8/30/19

Summer Writing Exercise Series #66: Three Things Times Two


#52

F
or today's writing exercise, since it is the final exercise in the Summer Writing Exercise Series, we'll be doing a double-version of three things, that's right, you will write a piece of poetry or prose which contains the following six things. Nice and simple. If you're not intimately familiar with these things do a little reading and see if a piece of info sticks out.

  1. A Honda Civic
  2. A Pack of Big League Chew
  3. A Gas Station at 2 a.m.
  4. Apricot
  5. A Retractable Pen
  6. A Raccoon

------------------------------------

If you'd like some background music to write to, try this Elliot Smith and Jon Brion collaboration.










Summer Writing Exercise Series #65: Repetition with the King of the Hill


#65
For today's writing exercise you will write a piece of poetry or prose which contains the following phrase at least four times (non-sequentially):

"One child remained standing."

    Think of this both literally and metaphorically, and maybe have the sentence begin earlier, or continue past the word standing—is it a sequence of different kids being the last remaining kid, or is it one kid who remains throughout multiple incidents?
    ------------------------------------

    If you'd like some background music to write to, try Suite No 2 from the movie Legends of the Fall, by James Horner.



    8/29/19

    Summer Writing Exercise Series #64: One of Two Endings with a Violin


    #64
    For today's writing exercise you will write a piece of poetry or prose which ends with one of the following sentences—think of it like starting a maze from the end.


    Sentence 1: The night hung on the violin's last note.

    Sentence 2: She walked down the dark street, bow tip dragging in puddles.

    Bonus prompt requirement: Begin in a taxi cab (or car for hire) and also include someone saying the line of dialog "Not Tarzan, George of the Jungle!"
    ------------------------------------

    If you'd like some background music to write to, try this album of master violinist Joshua Bell playing Bach.



    8/28/19

    Summer Writing Exercise Series #63: Title Mania on Cobblestones


    #63
    For today's writing exercise you will write a piece of poetry or prose which uses one of the following as its title. For a bonus challenge, try to use as many of the titles in your piece as you can manage organically.


    Titles:

    1. Vibrations
    2. Some Sort of Resolution
    3. Simone and the Jukebox
    4. Hot Dice
    5. Orange Lights on Wet Cobblestone

    ------------------------------------

    If you'd like some background music to write to, try the ambient album "_snd" by Microstoria.



    8/27/19

    Summer Writing Exercise Series #62: Erasing The Crystal Egg 6


    #62
    For today's exercise we have split paths for fiction and poetry, though I highly recommend that even fiction writers try the poetry exercise.

    If you insist on fiction, write a piece that begins with the phrase "He could understand the rays being refracted".

    For poetry do an erasure or black-out poem from the following selection of H.G. Wells' short story "The Crystal Egg". An Erasure/Blackout is really simple: you take the given text and remove many words to make it your own new piece. One way to go about the erasure that I like to do is to copy the text and paste it twice into your document before you start erasing or blacking out (in MS Word set the text background color to black), that way if you get further into the erasure and decide you want a somewhat different tone or direction, it's easy to go to the unaltered version and make the erasure/black-out piece smoother. Another tip is to look for recurring words, in this example Cave occurs many times and could be a good touchstone for your piece.


    Erasure Selection:

    from The Crystal Egg

    It occurred to Mr. Cave that this was not in accordance with the laws of optics as he had known them in his younger days. He could understand the rays being refracted by the crystal and coming to a focus in its interior, but this diffusion jarred with his physical conceptions. He approached the crystal nearly, peering into it and round it, with a transient revival of the scientific curiosity that in his youth had determined his choice of a calling. He was surprised to find the light not steady, but writhing within the substance of the egg, as though that object was a hollow sphere of some luminous vapour. In moving about to get different points of view, he suddenly found that he had come between it and the ray, and that the crystal none the less remained luminous. Greatly astonished, he lifted it out of the light ray and carried it to the darkest part of the shop. It remained bright for some four or five minutes, when it slowly faded and went out. He placed it in the thin streak of daylight, and its luminousness was almost immediately restored.

