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Everything about this workshop was perfect. From the instructor to the prompts to my fellow writers, I enjoyed every single second of it. Mostly, I loved how quickly I found what I needed. For over a year, I've been freelancing. I ghostwrite for numerous clients on UpWork and, while I do enjoy my work, I absolutely hate how little time I have for my own projects. It's not uncommon for me to throw up my hands and scream "I can't do this anymore!" while my husband chuckles softly in the background (You see, he's been telling me to focus on my own stuff for MONTHS now). Finally, when I really couldn't take it anymore, I signed up for a workshop and the rest is, well, this entire hub...
Truthfully, I used to hate prompt writing, but with a jam packed schedule, a home to keep up, and a demanding one year old, sometimes prompts are the only things that can get me going. I'm sure I'm not the only writer in the world with these same struggles so I wanted to share a few of the things I took away from the workshop.
“A use for broken eggshells”
What I wrote in the 3 minutes given:
So many things from the world before are still present in my everyday life. Only now, they’re hidden, obscured by the strangeness of this new world. When I look at the door that separates me from the rest of my people I see faint sparkles. So faint that I sometimes wonder if I’m imagining them. When I remember the day this door was made, I know I’m not. I watched at Shawn dismantled the mirror my grandmother gave me. If I close my eyes, I can still see the mirror hanging in my childhood bedroom, my innocent reflection staring back at me. It, like so many other things, are now shattered. Sometimes I wish they were gone for good, that they had simply vanished from my life. Then, maybe it wouldn’t hurt so much. Maybe, just maybe, the constant reminders of what was wouldn’t cripple me.
For this prompt I wasn't able to write something complete because, well, timing. Still, it was nice to see what I could start in just three minutes of writing.
“Something not scary that is scary for the main character” or “Something insignificant that is the most important thing to the main character”
What I wrote (This time we had a little longer to write):
I could hear her crying in the living room. More than anything, I wanted to rush out to hold her, but the pain in my abdomen cemented me to the bathroom floor. After six hours of this pain, I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t think. All I wanted was sleep, for exhaustion to overtake me, swallow me whole until the pain was gone forever.
By hour seven she was asleep. Snoring sweetly in her crib. I was still on the bathroom floor, clutching my stomach, tears flowing freely down my cheeks. He was there. Holding my hand. Whispering words that meant nothing into my ear while I prayed for something, anything that would bring relief.
Hour eight and I was on my stomach, sobbing. Just one second, please. One moment to breathe. To feel okay again. One moment where I could stand up straight. Relax my muscles. Breathe.
Hour nine came and went. I’d given up. Blankets were wrapped tightly around my body, my head rested on a soft pillow. The pain continued until my eyes closed and finally, I slept.
When I woke, the pain was gone and I knew. It was over. The baby growing inside of me was gone.
My daughter was still asleep in her crib. My husband was awake, sitting up in bed, watching me sleep. I limped to the bathroom to wipe myself clean. Turning to face the mirror I saw that my breasts were engorged, dripping my morphine infected milk down my stomach.
Of all the pain and fear I’d felt the night before. The anguish and desperation. The panic and anger. Nothing broke me like the sight of my milk leaking onto the floor, wasted and forgotten.
My body was failing. Failing at the things it was made to do. I could no longer nurse my own child. I couldn’t keep a hold of the one inside me. My knees hit the ground, my body failing in its ability to stand. I held my hands out, letting the milk wash over them as the world around me went dark.
I loved this prompt because, for the first time in months, I was able to write something start to finish in one sitting. Obviously, it needs some editing and proofreading, but to complete a story in such a short amount of time was amazing!
“Open the story with ‘About a year after we moved into our new home, I found these (animal magnets or tiny hand finger puppets) under our fridge.’"
