August 14, 2020 Carol Brennan King

Indeed, it is vacation, a different vacation, but a vacation, nonetheless. Our Zoom writing classes will not resume for nearly four weeks, September 9th to be precise, but I do hope you have been writing. Since I am also taking a class which has no vacation, well maybe the weekends are vacations with no required reading, I am writing every day. Now I understand the value of prompts. Sometimes it is hard to get started.

I still have a book project that haunts me, but I decided I would set that aside for a bit and follow the assignments for the class. To that end, I now have a file folder full of new poetry and a few essays. I will share a piece or two here, but if you are struggling to get your writer engine started, I will share a few prompts you might want to play with.

Find a quiet place, even in a noisy coffee shop you can find your own inner quiet space, and write. If you are having trouble getting started, try one of these prompts.

And if the first one you try doesn’t work, try another. Write until you feel done for the moment. Easy peasy! The piece at the end is what came out when my prof gave me a prompt.

  1. I remember the summer that we…..
  2. Who is that person in the mirror? The one standing behind me?
  3. I really love the work of ……………………because
  4. …………….really made me think.
  5. I will never forget when
  6. Casually, I walked over casually because I didn’t want…..
  7. The hardest thing about writing is……
  8. If I had ………………….right now, writing would be so much easier.
  9. My mentor is…………because…………
  10. I think I could help……………………..

If one of these prompts helps to light your fire, and you want to share it, please feel free to send it to me.

This is what happened when my teacher gave me these prompts:

  • What I knew was
  • What I didn’t know was

What I knew was that I loved writing. Or maybe I loved feeling and that made me want to write. I remember often the day that we took a ride into the mountains, up a twisty road, maybe once a deer path, a cow path, perhaps even an ancient Indian path up through the narrow gorge deeper and higher into the mountains, and suddenly light opened up before us. The sky opened up deep blue above us, and the mountain rested and fell away on our left side.

Farms splayed out before us, one road on tiptoes found its way into the valley and brave souls trekked into the hollow, and I think a father planted a log cabin and planted corn and wheat and his wife in her pioneer dress planted beans and potatoes and squash and onions. They had sons who planted their own cabins up and down the road, and they pulled out tree stumps and pulled out stones they piled into straight fences, and they bought a cow or two that grew to herds of milk cows. The father and sons filled milk cans and loaded them on the back of wagons, and horses pulled the wagon load up the side of the valley and down the mountain into town to sell. The men would shop the list tucked into their chest pockets, calico for a dress or shoes for the children, bib overalls for the men in the field, or tools to work the earth, tea and sugar, those bits of life that could not be grown there in the valley.

I can see it all happen inside the white houses, three along that road now, and the great white barns, old red tractors and trucks and plows behind the barns, newer and shinier ones lining the road.

I want to go down the road and talk to the old farmer, the son of the son of the son who built the log cabin, but I fear he would think I was up to something bad, so I won’t, and I will mourn those lost stories.

What I didn’t know was that there were so many people like me, people who thought they could not write well enough to be published, so it would be a secret they kept….or they taught others to write…or they coached others to write, but they thought their own writing could not really matter because no one asked to hear it again. No one wanted to listen to the heart beating in every word.

Happy Writing Week!

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