Writing Prompt: Praha 7

May 30, 2011 § 3 Comments

Yes! It’s true and it’s happened. I am in Prague in the Czech Republic and am getting ready to head to sleep for the second night in my lovely bed in my lovely apartment in my lovely hostel. I live in Praha 7, if that means anything to you. If not, it’s like a neighborhood or region of the city in the North, just a rather short foot-blistering walk away from Prague Castle, which is beautiful by the way. Europe is nice. I say this because it means something to me. I’ve only ever been to Asia, so I haven’t had the experience of Europe before this trip. Europe feels like this: drinking, smoking, graffiti, walking, old fancy-roofed buildings and potatoes and pasta. The Czech Republic especially feels like graffiti and unleashed dogs.

This is the street our hostel is on. You can see several different tags in this one picture, some faded or covered up by a coat of paint.

I loved this piece, though.

This is at the John Lennon wall, which was covered with all sorts of beautiful messages and even had a tiled space invader by Invader.

Click here to find out more about the Space Invader project.

So today’s writing post is inspired by graffiti, tagging, street art, whatever you want to call it. Think especially (if you’d like) about what you would write if you could, spray painted on a wall somewhere.

Here are my responses, just random little things. Yours can be longer if you want. What if you could take up a whole wall? What would you tell? Post your responses in the comments.

I once met your grandfather in the basement of a convenience store and he told me to buy the tomatoes in the back because he’d taken them from the chain grocery store and switched them out.

If antennas and planes were underground, do you think we’d have more room to fly through the air?

There is a tree by the river with our initials in it. I don’t know how they got there, but they’ll stay there and so will I.

Have you ever heard a bomb outside your window and the debris splashing up against the pane?

Happy tagging!

Hype!: Modeling Wooden Dinosaurs

May 22, 2011 § Leave a comment

There is no way that you can tell me my Sunday afternoon was poorly spent, when you see the products of my effort.

If you have never modeled a wooden dinosaur, I highly recommend it. It’s almost like being an archaeologist, almost like being a model ship builder, almost like being a crazy college kid, but it’s a mix of all three in truth.

I bought these modelling kits in South Korea, actually. The glue we used to keep them together was Korean, but all my naive praise for Koreans being super amazing and making these one of a kind modelling kits was dashed when I saw the same kind of thing at Michael’s by the Belmont stop. So my dinosaurs are super special and Korean, but don’t despair, you can make dinosaurs, too.

There are other things to make as well if, for some weird reason, you don’t like dinosaurs or don’t find them as immediately appealing as I do. I’ve seen lions, boats, cars, buildings.

We also have a Temple of the Sun kit left to make, and something with a dragon and a phoenix. Those are larger kits, though, and I have to leave for my first ever writer’s group outside of classes in a little while, so we saved them for later.

The short version: go to Michael’s and buy a wood modeling kit. You will also feel that your afternoon was well spent. I promise.

Happy modeling!

Writing Prompt: Country Lullaby

May 20, 2011 § Leave a comment

It’s Rapture tomorrow, eh? It’s our last night on Earth, eh? I think we should fall asleep to a fantastic lullaby, in that case. Think about it: what would you want to be the last thing you ever heard. You could pick a song or a sound or a voice. Ah, good thoughts, aren’t they?

Okay, now let’s get to the prompt. I heard from a friend, in my recent “studies”, that drunk people yelling is the Czech lullaby. She also told me I probably wouldn’t have to worry about it because of the hostel I’m going to be staying at, but nevertheless, it got me inspired. I hope it’ll do the same for you.

The prompt is to think of a place-specific lullaby. Would that be a sound, a song that fits the town/city/country? Go big, go small. Maybe there are different lullabies for different rooms in your house. Maybe one sound lulls the whole world to sleep. While we’re busy thinking of our last night on Earth, let’s get some writing done.

Here’s my response:

Czech Lullaby

The night is darker in cobblestone cracks. I leak into them with every step. I think I heard someone say something about prom night when my big toe got lost in the crack and I say to her,

“I can’t go to prom without all my toes.”

She takes my hair in her hands and braids it, tight to my scalp. Her fingers press into the soft spots in my skull where I am still a newborn, haven’t learned how to hold my liquor, the places that make me wobble when I walk over Stone Bridge.

“I’ll take you,” she says, pushing her hand into my shirt and squeezing. I leak completely into the crack and stay there, looking up at the clouds that are ugly and smoggish.

“You’re ugly,” I say. She can hear me, even from inside the crack, but I think my voice echoes out into tangled tones. She gives up on translating street talk and walks away to the next pub.

When I look down to the bottom of the crack, I see that I’m not alone.

“You’re stepping on my foot,” the girl says, the one that is laying on the bottom of the crack in the cobblestone. I pick up my foot quickly, like she bit it through my yellow leather shoe. I don’t know why I am dressed the way I am.

“I’m sorry,” I tell her about the way I am dressed. She leans forward and says,

“Can you help me?”