    So far, at least, Mr. Wace was able to verify the remarkable story of Mr. Cave. He has himself repeatedly held this crystal in a ray of light (which had to be of a less diameter than one millimetre). And in a perfect darkness, such as could be produced by velvet wrapping, the crystal did undoubtedly appear very faintly phosphorescent. It would seem, however, that the luminousness was of some exceptional sort, and not equally visible to all eyes; for Mr. Harbinger — whose name will be familiar to the scientific reader in connection with the Pasteur Institute — was quite unable to see any light whatever. And Mr. Wace’s own capacity for its appreciation was out of comparison inferior to that of Mr. Cave’s. Even with Mr. Cave the power varied very considerably: his vision was most vivid during states of extreme weakness and fatigue.

    Now, from the outset, this light in the crystal exercised a curious fascination upon Mr. Cave. And it says more for his loneliness of soul than a volume of pathetic writing could do, that he told no human being of his curious observations. He seems to have been living in such an atmosphere of petty spite that to admit the existence of a pleasure would have been to risk the loss of it. He found that as the dawn advanced, and the amount of diffused light increased, the crystal became to all appearance non-luminous. And for some time he was unable to see anything in it, except at night-time, in dark corners of the shop.

    But the use of an old velvet cloth, which he used as a background for a collection of minerals, occurred to him, and by doubling this, and putting it over his head and hands, he was able to get a sight of the luminous movement within the crystal even in the day-time. He was very cautious lest he should be thus discovered by his wife, and he practised this occupation only in the afternoons, while she was asleep upstairs, and then circumspectly in a hollow under the counter. And one day, turning the crystal about in his hands, he saw something. It came and went like a flash, but it gave him the impression that the object had for a moment opened to him the view of a wide and spacious and strange country; and turning it about, he did, just as the light faded, see the same vision again.

    Now it would be tedious and unnecessary to state all the phases of Mr. Cave’s discovery from this point. Suffice that the effect was this: the crystal, being peered into at an angle of about 137 degrees from the direction of the illuminating ray, gave a clear and consistent picture of a wide and peculiar country-side. It was not dream-like at all: it produced a definite impression of reality, and the better the light the more real and solid it seemed. It was a moving picture: that is to say, certain objects moved in it, but slowly in an orderly manner like real things, and, according as the direction of the lighting and vision changed, the picture changed also. It must, indeed, have been like looking through an oval glass at a view, and turning the glass about to get at different aspects.
    ------------------------------------

    If you'd like some background music to write to, try the album Tomorrow was the Golden Age by Bing & Ruth


    8/26/19

    Summer Writing Exercise Series #61: 3x5x5 Wordbank 9


    #61
    For today's writing exercise you will pick one word from each of three groups and write a sentence that includes all of the words, feel free to change tense, pluralize etc. Repeat the process five (5) times using different combinations. Now write a piece of fiction or poetry that uses at least two (2) of those sentences. Try to use as many of the sentences as you can.


    Word Bank 1:
    • Trip
    • Joked
    • Flummoxed
    • Swath
    • Lily
    Wordbank 2:
    • Typhoon
    • Gallop
    • Tether
    • Zorse
    • Canary
    Wordbank 3:

    ------------------------------------

    If you'd like some background music to write to, try Sufjan Steven's album Carrie and Lowell.





    8/25/19

    Summer Writing Exercise Series #60: Ekphrastic Horseride

    #60


    For today, we're going to write a poem or prose piece inspired by another piece of art or an ekphrastic piece. The piece of art in question is the painting "Couple Riding" from 1906 by Wassily Kandinsky.


    Whether you're writing a lyric poem about a horsebound date, a narrative of lovers escaping oppressive parents, a vignette about seeing a young couple kissing before the young man goes off to war, or any other of millions of options, be inspired by this painting.


    ---

    If you'd like background writing music here a live performance from Passenger at Pinkpop 2013.




