Concentric

day one

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mural

circles 3

Because I recently facilitated the painting of a mural on the side of my garage, I have circles on my mind. For this mural, based on a Kandinsky painting, over 20 members of my cohousing community (plus a few neighbors) pitched in to paint a circle or two. Aged 3 to 60, the painters added their unique perspectives to the mural.

 

Today’s Prompt

Inspired by any of the circles depicted above, write about

  • Orbits. Real or symbolic.
  • Targets. Metaphorical and not metaphorical.
  • Things that Spin.
  • Enclosing and Being Enclosed.

Directions

  1. Write for 10 minutes without letting your pen off the paper. Write whatever comes to mind.
  2. When you finish, circle a favorite or a disturbing word or phrase and write it on the top of a new piece of paper.
  3. Write for 15 minutes more.

Stumped? Try including a conversation between two strangers, a man spinning on the ice, a woman spinning a top, or a child rolling down hill.

Children, War, and Memory

sirIn her book Sir, HR Hegnauer writes with quiet, stirring, and at times hilarious power about her grandfather (Sir) and her grandmother (Mrs. Alice). Her rich glimpses of the past reveal how her grandparents formed and informed her childhood and young adulthood.

Sir is about human connection and disconnection, about bodies and gender, and, largely, about memory—its ability and its fallibility.

On page nine, Hegnauer writes about war:

I learned about war for the first time in the first grade. We had just started fighting in the Persian Gulf. Mrs. Thom said that we wouldn’t hear any bombs, but that they were real, and they were dangerous — more dangerous than anything we’d ever hope to know. I remember her telling me that we had never lost a war before, and that this was something to be proud of. When I walked home from school that day, Matt told me that not only had we never lost, but that we had never actually been to war until now. I told Sir that we had never been to war before, and now we’re in the Gulf, but don’t be afraid because we won’t actually hear any bombs. I told him like I was an expert on the politics of war. He said, then what the hell was I doing in 1944? I said, I don’t know. Maybe it was only a battle and not actually a war. Sir looked at me. I remember this look for sure like he’s looking at me right now.

Writing Prompt: Write about your earliest memory or understanding of war.

Considerations and Suggestions
As Hegnauer does above, include conversation or dialogue between yourself and another child and/or yourself and another adult.

• Include concrete details, accurate or not.
• Infuse doubt.
• As always, experiment with form and point-of-view.
• Write for 20 minutes.

For more about Sir and HR Hegnauer’s writing, click here and here .

Sir
HR Hegnauer
Portable Press @ YoYo Labs
2013, 96 pp., 6″ x 9″
Poetry
$16.00 Paper, 978-0-615-23100-6
Cover illustration by Brenda Iijima

The House with Porthole Window

DSCN0375 Today’s Prompt

Write a poem, flash fiction piece or the beginning of a story inspired by this photo.

Incorporate at least four of these words: rough  pie  slant  oboe smooth dirt bolt  round   home   worn   road  deserted  once must  broom

Write for 15 minutes.

 

 

 

Tick Tock

Wednesday, July 28, 2014  •  Prompt #87

photo

 

 

The element of time often adds suspense and welcome tension to writing. For this prompt, write about two people who agree to meet under this clock at 3 p.m.

 

 

 

Suggestions and Considerations

  • Describe the day’s weather. How does that influence the story?
  • Do the two people already know each other?
  • Is one person new to the City? Is one a long-time resident?
  • Why have they chosen the clock as a meeting place?
  • Write for 15 minutes.

More Writing Options

  • Write a piece where one person is wealthy and one is broke.
  • Write about an illegal or illicit transaction.
  • Write a piece in which the second person never arrives.
  • Write a piece in which the second person brings a third person.
  • Write a piece in which the first person is holding a box.

 

 

Animal Tendencies

Tuesday, July 27, 2014  •  Prompt #86

tapir

 

Write a poem or flash fiction piece inspired by a vintage illustration of an animal. Click here for illustrations or look for prints at a used book shop or library.

 

 

Suggestions

  • Use specific, concrete details.
  • Capture a moment in time.
  • As (almost) always, use sensory details.

More Writing Options

  • Try shifting perspective once or twice within the work.
  • Write the piece as a traditional ode.
  • Write as if you are someone who has never seen this animal before.

 

bear2

Here’s a piece I wrote influenced by both a bear safety pamphlet and this bear illustration.

 

Ursus

Honey,
bears eat
twigs bugs fruit insects fish carrion.
Small mammals.

Stay close.

Look for these signs:
turned stones
disruption
of decayed logs stumps and berry patches.
Tooth and claw high on trees.

She is not far off.

Honey,
bears do not go
into true hibernation.
Sleep is not deep
body
temperature only
a few degrees
below

Torpor
in caves, crevices,
fallen trees.

Den with me.

 

© Ellen Orleans 2012

 

 

 

 

sur-real-ly

Monday, July 28, 2014  •  Prompt #85

DSCN5996_2

 

Today’s Prompt

Write a poem or short fiction piece in a surreal or magic realism style. This genre introduces supernatural or unbelievable events or abilities into in an otherwise everyday realistic environment. (However you define that!)

Option #1: Write a new piece.

Option #2: Take an existing piece and add a supernatural element to it.

 

Need more inspiration?  Try one of these options.

  1. A child comes home from school to discover his twin brother in his bedroom. When he left for school that day, he didn’t have a twin brother.
  2. An urban community garden produces vegetables no one planted and no one recognizes. What happens when an 80-year-old woman takes some home and makes vegetable soup?
  3. A janitor spills a new cleaning solution on her hands and discovers she can read people’s thoughts. Or heal people’s illnesses. Or …?
  4. A character wakes up to find he’s turned into a cockroach. (Oh wait, that’s been done.)

Looking for surreal realism inspiration?  Read work by these two authors: Aimee Bender and Frankie Elizabeth Rollins.

 

Button Holed

Sunday, July 27, 2014  •  Prompt #84

black buttons

 

 

Today’s Prompt

Write about buttons.

 

 

 

 

Instructions

  1. Find two or three buttons.
  2. Hold them in your hand.
  3. Describe their weight, color, texture and material.
  4. What is your response seeing or touching these buttons?
  5. Write for 20 minutes.

Options and Springboards

  • Write about a button found on the sidewalk.
  • Write about an absent button, missing from a coat or sleeve.

Writing Group Options

  1. Each group member brings several buttons to writing group.
  2. Put them all in the middle of the table.
  3. Choose one to write about.
  4. Fashion a poem, story or creative non-fiction piece around it.