Of course that’s what she says. She is dressed in crocheted white, holes around her nipples and her belly button and the freckles that make a line like Orion’s belt across her stomach. Of course she needs help.

“Yeah, sure,” I say. Now I’m starting to slur. Is there something in the air down here? .

“My cat is lost,” she says. She walks away from me and I sit up so that my chin can see over the top of the crack. I put my palms up and pull myself up and walk again on the cobblestone, trying to find my date because the clock tower says it’s close to midnight and I might turn into an air conditioner soon.

Sooner than I thought, sooner than I thought, I am laying in my bed and I am an air conditioner. I can hear myself whirring. I can hear her cat, on my chest. Whir, whir, and I put my fingers behind its ears.

“Who are you?” she asks. She is sitting on the floor next to the bed. It’s not my bed. This girl has purple eyes. I reach up and my hair is still braided.

“I’m fuckin’ sorry,” I say. I throw off her blanket and pull my pants on and stumble out the door frame. The knob won’t turn on the front door. I turn around and she is looking at me.

“Let me out,” I say.

“I am so glad that I found you, pretty kitty.”

Remember to put your own responses in the comments (or link back from your blog). Happy writing!

TELL me a story: Prompt Three

May 20, 2011 § Leave a comment

Hello again, everyone! It’s been a little while since the last video prompt and, well, forever since the last response, but I will not give up! Did those guys in that place with the wall and the cave give up when the bad guys broke through and there was only one way out but it was treacherous? (Forgive me. We’re having a Lord of the Rings Trilogy Marathon today.) No! They did not. So we soldier on.

This is part of my TELL me a story project, an attempt to build a community of oral telling online through video readings. For more information, check out my first post about it.

This week’s prompt is to write about someone you know personally but in the first person.

So, pick a person. Your mother. Your girlfriend. The woman who comes in to the store every day and buys the same thing. You know something about these people. You know a little about their taste and some things they’ve been through. So write in their voice.

Try to make it revolve around a story. Have something happen, if you can. It’s not just about “hi, my name is Rachel, I’m 5’9″ and my blood type is AB”. You know these people, so prove it!

Remember, all you need is a webcam and a YouTube account. You can record videos of your reading directly through your webcam and upload them immediately. If you happen to have problems figuring it out, there’s a Contact link at the top of the page (oh, or I guess you could click right there), and I’d be happy to help.

Well, let’s get to it, then. Here’s my response.

Writing Prompt: More Than One

May 17, 2011 § 2 Comments

Prage at Night

So, I’m preparing to go to Prague, CZ in exactly one week. In exactly one week I’ll pay my first visit to the O’Hare airport and take the ten hour flight to Poland, layover, and a shorter flight to my destination, get picked up by the driver, go the hostel, and… well, I know you don’t want the whole story, so I’ll stop there. I am, however, still preparing.

Yesterday, Adam and I went downtown to pick up the texts I need for the class I’ll be taking while I’m in Prague, and we meant to pick up a phrase book and guide book and sketch books to be my journals, but in the rush of trying to get to the bank before it closed and the pressure of getting a good pair of shorts before I left, we forgot. So that’s what we did today. I got a Lonely Plant Eastern European phrase book, and then went over to the “gifts for readers” section of the Barnes and Noble.

You know what the selection is like, don’t you? Some super pretty graphic filled journals, some huge, expensive, leatherbound journals, and a section of moleskine. Well, I wanted the most practical and useful sort of writing tool I could get, so I went over and checked out the three pack of regular, unlined moleskine journals. They were eighteen dollars. Then I checked the single journal of the same style.

It was twenty dollars.

It makes no sense to me. I don’t even want to get into it. Feel free to get into it yourself in the comments, if you’d like. I bought the three pack.

But it just reminds me that sometimes things are better in bulk. It’s better to get three 120-page journals than one 195-page journal, and it’s better to pay less for them.

That’s my prompt for today: What else is better in bulk?

People? Are people better in bulk? Not for everyone. Birds? In certain situations. Food, we like to buy in bulk, but what happens if we don’t eat all of it? And what if we had to buy pills one by one every morning instead of having a bottle in our bathroom cabinet?

Post your responses to this prompt in the comments! Here’s mine:

Perry thought of girls in terms of quantity and avoided taking Geography like it would kill him if he did. Maybe it would.

Perry knew there was a limit to the population of the world at any given moment. Yeah, babies were being born all the time, but that’s where the second step came in. Perry knew that he’d most likely only date girls within a certain age range. He couldn’t think far forward enough to a time where he’d be old enough to date the babies born today, so he estimated he had about nineteen million girls to get through and he damn well wasn’t going to let a single one go to waste.

He had to touch them all.

Perry spent weekends on the train, brushing up against girls as they got off the train, as they got on, as they switched seats. He spent his time near the door, ear phones on but music off, so they would think he was distracted while he tried to figure out the best way to make contact with every single girl in the car. He didn’t have any time to waste. Who knew if he’d ever see these girls again? Nineteen million. In the United States.

