that you can pay attention to those important details.

Obviously the more you write about nature – the longer your poems or essays may be, and the more likely you will be able to see a series develop! Who doesn’t love that?

As with all writing, it should be fun! 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 another Writing Prompt Pit Stop! It’s already Wednesday again…where does the time go?

As promised, here I am with another prompt to hopefully inspire some new writing whether it be a poem, a flash fiction, an essay, or even a 10-minute play.

If you love to write, then you no doubt (at least you should!) have favorite writers. I know I do. When it comes to poets, my favorite – and one that I read often is Frank O’Hara. When it comes to fiction, it’s Kurt Vonnegut – I’ve read every one of his novels, all collections of his short stories, and his essays. My bookshelves are full of books by these two, among many others – and no, I don’t shun women poets and writers; it’s just that I happen to like O’Hara’s playfulness, and Vonnegut’s satire. Now I feel guilty, so not to slight them, here are some of my favorite women writers (that also line my bookshelves): Toni Morrison, Jhumpa Lahiri, Flannery O’Conner, Gwendolyn Brooks, Naomi Shihab Nye, Gertrude Stein, Adrienne Rich, among many, many others. I could write lists all day of all of the writers I admire, but then that wouldn’t get to the prompt, or get any of my own writing done. Maybe from time to time I’ll toss in a writer/poet you should know along with the new prompt.

Nevertheless, how do my favorites relate to a new writing prompt? Well, if you’re like me, those favorites are writers/poets that we emulate and know a lot about, so why not use that passion of their work (and of the knowledge we have of them) to enter into your own writing?

Some of the writers that I listed above are still alive, but what if you could have a conversation today with one of your favorites that’s no longer with us? I have been working on a series of poems on the premise of “Resurrecting Poets/Writers” in whatever recent year I choose. My poem, “Resurrecting Poets in 2010” was published in Tipton Poetry Journal, and is included in my chapbook, Winged Graffiti (Finishing Line Press, 2011). I will include a couple of stanzas here:

If he returned to 2010, / would Frank O’Hara write lunch poems / on a laptop in Starbucks / or text his next “I do this, I do that” poem / to Bill Berkson on a Blackberry?

Would Gertrude Stein post mug shots / of Alice B. on Facebook, / share photos of Picasso from her parlor, / and write thoughts of writing thoughts, / of thoughts writing thoughts….

You can see how I took some of my favorites and included them in my poem.

Another in the series, my poem, “Resurrecting Poets in 2012,” appears in Company of Women: New and Selected Poems (Chatter House Press, 2013), and includes Elizabeth Bishop, and Emily Dickinson, among others.

A good prompt idea would be to chat with some literary hero/heroine, bring them back to life so to speak. So here’s the third prompt:

“A Conversation with (Name Your Literary Hero/Heroine)”

Choose your setting – is it a coffee shop? a bar? a bus stop? your living room? The possibilities are endless.

Think of a question to start the conversation and then start writing the dialogue between you. Is there anyone else that appears?

Keep writing until your conversation is exhausted. Cut anything that you feel is useless or redundant; add anything that you feel the writing needs. Once you do that, revise it again!

Since dialogues can be used in poems, flash fiction, and essays – you could try your hand at one of those genres, but maybe you’ll end up with a 10-minute play that you didn’t even know you could write! No matter what, with your favorite writer being included in your work, and you guiding the conversation, your voice will definitely shine through.

As with all writing, it should be fun! 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