Welcoming 2019, Bidding 2018 Farewell

Welcome to Writing Prompt Pit Stop! Well, it’s been a while since I posted and I don’t have any super excuses, except being busy: teaching, writing, and drawing. In addition, since my dad died in 2017, I’ve been my mom’s caregiver…which since she has dementia, is time-consuming and oftentimes, frustrating. So, I gave myself permission to miss a few months of posting blogs and now I’m re-surfacing. However, I know that is not a good commitment to this blog spot, so one of my goals this year is to post at least one blog every month, if not more, throughout 2019.

As has been noted, 2017 was an awful year, but 2018 was a bit of a relief. It wasn’t nearly as traumatic, even though I lost an aunt, and several cousins…which is something that some of us of a certain age, unfortunately, have to grow accustom to. Nevertheless, loss is never easy whether expected or not. On the other hand, I have much to be thankful for in 2018. I had my first trip to Arizona, with my friend, Ann. I had never been to New Mexico or Arizona, so by driving out there in January I was able to cross two more states off my “been to” list. Now, California is the lone state out west (and Hawaii and Alaska) that I’ve not ventured to. I’m only missing New Hampshire and Maine out east – so goals! I don’t know whether I’ll make those this year, but I’m always open to travel when it presents itself. In addition, speaking of traveling, I spent a week in Florida and one in Atlantic City with my daughters and grandchildren, so I loved 2018 just for those trips, if nothing else! But there was something else. My creative ventures saw a good year as well. I ended up having my visual art accepted into 11 juried shows, and winning an HM at Art Association of Madison County’s show at the Anderson Museum of Art and a Judge’s Choice at the Northern Indiana Pastel Society’s Annual Exhibit. I also exhibited at other venues throughout the year, was the Muncie Artist’s Guild Artist of the Month in July; I took part in the 31 pastels in 31 day challenge in October (and successfully completed 31), and I had some nice sales of my work throughout the year. In 2019, I’d love to double those juried shows, sales, and maybe shoot for getting some art published in some lit journals. I’ll never know until I try!

I took part in the 365 Women a Year Playwrights Project again – my 3rd time in the 4 years it’s existed. So, by the end of 2018, I wrote three new plays, and two monologues. Also, one of my plays, “Frida Kahlo: Heartbreaker,” from a previous year was produced at NoPlays’ Herstory 3: Journeywomen in New Haven, CT in March (of which I was able to attend!), and that same play was produced at the 365 Women a Year Play Festival at FSU, produced by White Mouse Theatre Productions in November. So, I keep on keeping on with my playwriting goals in 2019. I hope to get more productions, and be even more prolific in writing plays.

Finally, poetry is where a lot of my writing flows and I guess there must be something about the number 11, because I was published 11 times (which for me is not a good average…meaning I didn’t write as much or submit as much to up my odds), but the major news: two books! My full-length collection, It’s Not Love, Unfortunately, was published in July by Chatter House Press, and Red Mare 16, my chapbook collection of Paparazzi for the Birds was published by Red Mare Press in November. I had several opportunities to read poetry this year, twice as a featured reader, once in Fishers and once in Toledo, OH. And, towards the end of 2018, my friend, Mary Sexson and I, formed Poetry Sisters…which you’ll hear more about during 2019. So, my goals for poetry in 2019: write more and submit more. I will also be officially launching It’s Not Love, Unfortunately, at Poetry on Brick Street in February. So, along with my books, and Poetry Sisters, I hope to be reading a lot more across the region in the coming year.

If that were not enough for 2018. I did become a great-grandma again in May, and I was selected to be on the board of the Midwest Writers Workshop, of which I’m quite honored. So, 2018 was a darn good year for me, personally. You notice I didn’t mention politics…all these good things happened despite what is playing constantly in the background.

So, I call this blog Writing Prompt Pit Stop, so I guess I should post a few prompts!

  1. In your daybook, write about a time that you’ve given yourself permission to take a break from something important to you, perhaps a blog, writing, painting, family, a person, and then picked up later better (or worse) than before. Take about 10 minutes and see what surfaces.
  2. Unfortunately,  a lot of us don’t get through any year without suffering some loss of some kind. It might be a loss of a loved one, a job, a friendship, a dream… So, make a list of losses – maybe from one year, or maybe a compilation. Then from that list pick the one that is either the hardest, or that comes easiest…and write. Maybe, have one of your characters suffer the loss(es), if that makes it easier.
  3. Write about traveling someplace that you’ve never been. Maybe you finally got to go, when you never thought you would. Was it as wonderful as you hoped? What was the most surprising thing about the destination? What is something that happened on this trip that you will never forget? Is it memoir worthy?
  4. Use these words in what you write: Fresh start, trigger warnings, Cactus.

