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July 2011
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September 2011

Writers' Group Prompt: The Alley


PROMPT: Describe an alley. Write for 5 minutes.

My results:

It was dark - the kind of dark that you just knew was unfriendly and unwelcoming. Hardly a place to linger if your business led you somewhere else. A streetlight across the street shone indistinct light across its mouth, casting shadowy teeth over the moist walls. Crumpled bits of newspaper blew down the passage, then disappeared in the dank darkness that seemed to swallow up all sound - sucking in everything near, like a black hole. Even the street people walked past quickly, seemingly afraid to even hazard a sideways glance. A couple of bony mutts trotted down the sidewalk, sniffing at doorways and passersby, but quickened their pace as they skittered past the dark alley.

Photo credit: Bertron8

Writers' Group Prompt: Images

Matthews Farmers' Market 1

This Writers' Group Prompt was interesting - it wasn't a single prompt, but rather a selection of words from which to choose to form a piece.  Here's the list we used, then did free-writing for 10 minutes:

  • overalls
  • silk
  • High School Prom
  • a scream from the next apartment
  • wedding
  • house slippers
  • clothes drying on the line
  • a crib
  • 3rd grade
  • honey

Here are my results:

He wore overalls every day of his life, from the very day he first wore clothes. It's what they all did. It was better that way - you always knew what to wear, you looked like everyone else, and you always knew where to find your hammer and gloves. No tellin' when you might need one or t'other. Fences worked loose and calves got stuck in the mud. Shoot - don't even think about tryin' to pull a calf out of the mud without your gloves. That's just pure stupid. Might as well try to catch a pig loose in a pit of honey.

A man knew where he stood when he wore overalls - knew what was expected of him. Knew it was time to be about your work, long as the sun was up, and sometimes a bit after it went down. A man knew his family counted on him to get up and get the work done and to do it again the next day. It was just the way things were and it worked just fine for him.

But this. This was not working for him. Partly because he wasn't working - he was waiting. And he didn't wait so good. Not when there was work to be done. Which there always was. But not today, Thelma had told him. Today was the wedding and they were all going. It rubbed him raw, much like the collar currently chafing his neck. He didn't see why his niece couldn't just wait for the preacher to come through town, have him over for coffee and to say a few words and be done with it all. Just like everyone else.

Photo credit: mshutch Michael Hutchinson

Writers' Group Prompt: The Box

wooden box

Here's another piece from a recent writing group session. 

The prompt: Free write about "The Box", as a symbol, for 10 minutes.

My results:

She knew better than to open the Box. Hadn't she seen for herself what it could do? Hadn't her mother told her their family's sacred duty and trust? The power that only the women of her line could hold and contain? And only within the walls of the Box?

It was such an ordinary looking box, with its rough-hewn seams and coarse cuts made by tools from another time. The Box alone was not enticing, or even remarkable. It sat quite unassuming on the mantle. But the weight of its presence was so very heavy -- it seemed to draw all the energy from the room -- sucking the very will to move from its occupants. She was always, always, aware of its presence, could always see it out of the corner of her eye. Though that was to be expected, as she was rarely out of this main room in the simple house. They took their meals here, repaired ripped clothing, and told stories in front of the fire. And of course someone always had to stay -- it wasn't like the Box could be left unattended. The one time it has been - the one time in all those long, lonely, dutiful years...well, she couldn't think about that.

The memories of that night still shrouded her thoughts, looking for any opportunity or excuse to crowd in, to surge against her carefully constructed walls, bringing with them waves of grief and shame and guilt. Because of that night, and all that they had lost - that all of them had lost - she should have known better than to open the Box.

But she was yet young, and there was still hope in her heart. Hope that she would be the One that could reign it in and wield the Power.

Photo credit: bballchico

Writers' Group Prompt: The Wicker Love Seat

Earlier this year, I was invited to join a writers' group that meets monthly. Feeling neglectful of writing for myself, I dove right in. I've attended several meetings, and have really enjoyed it. We chat about writing related activities, give impromptu reviews of events and books, and write to several prompts. I've been really pleased with nearly all of the writing generated from the prompts, so I thought I would start sharing some here.

For this first piece, we were supposed to start with the following sentence, and free-write for 10 minutes:

"We saw it on Friday on the road to Thompsonville, the wicker love seat, right out there, straddling the center line."

Here are my results:

We saw it on Friday on the road to Thompsonville, the wicker love seat, right out there, straddling the center line. It seemed so odd to see it sitting there, in the middle of a dead town, where leaves scuttled down the empty boardwalks and any sounds were drowned out by the endless scream of the cicadas in the trees bracketing the street. We stopped out car in front of the love seat and just looked at it. It was worn, the white overwash flaking off on the arms, obviously a well-loved piece of furniture at one time.

Who could count the number of hands to have caressed the arms, to have found a moment's rest and the peace of comfort in visiting a friend? The seat belongs on a wrap-around porch somewhere, or maybe a screened-in sunroom.

The fabrics were cheery once upon a time, too - a red bandana print on the cushions, now fraying at the seams and piping. The yellow polka-dot pillows were still plump, if faded from too many hours in the sun.

The seat was obviously home to countless stories, though we only wondered about the one. How did it come to rest here, in the middle of Main Street, at the crossroads of Nowhere and Not-Yet-There? We weren't even really shure where we were going ourselves, only that we needed to not be where we were.