“Nineteen million,” he said to Faye. “Nineteen million girls and you’re asking me to go see a movie with you?” She sat at the desk in front of him. She nodded.

“And sit next to you the whole time?”

She nodded again. “I don’t see what the problem is.”

“I have to touch everyone. If I go to a movie with you, we have to do it logically. See the one with the most people, and let me mill around by the door as people come in so I won’t miss anyone. But even then, that’s two or three hours wasted that I could be out in the lobby.”

“You can have two snack breaks.”

“Three?”

“Two and I’ll go to the bathroom afterward so you can stand by the door and wait for me.”

“That’s an awkward place to stand,” said Perry. He pushed the eraser end of his pencil hard into the top of his desk and chewed on a corner of his lip.

“Everyone,” said Faye, “uses the bathroom after a movie.”

“Fine. What’s opening this weekend?” asked Perry. Faye didn’t answer right away. She was staring down at where the pink nub bent like curled fat against the desk. Her mouth hung open and she took deliberate breaths.

“What?” Perry said.

“And you have to come to my house afterward,” blurted Faye. She looked straight at Perry. His legs felt antsy, but the shine in her eyes glued him to the moment.

“Okay,” he said, without thinking.

“Good,” she said. “I’ll find out what’s opening. And we can go really early to make sure you can touch as many as possible.”

“Wait, why?” He caught up. She had been smiling, relieved, but now looked away. The teacher came into the room. Faye turned around in her seat and looked at the whiteboard.

Perry tapped her on the shoulder, but she didn’t react. He tapped again. He tried again. Throughout the class, he couldn’t focus. Not that he could usually focus anyway. Why waste time in a class with the same girls week in and week out?

He kept tapping her shoulder, waiting for her to turn around. Tap. Tap. Touch. Touch, touch.

Don’t forget to leave your responses in the comments!

Hype!: Summer Novelist’s Writing Club

May 17, 2011 § Leave a comment

My dad was visiting for over a week.

I’m leaving for Prague in exactly one week today.

And in the meantime I’ve decided to participate in the Summer Novelist’s Writing Club on Facebook. The goal is to write 500 words a day from May 16th though August 28th, with the goal of producing a 53,000 word first draft by the end. It’s crazy and it’s amazing. I’ve started.

Have you? Join now for inspiration, motivation, pushes. I’ll be posting excerpts every so often. Here’s today’s.

Dear Hyun,

Some of these April days, the magpies by my house sing and shuffle on into the evenings and I imagine them swooping into the rice fields to have their midnight dances.

They have always done that in the unsure shifting time between spring and summer when it’s cold one morning, sweltering through that same evening so that we feel like sleeping outside, under the cooler blanket of night air and even the walls of our house seem too stuffy.

I have known their tradition since I was young. My father told me that was why I shouldn’t go wandering at night. I might stumble onto them and interrupt their important celebration.

They were pulling hard on the linen of summer, he told me. They had it locked in their beaks and if I sneaked up behind them and scared them, they might lose hold of it for good. It wasn’t like he was pinning mischief on me where it didn’t belong. Trips to Seoul, for me, were trips to scare pigeons into the sky after seeing how long I could follow one while it waddled. But what a way to scare a child. “You could make the world lose summer for good and then how would you feel?”

And so I have crept up quietly behind you and now I am frozen.

I know I shouldn’t be here. I know that standing behind you in the air that shudders between warm and cool is bad for both of us, but I am here already, aren’t I?

I don’t know if you’ve kept my letters, but you’ve responded, and that means something. You took time out from your day to remember my face, maybe. Have you remembered my face? If not my face, at least my voice and the idea of me. Maybe you are aware only of the windless space behind you where I stand.

If I spoke, would it shock you? The hairs on the back of your neck might be raised, but do you really expect me or am I still a ghost you only half believe in?

How can you believe in me so little? Hyun, when I hear the sound of the magpies, I sit here by my window and the moon and there is something bursting inside me. If I am a ghost, you took my last comb, the last strand of hair that left my head, or the spit on the side of the last glass I drank from. You took what is most important to finding me. Do you have it hidden in your barracks? Do you take it out in lantern light and show it to your friends?

I am fine. School goes on as it always does. My mother went to Busan to visit Won Joong for a while, so it is sometimes lonely without her, without you. I would be lonely at school, too, but I keep busy and I am working harder than ever. The other girls watch me, I think. I think that somehow they know what happened. So when you have leave, you have to come here and sit on the benches outside with me. We’ll sit under the eun haeng and they’ll walk by and see us. You’ll sit there with me, won’t you?

You can’t give it back, so you have to bring it back. I’m not just a ghost. I am standing behind you.

Eun Byul

Hype!: Crits for Water

May 3, 2011 § Leave a comment

You never know what you might find if you hang around on Twitter. For example, today I found this awesome blog run by a writer who lives in Japan, and she’s offering critiques in return for donations to charity:water.

Check out the post here. If you need a critique and want to donate at the same time, I can assure you that it’s the link for you.

Happy writing and happy donating!

Hannah

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