Posts Tagged ‘memories’

Not Just Any Other Day

Saturday, January 9th, 2010

It starts off like any other day.  Any writer luncheon.  Fascinating people surround me at our table.  Lynn is teaching a new class in writing.  Hank shares his journey of marketing his futuristic novel. Peter asks me how I got my first book published.        

As I reach for the water pitcher, the friend at my left chokes.  

            “Are you all right?” I ask.

            She shakes her head no. 


            That’s not the right answer.  It’s not the expected answer. 

            “Do you need the Heimlich?”

            She shakes her head yes.  Her eyes shine with fear.   

            Our tablemates freeze. 

            Everything moves in slow motion.

Yet everything happens quickly.  How can this be? 

I stand.

Reach around her — make a clasped fist. 

Push up.  Push up.  Push up.


            She coughs.  Sputters. 

            She does not gasp.

            No air.   

            How much time does she have?

            I fail.

            I yell into the room.  “HEIMLICH?  HEIMLICH?”

            For a moment, the room is frozen.  

            Now she stands behind my chair.  She leans over.  Pushes against it.  

            Coughing.  Sputtering. 

            Eyes watering. 


            “HEIMLICH!”  I gesture.  Come!  

            Now people spring into action.  Others try.  Others fail. 

            The restaurant manager comes into the room. 


            How long can she last?

            “An ambulance is coming,” I hear someone say.

            Not fast enough.        

            I look at Hank across the table.  My eyes widen.

            Do I gesture? Or does he read my eyes?

            He jumps up. 

            I know I cross myself. 

            Hail Mary Full of Grace.  Hail Mary Full of Grace.  Hail Mary . . .

            And then she breathes. 

            It’s another day. 

Writing Prompt:   1.  When have you had a scary experience  in your life?  What happened?  How did you feel?  You can make a small anecdote like I wrote above into a full length personal narrative by slowing-down-the-moment with more sensory details, dialogue, feelings and thoughts. 

2.  Turn an exciting experience that you have had into a short story or poem or piece of art.  By turning a potential traumatic or negative experience into a piece of writing or art, you can “own” the memory or moment in time and come to grips with it more easily.

3.  How will you move on?  What have you learned from this experience?  How has it made you stronger?  Choose a genre or art form to show this.

The Past and the Future

Wednesday, December 16th, 2009

When you were young, how did you envision yourself all grown up? When I was an eighth grader in Wisconsin, our English class assignment was to interview each other and write up the interviews about our classmates in the far-away future space age . . . the year 2000. Someone made a booklet cover with a space ship flying among the stars and we were all set.

As for the article about me, I was to be a teacher, with a terrier, who lived in California.

Although I no longer teach, I did for many years. And the photo of my Yorkshire Terrier, Zoie, is at the right and also on my website. I came to California for college and never left, except for visits to the Midwest.

But as a child I never dared dream I’d be a children’s book writer. That wasn’t an available choice. The closest thing offered on the guidance counselor’s form was “newspaper reporter,” which was of no interest to me.

Fortunately today, young people see authors in classrooms, bookstores, and online as examples of what they may become. There are contests and opportunities for them to become published in magazines, newspapers and even books. So although many of us lament what has happened to the “good old days,”  opportunities have been created for writing and the arts.

1. What about YOU? Write your history of what you wanted as a youngster and how it has differed. Or has it?

2. If you are a student, what do you hope for your future? You can write about your career, or your family, the world situation, your spiritual growth or any topic you choose.

3. How can you help advance writing and creativity today? Can you sponsor a contest? A brainstorming session at your school or library? Start a book or writer’s group?

Create the World’s Yummiest Doughnut!

Friday, February 6th, 2009

In 1926, Trausch Bakery from Dubuque, Iowa, launched the first doughnut making machine.

What is the VERY FIRST thing you think of when you read that sentence? I thought of the scene from the children’s book, Homer Price, by Robert McCloskey. The second thing I thought of was the OTHER Homer, Homer Simpson, whose survival depends on this sugary confection.

Writing exercises to choose from: 1. Write your favorite doughnut memory. Describe it, the circumstances, the actions, your feelings, the characters surrounding it. 2. Write a short story or poem featuring a doughnut or a bakery as an important element. 3. Create a new doughnut recipe! Think of a fabulous new name. Describe it! Create an ad campaign! Give the recipe. What makes your doughnut special?