scraping out your insides with a knife
I’ve been tussling with a short story this week. The prompt for it came from a conversation with my in-laws on Christmas Day. Christmas dinner was at our place this year, two days after we moved into a new house. I’m a committed optimist. Despite the tight schedule, or perhaps because of it, I pulled off a three course, enormous dinner for eleven people without food poisoning anyone. Success.
At the end of the night, bone weary from unpacking and cooking, I sat anticipating easy conversation and hilarious family anecdotes. It was not to be. Like so much of 2016, Christmas Day was filled with politics, tricky conversations, and unintentionally hurtful statements.
The silver lining of those difficult conversations is that I have a whole new series of writing prompts for my fiction. The clouds, of course, are the emotions those prompts evoke in me. As I delve into the deeply troubling worlds of my characters, thoughts of Heath Ledger and Jared Leto swirl through my imagination. I try to hold myself back from the emotionally fraught plot, try to divorce myself from the characters. Then I find myself unable to advance the narrative, unable to breathe life into my protagonists. In the words of my dearest friend; “You’re a person who values authenticity. The problem is that writing authentically sometimes feels like scraping out your insides with a knife.”
So here I have sat for the last week, with my metaphorical knife, 1500 words into my story, unable to put the work down or ignore it, and equally unable to move it forward. Until I spoke to an actor friend who told me to hold back 10% from the work like actors do, and to centre myself between bouts of writing by doing something that rooted me in the present. Wish me luck, yeah writers.
How do you fire up your creative engines without losing yourself in your work?
Prompt Up is our optional weekly writing prompt for the fiction|poetry challenge! Here’s how it works: we choose a sentence prompt from last week’s winning nonfiction post and announce it in the kickoff. It’s your job to use that prompt in your poem or story. The prompt is just a springboard: feel free to use it as your first sentence, move it, change it, or float it down to other territories.
Lisa’s post, The Outside Trash, describes a difficult day. This week’s prompt up taken from her essay is: “For the next few hours I lie.”
Please remember to read the submission guidelines before you press post or hit send. Have a favorite yeah writer or two? Why not ask them to be your writing partner? Everyone needs another set of eyes to point out the typos, word repetitions, content errors, and ungainly phraseologies in our posts.
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Yeah write #306 fiction|poetry writing challenge is open for submissions!
Basic yeah write guidelines: 750 word limit; your entry can be dated no earlier than this past Sunday; fiction or poetry only.
How to submit and fully participate in the challenge:
- In the sidebar of this week’s post, please grab the code beneath the challenge grid badge and paste it into the HTML view of your entry
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- Please make the rounds to read all the entries in this week’s challenge
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Submissions for this week’s challenges will close on Wednesday at 10pm ET. Voting will then open immediately thereafter and close on Thursday at 10pm ET. The winners, as always, will be celebrated on Friday.