Writing Prompts for You Beauties…

“Memory begins to qualify the imagination, to give it another formation, one that is peculiar to the self. I remember isolated, yet fragmented and confused, images-and images, shifting, enlarging, is the word, rather than moments or events-which are mine alone and which are especially vivid to me. They involve me wholly and immediately, even though they are the disintegrated impressions of a young child. They call for a certain attitude of belief on my part now; that is, they must mean something, but their best reality does not exist in meaning. They are not stories in that sense, but they are story-like, mythical, never evolved but evolving ever. There are such things in the world: it is their nature to be believed; it is not necessarily in them to be understood. Of all that must have happened to and about me in those, my earliest days, why should these odd particulars alone be fixed in my mind? If I were to remember other things, I should be someone else.” N. Scott Momaday from The Names: A Memoir.

Write three sorrows from your childhood as recipes.

Write a hard memory as a mythological event.

Assign an angel to a moment that brought you pain. What changes?

Write a love poem to something you regard as a mistake or regret

Write a memory as though it was lifted from a fairy tale or the Bible or a myth

An ode to the day you were born…describe the amniotic sac and sounds

What fruit was in season the day ___ died?

That thing you did that you are ashamed of, make it a sculpture. Describe the sculpture.

Write your story in 12 stations (think 12 stations of the cross)

What is in the house of your childhood now? Where does it keep its memory of you?

Describe your arrival using astrology. Literally what were the planets doing while you were being formed? While you were being born?

Organize a story via the confession booth. Tell the priest everything. Seriously. This tactic is shockingly effective if you are trying to unpack something you have held in secret for a long time.

Use this ghost line as a starter: “Ghosts in the water, ghosts in the blood. Everything, once you start to look, is haunted.” (Sean Hewitt, All Down Darkness Wide)

“What lived and died between us haunts me still” is a line from Lidia Yuknavitch’s memoir The Chronology of Water. Where are the ghosts in your story?

My good friend and poet Nate Marshall wrote: “I can’t think of a black rapper who hasn’t contemplated their own death on record. Ready to Die. Life After Death. Death is Certain. Do or Die. Get Rich or Die Tryin’. Death Certificate. This is natural. All my verses mention boxes or holes.” What do you always mention? And what story does it tell about you?

Jeanette Winterson wrote: “I never believed that my parents loved me. I tried to love them but it didn’t work. It has taken me a long time to learn how to love-both the giving and the receiving. I have written about love obsessively, forensically, and I know/knew it as the highest value. I loved God of course, in the early days and God loved me. That was something. And I loved animals and nature. And poetry. People were the problem. How do you love another person? How do you trust another person to love you? I had no idea. I thought that love was loss.”

Who taught you about love? How about loss? Describe your earliest memories of these lessons. Be honest in the telling.