• Prompt: Write About Winter

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in ABCs of Writing     Comments 74 comments
    Dec
    5

    Discussion questions: Write about winter. If you’d like, use any of the following questions for inspiration: What are you doing to prepare for the coming winter, as a writer and in general? Are you looking forward to it or are you dreading it (or both)? What are your biggest hopes and fears for the coming winter? And how do you feel about winter in general? What are some of your favorite winter memories? What has been your best winter as a writer, and why?

     

    I’m slowly working my way through my near-annual reread of one of my favorite poems, James Hazard’s “The Snow Crazy Copybook,” a work that plunges me into a winter mood.

    I mean that in a good way. Mostly.

    (I can’t find this poem anywhere online, but if you’re curious, you can see an excerpt here.)

    For many of us, 2020 can’t go away quickly enough. But I can’t imagine that the deep, dark days of January and February will feel much better than this year has.

    So I’m mentally/emotionally prepping for winter. Which includes reading this poem. And which also includes wondering about you and your own thoughts about winter, in general and this year’s.

     

    This week’s prompt is simple: Write about winter. Whatever comes to mind.

    Here are a few questions, if you need some inspiration:

    What are you doing to prepare for the coming winter, as a writer and in general? Are you looking forward to it or are you dreading it (or both)? What are your biggest hopes and fears for the coming winter?

    And how do you feel about winter in general? What are some of your favorite winter memories? What has been your best winter as a writer, and why?

    Let me know all of this and more below!

     

    And if you want some more inspiration, here are a few early stanzas from James Hazard’s “The Snow Crazy Copybook”:

     

    1.

    The sound of small dry flakes, almost pellets,

    falling in a stand of cedars nearby the shack

    made me strange today.

     

    My mind jumped inside me like a stung hand.

    In the cedars the dry flakes sounded like mice

    bites. Yipes! I do not want to die here, is the

    thought that stung me.

     

    In the shack I was half afraid, or more, to open

    the door. I might find myself laid out there,

    mice nibbling on parts of my body. They have

    been watching me from their sneaky corners

    since I got here.

     

    Is that why I see their mouse eyes and mouse

    ears so eager in their sneaky corners? Is it me,

    not scraps from my table, they are waiting for?

     

     

    david blogWriteByNight 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 services. For your FREE writer’s diagnostic, “Common problems and SOLUTIONS for the struggling writer, join our mailing list

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    Raymundo

    The elite have promised us a “Dark Winter,” so I am anxious about whatever more horrors they intend to throw at us. I usually prefer winter as an escape from the oppressive deep southern summers. Times of rare snows in Mississippi are generally good memories–driving through snow flurries late at night, riding horseback over frozen fields, opening the trailer door and being shocked at the world buried under several inches of snow.  I don’t really have an association of winter and writing. Maybe the closest is the opening lines of my Christmas fable, “The Spark.” This is it:    Arctic… Read more »

    Barbara Mealer

    I understand those steamy oppressive summer. As for the Dark winter…I’m hoping the elite run into a wall that will knock some sense into them.

    Nice beginning to the story. You need to travel to the north and experience the cold winter snows. Very different from the chilled winters of the south were a winter coat is normally not needed.

    Raymundo

    Not at all. Pretty much any snowfall that sticks will close the schools. When I was in school, any flurries always prompted anticipation of a snow day or two. If it happened, there followed a frenzy of snowball battles and snowmen constructions. There was one particularly heavy snow in 1968 when I was 12. I don’t remember how long we were out of school, but it was a time of kid snow follies that my peers remembered for years. Probably still do. Southern snow tends to be icy and all but one of the snows I remember were just that.… Read more »

    Barbara Mealer

    I remember a year in Knoxville in the 70s where they got 12 inches of snow. closed the city for a week. I was the only one who was able to drive to work since I was used to snow. Fun time. Meanwhile, In Union Grove WI we got a six ft of snow. None of the cars in the parking lot could be seen . They plowed the first row based on my CB whip on the back of my car. Was at work for 3 days, unable to get home.

