Prompt: First LInes
Write the first line of your story. Pull the reader in. Now, write for ten minutes.
It was a dark and stormy night.
I originally wrote this eight months ago for a memoir workshop prompt, which was ironic because we were told, both for the fall before and this spring to avoid politics. I am easily the most liberal person in our writing group and the most conservative is a couple who I actually know from my church. Everyone else falls somewhere between us, and with the 2016 election and the Inauguration still very fresh on our minds any talk of politics was like pulling the band-aid off a cut. For some of us it was like, well, just to avoid a graphic example let’s leave it at pulling off a band-aid.
This prompt was interesting because it was a writing exercise from Bill Roorbach’s book, Writing Life Stories. It is the Chinese Food Menu Exercise – choose one from column A and one from column B and write for ten minutes.
I think if I was starting this project today instead of editing it for you, I would use a rhyming scheme just so I could write about the eruption of corruption in the Trump Administration.
What rhymes with incompetence?
Suffice it to say, we’ve come a long way in the past eight months, down a darkening path that frightened me, and continues to frighten me.
Late night comedians and twenty-four hour internet opinionators called this a dumpster fire around February. If February was a dumpster fire, then what in G-d’s name is this?
I’m in a mirror universe where up is down, truth are lies, news is fake, Russia is good and Congress is indifferent.
Originally, this was written with hopelessness. I still feel it, but I’m also opening myself up to hope and to take action. I’m also going to link to Peter MacDonald’s speech at the White House. He is a Navajo Code Talker, and if he can have hope, I can also.
The prompt for this was choose one from column A and one from column B. My two words were politics and eruptions.
Politics is calling out to me, I think since my inner (and outer) (political) junkie has reawakened. A little wiser, a little calmer, a little more cackling at the chaos and fearful of the mongering.
For several years politics is more than policy; it is life. Corporate lay-offs equal will my husband have a job? Health care increases and higher deductibles equal medical care or lunch? Decisions no one should have to make.
But last year…last year was beyond the pale. This can’t be what anyone wanted, but here it is. And last year also brought politics to a boiling point, a volcanic spewing, a series of eruptions. As the silent majority rose in the 80s, a new majority erupted from the ashes right below the glass ceiling, tiny pieces of glass tinkling on the floor, balloons popping and children crying as well as their stunned parents.
The slow boil began, the lava beginning its ascent higher and hotter until it could be contained no longer.
Not sore losers.
Tired, tired people.
Tired of hypocrisy and broken promises.
Tired of silence and complacency.
I drew political art. i attended my first protest.
The political eruption like the Hawaiian volcano will continue to echo and build and staggered ground shaking spew. Once it erupts, it can not be re-contained.
Not the silent majority.
There are more of us and we will not be silent.
We are the majority.
My novel is not a novel, but a non-fiction multi-genre exploration. It is part memoir, part travel guide, and part spiritual journey. It will include photographs and history, both of myself and the land. I haven’t been this excited about a writing project in a long time. I’m very glad that I took up the challenge of Nanowrimo in order to jump into this book and get it started. I’ve been talking about writing this for at least two decades.
As you can see from the above graphic, I’m about 5,000 words short of where I’m supposed to be at this point.
But that’s okay.
I’m also 20,000+ words ahead of where I was on November 1st.
There were a couple of days when I wrote 0 words, but I was also writing other things, like pieces for here and my writing group. There was one day when I wrote 3,313 words.
Currently, I have 18 saved documents of varying lengths from 75 to 2,468 ranging in topics from the dreaded GPS of 2009 to Driving and Comfort Zones, two topics that don’t really go together. At all.
I had decided to simply write about what I felt like in relation to my book on my journey through Wales, and that’s what I’m doing. I’m very happy with my progress. Some of it can be repetitive, although not as much as I feared. Some subjects overlap with different years and places, and one of the hard parts is going to be gathering these writings into a cohesive form that flows but also stays true to my experiences. I’m planning on putting together an outline sometime in December as I read and edit what I will have at the end of November.
