Thursday, March 22, 2012

Writing Prompt Thursday: An Introduction

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© 2012 Sean M. Madden. All Rights Reserved.

Update (31 Mar 12): Visit the #wpthu page for important new information.

First thing each Thursday morning, I'll be posting a writing prompt to Mindful Living Guide to help you kickstart your writing, or to inspire your writing to flow in fresh, new ways.

So, whether you're a professional writer or a beginner wanting to develop a writing practice, I hope you'll join us each week or whenever you're able.

Click here to have MLG blog posts delivered to your inbox. That way you'll automatically receive all new posts, including the Writing Prompt Thursday posts. You'll also receive the Mindful Living Monday posts, with tips to help you get your week off to a mindful start.

These posts will be hashtagged in Twitter and Google+ as #wpthu and #mlmon, respectively. So, in addition to being able to do searches on these, you'll also be able to use the hashtags to connect with other #wpthu and #mlmon participants around the world.

Today's #wpthu writing prompt follows ...

Take 10 minutes to put pen to paper (yes, longhand — it's good to get away from the computer for a while, and to reawaken your writing hand) and write about love and loss.

Simply put pen to paper and write. Nurture a sense of letting go of any creative burden, self-critical judgment, or comparison (with yourself in times past, or with others). Keep your pen moving. And honor, truly honor, whatever flows through you and onto the page. This is great practice in learning to trust in the process.

— And let's get the conversation flowing in the comments below. Also, feel free to type up your piece and post it below, leaving out any personal particulars which you prefer not to share ... Oh, and please help us spread word of Writing Prompt Thursday by clicking on any of the below social media share buttons. Thank you!


  1. A quick comment to thank everyone who's helping us to spread word of Writing Prompt Thursday!

    In addition to the social media sharing (watch the numbers above grow), I've just sent out an announcement to all of the Mindful Living Guide newsletter subscribers, inviting them to put pen to paper for 10 minutes today and to post comments here as well as on Twitter using the #wpthu hashtag.

    Woohoo! This is really exciting.

    My own 10-minute writing response keeps getting pushed forward by the necessities of the #wpthu moment. However, both Mufidah and I are about to sit down with a cup of coffee and write our own reflections on love and loss.

    So, stay tuned!

  2. Love and Loss...

    Six years since our love filled these streets.
    Every now and then I catch an echo of us upon the spring breeze.
    The sorrowful tone of the cello plays upon my radio,
    whilst I stare out into the day which you will not enter.
    I came back to you for a short while, but you would not follow me, out of the winter.
    My eyes show no emotion, my head draws a blank, my heart - shattered.
    Each morning I awake to the silence of your absence,
    then struggle through the day in mourning until I reach the loneliness of the night.
    Glimmers of hope in broken phone calls, brief communications, encounters of your false temporary passion.
    When will you return to fill and then empty my heart again?
    Will this game last forever until I am finally destroyed?

  3. I love the sun on my skin, warming my heart and soul. I love the summer breeze that cools on an otherwise stifling hot day. I love the sea and the sound of waves crashing on the shore. I love the deep, deep quiet of a sequoia forest. I love walking across fields covered with virgin snow. I love walking along chalk cliffs and over rolling downs. I love the blue of sky and the green of grass, the turquoise of sea and the sparkling white of sand. I love camp fires and fires in the hearth on a cold winter’s eve. I love the snuggly feeling of wearing big woolly jumpers on chilly autumn days. I love being woken by sunlight as it pours through my window. I love the feeling of skin caressing skin. I love standing under my shower at the start of each day. I love the smell of freshly baked bread and just-brewed coffee. I love the taste of cream cheese and salmon on home-made bagels. I love leather-bound notebooks filled with thick, creamy pages and the mark of black ink scratching words onto paper. I love bookcases lined with books and sofas scattered with cushions. I love houses to be lived in, looked after and loved. And I love being in love!

  4. Here's my response to today's #wpthu writing prompt ...

    Links in a long history of loving.

    Whose love was it anyway? Whom did it belong to? Was it yours? My own? Someone else's? Did someone hold our hearts in trust? Were they pledged against some future performance, held secure in a vault somewhere overseas?

    Did we trust ourselves and each other? And what, if anything, was lost? Our peace of mind, wasted moments, time spent locked out, locked in — can we really say these were lost?

    Our every moment — this eternal present presently playing out — wouldn't be what it is if it weren't for every other unintended, unforeseeable and unimaginable moment past.

    Like that sand castle teetering at tidal water's edge — you know the one — there's no use continuing to slap wet sand onto the leaning tower of our past. For nothing's past. It's all here, every moment of it still contained, still playing out within the eternity of the one at hand.

    Every moment a gift, a child of our love.

  5. Jake held the boy in the crook of his arm. This would be the last time that he would see his "bambino," and despite his efforts to be brave, Jake couldn't stop the water in his eyes from collecting in tiny pools.

    Roberto looked at him quizzically, touching and studying each stream of water as it rolled down Jake's cheeks. The child was just 9 months, but he knew that something was wrong. This was no ordinary visit.

    Jake was saying goodbye to the orphanage. He was being shipped home. The last fascist in Italy was either dead or in prison, and the army was now giving him a free ride back to Brooklyn, USA, with its pizza joints, Nedicks soft drink billboards, the lush green of Prospect Park and noisy summer nights spent on fire escape balconies.

