Friday, April 13th, 2012

Writing Prompt – By Any Other Name…

Movie Poster for the Movie HeidiNames are important.

They provide identity, reveal the culture or interest or nature of the namer.

They’re a source of embarrassment. Or pride.

They can cause all kinds of conflict.

I went to school with a woman whose grandmother had strict policies for naming the kids in the family. When her daughter was pregnant, she demanded the child be given an ethnic name.

Many arguments ensued, with my friend’s mom steadfast against the idea, but the grandmother eventually got her way. Little wonder that our professors were often surprised when Heidi’s name was called from the roster and a black woman responded to the question.

Well, the grandmother never stated what kind of ethnic name she wanted.

In my latest manuscript, both main characters are saddled with untenable names. The girl is named with a religious moniker — thanks to the nuns at the Catholic hospital where she was born, and the male lead is given a “family” name.

(I can hear a lot of folks groaning now.)

My first beau had such a name, and it caused him all kinds of embarrassment. Luckily for my character, like my boyfriend, his embarrassment is a middle name…

Here’s Your Prompt:

  • You have moved to a new county, and the laws state you must change your first name if you want to reside there permanently. What do you change your name to? How does this new name reflect who you are?
  • Write about name-calling.
  • Someone is saying your name…
  • Some to the fascination of a name surrender judgment hoodwinked. ~ William Cowper
  • He was also known as…
  • My grandmother called me by this name.
  • Write a story about a culture who believes names are all-powerful. Children are not named at birth, and choose their own when they are ready. They never reveal these secret names. How do people refer to each other? How do they choose the ‘names’ they go by in every day life?
  • A name is a kind of face whereby one is known. ~ Thomas Fuller
  • Open a phone book at random and drop your finger down on a name. Write about that person or business. What does the name inspire?
  • I do beseech you, (Chiefly, that I might set it in my prayers,) What is your name? ~ William Shakespeare, the Tempest. Act III, Scene 1.
  • Write the essay (or a journal entry, or a letter to your children…), “I was named this because…”

Good Luck!

Friday, December 9th, 2011

Writing Prompt – Roller Skates or Other Symbols of Home

Women's White Roller SkatesToday (December 9) in 1884, the US Patent Office issued Levant Richardson a patent for his invention of ball-bearing roller skates. (This made skates much, much faster.)

About a century later, I asked for, and joyfully received, a pair for my 13th birthday.

I don’t know why, but they’ve become the symbol of “home” for me. I moved out of my parent’s house when I went away to college and got my own apartment. Little by little, all that was mine migrated from my parent’s house to my apartment…

…except the skates.

When my parents decided to sell the house I grew up in, they brought me the skates.

And when they moved into their new house, I found a closet there to stash them in.

They moved again, and we repeated the process. When Mom found the skates that time, she threatened to throw them out if I didn’t come get them. I explained to her that as long as they were at her house, that it was as though the house were mine, too. It felt a little more like coming home, than visiting in my parent’s new house when I came to see them.

I’m not sure she gets it.

The fact is: the skates aren’t the issue, it’s what they represent. I could have fixated on anything to be my little slice of home at the new house.

I’ve got a lot of fond memories associated with those skates, including the ones which have nothing to do with skating (that is, the little squabble with my folks over where they should live.)

Do you have any fond skate memories? What about something else that might symbolize home?

Here’s Your Prompt

  1. Write about skates: roller skates, ice skates, in-line skates. If you have no memories, make something up.
    Did you ever wish for skates? Do you have a scene in a book which includes skates? Write that character’s back story related to the skates.
  2. Write a story about something that symbolizes “home” to you. You could write fact, fiction, memoir, or poetry. Be specific. Include descriptions of how you feel, or what you think, when you encounter these things.