Sunday, October 26, 2014

2014 Halloween prompt

I hope your week was fantastic. Mine was eventful. My husband arrived home after approximately five weeks of travel. He had visited various places in Europe, came back to the states briefly for a trade show in Vegas, then went to Australia and New Zealand. Being alone in our new place was quite nice the first few weeks, then it started getting old and, as you can see from my previous entry, with boredom comes ill-conceived landscaping. (Helpful tip: If you just keep adding mulch, eventually things work out.)

My new fiction writing class began this week. I have 28 students this term, and I am excited to see what they can do. I am also excited to return to my Rattle novel. I have a lot of opportunities in the works concerning completed work, so I am also awaiting many answers... This place of unknowing is both fun and torturous. I know this is all vague, but hopefully good news to come.

You know, I don't usually know what I'm going to suggest as a writing prompt until I get to this point in my blog, but this makes the challenge fun. I usually just draw from whatever I'm thinking about or recently did. Yesterday, I went to a Halloween party and had to improvise my outfit (see right) because my original (a Mona Lisa get-up) hadn't arrived in time. Thanks to a few YouTube videos, Tim Burton, and a lot of experimenting, I put together a costume. My husband bought a mask, and we were set. There were quite a few people at this party, and the costumes were so good that we didn't recognize the folks we knew. Not recognizing who you're speaking with could lead to conflict in the right situation. Bingo! We have a prompt.

Write a story about two characters who know each other. One begins confiding in the other, not realizing who the other is. Go!

Since next weekend is Halloween proper, if you write to this and you'd like me to post your story  (or part of it as a teaser), let me know. 

Sunday, October 19, 2014


"If one really loves nature, one can find beauty everywhere.”
-Vincent van Gogh

It has been an interesting week. While my husband is away, now in New Zealand and his time away adding up to about five weeks, I have been getting a little stir crazy. This is partly because I had an outpatient surgery on my ear to remove an ill-placed and "suspicious" mole (redhead problems and, yes, partly why I was drawn to the van Gogh quote). I have been rather irritated by nagging (but not horrible) pain and an inability to wear my hair up comfortably while it heals. 

Meanwhile, I was thrilled to find one of my most personal and intimate pieces of fiction (originally an essay that I decided to get a little more experimental with) was accepted into a notable magazine. More on that soon. And it looks like my first column will be coming out in Fiction Southeast in November (first and second, as it stands now). So the good with the bad. 

To occupy my mind and keep myself busy to distract myself from my ear, I've been doing some yard work. Some pretty shoddy yard work, so much so I don't want to post pics. Okay, here are some pics. I mean... even the one bundle of San Antonio-appropriate flowers I bought is dying after a matter of weeks. I started pouring mulch over dead grass and hoping for the best, and that hasn't worked out so well yet either. 

Perhaps, like most of my artistic ventures, it will eventually morph into something tolerable looking, or I'll just have to tinker forever and the phases will come and go. No matter, I love my backyard.  

Much as I continue to tinker in that wonderful mess you see above, so goes the same for the writing. Writers have to start and restart again. It's the nature of our art, and the trick (as I see it) is just getting started.

Instead of giving you a scenario for a writing prompt today, I thought I'd pick a line and say, "Go!" A friend of mine from undergrad, playwright Jennifer Roberts, suggested this practice one day a long time ago, wherein we would grab a favorite book, open to a random passage, point, write a sentence and say, "Go!" Then, we'd start the timers and write. Clear stories or nonsensical ramblings, it didn't matter. Sometimes we'd share our work, other times not. No pressure, just creation. So, here we go...  

It is hardly surprising that so many people lose their tempers with so many other people. 

-Shirley Jackson, "About Two Nice People"

Write this sentence down, then set the timer for 20 minutes and Go!

*If you have any ideas for the backyard, I'll all ears (well... kind of)

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Loosen up

Massage should be covered under everyone's preventative care plans. I truly believe this. That said, when I get a massage, which I try to do as often as finances allow to offset the time I'm hunched over a computer, the therapist always tells me I should come back more often or come back for a longer session next time or try cupping or try hot stones... This is probably part of the routine, the up-sell. But what's not part of the routine is the crunchy, stuck, tight muscles around my shoulders, which don't seem to loosen up, no matter who I go to. I breathe into the muscles deeply, take baths with salts and relaxing bubbles, meditate... nothing helps. More than a few times, I've heard, "Your muscles are the tightest I've seen on a person your size." I've also heard, "You're almost as bad as the bodybuilders that come in." Seeing as how I lift weights once a month, maybe, if I can get on the floor long enough to do a few 5 lb raises to strengthen my triceps before the dog starts walking on my face, the comparison isn't complimentary as much as worrisome. 

On the occasion I am able to get a massage, I always ask the therapist the same thing to divert attention from my stubborn muscles. "I bet you have stories, eh? What's your craziest?" Inevitably, there's an affirmative, and often a story. Herein is this week's prompt:

A massage therapist, male or female, is working on a client who doesn't follow protocol. What does the client do or say? How does the therapist react? Is there awkward small talk? Confrontation? Take it where it goes, and end with the client getting dressed, the therapist outside the door, waiting with a plastic cup of water.    

I'm going to work on my ergonomics and stretching routine this week. I wish you comfort. 
xo Jen

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