For those of you also writing for Nanowrimo, there is good news and bad news. They are both the same: we are halfway through. If you’re doing well, great; keep going. If you haven’t started or have slowed down, that’s okay; you still have time. Keep going.
Hair and comfort. Not so much. I used to have kind of longish hair. There are a few cute pictures from my childhood where my hair goes at least to my shoulders, maybe a bit longer with those straight, severe bangs, but they actually sort of worked with my face and the rest of it.
I even have a school picture of me in a pink jumper with a shag haircut. Very Jane Fonda now that I look back on it.
Sometime in the fifth grade it happened. The knots could not be tamed. I hated brushing my hair especially when a really large knot would form. I tried to hide it under the rest of the hair, but it was eventually discovered.
And that was it.
I remember my fifth grade or maybe sixth grade class picture. A brown outfit, a wide collar; some kind of striped atrocity beneath it, and short hair. Very short hair. Not a cute pixie, but a “boy’s”. Not a bowl cut, but not much better. Page boy? Who knows? It was…ugh
I let it grow in middle school so I could wear a ponytail, but that got tiresome. I couldn’t wear one all the time, and I couldn’t not wear one. What a mess.
I wanted Indian braids for awhile, that was very popular in the 70s, so I let it grow some more. Thinking it would work because my hair is straight and dark, I discovered that I didn’t know my hair at all. I was wrong because while my hair is straight, when it gets to a certain length, it begins to stick out on the sides, and there’s no fixing it. I have a picture of me when I was two or three, and my hair is exactly the same sticky-out way over the ears.
It was cute when I was three.
I cut it.
Sometimes I cut it myself. Put it in the ponytail and snip. It was not great, but amusingly still better, although not by much.
There was high school and feathered back, and don’t forget, I graduated in 1984, so … perms. Big perms and in actuality mine wasn’t really all that big.
I don’t know when I cut it all off. At some point, I decided I needed it gone.
My hair has had silver in it since high school. I never minded it. It gave me character. It used to be copper until it changed to silver. I planned on never dyeing it. It really never bothered me.
One Halloween, my friend had his annual holiday party. That year’s theme was Super Heroes and Villains. My boyfriend at the time, now my husband went as Green Lantern. I went as Poison Ivy so we kinda matched. It took me forever to decide to dye my hair red to be that character, although I would not let it grow out. I finally relented and dyed it red. I hesitated until the very last minute, but I did it, and when I looked in the mirror at my full face, yellowy-hued skin, not olive of the Mediterranean, but an undefinable not brown, not tan, not pink either, just kind of sallow and tallow and yellowish, and the red just there, framing my face, whatever big, plastic late 80s glasses I had at the time reflecting the red subtly, and I knew:
I’m a redhead.
Genetics had made a mistake, and no one told me. Why couldn’t we be one of those Jewish families with the one odd, youngest red haired child? They’re everywhere, but not us. We all had brown eyes like our Dad, dark, dark hair, like our Dad, and silver in high school, like our Dad. My middle son has a couple of strands of silver in his thirteen-year old head, but I think that’s from worry and stress that goes along with his personality. I think my mother’s hair was brown, but we never saw it. She either dyed it or wore a wig. Those were very popular. She had heads with wigs in her closet; at least three. I liked to play with them. I remember her being red for awhile, especially in one of my favorite pictures of her, so I guess our reds are hereditary.
But my short hair, my red hair, it’s me even if I had to create it myself. I wake up and I go. I almost never brush it, and I almost never look in the mirror. Some days that is not such a good thing, but it feels good. It is the one thing of me that is my comfort.
I wasn’t planning on going until closer to Thanksgiving, but this prompt gave me the opportunity to get my hair colored and cut last month, so I could end the writing workshop in comfort and with a much more tamable bedhead.
I once got it cut in Scotland. Pitlochry.
The idea of having a stranger cut my hair was almost anathema to me. And her hair…she was seriously 80s punk, and when she asked what i wanted, I said just do what you want. She did, and I loved it. I kept joking that in six months I’d have to return to Scotland to get my hair cut again.
It was the first time I’d done it on my own, and it created the mantra I live by today:
It will grow back.
Prompt: Floating or other forms of relaxation