    8/24/19

    Summer Writing Exercise Series #59: Repetition with a Burger


    #59
    For today's writing exercise you will write a piece of poetry or prose which contains the following phrase at least four times (non-sequentially):

    "It was just one burger."

      Think of this both literally and metaphorically, and maybe have the sentence begin earlier, or continue past the word burger.
      ------------------------------------

      If you'd like some background music to write to, try Gregory Alan Isakov's This Empty Northern Hemisphere.


      8/23/19

      Summer Writing Exercise Series #58: Three Things at the Movies


      #58
      For today's writing exercise you will write a piece of poetry or prose which contains the following three things. Nice and simple. If you're not intimately familiar with these things do a little reading and see if a piece of info sticks out.

      1. A movie theater parking lot
      2. A swiss army knife
      3. Palm trees

      ------------------------------------


      If you'd like some background music to write to, try the expanded soundtrack to the movie Braveheart by James Horner.












      8/22/19

      Summer Writing Exercise Series #57: Title Mania in the Forest


      #57
      For today's writing exercise you will write a piece of poetry or prose which uses one of the following as its title. For a bonus challenge, try to use as many of the titles in your piece as you can manage organically.


      Titles:

      1. Dropped from the Sky
      2. Under Overhanging Limbs
      3. Apple Trees, Wheelbarrows, Lipstick and the Setting Sun 
      4. Torpor
      5. Blank Stares

      ------------------------------------

      If you'd like some background music to write to, try this relaxing flute music with gentle stream and forest noises.



      8/21/19

      The Publishing Life: 89 Literary Journals, Magazines and Reviews opening for creative writing submissions on September 1st, 2019



      Literary Journals, Magazines and Reviews opening for creative writing submissions September 1st, 2019
      September is quickly approaching and that means many college journals (among others) are reopening for submissions. Here is a list of journals that open for submissions on September first unless otherwise noted. If you're not familiar with a journal be sure to read a bunch of it before you decide which pieces to submit, or if it's a good fit for your work at all.

      A couple notes:

      Simultaneous Submissions: Sending the same story or poem to more than one journal for consideration at the same or in overlapping time periods. Most journals/magazines are on board with simultaneous submissions, they realize that there are hundreds and even thousands of venues for your words and with acceptance percentages almost always in the single digits, it makes the most sense to spread your work out a little to publications where you think the pieces will fit and hope someone will snatch it up.  Some places emphatically do not accept simultaneous submissions, if that's the case do not, please please don't send them simultaneous submissions.

      Snail Mail: Slang for the postal service, as in actually mailing physical pieces of paper with ink on them to the actual office of the magazine with a Self Addressed and Stamped Envelop (SASE) for the journal to return with either an acceptance or a rejection. Not many journals on this list do not accept online submissions, but there are a few, and there are still a good number out there that just don't specify any flash guidelines. Places like Antioch Review, Epoch and Zyzzyva among others still like to have the paper in their hands when they read your writing. I've indicated these journals with the pictured icon:

      Useful Resources

      The Review Review: The Review Review is a great reading and publishing resource with hundreds and hundreds of reviews, interviews and articles. Highly recommended.

      New Pages: New Pages is a great site that has tons of reviews of literary magazines, journals, reviews lit mags, zines etc. They also have lists, articles and are generally a great resource when submitting.

      Duotrope: Duotrope costs $5 a month or $50 a year but it is a tremendous service. Even if you just want it for the fall months I'd highly recommend it. Do your research, bookmark/save/list as much as you can then you can supplement with other free sources like The Review Review, New Pages, PW.org, Submission Grinder etc. They do have a tracking system as well that you can use/contribute to the community to give a more accurate picture of response times.

      Submission Grinder: This resource is a little more geared to genre fiction, and you'll find a lot more trade magazines and markets that cater to a particular genre as opposed to general literary fiction and poetry. One thing to note is that while many literary journals pay their contributors in a copy of the journal or perhaps just the publishing credit and good will, many trade publications pay for their fiction from $.01-$.10 per word.

