• Prompt: Write About A Scar

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in ABCs of Writing     Comments 84 comments
    Aug
    29

    Discussion questions: Write about a scar. Internal or external, real or fictitious, literal or figurative.

     

    Some of us have scars we’re reminded of constantly. I have four of them on my face, in the shape of a cross: forehead, chin; just off the left eye, just off the right eye. All separate incidents. One of them will catch my eye most of the time I look in a mirror.

    Some of us have scars we’re rarely conscious of. Some are external; some are not.

    Sometimes while I’m typing I’ll glance down at my right wrist and watch how its scar moves as my fingers confidently pound awkwardly search for the keys.

    This happened a few days ago, and I paused for a moment to reminisce about how I got that one. It was September 9, 1992, the night Robin Yount got his 3,000th hit at Milwaukee County Stadium. I was fourteen. I don’t remember the hit, but I do remember being in a biohazard of a men’s room, wiping blood off my wrist and feces off the back of an old man.

    Which reminded me: We can’t choose what we remember.

    I wrote down those words, and then kept writing. A few hours later, I had a chaotic 5,000-word… something.

    It’ll probably stay in the archives forever, but whatever the hell it was, at least I got it out.

     

    Your task this week is to write about a scar.

    Interpret it however you’d like: external scar; internal scar. Your own or someone else’s. An imagined or totally fictitious scar. A figurative scar, maybe on your hometown, maybe your home state, your home country.

    Whatever it is, write. Take it in whatever direction you’d like, whereever your brain thinks it should go.

    And then copy/paste it below!

     

    WriteByNight co-founder David Duhr is fiction editor at the Texas Observer and co-host of the Yak Babies podcast, and has written about books for the Dallas Morning News, Electric Literature, Publishing Perspectives, and others.

    WriteByNight is a writers’ service dedicated to helping you achieve your creative potential and literary goals. We work with writers of all experience levels working in all genres, nationwide and worldwide. If you have a 2020 writing project you’d like a little help with, take a look at our book coachingprivate instruction and writer’s block counseling services. If you have a manuscript that’s ready for some editorial care, check out our various critiquing, editorial, and proofing servicesJoin our mailing list and get a FREE writer’s diagnostic, “Common problems and SOLUTIONS for the struggling writer.”

     

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    John Bordeaux

    It’s near my right eye, a small gouge. They told me a neighbor’s dog walked up to me when I was an infant sitting out on the lawn and swiped its paw at my face, the claw catching and pulling a plug of skin. Millimeters from losing my eye. I spent my childhood in deathly fear of that dog, who happily earned it as often as he could. Years later, I wondered why an infant was sitting alone on the lawn. Where was any adult? And dogs don’t slap people in the face, as a rule. What really happened?

    John Bordeaux

    Thanks, David. The adults are all dead, the dog is a lesser demon in the service of Lucifer by now as well. Do you have a greater fear of eye injury as a result of your accident? A college roommate lost his eye as a child, and I still can’t bring myself to write down how. These all combine into an irrational (or perhaps rational) fear of facial injury for me now.

    John Bordeaux

    I think that’s insightful – the random nature of the attack leads to the fear of ambush. If the injury was within my control, I could just control myself “better.” But I can’t control the circumstances that would prevent an animal attack as easily as telling myself to be more careful. Yes, I fear all dogs but don’t let that keep me from family pets.

    John Bordeaux

    Perhaps he was old enough to remember what he did to anger the dog…? Just kidding, that’s pretty impressive behavior on the part of your first cousin, twice removed. There’s a chart for this!

    J Patrick Rick

    It had been approximately two weeks since my surgery. I don’t know what’s in vogue these days or how general surgeons make a routine living, but I remember having my tonsils and adenoids removed in 1953. I was so weak from blood loss, my legs collapsed under my body when I first attempted to stand up. You see my tonsillectomy was a catastrophe. Routine blood work prior to going to surgery, did not reveal I had a form of hemophilia. I cannot open my mouth wide enough to proudly show off my childhood surgery. However I can and do write… Read more »

    J Patrick Rick

    David:

    Thank you for asking. I vividly remember that kindergarten year and write about it extensively in the first chapter of my book, EXPUNGED.

