Writing Stop Pit Stop: The American Way

Welcome to Writing Prompt Pit Stop! It’s two days away from the 4th of July here in America, otherwise known as Independence Day. However, the America we live in today is certainly different than I ever imagined it would be at this stage of my life. It seems as no one can get ahead (at least the middle class on down), even by working day in and day out, and sometimes working at multiple jobs. At one time, Americans, actually gave our president respect…even if they didn’t agree with whichever one it was, it was the President of the United States. It also seems like the country gets divided more and more each week, with this political squabble or that. I don’t know about you, but it’s really getting tiresome. It appears that America is broken and I certainly don’t know how it will ever get fixed. It’s frustrating and sad. I vote. And, even if sometimes that is frustrating, I will always do so as a woman…because it hasn’t been that long since women had that right, and because I keep thinking one day it really will make a difference. Isn’t that the American way?

One of my favorite writers is Kurt Vonnegut, and that’s no surprise to anyone who knows me or who has read this blog. He wrote a lot about frustrations and problems in America, he used satire as a way to expose some of the truths or disappointments. In his stories he created places, such as the planet Tralfamadore, that were not “America,” but if you put two and two together you got the drift. Some students inevitably (when I’ve been able to use one of his short stories or his book A Man Without A Country in class) misconstrue his intentions as either being too “unpatriotic” or they believe what he is satirizing is how he really believes. This way of thinking is like believing Jonathan Swift encouraged the Irish people to eat babies…that sort of thing. This is also frustrating and sad. However, that’s why I teach because I do know that I can make a difference. I have hope for most of these students. Hope. And change. Isn’t that the American way? It should be if it’s not. Anyway, I’m not writing here to vent (well, maybe) or to start political rants from all sides. What I believe to be true is that as writers, poets, playwrights, essayists, we have a way to express our feelings (and a duty!) in whatever way we want…whether they be liberal, conservative, libertarian, religious, atheist, spiritual, feminist, gay, lesbian, trans, or straight views – and I know that is the American way.

So, for your 46th post I’m advocating you write something about America:

“America: Love It or Turn It Into a Fantasy World”

1) In your daybook write about the America you envision. Maybe it’s some utopia on another planet, or a made-up land. What would your ideal America look like? Who would be the leader? Who would you keep out of your world. Who would you embrace? What laws would there be? Get crazy, get serious, get funny. It’s your story, poem, play, or essay to write.

2) Write about your favorite things about America. Forget about all of the fighting over religion, gay marriage, politics, women’s rights, guns (only for this prompt!) and write what America means to you. It may be interesting that you can’t keep some of those above issues out of your writing….

3) Write about what it is that really bothers you about America. Be honest. Maybe it includes some of those issues in #2, or maybe you can come up with a lot longer list. Write on this prompt or any of the above for 10 minutes or until you exhaust your subject.

4) Simply write about your all-time favorite 4th of July. It could’ve been one from your childhood, or maybe it was just last year’s. What was special about it? Why that one over all of the others?

5) Once you’ve written your piece on America, revise it (as always). Maybe it’s a poem. Maybe it’s a seed for a play or a story. Maybe it’s something to add to that memoir you’ve been working on….

No matter what you come up with, you can certainly share it in comments here if you’d like!

See you next Wednesday! Oh, and Happy Birthday, America.