Friday, November 28, 2014

Gratitude and gumbo

I hope you had a wonderful thanksgiving if you celebrate the holiday and are reading this. My Thanksgiving was quiet. My husband and I didn't travel as planned, so we ended up going to the Riverwalk, and after a short walk I settled in for some gumbo at Luke. Check out that gumbo... man, good stuff. My husband had the more traditional Thanksgiving dinner shown below my beautiful bowl of gumbo. We had a fantastic time, though I missed my friends and family quite a lot. 

After dinner, for some reason, we decided we wanted to buy Christmas lights, and what was open? You got it. Walmart. Bad, bad, bad, bad idea. We walked in and walked out. Did I mention it was a bad idea? It was. 

I have mixed feelings about Thanksgiving. I love the fact that we celebrate in the spirit of gratitude, but the association of binge eating then relaxing, Al Bundy-style, on the couch for hours afterward is enough to feed the global image of American gluttony. Nonetheless, food is fascinating. I watch the Food Network regularly and love to eat and totally understand why so many celebrations come together with food (massive amounts or no). The ritual aspect makes for a good prompt.

Sensory prompt: Write about a celebratory ritual through the preparation of food. The eating itself isn't nearly as important as the cooking - use the prep, the cutting, the baking, the aromas, the conversation, the roles in and outside of the kitchen as your way of progressing time, and portraying a group of people gathered for celebration. Anytime there's a group, family, work, yoga class, college... there is opportunity for conflict as well, so just allow that part to develop on its own. 

Have a wonderful holiday weekend! Relax and eat, if not too much, just enough. Savor the time and the people around you. xo

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Room Mag

Well, actually, I'd also like a bunch of material things, such as some new clothes and teas and coffees and maybe a gift certificate or two to a decent restaurant so that I can entertain my fantasy of being a real-life "foodie" and not just live vicariously as I watch the Food Network.

I'm caught up in my wants today for some reason. I blame early Christmas commercials, the music, the wreaths... all of this makes me think of presents. Not just receiving, mind you, but giving as well. I love giving gifts. I enjoy watching someone unwrap whatever material thing I have injected with good intentions and love, especially when the present hits the mark and earns a genuine smile.

As I make my list this year, I can't help but think lists are an excellent device for creative writing. In nonfiction, Lena Dunham's Not That Kind of Girl uses this device expertly. Leonard Michaels' "In the Fifties" is a good example as well, a listing that becomes a sketch of a narrator's experience of an era. 

I think it would make a good prompt for fiction. Each list item can help the progression and smooth out an otherwise more erratic delivery. I'm going to do this prompt with you, that is, if you do it...

Write a short list of presents, for Christmas or whatever holiday/birthday that best suits your purpose:
John, socks - silly-themed socks
Candie, self-help books
George, flavored hot chocolates
Mark, a wallet with a foreign coin in it
Terra, crystals and books on crystals, a candle
Then, beneath each character and present designation, write out the narrator's reasoning--a short sketch that introduces both the person and this person's relationship to the narrator. The challenge is to see if you can tie it all together at the end (a neat little bow, if you will).

Let me know if it's successful. Let me know if it's a disaster. Whatever, I think it will be fun.

I haven't reported much writing news lately, but you know how nothing happens for a while, then bam! There it all is? Well, something like that is going down, so I'll post updates soon. Work is forthcoming in Superstition Review, Sleet Magazine, Room Magazine, and there may be a fiction collection in the near future. Stay tuned...

xo Jen

Observations: Dublin Vacation

Dublin seemed the obvious destination. We would be close to various restaurants and tourist attractions. It would be easy to call a cab or...