Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Freedom prompt #2


Today I was "freed" from a job I never liked in the first place, after months and months of going back and forth about what was to happen ... I am now a full-time writer of my own work, not anyone else's. Yes, I have to feed myself, so I am also seeking other meaningful work, but purposeful, meaningful work that won't derail my writing.

Whereas I was neither in solitary confinement nor wrongfully imprisoned, I was in a place toxic to me. It hurt.

Have you ever been in a place like that? Or a relationship like that? Can you figure out, in writing, how it turned out to be that way? If you're still in one, brainstorm a way out ... No matter which topic you choose to write about today, before you put down that pen or close the laptop, reflect on how you tried to make it work until, well, you just couldn't. List those ways. Congratulate yourself for the effort.

Catch ya tomorrow, writing buds!


Monday, March 30, 2015


“If they strain me up tight, why, let 'em look out! I can't bear it, and I won't.” ― Anna SewellBlack Beauty

Today's Goodreads quote, above, just made me so happy that I decided to use it as a prompt, and my lovely daughter Sophie as an example of how my making myself free taught my kids a lesson--BE WHO YOU ARE, and EXULT IN IT!!

Sophie runs half marathons--she just completed her fifth. I was there to see her response to this one, and it was inspirational back at me. I've run all my life but am much less religious about it these days. My knees hurt and I weigh more than I ever did before which makes it hard to go all out--something I really love. Running flat out makes me feel like I'm flying, bursting through barriers as intimidating as many other barriers I've burst through.

When I was a high school kid, my parents told me I could be anything I wanted to be, but after getting into a prestigious college, I spent a lot of time conforming, and losing sight of that. Now, I'm back to what I wanted to be--a writer and a teacher, if only teaching at the library as opposed to my one-time goal to be a tenured professor. But really, which type of teaching is more freeing, anyway? And as a tenured professor, I wouldn't be joyously writing young adult fiction. 

Not every day as a writer is joyous, but man-oh-man is it better than anything else I've ever worked at doing. When I'm deeply into the creative process, I have no idea what's happening around me. It's flow.

So for this week's prompts, I'm going to focus on freedom. What freedoms did you give up to become a responsible adult? Which would you like back? Brainstorm for a few minutes, and see whether you can get a paragraph or two out of that. I'll post some more ideas tomorrow.

Have fun!


Monday, March 23, 2015

Spinning yarns

“When it comes to life, we spin our own yarn, and where we end up is really, in fact, where we always intended to be.” 
― Julia GlassThree Junes


This Julia Glass quotation is so perfect for me. Is it for you? In one paragraph, write the condensed story of your life. What would you like to part of that story might be a point you'd like to explore more in writing? Pick one. Write another paragraph and then wait for tomorrow's prompt ;-)




If you are the person who rewrote and chose a different episode/event/life experience, come back tomorrow.

Hello, person still using the life experience you wrote about yesterday ... you, my friend,  may continue on ...


Okay, you left that writing (above) for a day. Do you still see the episode you identified yesterday as interesting enough and important enough to you to explore more? If no, write a couple of paragraphs and return tomorrow. If yes here's your next prompt:

You were the protagonist in the paragraphs you wrote. Now imagine that this event features not you, but someone else. Create that person. Day dream. Jot down ideas. Now describe him/her, including both physical appearance and personal characteristics. Try to keep a bit of yourself in this new character, but also include some different traits. Write about this person in third person: He did this, she felt that. Give this person a setting, with detail. Include place, using as many senses as you can. Include time of year. Include weather. Think of the weather and setting as a character, too, influencing the outcome of the event and the feelings of the character.

Guess what?

You just started writing fiction. We all mine our own lives for important life events. We all create characters using some of ourselves and some of what we know about others.

Tomorrow, we shall go forth again ...

Know that this exercise is not just about becoming a fiction writer. Nope. I have hidden motivations.


STOP HERE. I MEAN IT. ;-) See you tomorrow. 


Yesterday you described your character. Now take those sentences and instead of using adjectives to describe him/her, show the same things about him/her through action and dialogue with one other character. You can be the extra character yourself if you'd like! Imagine ... it's sort of authorized talking to yourself! All writers are pretty crazy anyhow. Get used to it.

One more part coming ... tomorrow.


