Friday, May 20, 2011

100 prompts

I've decided to take on writing 100 prompts (10 minutes of fiction) between now and Labor Day. Here are the 100 prompts I've set for myself. If you're interested in playing this game, find a time most days when you can sit down and write (hand or computer) for 10 minutes a story or story beginning using this idea. I find it works easiest if I include the name of a character in the first sentence. Enjoy!

100 prompts

1. Road trip
2. Ice cream
3. Repetition
4. A key
5. Joni Mitchell
6. Accepting an invitation
7. Scars
8. In the scrapbook
9. It doesn’t work anymore
10. A house nobody lives in
11. Sitting in a car across the way
12. Changing your name
13. The hand that feeds you
14. The wall of not good enough
15. The long way around
16. The weight of sleep
17. The light was impossible
18. A crossroads
19. A stranger
20. The convenience store
21. What was forbidden
22. An expectation of pleasure
23. Mr. Bear
24. In the mirror
25. A map of his body
26. Drinking ice water in front of the heater
27. What she asked for
28. The last bicycle
29. Burning her hand
30. Grade school karma
31. Communion
32. Reunion
33. It was premature
34. The painting
35. Tired to the bone
36. Anonymous sex, unanimous sex
37. Sleight of hand
38. Out of sight, out of mind
39. If only
40. What if I had…
41. Bliss
42. Out the office window
43. Finding out the truth
44. Getting out the stain
45. Making the bed
46. In the airport
47. Better late than never
48. Doing without tea
49. The elephant under the bed
50. Scissors
51. Tuxedo cat
52. Gold mug
53. The checkbook
54. Sounds in the night
55. Clear sailing
56. The wind came up fast
57. The last of her friends to say something
58. They didn’t speak again
59. A yellow highlighter
60. On the bus headed downtown
61. She passed him at the corner
62. The right way
63. The right of way
64. A really bad idea
65. My pajamas
66. A separation from the beginning
67. Too many doors, not enough windows
68. We suffer well together
69. Falling on her like a stone
70. A dance partner
71. Young and empty
72. A hard thought
73. All the old voices
74. A dress that moved
75. When I broke the crystal on my watch
76. Too slow by half
77. In the studio in the dark
78. Red leather
79. What I thought at that moment
80. Cheerful beyond measure
81. Vision and revision
82. In a little town bar
83. The last aisle I walked down
84. Last seen
85. Moonrise over the coast of Maine
86. Holding it together
87. A toucan hanging from the ceiling
88. Red carnations, oeillets rouges
89. Van Gogh in the afternoon
90. Nicotine and diet soda
91. Overwhelmed by solitude
92. The oldest boy
93. Down the concrete corridor
94. Dancing to the kitchen
95. Restless deep in the bones
96. Wood and windows
97. Like the fools we were
98. Curly and stinky
99. Purple tulips
100 Her father’s disappointment

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Thoughtful creative idea

The secret of life is to have a task, something you devote your entire life to, something you bring everything to, every minute of the day for the rest of your life. And the most important thing is, it must be something you cannot possibly do. --Henry Moore, American sculptor

This quote from Henry Moore has been resonating with me all week. I've often admired those with a singular purpose: the painter who knew that was what she wanted from a young age, a dedicated scientist or engineer, humanitarians who have one goal. For me, it has been a quilted life of interests and passions that have evolved with along with my circumstances. I was a passionate student, a passionate teacher, and now I'm passionate about writing and creativity and their power to effect change in the world.

I also find his statement about "every minute of the day" daunting as I like a variety of things to happen in my day. But what I find most interesting is the last part of the quote, "something you cannot possibly do." The idea of dedicating ourselves to something that cannot be achieved, not completely, intrigues me for it pushes me to keep stretching, to keep trying new things, to keep learning and sorting and being in the process. This is a wonderful ode to the process as opposed to a focus on product.

For it is that process of being and doing that seems to me to be most central to the creative life, to the writing life. I want to be an explorer of the literary form, not a repeater of success. I want to let projects go when I've learned what I can and move on to a new one that has more to teach me, that keeps me pointed in the direction of "cannot possibly do."

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Thankful for support groups

Last Friday, during Writing Friday, I finally did something I've been putting off for over a year. I sent out queries to agents about my first novel, Witnessing the Creation. I finished the polished draft in December of 2009 and set it aside when I started the next novel, saying that I was unsure about marketing it. Truth was I was scared of rejection, scared of the effort I could put in for naught. And, it is more fun to write new material than it is to market something you're done with.

Earlier this month at the Second Tuesday Writers meeting, we talked at length about the value of having a concrete project, one that includes a number of some sort (number of pages, number of chapters, date of completion, etc.). I was headed off the next day to a writing retreat to work on novel #2 but I was unsure how much I could accomplish since I hadn't looked at it in over 4 months. But the group wasn't going to let me get away with that and they kept pressing me for a number of something. So I finally blurted out that I'd send 20 queries on Witnessing before we met again on June 14.

At that time, I had no idea how long a query would talk or how much work was involved, but I had put marketing Witnessing on my 2011 creative goals and I wanted to make a decision to move forward with it or let it go. (Not every writer does anything with that first trial novel.) In addition to setting my goal, I stated that I would spend at least half of each May Writing Friday getting it done.

Turned out I needed 5.5 hours to do the 20. For this first effort, I chose only those agents who were accepting email queries so I didn't have to do any printing or go to the post office. It was very tedious work as each agent asks for something a little different (letter, synopsis, first chapter OR letter, first 50 pages OR brief synopsis, bio, first 3 chapters) but I did it.

I was sorely tempted to use last Friday to keep up the momentum on novel #2 that I got at the beach but I just wanted that commitment to do 20 queries out of the way. And so I did them. So grateful for the support in my life that helps me hold myself accountable for what I say I want.