Sunday, February 22, 2009

Prompt Me!


I’ve said it before. I’ll say it again: I love prompts. A good prompt is a jolt to my creativity. It gets me thinking of stories I wouldn’t have imagined otherwise. I look for prompts everywhere. In snippets of overheard conversation. In writer’s magazines and websites. In the Theme Calendar on Duotrope’s Digest.

One of my favorite sources for prompts is the Writer’s Digest Your Story contest. WD provides a prompt, then asks readers to submit a 750 word story based on the prompt. Some are silly, some are serious, but they’re almost always thought-provoking.

With the last issue, it finally registered that WD culled their prompts from a book: The Writer’s Book of Matches: 1001 Prompts to Ignite Your Fiction. I decided to buy a copy. And I’ve become rather annoying with it. I’ve sent prompts, unsolicited, to my nearest and dearest writing buddies. And I’ve taken the book to share at my writer’s workshop. Plain and simple, this is a great book. I can’t wait to get the most from it.

So far, I’ve just browsed it and admired the creativity driving them. But I’ve decided to go one step further. Starting today, I’m going to do a prompt-a-day freewrite. I plan to go through the prompts in order, one at a time. And I’m going to find a way to approach each that stretches my creativity, yet remains true to myself as a writer.

For anyone who wishes to join me, here’s prompt #1. Good luck and good writing. May the muse shine on you.

“Well, if you could accuse anybody of being downright evil, it would be him.” (From The Writer’s Book of Matches: 1001 Prompts to Ignite Your Fiction. Writer’s Digest Books, 2005.)

Friday, February 13, 2009

Take it Slow


It’s been a rough couple weeks here. (Hence, no posts.) First, darling daughter came down with some strange virus. Within days, my husband and I had it, too. I won’t bore you with the details. But suffice to say we’re still recuperating. We’re moving slowly here. But then, I’ve never thought slow was bad.

The older I get, the more I like slow. There’s beauty in slow, a kind of gentle reverence. Like taking long walks with my husband under the waning autumn sun. Or spaghetti sauce that bubbles noisily on the stove all day. I like how daffodils are slow to uncurl their fists in spring. I like the unhurried way snowflakes drift to the ground.

But perhaps the nicest thing about how slowly we’re moving lately is the time it’s given me to savor some recent successes. This week, for all its frustrations, has brought exciting news.

“Twenty Years Later” has been selected for The Best of Boston Literary Magazine chapbook. That news makes me happy. The story, a drabble, was originally published by BLM last summer. Now, like so many of my works, it seems to be finding a second chance at life. I like second chances, with its connotation of both past and present. A chance at redemption for those of us who don’t always get things right the first time.

Just as exciting, I had good news from On the Premises. “The Market” has been awarded an Honorable Mention in their recent Again-themed short fiction contest. I win on multiple levels here: a cash prize and the publication of a story that cuts close to my heart. I’m not sure when it will be published, but safe to say, you’ll see the news posted here.

So I sniffle and celebrate, sip tea and ruminate. (illness has left me tritely poetic) Things are good now, even if they aren’t perfect. But the sniffles will pass and the successes remain. For now I bask in them and watch for what’s next.