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Introducing… the Fumbling for Words Writers’ Club!

February 11, 2010

Okay… so… I’m writing a book! It’s true, I am. I’m not going to give you many details yet, but for now I’ll say that it’s part memoir and part “travel companion”.

As every good athlete/actor/performer/dancer/etc. knows, hitting the mark on the final performance means you have to practice, practice, PRACTICE! In the case of writing, you have to write a whole lot of “shitty first drafts”, and sometimes it’s good to write something completely different from your focus material, just to stretch your muscles.

So here’s the thing – I could use your company in this writing journey! I’m creating a “writers’ club” here on this ol’ blog to help motivate me to practice. On a weekly (or so – I’m not very good at consistency) basis, I’m going to throw out a writing prompt for anyone who wants to practice along with me. What you do with it is totally optional – post it on your blog, keep it in your private journal, leave it in the comments, tweet it in 140 characters – your choice. I’m going to post my response on this blog, and if you post yours in a public place, leave a comment and let us all know where we can find it so we can encourage each other.

There aren’t really any rules, but here are some guidelines:

  • This is about practice not perfection. Write whatever comes to mind in response to the prompt. Don’t spend a lot of time editing – just try to let the thoughts flow and see what happens when you play with words.
  • I’ll try to give a time frame (eg. write for 5 minutes without stopping), or approximate length (eg. 2 paragraphs). This isn’t about long essays or dreary writing assignments, but rather about playing with ideas, senses, descriptions, etc.
  • Since this is a “club”, let’s try to visit the other members to offer them encouragement and let them know they’re not alone in this writing journey.
  • This is mostly about practicing, so we won’t do a lot of critiquing, but if you want to offer editing advice/critiques (along with encouragement), be sure to do it in a gentle and respectful way. (Note: it may be best to do that via email rather than in public comments, especially if it’s someone you don’t know very well.)

If you’re joining (even if you’ll only be writing once in awhile), I’d be thrilled if you’d grab a button, put it on your blog, and link it to this URL: 

Without further ado, let’s get on with it…

Fumbling For Words Writers’ Club – Writing Prompt #1

Let’s start with a memory. Think about some kind of food you enjoyed eating as a child. Who prepared it for you? What did it taste like? What was it like to anticipate it while the person was preparing it? Think about the senses involved – taste, touch, smell, sight, sound. Start with “I remember…” Any time you get stumped, just start the next sentence with “I remember…” and keep going. Try to remember the old adage – “show, don’t tell”.

Write for 5 minutes. Go! Write!

And here’s mine… (with no editing, just writing “off the top of my head”)

I remember coming home to the sweet yeasty smell when Mom was baking buns. I remember the big aluminum bowl – black with white speckles – overflowing with bun dough. I remember the edges of the dough sagging like an old woman’s boobs over the edge of the bowl. I remember pinching just a little piece off the nipple, thinking Mom wouldn’t notice the theft. I remember the gooey not-quite-good-but-almost-perfect taste of the dough. 

I remember the old checkered cloth and tattered sheet of plastic she covered the dough with while it rose. I remember the way she always pulled the hair away from her face with the blue paint-spattered scarf. I remember her strong hands plunging into the dough, pounding, kneading, pounding, kneading. I remember the expert movement of her hands as each ball of dough squeezed out between her fingers into a perfect symmetrical sphere. I remember every surface in the kitchen covered in baking sheets full of uniform, rising buns. I remember the first pan of golden brown buns emerging from the oven.

I remember plunging a knife into a steaming hot bun, slathering on the butter and sticky strawberry freezer jam. I remember the melting butter dripping down my fingers. I remember the cool fruity sweetness on the warm soft flesh.

I remember the feeling of contentment and “a little too full” after just one more fresh bun.

p.s. Today’s writing prompt was adapted from Old Friend from Far Away by Natalie Goldberg.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. February 11, 2010 9:20 pm

    oh I sigh… I wish I had the mood and energy to do this.
    I love your memory.

    I remember coming home from school to a hot muggy kitchen and my mama’s voiced reprimand to shut the door. So the cooler outside air wouldn’t crack the new quart jars of peaches or pears fresh from the boiler.

    The countertops would be packed to the edge and the overflow started on the kitchen table. Of course the kitchen table was the dining room table, too. There wasn’t much room to move past mama where she worked between the stove and the sink. I can still see her apron covered with sticky residue from scalding peaches, skinning them, and packing them in the classic old Ball Canning Jars.

    The air was heavy with pungent fruity aroma and the floor stuck to my sneakers as I passed. And then I would sit at the table and count the “pops” of the next batch that mama pulled from the boiler and displayed in the only open space available.

    One, two, three, four, five, six, seven…. “OH NO!” Eight. I can still feel the disappointment force my shoulders to drop when I realized that every jar had sealed. I looked forward to a bowl of warm peaches dotted with cold fresh cream from the fridge. On a couple of graham crackers. Oh yea. That was the most wonderful taste bud memory for a fall afternoon.

    • heatherplett permalink*
      February 11, 2010 9:35 pm

      Oooo… I love that, Pamela! I remember the popping sound too! And those rare chances to get an early treat when one didn’t pop. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Kelly permalink
    February 11, 2010 10:13 pm

    Heather – you’ve made me hungry, I’m dying for a hot, fresh bun with butter…

    • heatherplett permalink*
      February 12, 2010 8:17 am

      Kelly – Wish I could share some of my mom’s buns with you, but unfortunately, that was one skill I never picked up from her.

  3. cevraini permalink
    February 12, 2010 12:07 am

    I remember hearing the sound of the rolling pin clunking along the counter, back and forth, back and forth. Mom was ruthless with that thing when she was making pies. She never made just one pie, it was at least four!

    I loved that sound because I knew what would follow – the smell of those baking pies. They would be baking in that oven in no time. Then there’d be the odd sizzle of apple juices spitting over into the oven. This would always be followed by a curse from my mother as she realized the mess she’d have to clean up! A cookie sheet would go shooting in underneath before she could curse again!

    I remember asking, begging, pleading for a piece. “Not yet”, she would say. Anxiously, we would wait for a taste.

    Finally, dessert would come and my mother would proudly say to my father, “Apple or lemon” or whatever the combination would be. To which, he would always answer, “Yep” and grin, knowing that he would indeed, get a piece of each!

    • heatherplett permalink*
      February 12, 2010 8:18 am

      Thanks for that, cevraini! I’m right there with your dad – I want a slice of both! 🙂

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