What I wrote:
“About a year after we moved into our new home, I found a collection of animal magnets hidden underneath the fridge. I know I probably should have cleaned behind the fridge sooner than a year after moving in, but let’s face it, I was just too damn lazy. So I didn’t. When I saw the magnets I thought, this is great! Now I have some cute magnets to hang up those horrendous paintings my talentless niece loves to do! I mean, seriously, can we just take a moment to wonder why my idiot sister thinks I actually like getting those paintings? Has anyone, in the history of civilization ever actually enjoyed a child’s art? Maybe they have and I’m just a terrible fucking person which is probably why it took me a year to clean under the damn fridge. So, I found these magnets and got super excited until I looked at them a little closer and saw random red smudges all over them. Thinking it was crayon that another person’s talentless niece decided to use to deface said cute magnets, I tried to wipe it off with my fingernail. Then, and you aren’t going to believe this shit, I realized that it wasn’t crayon at all. It was dried fucking blood. There was dried blood on the damn magnets. So, naturally, I flung the things across the room because I don’t want that shit near me. I washed my hands like eighteen times before I used a paper towel to pick up the previously thrown magnets. Once they were safely burned to a crisp in my fireplace I sat on my couch and stared at the wall trying to figure out how in the fuck someone managed to drench animal magnets in blood. What the hell kind of person lived in this house before me? My mind raced as I tried to figure out if there was some kind of murder here. I mean, all I could think was that I was currently sharing a home with these ghosts who died in front of a cute little giraffe and an elephant. What a terrible way to go. The only company you have in your last moments are animal magnets and, of course, the person who is murdering you. Then, I wondered if the ghosts were there, in the room with me. Right fucking then. What if they saw me burn the magnets and decided they hated me because I torched their little friends? What if they were, in that very moment, planning my demise? My next thought was that I needed to move. So, I am. And that’s why I’m here. In your office. I hope you’re a better real estate agent than the last bitch I met with because she let me move into a house where people with cute little magnets get fucking murdered.”
This was my favorite prompt of the workshop. I was able to play around with voice and create something I feel is really great! I love flash fiction and this, more than anything, made me feel like I was back on track with my own work.
“‘What Kayla doesn’t know about me yet’ - my character”
What I wrote:
My name is Hadley. I spent my life running. From my mom. From my older brother. From myself. That’s why, when it came time to run for my life, I was more prepared than most. I can still feel the dog’s hot breath on my ankles as I sprinted through the forest. I’ve never felt so desperate. There was a tree just ahead of me. Right in the middle of my chosen path. I knew I had to either swerve around it or climb it. I didn’t ever make the decision. Not consciously. One second I was running, the next I was jumping. My hands collided with the bark of the tree, my nails digging in so far I bled. I kicked my feet, trying desperately to catch hold of something that would propel me further up. I thought I was going to fall. The dogs would be on me, their teeth tearing into my flesh. I thought I was going to die. Until I didn’t. Until I felt my feet catch hold of the tree and I could force my body to climb. I climbed so fast I couldn’t breathe. My hands grasped at limbs, my feet shoved against any solid surface. Much sooner than I expected, I was safely hidden amongst the leaves. The dogs below could smell me. Their owners couldn’t see me, but I could hear them. They were trying to decide what to do. One of them said to cut the tree down. The other said to wait me out, that I would have to come down eventually. I couldn’t think of anything to do. My eyes scanned the trees around me and a thought entered my brain. A crazy, irrational, borderline suicidal thought. I didn’t give myself time to question it. I turned toward the tree closest to me. My body spun, my knees bent. For the second time that night, I jumped.
I’m used to running. It’s what I do best. It’s what I’ve always done best. I’ve never been one to take a leap of faith. I’ve never been one to jump into any situation. When I leapt from that tree, I didn’t know if I was going to live or die. Hell, sometimes I still don’t know if I actually died out there and this is all just some elaborate purgatory the universe cooked up to test me. All I know is I jumped from one tree to another. Then another. And another. I jumped and now, nothing will ever be the same.
This prompt was designed to help us with a current project. It was extremely helpful and aided in me, finally, finishing a story I'd had on the back burner for years!
“Forgetting a Meeting”
TEN WORDS OR LESS
What I wrote:
Down the rabbit hole I went, late again.
Without apology, I kept driving, not giving a damn.
She was still waiting for me to be someone new.
Before she died we were to meet, but we didn’t.
Ten words or less is HARD! But, this was still a fun prompt to experiment with.
Sometimes we all need a little push in the direction of creativity and this workshop was exactly what I needed! I hope some of these prompts will help my fellow writers move forward with their work! :)