Category Archives: Five Honest Statements

Odd Holiday Events

The Winter Solstice brings together a number of religious and holiday traditions, including welcoming the New Year.  These celebrations typically involve families gathering, perhaps some gift giving, a variety of parties (both at work and with friends) and lots of eating.  No two people in the world have the same experience of the holidays.  I’d like to hear about an odd holiday event from your past.  It can be a unique tradition, an unusual memory, or even something best forgotten.

Take us with you into a weird holiday scene.  Fiction and nonfiction are both welcome!

Survival Tactics

You live in a five by eight foot concrete block room with a locked door, one small window above head-height. Meals and clothing are provided for you. You have a cot, commode, sink, a tiny desk, and one metal chair. You get one hour outside per day, with others of your gender, but the guards do not allow you to talk. You will be released in 2030. You can have five personal items. How do you survive?

Two Lives

We all live two lives. One life is the one where we are social creatures, interacting and being around other people. The other life is the one we have where no one is looking. It’s this second life that intrigues me since there is a definite freedom in being unobserved. We needn’t fear embarrassing ourselves or causing other people to raise their eyebrows and turn away.

I once had a very bad day where every single thing I tried to do fell apart. The computer froze up and stayed frozen all day, a disaster since I work online. The fish I cooked for supper tasted like a kid’s rubber boot left out in the sun. My spouse rather mindlessly suggested that I was never likely to have any meaningful success outside the home (and then he went to bed). I stuffed the disposal full of the coleslaw that neither of us had eaten, and the pipe under the sink exploded, shooting stinky cabbage all over the kitchen floor.

All alone, I carefully picked up a wooden kitchen chair and smashed it against the floor over and over and over until it was in pieces. This is quite out of character for me, since I am a fairly cheerful and nice person but then, I was all alone and fuck that shit!

So here you are, anonymous and posting as a lone human. Tell us about a time you took advantage of the freedom of being alone and did something you would never do in front of other people.

Where Were You in 1970?

I would have picked 1967, but dang, that is such a cliche.  So fill us in on your adventures.  Where were you in 1970?  What were you doing!

Lousy Ideas

Okay, I couldn’t make my Monet Challenge work at all. What seemed like a really elegant and terrific idea, inspired by an Impressionist painter, turned out to be something that didn’t work in words. I am not a big fan of tricks in writing unless they are entertaining, and this one, though intellectually and theoretically  intriguing, ended up being boring and a bit like navel gazing. (Me! Me! Me! My stuff! My insights! My cleverness!)

So let’s talk about lousy ideas. I’ve just owned up to one of mine. Let’s hear about a writing idea or piece that you tried that really tanked once you got into it. It might also help to hear what you learned from this kind of dead end. (I have several more, but now it’s your turn.)

Childhood Memories of a Mother

Our mothers may be living or dead.  Mom, Mama, Mother–she was usually there when we were young.  Those distant memories can be captured rather than lost.

This is a creative non-fiction challenge.  Remember being a child.  Remember your mother (or the one who raised you) as she was with you.  Write one memory, not a summary.  Show her to us through your young eyes.

Ode to Joy

Weird title, isn’t it? And yet, this is the title of the last movement of the last symphony Beethoven wrote. He was old and so deaf he could not conduct the orchestra playing his creation. He was on stage, however, though unable to hear the music. One of his soloists had to turn him around to face the audience when the piece was over so he could see the standing ovation he was receiving. If you have ever heard this piece of music (and play it loud!), you’ll find yourself swept away by the hope and glory of the music.

Life is not easy or fair. What a crippling irony that Beethoven—the possessor of one of the finest musical geniuses of all time—had to suffer from deafness. But he did not stop creating, even though he could only hear the symphonic music in his mind.

My challenge to you here is to write about a contrast you’ve experienced where you had to struggle with tragedy and find your own way to survive and then thrive. Can you write an Ode to Joy?

How You Write

Long ago there was a magazine called the Saturday Review. It was devoted to literary news, articles, and short pieces. One of the regular columns showed where famous authors wrote–one author and setting per week. We saw a photo of their writing space and whatever they gathered around themselves when they wrote.

How about sharing something about your writing habits? Where do you write? Describe your favorite writing tools (computer? tablet? special pen?). What time of day do you tend to write? Do you use any writing aids (tequila? favorite smoke? required stimulants?). How about music? Is it a requirement or something that must be avoided? What kind of music? Show us your chair, your desk or table, your room. What else is in that room? What is on the walls? Any special lighting? What else makes up your particular writing habits?

We’ve been writing together for quite a while. You’ve all described a burning candle; now show us your writing routine.

Writing can be fun, but ….

Today is the anniversary of my little sister’s death. She was fifty-eight when she died, with two young adult children and a loving husband. She died of cancer, after a long fight. I write today to fight back time. It keeps passing. The years when she was here grow ever more distant. Memories become reduced to repeated sentences that we use to conjure her up. Thin, so thin. Photos are also finite, though we have many; but there are no new ones now, showing her aging, attending graduations, creating new art, celebrating holidays as only she could. I weep but do not bleed. I would bleed if that would bring her back, but I know it will not. I line up these words on the page and conjure her one more time. Sarah.

Please share your words about a loved one that you have lost.

Funk, Fatigue, and Denial

We all run up against that wall.  The excuses are endless:  I’m tired.  I can’t have one good idea.  I’m too busy.  I’m not feeling all that great.  Everybody needs something.  We had guests.  Work has been a bear.  And on and on.

I’m guilty too, not of all the above, but of enough of them to feel like a good head slap is in order.  After all, what about “Keep going!” didn’t I understand?  Didn’t I remember anything I taught?

So it finally hit me today.  I’ve been waiting for inspiration.  I’ve been waiting for that great plot focus to build around.  I’ve been waiting for War and Peace without realizing I have what I need to get on with it.  It’s odd, since I already have around twelve chapters.  Nonetheless, the doubts crept in and I stopped.  No more.  I’m pushing on no matter how lousy I think it is.  Took me long enough.

So my challenge for today is for you to share how it’s going.  Where are you stuck and what are you going strong on?  Even if all you’re writing are short pieces, are you at least collecting them in an organized way?  What’s your balancing act?