    Peace and home. This was Jake's dream ever since getting called up in '42. So why did he now want to abandon all that wishing he'd done in foxholes throughout Europe for a cold beer in his favorite bar in Bensonhurst? Why did he want to stay in Bolzano with Roberto?

    In Jake's imaginings, he'd get a job, maybe with the occupation forces, and he could keep coming back to the orphanage every Sunday with packages of food and the occasional toy. In his wildest thoughts, he would find an Italian girl, marry and then adopt Roberto. It would be a happy ending, just like in the movies.

    It was already 4, and afternoon visiting hours were over. There was nothing Jake could do -- but put Roberto back in his iron crib. He noticed how Roberto immediately gripped the rails with its chipped paint. He leaned over and gave the boy kisses, leaving wet marks on the Roberto's cheeks. Jake thought: "That's the last he'll know of me."

    As he turned and walked away, Jake was shocked to hear great sobs emerging from his body. The nuns looked up from their chores with the other children and watched him. Jake hid his face in shame.

    Roberto stood in his crib, holding onto the chipped rail. As he watched his friend go, he too began to cry.

  6. Thank you, Don, for leaving this beautiful story with us, and for participating in this first-ever #wpthu event. It's an honor to have you here with us.

    Likewise, Lisa and Mufidah, for leaving your lovely pieces with us as well. I've already thanked you both on Twitter (and Mufidah in person), but want to leave a hopefully longer-lasting breadcrumb trail here as well. Again, a real honor that you both took time out of your busy day to reflect upon love and loss, and to have, then, graced us with your writing here at MLG.

    With warm regards,

    Sean ... and I look forward to receiving other posts from folk who might like to share their #wpthu pieces, or other comments.

  7. It was spring time when we met. You came to me among the green sword-like tulip bulbs pushing their way through the soil, the fragrant hyacinths throwing open their candle blooms to greet you, the rose-red camellia lighting the dark corners of the garden, the rose thorns waiting to catch the hand that prunes them and the leaf buds exploding on the branches.

    In summer we watched the grass grow around us as we sat and learnt each other, we felt the branches swaying over us in the breeze and the lavender lent its fragrance to heighten our passion.

    As autumn approached the grass turned dry and spare, the leaves fell upon our dying embers, the wind become sharp and harsh.

    In winter the snow fell. When the snow went you went too. You left me cold, cold as snow, cold as winter wind, cold as bitter frost.

    In spring, the tulip swords cut into my being, the flower scents made jagged my breath, the camellia flowers and leaf buds mocked me in their brightness. And the rose thorns? Perhaps just a few memories had snagged on there waiting for me to untangle them when the time was come.

  8. Dear Sue, thank you for sharing this beautiful piece of writing. I love the imagery as well as the physical sounds of the language. My partner Mufidah and I read it aloud to one another, taking turns to read every other paragraph. Lovely.

  9. I manage my love and loss in a similar manner to Bluebeard: Go where you like: just not there.

  10. The following response to this week's #wpthu was sent to me via email from Sue of Hove ...

    Sid and Denzel

    They came into our lives, two furry little souls in need of a home. At first so traumatised by the dramatic change of territory. The first week or two spent hiding behind furniture or under beds, gradually gaining confidence and venturing out for food, allowing the occasional stroke. And then the great honour of them sharing the sofa with us for short spells, a paw touching a thigh, a tail wrapped around a wrist. After 3 weeks they ruled their domain, and saw off any rivals to their new garden territory. They purred their way into our hearts and the bond grew stronger with each passing year. Love given and returned.

    Between them there was an aloof companionship, a grudging acceptance and occasional grumble when the other came too close, yet perhaps safety in numbers too as long as a suitable distance was maintained. Vying for the best position in a sunny spot or a comfy cushion. Yet when Sid was ill Denzel curled up close in his chair.

    Aged 5 and 7 when we took them in, we never expected 13 years of them sharing our home, our lives, our love. So hard to let them go when the time came, watching them go to sleep for the last time while we looked on in pain.

  11. I just received the below via email from a writing student of mine, to post here ...

    To Bonnie

    You came into our lives on a cold February day just over 6 years ago. Skinny, timid, cold and hungry, tapping on our window to get our attention to be let into our home. You looked feral and we weren't sure why but you were determined to stay. You made our family complete and kept me company in my many hours alone at home and always welcomed me back when I'd been out.

    Your life had become limited as you lost both your sight and hearing. Your heart was weak and thyroid over active and being an old lady your joints had become a problem too. It broke my heart but you still purred madly when I stroked you. Being your favourite I sometimes even shared my scrambled eggs with you!

    You must have been so lonely in your dark and silent world. You weren't happy to venture outside alone so no longer chased mice or watched the leaves fluttering in the wind. You never saw the seasons change but I guess you felt them. I felt so bad for you and could only stroke you to let you know I was there.

    Tuesday I let you go. I made that heartbreaking decision that it was your time to move on. My heart broke. I was so unprepared. I had no idea of the depth of emotion that would strike me. I cried for you, for me, for our loss of each other. Our house feels so empty.

    Now you're in pussy cat heaven. I hope you have been healed and are enjoying the sunshine and light. I miss you Bonnie and will always treasure the company and love you gave me.

    God Bless you and sleep tight my little girl.

    ~Anne Kingdon

    Thank you, Anne, for sharing this with us. With warm regards, Sean