I’m bringing you two very different writing prompts from the archives this week.
Read through them both and see which one calls to you more strongly. Both offer different ways to cope with our current, rather contracted social circles, either by imagining a party or by focusing on delighting one person.
This week is the anniversary of the birth of Scotland’s national poet, Robert Burns. While I’m cooking up some haggis and pouring a whisky in his immortal memory, I have a writing prompt for you that celebrates not just Robert Burns, but all poets.
Today’s post comes to us from gifted memoirist Jane Paffenbarger Butler. You can read more about Jane, below, but in the meantime, enjoy mining your memories for Story Sparks! – Julie
When I was a child, my mother and sisters and I spent hours making our clothes at home. The memory of those long quiet days together is etched in my mind because we did it over and over. That makes it a perfect resource for my writing because it is etched in my mind. But even one-time events can be seared onto our brains and serve equally as sources of inspiration.
Because we have kept a memory, stored it for some reason, it holds a significance that may be useful. When I try, I can remember many details and images about that repeating scene of sewing. Recording a memory, in writing, however disjointed or unclear or insufficient, means we capture whatever clarity there is to be observed. The overriding feeling of the sewing room was one of having to focus on the details, such as being sure of our measurements, even in our pinning, and whether the machine was threaded correctly and if we were following every direction. There was little conversation and there was little sound besides that of our movements.
However fuzzy, our memories are infused with feelings that give them an emotional power that can make our writng richer.
I may want to write specifically about sewing, the memories of the creaking old house, the stale state of the space we shared, the silence so thick I heard the buzz of a fly trapped at the window pane trying to escape. But I may prefer to let this description inform whatever other writing I do. These recalled images and ideas are newly acquired and because of their source resonate with authenticity.
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