    John Liebling

    Internal and external… Ever been through a year when the unexpected kept on happening? Oh right, we all are right know. When that NY ball dropped Jan 1, 2020 who could have predicted? Scar or scared tissue? The year was 1967 I was nine years old. Walking on the black top with a good friend. Sounds like a line and scene a writer would make up, but it is not…in fact none of the following story(s) are made up, both are very true… I turned to my good friend and said nothing exciting ever happens to me. What I didn’t… Read more »

    stephen Glick

    John I loved your story.I had forgotten about the bevy of physical scars that I tote. Well done.

    John Liebling

    Steven, I am glad you liked my stories, and sorry you have those scars.

    John Liebling

    No, but there was a hell of a lot going on. Vietnam War and protests on college campus etc, just one year before Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King were assassinated. Only a couple years after color TV was created. Even before push button dial tone phones. So many decades later, I can still see my mom on the phone crying, in our kitchen, with louver windows, didn’t know why at the time, but memories like that stick. Good or bad, that is what we are, a collection of memories. Just read about a lady celebrating her 111 birthday in… Read more »

    Joe Miragliuolo

    The backward “J” on my left foot reminds me more of the covid pandemic than my momentary lapse of attention. Stuck inside with use of my local gym a memory of bygone days without masks or fear of strangers. Relegated to working out in my basement, I foolishly chose to work out wearing sandals. A momentary space-out and 25 lbs. of cast iron landed on the top of my left foot. My own blood seemed to be in a hurry to leave the body of someone foolish enough to lift weights wearing sandals. But that wasn’t the end of the… Read more »

    stephen Glick

    Joe I enjoyed your story . also. As I read yours and Johns I was reminded of the scars that I carry.

    Joe Miragliuolo

    Thanks for the kind words Stephen.

    Baker

    **Sorry I can’t write right now but thought this excerpt from a novel I’m finishing might amuse. One of the characters is the Writer and he’s a loose-brained jerk who can’t write. This is how he gets a scar in Chapter 17. Foreshadowing another minor scar-turned passage much later.** But I can’t write about that. It’s common knowledge among everyone who has searched the physics shelves at the library or bookstore. Hell, it’s probably even on the internet by now. Should I capitalize the I in Internet?  Another attempt at humor, the I thing. Fuck it. I can’ t do… Read more »

    stephen Glick

    As always thank you David for giving me a break from my routine. My scar is internal. I was maybe ten years old. I was one of the few catholic kids on the township school bus. My family by no means was wealthy. My father worked at a government ordinance plant. cold war stuff. Any way there was this family who lived in a basement with no house on top. It remained that way for decades. If you have read Stephen Kings on Writing or his book Carrie. I think about the children who lived in the basement and how… Read more »

    Frances Hill

    I know of several people in Northern Ohio who did live in basements while they were trying to make enough money to build the top of the house.
    Some of them got it done by the time their kids were married off.

    Kenneth Harris

    A scar visible to the world is a badge. If not a “…red badge of courage”, it is at the very least a sign that at one point in life you had some skin in the game and got it snagged on something or someone hard enough to leave a mark.  I bear only two scars and neither suggest outsized courage; a small incision on right index knuckle from a meat slicer that I’d been warned about and a surgical scar on tailbone that looks like a white creeping lizard when viewed in over the shoulder three-quarter mirror turn. The… Read more »

    Elissa Malcohn

    Take a closed Velcro strip and pull it open; hear the connection rip. Close it; pull it open again. Repeat. That’s what the scalpel sounded like, slicing into my navel. I had been cut into before, and I would be again, but while unconscious. I had not imagined it would sound like a toddler removing a shoe, with pudgy fingers too uncoordinated for laces.   I must peer inside, literally navel-gazing, to find the small scar. The scar I chose.   “What if you change your mind?” The screener’s question, weeks before the outpatient procedure. I was 25.   “I won’t change my mind.”   “But what if… Read more »

    Elissa Malcohn

    That was one helluva birth experience. Glad you won your fight to get here.