      Submittable: It goes without saying if you're doing online submissions, at least of literary poetry or prose, you're already using Submittable but if not you will be using this list as the majority of journals only accept their submissions through that portal. The cost depends on the journal, most are either free or $3 which is roughly the cost of a manila envelop with postage and an SASE like you'd use for a snail mail submission so it's not too big of a deal, though it definitely makes you appreciate the journals that can absorb the cost and not pass it along to the writer. They also have a Discovery tab where you can check for upcoming deadlines or search by tag. The search function is still in the works but the discovery tab is good to check around the end of a month for closing submission windows.

      About the journals selected:

      I used a number of resources to collate this list including the 2019 Pushcart Prize anthology (list of journals and presses nominating), a trusted and very heavily notated 2007 Poet's Market, Duoptrope, Submittable and Erica Verillo's blogpost about University-sponsored journals. I omitted a few 'journals' which were very low-effort/poor design because they appeared more like a blog than a magazine. There are certainly some smaller online journals in this list, but the quality of their writing and journal design (in a couple cases the writing quality prevailed over bland design). Basically, if it looks like a Geocities page I didn't include it. Also some journals inevitably got missed that were listed as a press, had a very limited demographic or just got lost in the huge shuffle of lists. If you represent a journal opening in September  please comment and I'll include you.

      Onto the list!

      ***

      89 Journals Opening for Submissions on September 1st (unless noted)

      AGNI

      Antioch Review (Only snail mail submissions, but they're a great journal and worth your stamps.)

      Barnstorm

      Bellingham Review (September 15 opening)

      Birmingham Poetry Review (Snail mail submissions only)

      Booth 

      Bryant Literary Review

      The Common (Place themed journal)

      Copper Nickel

      Crab Creek Review

      Crazyhorse

      Cutbank (September 15th opening)

      descant (September 15th opening)

      Epoch (September 15th opening, no simultaneous submissions and only snail mail but they're one of the best journals out there.)

      Evansville Review

      Exit 13 (Travel, adventure or geography themed poems)

      Faultline

      Fiddlehead (September 15th opening, Canadian journal)

      Five Points

      Flyway

      Fourth Genre (Non fiction only)

      Fox Cry Review

      Fugue

      Gettysburg Review

      Grain (September 15th opening, Canadian journal)

      Greensboro Review (September 15th opening)

      Gulf Coast

      Gulf Stream Magazine 

      Halfway Down the Stairs ("The Calling" themed issue)

      Harpur Palate

      Hotel Amerika

      Hot Metal Bridge

      Hudson Review (Fiction submissions open)

      Idaho Review

      Ilanot Review (Themed issue: Home/Work)

      Indiana Review

      Iowa Review

      The Literary Review (Traditionally a September 1 opening)

      Lost Balloon

      Lunch Ticket

      The Lyric Review (Snail mail only, also they almost only publish formal or rhymed verse)

      Madcap Review

      Madison Review

      Muzzle Magazine

      Nashville Review

      New England Review

      New Letters (September 15th opening)

      New Ohio Review (September 15th opening)

      New South

      Ninth Letter

      The Normal School

      North American Review (Open during the school year)

      Notre Dame Review

      Passages North

      Pembroke Review (September submissions are free, open for paid submissions until April)

      Penn Review

      Plume

      Poet Lore

      Poetry Northwest (They accept fiction year-round)

      Posit

      Prairie Schooner

      Redivider

      RipRap (September 12 opening)

      River Teeth (Non fiction only)

      Rockhurst Review

      Seneca Review

      Sewanee Review

      Slant: A Journal of Poetry

      South Carolina Review (Doesn't mention specific genre guidelines)

      South Dakota Review

      Southern Indiana Review (September 15th opening)

      The Southern Review

      Southwest Review

      Split Rock Review (Also opens for Rewilding which is "an anthology that explores the current state of the natural environment.")

