Writing Prompt: A Snapshot

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Those Teeny Hands

Little dude is curious. His little hands reach for everything, and everything they grab moves right into his mouth. His very watery, drooly, teething baby mouth. Sometimes he stops playing and notices his hands. He holds them in front of his face, turns them over, wiggles his fingers. Pulls on one hand with the other. Then, suddenly bored, he slaps his hands against his thighs and starts singing.

At this stage in life, it isn't even accurate to say that time is flying. Life is moving so quickly I barely even register the moments before they're gone. I cannot keep up.

Just wait until he's crawling!

Wait until he can walk--then you'll really be in trouble!

My little man cannot do either of these exciting things yet, but I've been duly warned of the chaos I can expect when he masters the ability to move on his own. He is a very active baby, and certainly wants to be able to get up and go, no help from Momma. So, while it lasts, here are some things I'm relishing about these moments when so much remains beyond his grasp.


We can leave things laying about the house, without worrying about him grabbing:

  • Dad's headphones, all four pairs of them, strewn about.
  • The dog's toys. All the dog's toys. Though she will love the day she can play tug-of-war with him.
  • Glasses of tea, glasses of water, glasses of wine.
  • Mom's heavy reference books, stacked on tables and chairs.
  • Cords. Cords for everything. Everything has a cord.

He hasn't discovered the fun of pulling all his clean socks out of his dresser and throwing them on the floor.

But, the socks on his feet are fair game. So those never last more than a few minutes.

Often the nearest things within reach are Mom & Dad's hands. So we get to enjoy the heartwarming tug of our son holding on with everything he's got quite often. I know these days are numbered: Momma's hands have nothing on the exciting dog toys he can't yet get to.

But sometimes, the nearest thing is Momma's hair. Ouch. 

Sometimes, though. Sometimes those little hands grab onto our ears and pull us in close for a long, sloppy kiss on the cheek (or chin, or nose...he's working on his aim) while he's singing. They're sneak-attack kisses, never predictable, always welcomed. <3

Writing Prompt: A Snapshot

This week, take a snapshot with words. Describe one moment of a scene, a moment of life-or-death decision making, a moment of love.

Write the start of a scene, or the middle, or the end. Write it several ways, with several narrators, no narrator.

Write a moment of character action. Write several moments of character action.

Or use the prompt to record a memory of a general time. That's what I'll be using the prompt for this week, to practice writing about this ephemeral time in my life that I'd very much like to hold on to.

Send me your snapshot, let me know if it blossoms into something larger.

--Stephanie

 

 

 

 

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Writing Prompt: Train of Thought/Stream of Consciousness

This week's prompt: write a character's internal monologue (or dialogue!)/train of thought. I'll be practicing this with punctuation this week, then attempting true stream of consciousness a bit later, if I can force myself to work at it. Never shrink from a challenge, right? I've always found it particularly difficult to hit the right balance of writing text that stays relevant to the topic/situation at hand and also feels like unrestrained thought progression. Disclaimer: It's my least favorite writing to read as well (see Tristram Shandy). My attention wanders away too easily without the structuring boundaries of punctuation and paragraph. In need of more practice, practice, practice!

On a related note, shout out to Henry Fielding for instructing his readers to take a break now & then. Joseph Andrews is one of my faves, a good read for a nice, long summer vacation. If you find yourself with a case of insomnia, Tristram Shandy is actually quite entertaining.

 

If this prompt isn't providing much inspiration today, check out my other prompts here

 

 

The Quiet Hours

They do exist, believe it or not. There are moments in the day where the house falls silent. The dog leaves her post at the window and picks up her bone, satisfied that the threats have been scared off. The baby sleeps deeply. These are the moments to pounce on "work." I find that I am most productive in the early morning hours and late evening. This stage of life is quite full during the daylight hours. Full of everything. Of squeaks and giggles, barks and wrestling. Of errands and cooking. Housework and conversation. Frustrations and milestones. It looks like life, sounds like life, feels like life. It is good.

However, some work must be done in order to support all this living. It's rather difficult to work or create in the midst of all of these moments. So I bide my time until peace descends. Keep mental notes and handwritten ones. And then, I work. I don't always feel that I have enough time to accomplish what I'd like to, or to calmly weigh options for days as I once could. 

I gather my tea, my m&ms, and my slippers. I boot up my laptop and soak in the steam from the tea as I wait for the blinking place-holder line to appear in Word. At times, there are empty pages to fill. More often, there are full pages to screen, searching out homophones and typos. Preventing technicalities from ruining the essence of a piece. 

I don't merely "work for the weekend," usually. I love my work and it fuels me throughout the day. Writing and editing for myself or editing for others keeps me engaged in the world beyond my small circle of home, friends, and family. It keeps me learning, researching, fighting to make a difference in the world.

That's what writing does. The written word can change the world. It does so quite often. 

Does the way you write affect what you write?

I find that when writing by hand, I am able to get into the flow of things much more easily. I can find that sweet spot where my pen becomes an extension of my brain and I don't even register the words that I write until I've written them. Of course, much of this material ends up on the cutting floor, but then doesn't much of ALL material end up there? Still, writing by hand makes the act of writing feel more natural and relaxing. It also circumvents self-censorship long enough to get the heart of my scene/description/line of reasoning out into the light of day.  As I watch the pages fill with my neat, less neat, and out-right sloppy script, I feel progress happening. Literally. I feel it in my fingers. This becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. I think I am being productive, so I am inspired to continue working, and end up being productive.

My most effective process looks something like this:

  1. Write, by hand, whatever words flow from the pen. À la good old "guess and go" spelling.
  2. Read.
  3. Make some changes by hand.
  4. Type what I've written, editing and rewriting as I go along.
  5. Print and edit by hand again. 

I know some can edit on-screen, and that works for me for catching glaring typos and things I can easily resolve on the fly. But for developmental editing and reorganization, I need the spatial representation of the content changes and relocations. I find I am too easily distracted when editing in digital form. 

What about you? What does your writing process look like? What works, what doesn't? Let me know!

--Stephanie

Writing Prompt: First Mode of Transportation

Her plastic car was scraped and scuffed along every side and every corner. The sun had faded the top of its yellow roof and scorched the red door handles. This was the plastic car who could. It was scrappy. It had survived the great traffic incident of 1992, when her cousin collided head-on with his sister's bicycle and bounced into their mother's car. This collision left the driver's side door streaked with white paint and the front bumper forever dented above the painted-on headlights. This guy had survived years with her cousins and was now finally hers! She couldn't believe her good luck. She raced around the driveway, scooting along, Fred Flintstone-style, feeling the breeze in her hair and the sun on her arms. Suddenly the car lurched to a stop. She exclaimed in confusion and discomfort--her right foot had pushed off with more force than her left foot was prepared for--and now it was caught under her plastic car seat. She wiggled this way and that, but she was stuck. No mistaking it. She pouted as she realized how long she'd have to wait for assistance. Her mom was all the way at the bottom of the drive! She was running up, but by the time she got to little miss, she could have circled the playhouse three times! She may have to let the bad guys escape this time, but next time, she'll be on to them...