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 lylanne@lylanne.com

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

Writing Prompt Pit Stop: Summer Daze Redux

Welcome to Writing Prompt Pit Stop! Well, another summer semester is drawing to a close, and in a mere few weeks another fall semester begins. Last week I wrote about how much I’m enjoying this summer, and I still am. I just don’t know why the summer season seems to fly by faster than any other – even though autumn is actually my favorite season of the year. I’m just worried with as cool as it’s been this summer (only three 90 degree days so far here in Toledo…yet, I’m not complaining about that! Ha!) that our winter will be another like the past one…and, ugh, well I wrote about that winter way too often. So let’s think of good, positive things such as more warm days, more days out on the patios, more relaxing times than taxing times, and more times with friends and loved ones.

I feel that there’s plenty of things that we haven’t tapped into when it comes to summer and writing about the things we like about this season, or about some of our favorite memories, or the opposite, and because of that I’m going to add on to the prompts I gave last Wednesday and keep the summer fling going. So in this, my 50th Writing Prompt Pit Stop entry, I’m going to encourage you to explore some more summer season ideas, and give you another image to work with:

“Summer Daze Redux!”

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Frog at Wildwood Metropark

1) Frogs have been having a banner summer around these parts. I’ve seen more frogs in the pond at Toledo’s Wildwood Metropark than I’ve seen there before, and when I went to Indiana last weekend to be with family, at their pond there were tons of bullfrogs calling out in the evening. I’ve even painted a few pictures of frogs this summer! So, from this photo I took at Wildwood Metropark, maybe it will inspire you to write about some memory involving a frog, or will inspire you to write a poem about this particular one. Remember the lyric “Jeremiah was a bullfrog…” from “Joy to the World” by Three Dog Night? Maybe there’s a memory or a story there. Have you ever read Annie Dillard‘s Creative Nonfiction “The Giant Waterbug”? If not, you should…it’s an excellent example of imagery and how, if written well, those images will stick with you…for better or worse. You won’t forget the frog in that essay…. Have you ever eaten frog legs? I haven’t. I’m not sure I ever will, but I have friends and family that have and love them…see, there are stories and poems everywhere.

2) Last week I suggested to write about the sounds of summer (did you write about frogs?), so this time around let’s concentrate on the tastes of summer. How about all of those grand veggies from the garden or the local farmer’s market? What are your favorites? How do you prepare them? What do you wait all year for to eat at the State Fair or other festival? Have you ever got the taste of bug spray in your mouth? What’s some other tastes of summer you can think of, good or bad? Make a list of them…then choose what interests you most and write on that for 10 minutes or until you exhaust your subject.

3) Write about your favorite song from any summer. There are times that songs sort of get ingrained into your mind during a specific summer, and we all know that music can take us back to a specific place or person. What song brings back your favorite summer memory? Your worst?

4) Write on any or all of these prompts for, yes, 10 min. each or until you exhaust the subject. Then once you have something on the page – decide if you can make a poem out of it; maybe there’s a story there, or an essay. Once you write that out, then revise it – share it here in comments if you wish.

Keep writing!

See you next Wednesday

Writing Prompt Pit Stop: Summer Daze

Welcome to Writing Prompt Pit Stop! This week, things have calmed down a bit and are getting somewhat back to “normal,” if any of us really know what normal is.  Anyway, before the burglary two weeks ago, and even after…I’ve been really taking in the perks of the summer season. I guess that is a result of having such a horrendous winter as we had (at least here in Toledo, OH) this past year and I recall as I was writing the weekly blog back then that I couldn’t wait for summer, for the warm weather, etc., and that I wouldn’t complain about the heat & humidity either…and I haven’t. Because anytime it’s been really extremely hot and humid (which hasn’t been all that often!), I’ve reminded myself of all of those inches of white stuff on my lawn, all over the roads, and all of that shoveling…it seemed it would never end. And, even though I look out and see that my yard needs mowed again, I’m not complaining.

What I’ve really enjoyed about this summer is taking in the times that I’ve been able to sit outside on patios with friends, have a decent dinner, and good conversation, how I’ve been able to go to the park and walk and not feel I’m going to pass out from heat stroke, being able to have windows open (well up until two weeks ago!), and let the birdsong come into my home along with a warm breeze, and I’ve been carving out more me time…without the guilt…taking time to just enjoy the moment, and whatever I’m doing…instead of worrying about things I should be doing or what I should be doing for tomorrow. It’s been a lot less stressful, I’ll tell you…even when I’ve had plenty to keep me stressed. But stress, isn’t going to accomplish anything but more stress…and possible health issues, worry, and a depressed state. I choose not to live that way, and like I told myself this past winter – I’m going to enjoy this summer, no matter what – and I’m keeping that promise to myself.