    Barbara Mealer

    Funny! I was working at Southern Colony a home for the mentally handicapped. My coworkers were a a riot. We set up games and fun things to do with the ‘kids’. There was plenty of food but getting it to us took some back breaking work to make a path between the buildings. We had to ‘short staff’ so that a four worked during the day and the other four worked the night doing 12 hours shifts. This was around ’78 or ’79. We dressed those we could take out up and went out and played in the snow. Over… Read more »

    Sid Kemp

    Dave, thanks for this prompt. Justine has been encouraging me in the direction of personal essays, so I dedicate this to her in endless appreciation. Lockdown: Florida Winter 2020, or, Preparing Ourselves, Preparing Our Tools An email I sent my wife in the opening days of December. She is 1300 miles north in her own lockdown; I am solo here: Weather Alert: Winter Arrives in Florida Today In kitchens all across Florida, winter has arrived. With temperatures dropping below 86 degrees Fahrenheit, coconut oil is freezing. In a related event, scoopable cat litter is stinking less. Preparation Winter is always… Read more »

    Sid Kemp

    Thanks, David. I feel honored. To quote Bilbo Baggins after a reading of his poetry to elves, “It went off better than I expected, I don’t often get asked for a second hearing.” (The Fellowship of the Ring, end of the chapter “Many Meetings.”)

    Sandra Fox Murphy

    This is such a tease … I want to read all of Jim Hazard’s poem. Is it in The Party Train, an anthology of prose poetry? Two days ago I wrote my first Ya-du poem, called Whitework … but I’ve submitted it to some journals. So, here is a recent winter haiku (since I just returned from the Davis Mountains). Frost dressed the aspens in the west Texas mountains— rapturous portals. My best winter memories were as a child, when I lived in the Mid-Atlantic states and would go sledding with my sister. Though I’m looking forward to that vaccine,… Read more »

    Barbara Mealer

    Winter has always been a favorite time of the year for me. The beauty of the white layer to the earth. The silent fall of soft flakes that turn the world around us into this glistening wonderland. I see it as a reprieve from the mundane colors we no longer appreciate until the landscape is covered in white. That bright orange leaf that hasn’t fallen is unmissable. Those dark green pines with white on their branches make you see them with all their majesty. One of my favorite scenes was one when I was a teen. I lived in western… Read more »

    Elissa Malcohn

    It’s in the neighborhood of 1985. I’m upstairs in the little green six-room house I rent for a song in Woburn, MA, on a weekend when wet snow pelts my bedroom window. I don’t have to walk through the wind to the express bus, take that to Haymarket for the Orange Line, change to the Red Line at Downtown Crossing, then get off at Harvard and slog across Longfellow Bridge. Not today. Not tomorrow. Instead, I sit at a teak veneer desk I’ve never put together properly but that’s sturdy anyway, writing in a journal notebook covered in a stunning nylon brocade impersonating silk that… Read more »

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    Elissa Malcohn

    (Whoops, make that the Lars Anderson Bridge, not Longfellow. Been a long time…)

    Elissa Malcohn

    Love the image! Reminds me of P-Town in winter. Do you think you’ll ever finish that board game? (And which one was it?)

    Elissa Malcohn

    Looked up the game on Wikipedia. How cool! It now has various expansions (including Pandemic: Reign of Cthulhu). Seems to have gone viral. (I’ll see myself out…) My P-Town winter vacation occurred in the early 90s. A friend and I had stayed at Land’s End Inn. Luxury resort, low winter rates, and almost completely deserted. Quiet and enchanting, with a touch of spookiness. We mingled with the locals in town and did things like watch gulls wrestle mightily with nor’easter gusts and blowing snow over the Atlantic — from behind the window of a diner geared toward the grizzled. Those journal entries are knocking about somewhere. FAWC’s application… Read more »

    Elissa Malcohn

    Sounds like the social distancing winter that’s coming up. Albeit with fewer saltbox houses…

    Mary Jeffredo

    Winter.
    How many bulbs and tiny bulbs lie beneath the cold, shimmering blankets of snow that hides them from the ambitious crow, the crow who seeks to devour them. This has been a year of anguish and distress, as dreams and hopes are gobbled by that crow borne of disease. But all is not lost, for the sun will soon awaken for those who have taken refuge beneath the icy cold; those who await the return of the warmth, when smiles will be visible again, the masks of fear discarded.
             Happy Winters Solstice to all.