      Spoon River Poetry Review (September 15th opening)

      The Stillwater Review

      Subtropics (Only open September 15-30, a 15 day submission window)

      Superstition Review

      Sycamore Review

      Tampa Review

      Tar River Poetry

      Third Coast (September 15th opening)

      upstreet (Only fiction and non fiction—no poetry)

      Willard and Maple

      Willow Review (Snail mail only)

      Willow Springs

      Windsor Review (Canadian journal)

      Zyzzyva (Snail mail only)

      *Special note:

      Portland Review (Labor themed issue has a September 2nd deadline)

      Into the Void (Canadian journal with a September 7th deadline)

      Grist (September 15th deadline)

      ***

      Now you have plenty of reading and research to keep you busy in the time leading up to September. One submission tactic I have is to take some time reading a journal, even if I'm familiar with it, because editorships change, tastes change etc. After that I'll find the poems of mine which seem like they would most fit in at the journal and save the doc file ahead of time. That way when the second or so rolls around you are all set with your literary pise en place and ready to disseminate your writing into the world.

      You don't want to carpet bomb all the journals on this list by any means, but if you've done your due diligence sending out a dozen or so submissions is totally understandable as the summer is when poems gather dust. Of course lot of this depends on how many poems, stories and non fiction essays you have that are ready for publishing. Also bear in mind that many of these journals are produced by colleges and might not open their submission portals promptly on September 1st. Don't bug them, do a few writing prompts and just check back in a few days.

      ***

      Pathetic plea time. I  am a submitting writer as well and will be trying to get my first collection/s published this year which means many submission fees. If you could find it in your heart and wallet to donate a dollar or two it would really go a long way. Every cent donated will go toward submission fees. Hook me up with like $25 and I'll even thank you in my book when it's accepted. Thank you now, however, for your readership and support! Best of luck on your writing journeys, and if you'd like to see anything at Notebooking Daily that you don't see thusfar please let me know! The Fall Writing Exercise Series kicks off on September 1st which will include some new exercise categories and more ekphrastic prompts; and I will be profiling more journals.



      8/20/19

      Summer Writing Exercise Series #56: One of Two Starts at the Lake


      #56
      For today's writing exercise you will write a piece of poetry or prose which begins with one of the following sentences.


      Sentence 1: There weren't waves to surf at the lake, but we made it our ocean.

      Sentence 2: The lake had grown so stagnant even the leeches died out.
      ------------------------------------

      If you'd like some background music to write to, try this one-hour extended version of the opening theme to Stand By Me (Remembering the Summer of 1959).



      8/19/19

      Summer Writing Exercise Series #55: Micro 101 Episode 003 Cars, Cars, Cars


      #55
      For today's writing exercise you will write a few micro-poems or micro-fictions. These will be either poems under 12 lines or stories under 100 words.

      Don't worry about them not containing a complex message. Aim for a surface level with one metaphoric level. Focus on interesting juxtapositions, something out of place and why—either why it is in that place, why it's out of place or why it actually fits in for some unexpected reason. Real Estate is expensive in a micro so avoid too many phrasal verbs and using too many articles when possible. But also don't expect a micro to explain the world in 100 words.

      For inspiration go read some micro or hint fiction in this Buzzfeed article, at Microfiction Monday32 Poems and Nanoism.

      Micro Exercise 1: Describe an animal's call and explore 3-5 potential reasons for the call.
      Micro Exercise 2: Make a list of seven types of cars. Write a micro in which two or three of those (personified) cars have a short conversation in either a parking lot or on the road.
      Micro Exercise 3: Write a micro which uses one of the unused cars from #2 and crashes it for some reason. Explore that reason.
      Micro Exercise 4: Write down 4-7 interesting phrases/titles from this Random Title Generator, use it as many as ten times if you need to. Use one of those as the title and include a second in the micro. Try to include 2-4 for extra fun.
      ------------------------------------

      If you'd like some background music to write to, try the album Our Endless Numbered Days by Iron & Wine.



