Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Day After Christmas & Other Writing Prompts

You know you're exhausted. You're shopped out, tired of your relatives, sick of whatever left-overs are left, and you can't get that singing dog Christmas song out of your head. Don't worry--the post-Christmas syndrome will pass soon. If not, the New Year's Day hang-over usually takes care of it. In the meantime, put up your feet, pick a prompt, and write for ten minutes about....

--The day after Christmas....
--The writing project I'd like to finish in 2009 is....
--Janet appreciated the gift. It was thoughtful and expensive, but she had no idea what to do with a ....
--What are your plans for New Year's Eve? What's the most memorable NYE you remember?
Photo courtesy of Mario Alberto Magallanes Trejo at

Friday, December 19, 2008

A Batch of Christmas Prompts

Are you ready for the big day next week? If not, maybe one of today’s prompts will help lift your yuletide spirits. Pick a prompt and write for ten minutes without stopping. Do your best not to cross out or backspace; don’t worry about spelling or punctuation.

--For Christmas dinner, Elaine decided to be different and serve….
--In Gertrude’s opinion, Christmas was far too….
--Did you ever have your picture taken with Santa?
--The pretty snow turned into a blizzard, which meant….
--Do you get all of your pictures printed promptly, or is it like a trip back in time when you get to see those images again?
Photo courtesy of Mark Barner at

Monday, December 15, 2008

Writing Group Meeting Dates for December

The Just Write Writing Group will meet as usual this week, Wednesday, December 17, 2008. We'll be on break for the holidays on December 24 and December 31. Regular meetings will resume on January 7, 2009. If you're a Las Vegas writer who would like more information about our writing group, please e-mail me.

Happy Holidays!
Photo courtesy of Lynne Lancaster at

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Recluse in the Making

Somehow, I’ve developed a dislike of talking on the phone. I decided to write about it, thinking that perhaps my phone aversion has something to do with being a writer, but I concluded that this phone thing reflects a deeper issue. I’m afraid it’s one more sign that I may be a recluse in the making. As I pondered my dislike of the phone, I had to admit that it is because I’d rather communicate in writing. I’m better on paper than I am in person. In person, I can’t press the backspace key. When I’m writing, I get to delete and edit scenes, sentences, and words, but in person this is not possible. On paper, I can explain things. In person, I just look like an idiot. Of course, then I get to write about my experiences later, but that’s another story.

For instance, let me tell you about a party I attended over the summer that epitomizes my recluse concerns. My friend, whom I’ll call Y, is an urbane, hip, sophisticated woman I know from a former profession. She throws great parties. Somehow, I missed the information about this party being a girls-only party. I found out when I showed up at Y’s house, ready for a regular cocktails-food-and-music party with my hubby in tow. The promise of one of Y’s fabulous parties was the only reason I’d been able to pry my husband from a birthday barbeque blast, clear across town, right before they served the food. At Y’s house, the ambiance was sedate. All the women were seated around the table for dinner. For the most part, they all work together; a few years ago, I worked there, too. I was aghast that I had misunderstood the invitation. I was dressed for a night out, complete with a full face of make-up and shirt showing cleavage, and I was the only one there gussied up so flamboyantly. Aside from my attention-getting personal appearance, there was also the matter of my husband, who decided not to go back inside to hang out with the only other man present.

Scorchingly embarrassed, I was relieved when Y showed me to the kitchen for a plate of food. She rattled off the names of the dishes, including one she said was soup of some kind. When I didn’t see bowls, I thought perhaps “soup” was a figurative reference, and I went to ladle some on my dish. “That’s soup. I don’t think that’s going to work very well,” Y said, showing me bowls I hadn’t seen before, speaking slowly, looking at me as though she suspected I was drunk. I almost wished I was drunk. It would have been a better excuse than stupidity. I took my plate and bowl and returned to the table, where I felt like a gigantic spotlight was illuminating me as the only one who hadn’t gotten the memo. I made my exit as quickly as possible. As I was leaving, one of the ladies at the table passed me on the way to the restroom. Inside Y’s house, where the lighting was better and the promise of escape was relieving my crushing embarrassment, I realized she was a woman I’d worked with closely years before. I was mortified that I hadn’t recognized her; she’d been sitting at the table with the rest of us. What could I say at that point? “I’m so sorry, but I have bad eyesight, and embarrassment and low light make it worse,” or “I honest to goodness am not crazy, just nervous and slightly blind, but it’s so nice to see you again.” No, nothing could be said other than, “Oh my goodness, I didn’t recognize you,” as I hurried from Y’s home. The next day, I sent a note of apology to Y. She politely responded to that e-mail, but I haven’t heard from her in about six months now.

Obviously, had I been writing this scene, things would have gone differently. Even if I’d been torturing a fictional character, I’m not sure I could have done better. As it was, this incident only added to my fears that I ought not go out. I’d love to tell you that this type of thing is an isolated incident, a rare blunder that gives me things to write about. However, that’s not the case.

I can’t entirely blame this on being a writer, although it is a convenient excuse. I’ve spent many years following one of my dad’s favorite pieces of advice: “Engage brain before operating mouth.” Of course, then I found that I could embarrass myself without opening my mouth at all. Like I said, I’m better on paper. In person, well, that’s another story.
Photo courtesy of Brenton Nicholls at

Windows & Other Prompts

You know the drill: pick a prompt and freewrite for ten minutes.

--Describe your view out of the nearest window.
--How do you and your computer get along?
--Do you have a pen name? If so, why? If you don’t, what name would you pick?
--Jacob loved spending money on Meredith, but even she was surprised when he bought her….
--“I think your home security has gone too far,” Alan said. “I understand the alarm. But do you really need….”
Photo information: My picture taken at Zzyzx, in the Mojave National Preserve, at an abandonded spa. Click to enlarge.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Traveling & Other Prompts

I'd love to visit Machu Pichu, pictured here, but I haven't made it yet. How's your sense of traveling adventure? Here are this week's writing prompts, beginning with...

--What’s a place you’ve always wanted to see, but haven’t yet visited?
--Helen knew she deserved the promotion more than Janet, so she decided….
--What’s a job or profession you would never want to do?
--Ben was getting angry. “There’s a lot of holes in the desert,” he warned Jim. “So you’d better….”
--Have you ever witnessed a crime?
Picture courtesy of Bruno Damaceno at