    david lemke

    I used to love winter. I can easily bring up images, sounds, feelings, tastes and smells and even the emotions and memories not just those I’m having now but those that flooded in when I had the actual experience. From a thousand experiences I can feel cold, stiff numb fingers and toes and cheeks and the burn when they thawed out, from ice fishing, playing hockey, ice-skating, snow men and fort building, walking the dogs, cross-country skiing, sledding, tobogganing, snowmobiling, digging tunnels, digging out cars. snow ball battles, breaking off icicles and tasting them; there are a million of these.… Read more »

    david lemke

    He pan fried them, and they were always wonderful. He was usually very good with grilling brats burgers; steaks New Year’s Eve. I was ok on the grill, but more versatile; trout, vegies, mushrooms. Now I seldom use the grill. When we were looking for one, Sue wanted wood, I wanted gas; we settled on electric. Do you grill.

    david lemke

    Stadium brats were killer. Went to one Brave game and a hand full of Brewer games, But saw the Packer kick ass the out of 4 times there. Miller Park is great but I miss seeing the Packers. But it’s safer on TV, restrooms and kitchen are closer at home. They beat the Eagles. Yea!

    david lemke

    Cool. Back at County, My x’s aunt was well off, she had a huge motorhome she took to games, eggs to order for tailgate, pre-Packer games. We were able to get Miller park tickets for cheap so we went to a bunch of games, but even though they had a winning record those years, we maybe saw one win. Back in the day, I went down and got Fingers, Molitor, Yount, and a bunch of others brewer greats in attendance on my hat. Sadly, that hat got rained on and all the names ran.

    david lemke

    Cool. Still have his autograph?

    David Duhr

    I do still have it, somewhere in the darkest corners of my mom’s house.

    GaryB

    Winter’s gift

    In daylight
    Cold and bleak
    The season of decay
    Earth prepares for spring
    A new beginning
    The endless cycle
    At night
    A magical transformation
    Crystals of ice shimmer in the moon light
    Appearing like fine glass beads
    Impossible patterns of intricate design
    Paint every surface
    The loving touch of a master’s hand
    Details beyond imagination
    Uncountable points of light
    Twinkle and shine
    A wondrous gift
    Wandering through this magical beauty
    Who can deny His divine hand?

                                

    GaryB

    Thank you. I wrote it a couple of years ago. But it seemed to fit.

    david lemke

    There could be a sub-set of stories, just about driving in the snow. Every year, after the first snow, I would find an empty parking lot, and If I had a car that was new for me, I’d learn how it handled on ice and snow. Of course it was quite fun too. I guy I worked with flipped his bronco in a parking lot.

    david lemke

    Sounds interesting; just bought the kindle.
    Red Lobster: Long time for me as well. Early on they were great, but later they always screwed us with the endless crab legs, after seconds, they ignored you the rest of the night.

    david lemke

    Just so you know; in the last couple weeks, I’ve written 3 pages. Not a lot but it moved a story ahead and is waaaay better than 1 page in 9 months.

    david lemke

    Thank you.

    Bex

    Falling sparkling snow
    Quiets the night and comforts my spirit
    I am less than trivial compared to the beauty of dark snow

    Bex

    Getting there. I write non-fiction. I tried a lil poem there

    david lemke

    1972, April 10th Beautiful, warm, sunny, morning; was at work laying oak flooring for Olkowski Flooring. I didn’t notice it start snowing, we called it a day at noon, but our cars were snowed in. Even if we had shovels, the road was two foot deep. A little later we decide to try to walk home (This job was in Palmyra, 20 miles from Waukesha) Luckily we got a ride from one of the Bielinski Homes drivers, Ed’s contractor. I remember for a bunch of reasons, opening day for the brewers, the adventure of it, we were snowed in for… Read more »

    david lemke

    Did not know that…

    David Duhr

    How TF is that almost fifty years ago? I wonder where that keg and beer mug ended up. Probably in some rich dude’s basement.

    david lemke

    When I did water softener work in the 80s, I visited some rich peoples basements. Some were big enough and had high enough ceilings to fit that barrel in it.

    David Duhr

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    David Duhr

    The chalet is at Lakefront Brewery, and two people can eat inside. The mug is there too, as part of the brewery tour. I can’t find info about the keg, but I imagine it’s there as well?

    david lemke

    So you were almost right! How did you even find this?