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

Bring on 2019, and keep writing!

Lylanne

 

Memories: Good for the Soul

Welcome to Writing Stop Pit Stop! Yes, it’s been a while since I’ve blogged and posted some writing prompts, but I’m hoping with the summer months upon me that I can get some more prompts posted and get back into the swing of blogging again. I’ve got a lot of good things going on, with my full-length poetry collection, It’s Not Love, Unfortunately, coming soon from Chatter House Press, and more good poetry publication news coming soon.

Just this past Monday, my prose poem, “Sunday Drive” appeared at Flying Island…and since it’s a poem about a childhood memory, I thought this might be a good time to revisit some memories for writing. No matter how old we are (or young), we have memories of summers past, with the 4th of July fast approaching, of Independence Day’s past, or of how different America is from years past. We also have special memories of family, friends, pets, etc.

So, it’s good to be back…even with a brief intro – but with some new prompts! Let’s get started:

  1. In your daybook, write a memory from a specific time you, as a child, were in the car with your parents…where were you going? What was on the radio, tape deck, or CD? Who else was with you, or were you by yourself with them. What were the smells, sights, sounds, all around you? Once you have a few things jotted down, formulate your memory into a poem, prose or verse, an essay, or a story.
  2. Write a memory from a time you were in a classroom. It could be from your elementary years, junior high or high school years, or college. It could be that you were the teacher, or the student. It could even be from Sunday School. Again, think about who was there, what made this time stand out to you? Was it a humorous, sad, or scary time? Once you have exhausted the memory, see if it could make a good story or essay, maybe a 10 minute play or a poem…
  3. Write about your first kiss. Use all of the senses and just go until you can’t keep writing. When you look at what you’ve written, could you use that incident with a character you’re developing? Can you write a romantic story of some kind, or a poem?
  4. Use these words in what you write: Sunglasses, bonfire, walking, sour.

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

Using Conflict to Create

Welcome to Writing Prompt Pit Stop! I’ve been thinking about conflict a lot lately, it’s all around…it’s in our personal lives, it’s in our careers, and this year, especially, it seems to be everywhere on social media…because of politics and social issues. It can be quite frustrating to live with it all, I admit; however, as creatives we should welcome the conflict and use it to create. After all, for all of the bad reputations us sensitive types get for being snowflakes, we do have the advantage of being able to express ourselves in unique ways to reach others who may or may not think like us (yet!) through our art, poetry, stories, plays, and/or music.

Needless to say, not only do we have to stand up for our “art” to the outside forces who don’t understand us, we also have our own inner demons to add to our conflicted lives…the “am I good enough” thoughts that recur out of the blue,  the “can I create something better than I have” after we’ve we’ve won an award or gotten in “that” publication or won “that” role. Nevertheless, if you’re anything like me, you try to avoid conflict in our everyday lives…but I’m here to tell you we need to embrace it. Not because we want to lead tortured and tormented lives, but because we can use conflict to our advantage in our creative lives…we can create a character that can vent when we can’t, we can write a protest poem or song, or we can take a tough social issue to the stage or to the page.

So let’s use whatever is that source of your conflict to create! I have a few ideas for prompts to help get you started:

  1. Take 10 minutes and write in your daybook about some conflict in your life right this moment. It could be a relationship, your job, finances, spirituality, politics, well the list of conflicts could be endless…so, if you have more than one…make a list and then write the one that really feels that it wants to be explored. Or, write on the most difficult…remember, for our creativityconflict is good.
  2. Write about a time that you were mad at God. Then have your character take that anger and run with it…scare yourself if you need to, but remember it’s fiction, so let it all come out…or maybe you want to keep it real and make it a memoir piece.
  3. Write about a secret that you did not keep. Maybe you betrayed yourself…or someone else. What happened when the secret came out? What if you’d kept it to yourself? Again, this could be a memoir, it could lend itself to a poem, or it could be a character’s confession in a story or play.
  4. Use these words in what you write: Compliments, gaslighting, Sunflowers.

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

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

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 & 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