    Susan

    wow

    MARIA Zobel

    There is a scar on my left thigh, faded now, but once spreading from my knee to where the thigh meets the torso. I was five when I was burned, when the gauzy skirt I was wearing went up in flames. The doctor said I might not survive, but I did.
    In all the many months it took my body to heal,my father never came to see me. That was the first time my heart was broken. I survived that,too.

    Maria Zobel

    Yes, I have written a “chapter” in my memoir which goes into more detail as to how this happened, but too long to include here.

    Susan

    Well, David, now I owe you some Zaffiro’s pizza, but I don’t know how it’d make it there by mail… You just prompted 1,095 words out of me. A scar is a very central symbol in my story–Dad has one and lots of secrets with it, and daughter spends a lot of time trying to figure out how he got that scar. I am not sure if I should share what I wrote or not. First of all, is that too long? Secondly, I would be giving away a major plot point in the story, but that shouldn’t matter, I… Read more »

    Susan

    It’s fiction. This is my no… nov…. very long story. Of course I was probably hoping you’d talk me into it, and so probably I will post it. Have to warn, John, though, the scar is from a dog bite.

    Susan

    No it’s a scene from my novel (which I call my long story because I can’t say novel). The scar is a crucial symbol for a father’s wounds, mostly emotional, which are preventing him from being the father he wants to be. This scene I had already envisioned but I never wrote it out. So this rough draft came out, but then I automatically go into revision mode and just keep working on it. Maybe I’ll have it prettied up enough to post here later today.

    Angela Grout

    Beatrice’s scars aren’t as noticeable anymore. She’s covered them with tattoos as to heal the painful memory of that fateful night. The scar across her throat hides within the folds of her neck now. The years and the vitamin E oil helped that. From her breastbone to her pubic area she has incorporated a cherry blossom tree with each branch reaching over the organs which were cut. The pink flowers adorn the end of the branches and reach around her torso distracting her thoughts and other’s eyes from the history of her life.

    Susan

    A cherry blossom tree is a really nice visual image for beauty born from pain.

    Angela Grout

    Her scar can’t be seen but under that shirt, she needs no bra anymore.

    Elissa Malcohn

    This entry and the one before it remind me of Deena Metzger’s poster, which shows her post-mastectomy tattoo and the poem she wrote to go with it: http://deenametzger.net/the-poster/

    Susan

    Thank you for that poem. I read it and was really struck by “the book of my body.” We’re all writing a book one way or the other.

    david lemke

    This terrible one on my leg from racing down Tower Hill on my bike. A car pulled out, I flipped over the handlebars trying to stop. From the blacktop, I looked up at the expressionless face of an old lady looking down at me before they drove off. Nobody helped.

    david lemke

    I slammed on the breaks, went over the handlebars, and landed inches from her passenger side door. She looked down at me while her husband drove off. My mom freaked when I got home. I was covered in blood. I still have the six inch scar on my leg to prove it. Tower Hill Road just north of Sussex.

    Last edited 25 days ago by david lemke
    Christina Del Pozzo

    I will never again wear a bikini. My scar remains hidden to all but my husband and doctors. I look at it in the mirror with great satisfaction, even though it has changed the shape of my abdomen. It doesn’t really matter about my shape, because I am 70 years old and thankfully, not expected to be a cover girl. Oddly enough, my husband still finds me sexy.  My scar was 23 years in the making. It is the shape of the Mercedes emblem. I have gained weight since my liver transplant, making the skin stretch on either side of… Read more »

    Elissa Malcohn

    I love this, at once a celebration and a beautiful remembrance. “Purple scribbles appear as though I have allowed my grandchildren to draw on me” is a wonderful line.

    Christina Del Pozzo

    Thank you, Elissa.

    Christina Del Pozzo

    Thank you, David.

    Susan

    “My guest”. What a great way to refer to a donor. My brother just got a bone marrow donation, and while his donor is still a living young man somewhere in Europe, it is still great to think of him as a guest, even an adopted family member I will share your term with my brother.