      8/18/19

      Summer Writing Exercise Series #54: 3x5x5 Wordbank 8


      #54
      For today's writing exercise you will pick one word from each of three groups and write a sentence that includes all of the words, feel free to change tense, pluralize etc. Repeat the process five (5) times using different combinations. Now write a piece of fiction or poetry that uses at least two (2) of those sentences. Try to use as many of the sentences as you can.


      Word Bank 1:
      • Wistful
      • Bony
      • Fluctuate
      • Episode
      • Marshmallow
      Wordbank 2:
      • Baboon
      • Hexed
      • Flop
      • Extent
      • Breakfast
      Wordbank 3:
      • Tickle
      • Frumpy
      • Dolphin
      • Beetle
      • Arboreal

      ------------------------------------

      If you'd like some background music to write to, try this one hour lofi mix of Miyasaki soundtrack music.




      8/17/19

      Summer Writing Exercise Series #53: Repetition and a Song


      #53
      For today's writing exercise you will write a piece of poetry or prose which contains the following phrase at least four times (non-sequentially):

      "And they sang."

        Think of this both literally and metaphorically, and maybe have the sentence begin earlier, or continue past the word dry.
        ------------------------------------

        If you'd like some background music to write to, try the London Calling by The Clash.









        8/15/19

        Summer Writing Exercise Series #52: Three Things and a Side of Fries


        #52
        For today's writing exercise you will write a piece of poetry or prose which contains the following three things. Nice and simple. If you're not intimately familiar with these things do a little reading and see if a piece of info sticks out.


        1. A Diner
        2. A Mullet Haircut
        3. Azaleas

        ------------------------------------

        If you'd like some background music to write to, try the soundtrack to the game The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker









        8/14/19

        Summer Writing Exercise Series #51: Title Mania en route to Alpha Centuri


        #51
        For today's writing exercise you will write a piece of poetry or prose which uses one of the following as its title. For a bonus challenge, try to use as many of the titles in your piece as you can manage organically.


        Titles:

        1. Rat Poison Without Directions
        2. Another Doctor
        3. Travelling to Alpha Centuri for the Weekend 
        4. Relaxation
        5. Annotated Bookmark

        ------------------------------------

        If you'd like some background music to write to, try this mix of Carlos Carty's pan flute music.





        8/13/19

        Summer Writing Exercise Series #50: One of Two Endings Emdashed on the Rocks


        #50
        For today's writing exercise you will write a piece of poetry or prose which ends with one of the following sentences—think of it like starting a maze from the end.


        Sentence 1: "Vodka on the rocks—and no fruit this time."

        Sentence 2: Like so many things—dashed upon the rocks.

        Bonus prompt requirement: Include someone crushing a can and begin the piece with a necklace or bracelet going missing.
        ------------------------------------

        If you'd like some background music to write to, try the soundtrack for the hilarious Wes Anderson film The Grand Budapest Hotel.


        8/12/19

        For Your Enjoyment: A conversation with former US Poet Laureate and two-time Pulitzer Prize winner W.S. Merwin at his home in Hawai'i

        I got to see WS Merwin read once while I was in graduate school and he was great. His contemplative poetry often takes nature as its subject and while not overly complicated, his poems have a great resonance to them.

        In this conversation with W.S. Merwin at his home in Hawai'i his connection to the environment, a sense of place and language are explored, they walk around his beautiful grounds a little and he reads a number of poems. Big shout out to PBS for continuing to produce great educational and arts programming.


        Summer Writing Exercise Series #49: Repetition at the Dry Well


        #43
        For today's writing exercise you will write a piece of poetry or prose which contains the following phrase at least four times (non-sequentially):

        "The well has gone dry."

          Think of this both literally and metaphorically, and maybe have the sentence begin earlier, or continue past the word dry.
          ------------------------------------

          If you'd like some background music to write to, try the score to the movie Holes.






          8/11/19

          Summer Writing Exercise Series #48: Three Things at the Dam


          #48
          For today's writing exercise you will write a piece of poetry or prose which contains the following three things. Nice and simple. If you're not intimately familiar with these things do a little reading and see if a piece of info sticks out.