Yesterday, you created a scene, mini-scene, start of a scene, idea for a scene. You know, something sort of scene-like. Today you get an easy assignment. Scenes in a short story, novel, memoir, bio, etc. relate to one and another. One scene leads to the next in a kinda sorta cause and effect relationship. Reread your work from yesterday. What might a following scene contain? Journal on it.

And guess what?

You just finished multiple days of writing like a "real" writer. Which makes you one, too. It's in the doing ... See you next week!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Banning the rant

Did you every try to advocate for someone or something--or yourself--and get so angry and frustrated you ended up acting in a way you wish you hadn't? Why did you struggle to right what you saw (see) as a wrong? How might you have handled it differently? How might you have been more effective? How might you have found more serenity with the outcome? How did you keep the energy flowing meeting obstacle after obstacle?

I'm really interested in this prompt myself. After thinking about it for a day or so, and working on other writing, the answer came. That it took me a couple of days to be able to write about it is meaningful in itself.

My heart races. I pace. I want to email and phone everyone I know to tell them about the travesties I've just observed, and how I could fix them, given a chance. Texting and emailing sometimes also work but are much less satisfying. Facebook and Twitter should be shut off at moments like this.

Been there?

I've worked hard on not getting obsessed to that point, but I can still go from zero to sixty and work up a pretty loud and lengthy rant, complete with exquisite detail and gorgeous, eloquent passion. What friend of mine, or complete stranger, for that matter, wouldn't want to listen, right?


In fact, I'm that ten-year-old stomping her feet because she just knows the world will be better place if she has a puppy, and her mom disagrees. I'm not fixing a damn thing, and I just might break something fragile, like another person's equilibrium.

Let me give myself some credit--I have grown up a little. Although I still do feel for homeless puppies, I now get my most worked up trying to change things for other human beings less privileged than myself, which is a tough charge, because although I live a modest life, there are million and millions of people living in much worse conditions than I do in my white American world.

Neither do I suffer from the delusion that if I were to run the world, there would be an end to starvation and the start of world peace. But I have my own bias--that my truths are more certifiable than the truths of others. And that's how I start looking certifiable myself.

Yep, before I know it, I'm standing on a corner handing pamphlets about the impending apocalypse to passers-by who then wish they'd taken the bus.

I seriously need to stop and take a breath, knowing that the earth won't stop revolving in the next few hours.

Then, I need to remember who I am. I'm a writer. I deal in fictions, and probably, my so-called truths are just as fictional as other people's narratives.  I need to put my story in words that appear on a screen or a page, and never, never hit send until the following day--if then.

Hemingway believed in Truth and most Religious Folk preach it.

I actually believe in many truths. It's just easy to forget that before I start sounding like an evangelical. "You too can be saved! Come hear The Way!"

The beauty of writing is that through the process, I learn what I didn't know I don't know. And if I'm dedicated to exploring through narrative, I most often locate a whirlpool of new ideas that ironically spins me into a more organized me.

Words and stories are magical that way.

Then and only then can I stop demanding a puppy and find empathy for those with other realities, like my mom, who had to pay for the vet bills.

I am still a child, and like children, I am so not in charge, but when I write out my thoughts, I am at least somewhat closer to being an adult. Not that we so-called grown ups are in charge of much either. And therein lies the real secret that helps.

None of us is in charge.

I am only one of the many practically drowning in rushing waters and hanging onto the only branch they can grab--their truth of the day.

When I know that, I can take myself one step closer to peace, and recapture the one truism that is my branch in the swirling waters: Peace within is the only way toward peace without.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Today: A revision

After sharing my poem with others who remembered my family friend whom I called Tietia, the Russian for aunt, I gained perspective that led to this revision. Today, share something you've written with others. It will lead you to new insight and inspiration!

