Absent Partners: A Story and a Writing Prompt

Seven years ago, Cathy and I pointed her Mustang GT westward, our sights set on Lubbock, Texas. We were at a time in our lives when we didn’t quite know where we were going to end up. I’d just walked out of a long-term marriage. Cathy had left her own marriage five years prior. We’d…

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Writing Lessons from the Garden

Our plot at the community garden is beginning to produce. I’m enjoying lettuce, spinach, and radishes. Blooms are about to come on our bush beans. Onions are growing. I see the beginnings of blossoms on our tomato and pepper plants. I love this 4 x 12 foot raised bed. I love working up the soil…

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A Writing Prompt on Mother’s Day

The writing prompt for this week is to write about a feature of someone’s body that seems contrary to the inner essence of that person. You can use this for creative nonfiction or fiction. Imagine the way that feature would be if the person had lived the life they should have lived. As an example,…

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Coming Home: A Writing Prompt

I start today with these lines from Robert Frost’s narrative poem, “The Death of the Hired Man”: Home is the place where, when you have to go there, They have to take you in. We know this isn’t always true. Families turn their own away all the time, and sometimes for good reason. In a…

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Pet Peeves: Story Starters

We all have them, our pet peeves that raise our blood pressure and put us on edge. Here are a few of mine: overpriced restaurants that crowd tables together so you actually feel like you’re dining with the people on your left and right, noisy restaurants where you have to shout to carry on a…

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Success Comes in Many Ways: A Wish for My Students

I’m approaching the end of another school year. Right now, I’m in the midst of reading the wonderful revisions my fiction and creative nonfiction writers have done. It’s a time to celebrate the victories each writer has had as they’ve moved their original drafts further along and a time for me to make any suggestions…

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And Then It Happened: A Story Prompt

You know how it goes. You’re going through an ordinary day—maybe it’s a Sunday, and you’re just taking it easy—and then just like that something happens to change everything. Maybe a visitor arrives, or a phone call comes, or someone says something they’ve been repressing, or they do something they never thought they’d do. The…

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It Takes So Little

After I graduated from high school, I enrolled in the local community college. The girl I was dating at the time had an older sister who’d also gone there, and she gave me some of the textbooks she’d used. I remember a psychology text and a literature anthology. The latter was still in use at…

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Forgiveness

My memories of childhood Easters are mostly of coloring the eggs my mother would then hide for me to find on Sunday mornings. We lived on our farm, then, which means I’d yet to enter third grade, and we’d yet to move to Oak Forest, Illinois, a southern suburb of Chicago. Each year, while we…

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Memory as Resurrection: A Writing Activity

Cathy and I have had an odd feeling after selling her family home. She still tears up from time to time when she realizes our attachment to our native land has just become a bit less firm. For the past nine years, she’s been in that home four days out of each month, as she…

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