    Christina Del Pozzo

    My best to your brother, Susan. By all means, please share that with your brother. I gave my liver the name Prometheus, just to give a name to my guest.

    flynn taylor

    Hi everyone I tried to post my writing here as an attachment, it seemed to upload but it never appeared. Can I get some advice an how this software appt works or do you have an fb page i can post my work on?

    flynn taylor

    or do I need to text it directly in comment box?

    David Duhr

    Hi Flynn,

    You can copy/paste it into the comment box; I think it puts a hold on any attachments.

    flynn taylor

    Thanks David.
    I posted already

    flynn taylor

    Ok I think I got it now. This First piece is fairly lengthy but I dont think I could shorten it and still have the true feeling or meaning. When I was 12 I developed acute appendicitis at the same time I had planned to go to summer camp. To this day I have never had that experience that many children have had. I guess in same ways that could be seen as a emotional scar as well. But this piece is a sort of my interpretion of how I viewed that experience both as a kid becoming an adolescent… Read more »

    Elissa Malcohn

    What a journey from near-death to self-love. Beautifully told.

    flynn taylor

    Thank you David, in truth I have never been able to write about it, I hated it for the longest time. Seems writing about such things is scary, we are all so vulnerable. I have more scars now than I did at 12. I broke a glass over my wrist putting away dishes, I was angry my dad asked me to do it, my emotions got in the way of common sense as I practically threw the dishware around. When it happened I didn’t really feel it, the cut was deep though right across the vain on the underside, I… Read more »

    Frances Hill

    Ha, a scar? I have a new one, exactly one week post operative, I had to evacuate my home. We fled to New Orleans from Sulphur, La. to escape the perils of Laura. My scars, left hip & buttocks will remind me of 2020, total hip replacement & tendon repair, but even more, I shall remember the devastation of my community this August. I will heal so will the city of Sulphur, will lots of love and prayers & help from amazing people.

    Frances Hill

    No power, no water, roads blocked with fallen wires & trees. Officials ask that we don’t return until it’s livable. Sons are working w cleanup crews, my house is standing w only minimal damage, so i’m Saying prayers of thanksgiving. It will be a year to remember!

    Frances Hill

    I’ve heard over a month before power & water are back up in some areas. I can hang out here in New Orleans as long as nec. We’ve been sending supplies and reinforcements to those on clean up details.

    flynn taylor

    omg in the middle of this pandemic, thats a hell of an ordeal, you def won’t forget it. I never had hip replacement surgery. How do they do it? How’s your recovery going? Take care of yourself.

    Frances Hill

    Yeah, 2020 will be a year to remember hope everyone’s keeping a journal. Hip replacements are no big deal, unfortunately I tore a tendon so am in a brace for six weeks. Good deal is that i’m With my daughter who is an occupational therapist we are safe here in New Orleans. I’m reading a great book “Bourbon Street Nights’ by Jack Caldwell.

    flynn taylor

    Well you hang in there, glad you got support Frances,
    Ps thanks for the tip, I work at the lib I can always use a good suggestion for books 📚 😀

    Frances Hill

    I ‘journal’ periodically just to have stuff to look back at & laugh or in the case of 2020 cry!

    John Liebling

    Not related to topic’s scaring…Continuing with my editing, not sure how this relates to our times, interpretation is always in the nose of the beholder. More alliteration fun…

    Fem fatale’s fraud forces fanatical fatalism. Ferocious frenemy forever fractures freedom’s fabulous futile facade.

    KevinW

    As a kid, I was a klutz. The klutziest klutz that ever klutzed. Note to self, claw hammers and klutzes do not mix… It was a long hot day in a long hot sumner. I was ten years old. The McGovern brothers were finishing their treehouse. I was slated to be a charter member of The Secret Treehouse Club, to spend drowsy afternoons reading comic books, eating melba toast and dropping water ballons full of grape kool-aid on Davy and Dougie’s sister Donna. But all that came later. This particular August afternoon I was on stair duty on the construction… Read more »




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