In Lent, for Mrs. Syx

When pansies emerge
between deep freeze
and sunblock
I remember Tietia
her long nylon
stockings drying
in a rose-scented
dusky room with
a bed too narrow
for her proud
Russian spirit
Others remember her
standing wrapped
in a fur collar
and dignity
at the back of the
Orthodox Cathedral
leaning on a cane
or regally presiding
over guests enjoying
her tangy Waldorf
salad and хлеб
with масло
and чай
(some of the few
Russian words
I still know)
I remember
that she loved
deeply but quietly
that she kept her
door locked against
loneliness and
never missed the
Hallelujah Chorus
on Easter no matter
how loud the radio
had to be set
Despite being
hard of hearing
she lived
at full volume

Copyright Lisa E. Paige 3/18/2015

Tuesday, March 17, 2015


Writing prompt: If you were to write a letter to one person you knew in your youth, who would it be? What would you say? And if you don't want to do the long version in your journal, post a short answer on your Facebook page and ask your friends to chime in! Here's mine: 


Pansies with
colorful faces
Waldorf salads
homemade dressing
sweet sour cream
and vinegar 
like life
Sunlight gracing
a vast porcelain
sink where you rinsed
fragile floral china
Dusk in a 
narrow bedroom 
scent of roses
Nylon stockings
for long legs
striding through
pain in your hips
Door locked
against loneliness
Car driven 
with cataract eyes
Alleluja chorus
on Orthodox Easter
Proud Russia Tietia   
Stark tired love

Monday, March 16, 2015

Do you have a pet peeve?

We all have pet peeves.

When I hear lay and lie confused, it's like fingernails on the chalkboard. (You lay a book on a table. You lie down on the bed. It's a question of which is transitive, but we don't really want to go there, do we?)

When someone says, "Me and him are going to a concert, and you can't come. It's just for him and I," I want to lay my grammar book on the table between us, then lie down in bed and weep.

One pet peeve I cannot seem to shake affects my life a lot more, however. It is: people who enjoy using their little bit of power. I call it Gym Teacher Syndrome, and anyone out there who teaches phys ed, kindly forgive me. I'm sure not all gym teachers have it. But the ones I had, did. Climb those ropes! Ten more pushups! Ropes give me burns and I can't do more than three pushups on a good day.

Why does this syndrome bother me so much?

For many reasons that are undoubtedly better saved for the therapist's couch, I have felt since I can remember that I have little to no control over structuring my own life. It starts with doing what your parents tell you to do, including being nice to family members you wouldn't mind shooting to Mars in a rocket ship. It continues with sitting properly in class and following instructions on how to follow instructions. At church, we as small children believe what we're told to believe, or else our souls turn into those dark shadowy filmy things that escape from our bodies and screech like banshees as they head toward purgatory.

Okay, so we go to see our shrinks, and we set up some boundaries, right? We learn how to protect ourselves and make some of our own choices. We learn the word, "no."

But there are so many places where "no" isn't acceptable. Such as at work, for example.

Oh, sure, we can always say, "It's all about them, not us."

But guess what? What is about them affects us, even if we become experts at, as some pop stars might sing, shaking it off?

Being this way means I don't fit in well. It means I'm not good with authority.

Maybe I should have been Empress. But that's not a job category I could ever find on Monster.com.

Besides, I feel badly saying, "Let them eat cake," and my feet don't fit in AAA-width shoes. They're more the peasant kind, good for digging potatoes.

And maybe because of the feet, I prefer to just stand on my own, which is challenging enough. I don't want to tell anyone else what to do, unless it's to hold hands and look both ways, and you're two.


What are some of your pet peeves? Jot these down. Select one. NOW WRITE!

Friday, March 13, 2015


 Please please please, fellow writers, don't begin your memoir, "I am born." It worked for Charles Dickens in David Copperfield, but really, how much of your infancy is all that interesting to your readers?

Do try beginning with a great line that shows your personality. Try starting here ...

Many think I'm not all that noteworthy, but in fact ...

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Writing Prompts!

Prompt #1 March 12, 2015

If I could see one face I missed, it would be that of ... GO WRITE!

Monday, March 2, 2015

Ansel Elkin's Autobiography of Eve

Not my poem. Great poem. Love this poem. You will too! Hope to get her permission to use it in the YA mss I'm working on ... Check out the poet at anselelkins.net!

Autobiography of Eve, by Ansel Elkins

Wearing nothing but snakeskin
boots, I blazed a footpath, the first
radical road out of that old kingdom
toward a new unknown.
When I came to those great flaming gates
of burning gold,
I stood alone in terror at the threshold
between Paradise and Earth.
There I heard a mysterious echo:
my own voice
singing to me from across the forbidden
side. I shook awake—
at once alive in a blaze of green fire.
Let it be known: I did not fall from grace.
I leapt
to freedom.
Copyright © 2015 by Ansel Elkins. Used with permission of the author.