          1. The Hoover Dam
          2. A Tangerine
          3. Licorice Candy
          If you don't know much about the Hoover Dam watch this great American Experiences episode about it, it's an amazing feat of engineering.

          ------------------------------------

          If you'd like some background music to write to, try a loop of the music from Soarin' Over California by Jerry Goldsmith.






          8/9/19

          Summer Writing Exercise Series #47: 3x5x5 Wordbank 7


          #47
          For today's writing exercise you will pick one word from each of three groups and write a sentence that includes all of the words, feel free to change tense, pluralize etc. Repeat the process five (5) times using different combinations. Now write a piece of fiction or poetry that uses at least two (2) of those sentences. Try to use as many of the sentences as you can.


          Word Bank 1:
          • Thirst
          • Jarring
          • Plural
          • Flunk
          • Potato
          Wordbank 2:
          • Swift
          • Leper
          • Broadside
          • Lukewarm
          • Flimsy
          Wordbank 3:
          • Poker
          • Slate
          • Juvenile
          • Gopher
          • Shark

          ------------------------------------

          If you'd like some background music to write to, try Tom Petty's Greatest Hits.



          8/8/19

          Summer Writing Exercise Series #46: Title Mania with Bamboo


          #46
          For today's writing exercise you will write a piece of poetry or prose which uses one of the following as its title. For a bonus challenge, try to use as many of the titles in your piece as you can manage organically.


          Titles:

          1. Shiny
          2. Note to Self #32,434
          3. The Missing Dinosaur
          4. Modeled in Clay
          5. On the Steps of the Capitol Building

          ------------------------------------

          If you'd like some background music to write to, try this mix of Studio Ghibli instrumentals




          8/7/19

          Summer Writing Exercise Series #45: Erasing The Crystal Egg 5


          #45
          For today's exercise we have split paths for fiction and poetry, though I highly recommend that even fiction writers try the poetry exercise. For fiction, write a piece beginning with the sentence "He told a complicated story."

          For poetry do an erasure or black-out poem from the following selection of H.G. Wells' short story "The Crystal Egg". An Erasure/Blackout is really simple: you take the given text and remove many words to make it your own new piece. One way to go about the erasure that I like to do is to copy the text and paste it twice into your document before you start erasing or blacking out (in MS Word set the text background color to black), that way if you get further into the erasure and decide you want a somewhat different tone or direction, it's easy to go to the unaltered version and make the erasure/black-out piece smoother. Another tip is to look for recurring words, in this example Cave occurs many times and could be a good touchstone for your piece.


          Erasure Selection:

          from The Crystal Egg

          Now, without mincing the matter, we must admit that Mr. Cave was a liar. He knew perfectly well where the crystal was. It was in the rooms of Mr. Jacoby Wace, Assistant Demonstrator at St. Catherine’s Hospital, Westbourne Street. It stood on the sideboard partially covered by a black velvet cloth, and beside a decanter of American whisky. It is from Mr. Wace, indeed, that the particulars upon which this narrative is based were derived. Cave had taken off the thing to the hospital hidden in the dog-fish sack, and there had pressed the young investigator to keep it for him. Mr. Wace was a little dubious at first. His relationship to Cave was peculiar. He had a taste for singular characters, and he had more than once invited the old man to smoke and drink in his rooms, and to unfold his rather amusing views of life in general and of his wife in particular. Mr. Wace had encountered Mrs. Cave, too, on occasions when Mr. Cave was not at home to attend to him. He knew the constant interference to which Cave was subjected, and having weighed the story judicially, he decided to give the crystal a refuge. Mr. Cave promised to explain the reasons for his remarkable affection for the crystal more fully on a later occasion, but he spoke distinctly of seeing visions therein. He called on Mr. Wace the same evening.

          He told a complicated story. The crystal he said had come into his possession with other oddments at the forced sale of another curiosity dealer’s effects, and not knowing what its value might be, he had ticketed it at ten shillings. It had hung upon his hands at that price for some months, and he was thinking of “reducing the figure,” when he made a singular discovery.

