A Metaphor

Yesterday I did the human equivalent of a person holding up their phone to get a better signal and arranged myself into the least painful position and tried not to move.

I had a migraine which ended with me hugging the toilet and allowing my banana and strawberry juice to exit through an unscheduled route. 

And my mom, even though she’s recovering from surgery and I told her to stay upstairs, made me peppermint tea (our favorite).  She said she can’t do much but she can do something.  I was supposed to be taking care of her.

I feel like that’s how we have to live our lives.  Everyone’s recovering.  We’re all slogging through this mess together, and if what you can do is make someone the emotional equivalent of tea then you should do it. 

It’s the blind leading the blind, baby, and while that could make you feel kind of hopeless, it shouldn’t.  We can’t always do much, but sometimes what we do is just enough.



November’s coming up.  Which means that soon I’m going to become a raving lunatic, which will be a big change because right now I’m a civilized lunatic.

Nanowrimo.  The stuff of dreams.  The full moon for us authorial werewolves.  The pulsing vein in the neck of inspiration for which we bare our vampiric fangs.

We’re going to work on prompts today.  I have a leather journal that I call my magic book and all in do in it is list prompts.  It’s a source that I can pull from when I’m feeling low on fuel. 

I don’t take credit for the following two ideas.  They’re from amazing writing instructors.  

Craigslist.  A strangely-crafted ad can be the zap of zippy zeal you need to get going.  And the internet is full of freaks.   (Sorry.  Not sorry. #YOLO– is that how I use that?)

Take a line of a famous story you love, change it by adding your own details, and use the structure as a jumping-off point. 

Here’s a mega fast example, a line from Moby Dick:

“Some years ago – never mind how long precisely – having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world.” 

Modified to:
“Some hours ago – never mind how long exactly – having some amount of writer’s block, and very few messages in my inbox, I thought I would throw my laptop into the bay and join the circus.”



Here are a few of my own prompts:

Books.  Yearbooks that don’t belong to you and art history textbooks especially, because the pictures give you something visual to draw details from.  Find an image that starts a story for you and finish it. 

For an example, if you went with The Scream by Edvard Munch, you could take the couple walking behind the main subject on that wooden bridge, and explore how it must feel to be there, on that night, with a derranged man in front of them and nothing behind them. Why are they following?  Is it coincidence that they’re following him, or is it something more sinister?

Take a fact that intrigues you and expand it until it seems ridiculous.  Flamingos are pink because of the beta-carotene and bacteria in the food they eat… what if what we eat changed the way we look in instant, recognizable ways?  Ask ‘what if’ to your strangest, silliest thoughts.

Find a character questionnaire that works for you, then take one of the questions and create a scene to explain your answer. 

Any ideas you want to add?


I looked and smelled like I’d brutally murdered a den of gummy bears.  I had sugary lime splatter across my brown tanktop, cherry dripped on my Superman shoes, blue coconut under my fingernails, and grape slick and sticky across my palms.  I was getting a blister between my thumb and pointerfinger, where the lip of each bottle slid and stopped against my hand.

It was a good day.  A messy day.  

Candy cops, don’t come after me, even though I routinely ingest hordes of the citizens you swear to protect and serve.  I did not murder gummy bears, despite how I looked, smelled, and tasted.  I have an alibi, and cannot be illegally detained! 

I was part of a small team that made four-hundred snocones on a hot evening as kids huddled close to our white plastic table.  There was synergy!  There was an easy rhythm!  When we ran out of cups, more cups appeared!  When we ran out of blue, we hid the container and told the kids we had no more blue.  When we ran out of ice… we were all very tired by that point so we cleaned up.

Super gratifying.  It went really well.  And it actually killed my desire for sweets for fourteen hours (six of which I slept through).