Writer’s Cramp is the blog and site for B. Jenne’ Hall, writer, genius, and pathological optimist. She’s written her first book, is working on her second, and she’s trying to get published. Which from all accounts seems to be as approximately attainable as the gift of flight, but who doesn’t love a challenge?

« Prompt progress, week 9 | Main | My brain is partying in Ft. Lauderdale, apparently »

Prompt progress, week 8

[I missed week 7 due to illness, unfortunately.]

After the initial warm-up exercise, Robyn spread out a strange collection of random objects on the table: a thimble, a scrap of colorful cloth, a spool of red thread, a wine cork, a mostly-empty mini Tabasco bottle, a small wire whisk, a small toy fire engine, a small glass bottle, a little Statue of Liberty statue. Other objects, but I remember all of these because they’re the objects we each chose as our inspiration for that exercise. We were first to contemplate the entire miscellany before taking any particular object; as I list them all out now, I realize I could’ve come up with a good little piece about the whole collection instead of a single object.

But we all did choose an object and she gave us two prompts to choose between, as well. I picked the tiny Tabasco bottle. We had 15 minutes for this prompt.

Prompts:  the last time I saw it                    where did you get that

When they were young and still dating, every shared object took on a special significance, a story or a secret joke attached like an invisible tag that read: “Remember that time we…?” or “This is the thing you gave me the first time we….” Consequential things, these objects of unrecognizable value, things that would otherwise end up in a garbage can if not for the strange coincidence of being in the right place at the right time to be saved forever like valued heirlooms. Things that could in fact still end up in the garbage can someday if they ever break up, but it’s been more than 20 years now and that seems less and less likely.

She is rummaging through old boxes looking for something very particular, an object that does have recognizable value, when she comes across the mementos box. The one labeled “Men’s Toes” that itself is an inside joke they share. Inside, the corsage from their prom, the letters that traveled back and forth that one summer, the tiny empty Tabasco bottles she tucked in his coat pocket so he would never be without his favorite condiment whenever they went out. “Meal enhancement,” he called it.

There had been six bottles, all neatly packaged in a small red box. And here they all were, six empty bottles neatly packaged in their small red box. She turned it over in her hand, thinking about him as she studied the box with its worn corners and the small tear in the top flap. Thinking about the significance of these six bottles, priceless in a way that the rarest bottle of wine never could be.

She smiled, tucked the small red box in her pocket, and continued rummaging.

The second half of the workshop was intended to be a critique on a previous piece that we would work on in pairs, but after the initial process, the group decided to postpone that exercise until next week. So instead we did a final exercise using two prompts pulled from an envelope and had seven minutes to write.

Prompts:  In the middle of the road                  In the garden

Every time I look out my dining room window, I feel guilty. Two raised garden beds hold the skeletons of last year’s tomato vines that were never pulled and composted as they should’ve been.

“Should’ve” describes the whole damn garden. We “should’ve” started our seeds sooner. We “should’ve” watered more often. We “should’ve” reseeded after each rotation, and pulled the lettuce when it bolted and thinned the tomato vines down to just three before they took over the entire place.

But we didn’t and we didn’t and we didn’t. And then we started avoiding it like that embarrassing alcoholic uncle that everyone ignores when he drinks too much at family gatherings. Our garden, which had been — “should’ve” been — a source of sustenance and nurturing and pride became, through our neglect, that embarrassing problem we try to ignore.

We’ve been assigned the task of choosing a piece from one of the workshops that will go into a “broadside”, a collection of pieces from each participant in this workshop. I have a few I’m trying to decide between, but if you’ve been reading along as I’ve posted these and want to suggest your favorite, I’m open to suggestions. (Clicking the “prompt workshop” tag below will take you to all the entries related to this workshop, and all the posts with the pieces themselves.)

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

Reader Comments

There are no comments for this journal entry. To create a new comment, use the form below.

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>