Monday, July 25, 2011

Step Out With Your Writing

Rocky Mountain National Park - Photo by Carol Newman

In the July 11, 2011 post, Write Toward the Lake, you were invited to use the word "step" as a Writing Prompt. Do you ever wonder what the heck you're supposed to do with a "Writing Prompt?" Actually, I'm not too crazy about the term myself, but here's how it works. Without thinking too much about it, you let the prompt trigger a memory or connection or reference and then you writer about it. Here's what Donna Holman wrote: (Next week she'll tell us about her thought/writing/editing process for this piece.)

The Lift Stops Here

I watched the seven-year-old boy just ahead of me in line effortlessly jump onto the ski lift.

“Well, if he can do it, I can do it,” I thought.

It was my premier visit to the Rocky Mountains. Though having lived the life of a flat-lander on the plains of Kansas, I was a recent transplant to Colorado. And here I was, trying out the state’s favorite sport for the first time.

I watched the people ahead of me in the tow line slide into the lift’s path just a moment before a seat came and whisked them away, into the heavens it seemed, their skis dangling like tiny twigs lashed to their feet, colorful parkas polka-dotting the blue sky above, all like tiny exclamation points punctuating the ski lift’s route up the snow-draped mountain.

“I can do this,” I told myself again.

Soon I’d advanced to the head of the line. I held my breath and took a step. I felt the hard edge of the lift seat hit the back of my thigh and sweep me away.

Breathing a sigh of relief, I turned to the person seated next to me, a boy, maybe eleven or twelve.

“Where does the lift stop to let us off?” I asked, making polite conversation.

He looked at me blankly. “The lift doesn’t stop,” he said.

“What do you mean?” I asked, feeling a tiny pinprick of panic.

“You just jump off when you get to the top,” he said.

“What!” I exclaimed. “Jump off? On the top of a mountain!”

He must have seen the fear in my face because then he tried to calm me. “Just watch me,” he said. “Do what I do.”

“How can this be?” I thought, incredulous.

The mountain’s peak drew nearer. My stomach flip-flopped. Soon I saw people in the seats ahead stand up, glide away from the lift, and turn smoothly down the snow-packed mountain paths.

“Get ready,” coaxed my young companion. “Slide to the edge of your seat.”

I scooted forward as close as I dared, to the edge of the seat, my heart pounding. The lift that had seemed to be moving so languidly up the mountain now seemed to be racing. The mountain top loomed.

“Now stand up!” urged my coach as the ground came galloping towards us.

I stood up. The surface beneath my feet was ice, pure ice. Thick and gray and merciless. I felt my body listing backwards. Felt my skis slip out from under me. Felt my head crack against the hard, unforgiving ice. A fountain of fireworks exploded behind my eyeballs. As I sprawled on the ground, one ski slipped from my bindings. My goggles twisted to the back of my head.

My lift companion, who had smoothly dismounted his seat, watched in horror. As he reached out to help me, he lost his footing and fell beside me. Then, I felt the sharp prod of a ski tip against my side and the thud of another body falling on top of me. It was the person who’d been in the seat behind us on the lift. Then his lift companion tripped over the boy lying beside me. A ski lift operator rushed from the control booth to drag us out of the way. He grabbed the sleeve of a parka and pulled.

The rest of us – a spectacle of intertwined arms and legs, big boots and errant skis – thrashed and squirmed, attempting to claw our way out of the lift’s icy path. But not quickly enough. Within seconds, the lift’s relentless advancement dumped yet another person onto our human pile of brightly-colored misfortune.

That’s when I heard it…the sound of gears groaning to a halt. Then utter silence. And in that moment, I knew my companion on the way up the mountain had been wrong. The lift does stop.

©Donna Holman 2011

Thank you, Donna. We look forward to reading about how this piece came about from the writing prompt. 


In the opening paragraph, I wrote that I'm not crazy about the term "Writing Prompt." In my writing classes and groups, I don't even use the term. Instead, we have a "Launching Pad." It's a jumping-off place for your writing. You don't have to stick to the prompt, you just jump out there and write about whatever comes to mind. In Donna's story above, you can read an example of how this works. Next week she will give us specifics about how this can work. Meanwhile, this space is officially renamed "Launching Pad." Since this blog is "Angel In Your Inkwell," imagine yourself on a cloud (Is this getting too cute?) and just jump out there with your writing. Don't hold back. In fact, let's use that as this week's Launching Pad: Don't hold back.

CHOCOLATE INKWELL  This week's recipe is courtesy of an old magazine in Diagnostic Imaging's waiting room.  During a fun-filled routine visit, (all okay for another year) I saw this treat described in either Martha Stewart Living or Real Simple -- can't remember which. Since it was a February issue, the theme was chocolate. 

Frozen Hot Chocolate 

There was no recipe. The article showed a cup of steaming hot chocolate and a frozen treat on a stick.
Make hot chocolate. Freeze it in individual molds with a stick inserted. I'm guessing you would cool the hot chocolate before freezing it. Unsure. It was a triple-digit day when I saw the photo of these frozen chocolate treats, and the whole hot-to-cold idea made it especially appealing. 

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