          At that time his health was very bad — and it must be borne in mind that, throughout all this experience, his physical condition was one of ebb — and he was in considerable distress by reason of the negligence, the positive ill-treatment even, he received from his wife and step-children. His wife was vain, extravagant, unfeeling, and had a growing taste for private drinking; his step-daughter was mean and over-reaching; and his step-son had conceived a violent dislike for him, and lost no chance of showing it. The requirements of his business pressed heavily upon him, and Mr. Wace does not think that he was altogether free from occasional intemperance. He had begun life in a comfortable position, he was a man of fair education, and he suffered, for weeks at a stretch, from melancholia and insomnia. Afraid to disturb his family, he would slip quietly from his wife’s side, when his thoughts became intolerable, and wander about the house. And about three o’clock one morning, late in August, chance directed him into the shop.

          The dirty little place was impenetrably black except in one spot, where he perceived an unusual glow of light. Approaching this, he discovered it to be the crystal egg, which was standing on the corner of the counter towards the window. A thin ray smote through a crack in the shutters, impinged upon the object, and seemed as it were to fill its entire interior.

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          If you'd like some background music to write to, try this live performance of the Drive By Truckers on Seattle's KEXP.


          8/5/19

          Summer Writing Exercise Series #44: One of Two Starts Near Death


          #44
          For today's writing exercise you will write a piece of poetry or prose which begins with one of the following sentences.


          Sentence 1: It wasn't laughing at death, but at inevitability.

          Sentence 2: Its claws were longer than any of your fingers.
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          If you'd like some background music to write to, try the soundtrack for the movie Field of Dreams. Gotta you some James Horner.


          Summer Writing Exercise Series #43: Three Things in the Keys


          #43
          For today's writing exercise you will write a piece of poetry or prose which contains the following three things. Nice and simple. If you're not intimately familiar with these things do a little reading and see if a piece of info sticks out.
          Fort Jefferson, FL; Photo by Jason Rohrer


          1. Fort Jefferson, Florida
          2. A Waterspout
          3. A Barn Swallow Nest

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          If you'd like some background music to write to, try the folk punk band Andrew Jackson Jihad's album "People That Can Eat People Are the Luckiest People in the World".






          8/4/19

          Summer Writing Exercise Series #42: Ekphrastic Chimneys

          #42


          For today, we're going to write a poem or prose piece inspired by another piece of art or an ekphrastic piece. The piece of art in question is this photo of a tree growing out of an abandoned factory chimney.



          Whether you're writing a lyric poem about time passing in an industrial town as the industry moves away, a narrative of traveler in a strange land, an animal growing up in these ruins, or one of a million other options, have a blast with this great piece. There's a ton of possibilities. Shout out to the Abandoned Porn subreddit where I saw this image. I linked to the earliest copy I could find with a Tin Eye search. 


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          If you'd like background writing music here a live performance from The Uncluded (Kimya Dawson and Aesop Rock) on Seattle's KEXP.




          8/3/19

          Summer Writing Exercise Series #41: Micro 101 Episode 002


          #41
          For today's writing exercise you will write a few micro-poems or micro-fictions. These will be either poems under 12 lines or stories under 100 words.

          For inspiration go read some micro or hint fiction in this Buzzfeed article, at Microfiction Monday32 Poems and Nanoism.

          Micro Exercise 1: Write an accident of some sort with 3 items/things described in motion.
          Micro Exercise 2: Make a list of ten items you might find in an alleyway. Write a micro piece that includes at least seven of those items.
          Micro Exercise 3: Write a micro which uses the items not used in Micro #2, as well as someone chewing loudly on gum.
          Micro Exercise 4: Pick three interesting words from this Random Word Generator and use them in a micro.

          Bonus Exercise: Combine two or more of these pieces into one 250ish word piece.
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          If you'd like some background music to write to, try this mix of Studio Ghibli instrumentals.