So for the 49th prompt(s) of Writing Prompt Pit Stop, I’m going to give you one visual prompt and a couple written ones to write on:

“Summer Daze”

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1) Monarch butterflies aren’t too plentiful of late, but I saw this one (in my photograph above) in a meadow on one of my walks last week at the Wildwood Metropark. Is there a poem, a story, or an essay that this image conjures up? Does it bring back any memories of your childhood – chasing butterflies? What do you you know about butterflies? Could you write a good essay about their plight right now? Is there a children’s story just waiting to be told with this butterfly as the main character?

2) It’s summer! How nice it is to get outside and enjoy the great outdoors! I mentioned that I love sitting on patios with friends in the summer, and I miss that in the winter. Write about something that you enjoy doing in the summer, that you don’t get to do in the winter months. Write about your favorite summer activity, sport, or travel spot. Write about your most leisure activity that you enjoy in the summer.

3) Write about the sounds of summer. What does that mean to you? Is it hearing the roar of motorcycles traveling up the road? Is it the bullfrogs singing in harmony? Is it your favorite bird singing? Crickets? Cicadas? Have you listened lately?

4) Write on any or all of these prompts for 10 min. each or until you exhaust the subject. Then once you have something on the page – decide if you can make a poem out of it; maybe there’s a story there, or an essay. Once you write that out, then revise it – share it here in comments if you wish.

Keep writing!

See you next Wednesday!

Writing Prompt Pit Stop: A Writing Pep Talk

Welcome to Writing Prompt Pit Stop! The weeks just fly by, and all of a sudden it’s Wednesday again. It’s funny how that happens! It’s also now officially summer, and we’ve certainly had the heat and humidity here…but I’m not complaining after that horrendous winter we had here in Toledo, Ohio. I teach a few classes in the summer, but for the most part, it is a more relaxing time than the rest of the year. So, why does it seem like I’m always so busy? Well, I facilitate a few writing groups besides those classes, I write art reviews and artist interviews for another blog; I also write daily…working towards poems, plays, or essays, and I also draw and paint.

It might seem like I’d get burned out on writing with all of it that I do and the writings that I read for others, suggesting edits, etc., but for whatever reason it just gives me more fuel to keep going. If you hadn’t guessed it already, I enjoy writing, and I like helping and encouraging others in their writing endeavors. However, I didn’t get here the easy way (believe it or not writing at one time was a nemesis! That is an essay that I’m working on), as for years I felt that writing never came easy, nor did I think I’d be a writer (or a teacher, for that matter!) when I grew up – nevertheless, I’ve always been a storyteller. So, I sure empathize with those that are in my classes or workshops that want to tell stories or write poems, but aren’t sure that they can do it. All they have to do is listen to my “story” and believe that they can write too, if they want to bad enough.

A lot of times others will tell me they don’t have the ideas, they don’t have the time, or they’re afraid of not being good enough; the fears and excuses go on and on. I’ll let you in on a secret. Sometimes I feel those things too, but you know what the difference is? I sit down and write at least 10 minutes everyday. No, it might not be a gem every time (and it probably won’t, but eventually something good will come), but I do find that when I sit down to write…and especially those times when I don’t think I have anything else to say…that’s when some of the most interesting things fall out onto the page! If I had not bothered to take the time to write, I never would have come up with this poem or that, or this character for a play, or that idea for an essay…. You see, if you just think of ideas in your head and never write them down and explore, you will miss out on the joy of finding where your writing might take you…!

Here are a couple of quotes from William Faulkner that I like to use in my classes and workshops:

“I never know what I think about something until I read what I’ve written on it.”

“Don’t be ‘a writer’. Be writing.”

So for this week’s prompts we’re going to keep it simple to “Be writing:”

“Words Falling Out on the Page”

1) In your daybook, write down the first thought that comes in your mind…then write on that for 10 minutes. So what if it seems silly or mundane at first? I bet with a little more writing something will come out of it…even if it’s a word pairing or a phrase that surprises you.

2) I mentioned it was summer, write something using these three words in it: Sizzle, sweat, snorkel.