    David Duhr

    I guess Google, I think I searched Bernie Brewer chalet and Lakefront’s website came up. I also learned (did I already mention this?) that Bernie had a companion in the early and mid-’70s, Bonnie Brewer!

    david lemke

    Did not know that. While I was a fan of the Braves in the 60s, I barely noticed sports, other than the Packers until the 80s when the bad marriage was over, and I wasn’t working 46 to 60 hour weeks.

    David Duhr

    Feels like the ’70s was a fine decade to ignore sports, at least Brewers- and Bucks-wise. Were you crushed when the Braves split town?

    david lemke

    Not when the Braves left. I don’t think I was that heavy into them at 16. I was into girls, music, reading, cars, fishing, deer hunting and work When the Packers stopped having Milwaukee games, that sucked.

    Mary Jeffredo

    Winter.
    How many bulbs and tiny bulbs lie beneath the cold, shimmering blankets of snow that hides them from the ambitious crow, the crow who seeks to devour them. This has been a year of anguish and distress, as dreams and hopes are gobbled by that crow borne of disease. But all is not lost, for the sun will soon awaken for those who have taken refuge beneath the icy cold; those who await the return of the warmth, when smiles will be visible again, the masks of fear discarded.
             Happy Winters Solstice to all.

    David Duhr

    Thanks for this, Mary. I really enjoy it.

    Mary Jeffredo

    Thank you, David. I sent a correction to the opening line. Should have been “many bulbs and tiny seeds,” but I’m sure you understood that. One of these days, I hope to be able to join your wonderful classes (maybe if I get a stimulus check?) Meanwhile, I love prompts! Keep sending them :-)

    David Duhr

    I will keep doing them. We kind of dropped it for a long time, but I brought it back a few months ago and it feels like we’re all getting to know each other a lot better through our responses and conversations. Thanks for joining this one!

    Mary Jeffredo

    Thanks. Should be fun! :-)

    Mary Jeffredo

    Oops. That first line in my writing should have been “many bulbs and tiny seeds.”

    david lemke

    I wrote some poetry in the 60s, they were even printed in the Hamilton’s literary magazine. My mother use to read poems to me from some book; everything had rhyme and rhythm. When poetry lost that, I lost interest. When in a writing group, they occasionally had a poetry prompt I usally ignored it, but for some reason I just wrote some prose, dropped un-needed words and broke it into poem-like pieces. I don’t read it; it doesn’t do anything for me, or to me, and I have expertise or self-credibility in judging it good, bad or ugly. Conversely, while… Read more »

    Elissa Malcohn

    David, you might be interested in the National Federation of State Poetry Societies: http://nfsps.com/ I was active for some years in the Florida State Poetry Association. NSFPF and the state societies pay attention to poetic forms, including rhyme and rhythm, and their contests are pretty cool. 

    KevinW

    A JOB OF WORK I used to have to coordinate my schedule with his. Midnights were out; if he worked graveyard St. Alphonso’s was screwed, at least as far as I was concerned. If he worked four-to-twelve he got home at twenty past midnight, unless there was overtime in which case he rolled in at 4:20 am. In those cases I was good for six-o-clock. He’d wake me with oatmeal at 5:15. A pat of salty butter in the Quaker’s and a small glass of milk. The tin pot of coffee blorking on the stove like a robot with hiccups.… Read more »

    David Duhr

    Holy hell do I love this line: “The tin pot of coffee blorking on the stove like a robot with hiccups.”

    Have I ever recommended Stuart Dybek to you? There’s some Dybek in this, and not just in the Polish touches and the detail of the Mass. (Though it is very “The Woman Who Fainted.”)

    KevinW

    I dont believe I’ve heard of Dybek or “The Woman Who Fainted”. The list of Things To Read grows ever longer…

    David Duhr

    Yeah. I have like twenty-three lifetimes’ worth of shit to read.

    Vivian G Cumins

    I live in Utah and generally, not a fan of winter. Makes you wonder why I live in a state known for “The Greatest Snow on Earth”, doesn’t it? Well, we are retired Air Force and this became ‘home’ after our last duty assignment and will remain home until we are led elsewhere. To that end, I typically dread winter – the cold, shoveling the driveway, driving, etc..but this year I have a completely different outlook. I am looking forward to curling up inside by the fireplace with my laptop. I have been on a book-writing journey since January 2019… Read more »

    David Duhr

    Thanks for sharing, Vivian. I cannot think of a better way to spend a winter, nor of a better reason to look forward to its onset.




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