To A “T” [or Don’t Sweat It]

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Here’s me wearing my brother Bill’s Goddard Sweatshirt in the late 1970’s. Twenty years later, I’d choose Goddard for my M.F.A in Writing Program.

May 27, 2014  Prompt #27

It’s Day Two of The Writeous Sisters’ Clothing Week.  Today’s prompt can help you ground your writing with specific, sensory details and make stronger connections between the physical and philosophical.

Inspriational Attire

The weather is warming up here in Colorado and I’m finally switching out my fleece and wool for cotton. Because I live in a small house, I store bins of off-season clothes in my garage and swap them out twice a year.  It’s become a seasonal ritual, a time to contemplate the passage of time and cycles of life. It’s also a practical opportunity to donate or recycle clothes that are worn out or that I rarely wear.  The clothes  I have the hardest time parting with, even when they are stained or frayed, are T-shirts. So many of them are associated with a specific time or place in my life.

Instructions

  1. Choose a well-loved T-shirt or sweatshirt with a logo, image, or text on it. Or, find a photo of you wearing a favorite T-shirt. Conversely, you can choose one that you dislike or feel ambivalent about but still have kept.
  2. For five minutes, write a physical and factual description of the shirt. Describe its style, color, and condition. Where, when and how did you acquire it?
  3. Next, write the psychological and emotional history of the shirt. How do you feel wearing it? Proud, hardworking, part of a team? Nostalgic or bittersweet? Do you associate the shirt with a person, place, or stage of your life?  Tell your story.

Further Writing

  • If you are currently working on a novel, consider how clothing factors into it. Do any of the characters wear T-shirts? Can you deepen characterization by including one?
  • Write about a child who outgrows a favorite T-shirt.

Variations for Writing Groups

  1. Each member brings in one or two T-shirts. You can write about the shirt you brought or someone else’s.
  2. Imagine discovering this T-shirt in a box of old beach towels after not seeing it for 10 or 20 years. Write for 20 minutes. Considerations: Is the T-shirt yours or someone else’s? Where did you last see it? How does it smell? Do you try it on?

What did you think of this writing prompt? Share your thoughts.

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