3) Follow Faulkner’s lead and choose a topic, any topic, and write on it until you discover what you really think about it.

4) Pick anything that is sitting near you and write a poem or story about it.

5) Have fun and just keep writing! If you get something good, revise it into something better.

Even better, share it in the comments here!

See you next Wednesday!

Writing Stop Pit Stop: Word Exchange Play

Welcome to Writing Stop Pit Stop! How time flies! I started blogging with WordPress two years ago today, but I’ve consistently posted every week or more starting a year ago with this format of fueling some ideas for writing. I know I’m always looking for prompts – in everyday life, or by seeing what other writers put out there that work for them. An unexpected “prompt” has developed from writing this blog, and by participating in Oulipost 2014 in April. Through that challenge a few of us Ouliposters began following one another on WordPress, and after our stint in April was over, Lewis Oakwood, from England, who writes the blog, The Thought-Sphere World, began posting quite regularly in my comment section. What he was posting was my own words from that particular week’s blog as a poem. What he was doing fascinated me, not because he was using “my words,” but because his poems really expressed in a really cool way what the blog had been about that week.

Naturally, I enjoy a challenge and went to his blog and tried my hand at reusing some of his words to see how that turned out. It was also interesting because he was posting his own short poems, or in one instance a twenty syllable two-line sonnet. Once I wrote my poems from his words, I posted my efforts for him to see on his blog and it has started a nice back and forth in our comments section.

Here are a couple of Lewis’ poems (you can peruse through past blogs to find more…or to see what he did) using my blog:

That $$ Thing
 
Come to terms with that $$ thing
you know what I’m talking about,
no money = money woes.
 
– How to get out of these money woes –
 
Don’t make money a taboo subject
talk openly about it, face it
that $$ thing.
 
– Don’t hesitate to develop the things that you truly love to do –
 
Put in the hours,
it make things a whole lot easier in the long run.
What’s the story there?

If Death Pulled Off A Surprise

At this point in life,
– at this moment –
what would you do
if death took a loved one?

ponder the relationships
of those nearest to you.

Here’s a couple of my poems using his blogs:

The Morning After

Slow half step, then another,

very slow another:

hungover.

Here’s the twenty syllable two-line sonnet effort:

As I Sat, I Sang The Alone Song

Songbird fairyland sonnet in fair, stare

there watching the wildcats naked with care.

What we’re doing is a version of found poetry, but it also is a good exercise in word play. And, if you haven’t played with words (or don’t think of it in that way) that’s what I’m going to challenge you to do this week! So, for your 44th prompt try some word play:

“Stealing Words & Making Them Your Own”

Disclaimer: I’m not advocating plagiarism! You should always acknowledge who you took your words from…in an epigraph under the title, or somewhere if your work gets published. If you followed my stint as an Ouliposter, you know that I always gave credit to the Toledo Blade and any of the writers whose columns/articles I used. With that said, have some fun:

1) If you’ve not perused any other blogs, this might be a good time to do that. Find someone that speaks to you, someone who is writing about something you’re interested in, or is using language that you like. Then don’t copy their work word for word, but extract a few words out of their blog and formulate your own poem.

2) It might not be easy to come up with a finished piece by doing this challenge when working in other genres besides poetry, but something that I learned many years back…is that you might find words that you like (or want to utilize in your own vocabulary). Make a list of those words as you discover them and then try to consciously implement them in your essays, stories, or plays. For example, I’m a big Kurt Vonnegut fan. I’ve read all of his books, sometimes more than once. I’ve also had my daybook near me as I’ve read his works before and when I’d come across words he used that I liked, I compiled a list of them. Then if I need a word in a poem or play and I’m not liking what I’m coming up with, I utilize my lists of favorite words.

3) Just play with rearranging your own words from your own works. Maybe something that hasn’t worked in the past – play with word order, omit words, use a thesaurus, be silly…sometimes that’s when something serious comes!

4) Take any of your word play pieces and revise. Revision is always important, you’ve heard me say that before. Also, if you do like what you’ve come up with and plan on sending it out in the world, do give credit to the person who inspired you in some way. And, if you’re up to the challenge, strike up a writing friendship through your blogging/sharing words experiences…and post in their blog comment section if you dare.

Don’t hesitate to share, in the comments section, what your writings with word play brings about.

See you here next Wednesday with another writing prompt! (And, we’re an hour into Thursday…but it was Wednesday when I started writing! :-))