Sunday, October 31, 2021

Writers' Pantry #94: Ends and New Beginnings

Our next prompt will be posted on Friday, November 5th; and then, every Friday after that, a new one.  Or you’ll be free to share something unprompted instead, as you choose.

So, dear wordsmiths, this is our final Writers’ Pantry. The origins of that name are lost in the mists of time, but it has certainly always been a feast!

We’re continuing that foody theme as we transition –

For our first Friday prompt, Magaly would like us to write poetry or prose about food: cooking it, eating it, sharing it, craving it, dreaming of it … the choice is yours.

Reminder: It will be an optional prompt. You may use it or ignore it, as you wish.

Today you can share anything you’d like to: old or new, verse or prose, something for us to get our teeth into, or which will leave a lingering sweetness....  Prose needs to be a maximum of 369 words, please.

Leave us your links below, share your thoughts in the comments if you will, enjoy each other’s offerings, and if possible please mention us at your blog.

Have fun!

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Weekly Scribblings #93: Kid Stuff

Hello, Word Artists and Admirers! It is my honor to host the last Weekly Scribblings before moving to the new once a week format. For this week's prompt, I'd like you to write about something you really enjoyed in childhood – a toy, a book, a place, a movie – anything that held a place in your heart back then.

I’m accepting poetry and prose, fiction and non-fiction. Please be sure to keep prose to 369 words or fewer and one entry per person please.

Sunday, October 24, 2021

Writers’ Pantry #93: NaNoWriMo Anyone?

Greetings, dear poets and storytellers. I hope you had a good week and a better weekend. Around my bit of the world, things are getting coolersomething my hot flashes and I have been celebrating. There are so many things to like about this time of year. And not just when it comes to temperatures, but also when it comes to writing. If you are one of those mythological ink slingers with the discipline to complete a 50K word manuscript in 30 days, then November is your month. Anyone doing NaNoWriMo this year? I am not.

I don’t think I have what it takes to participate in NaNoWriMo, not properly. I could write every day for a month. But as much as I love discussing words and writing with other writers, chatting about what I have written and posting my progress is beyond me. I tried it once, and got sick of it after a few days. I will try to work every day on my current work in progress, but that’s as far as I’ll go.

On a note a bit closer to home, this is our penultimate Writers’ Pantry before we transition to one post per week (on Fridays). Rosemary will host the last Writers’ Pantry on October 31st. Rommy will be hosting the last Weekly Scribblings next week, and as our last Wednesday prompt, she will ask us to “write about something we really enjoyed in childhood – a toy, a book, a place, a movie – anything that held a place in your heart back then.”

By the way, my darling writers, if you ever get the urge to post midweek and want a prompt, I suggest you try The Twiglets (Tuesdays), The Whirligig (Wednesday), or Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie (they offer prompts every day of the week).

But today is for the Pantry! So, lets share prose or poetry. Let your contributions be new or old, short or longish (if going for prose, the word count should be 369 words or fewer). One link per participant. Visit other writers. Delight in their words. Tell them about said delight.

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Weekly Scribblings #92: Forward Movement

Hello, dear Wordsmiths! This is Rosemary, who rejoices to be your Coordinator as we move forward together.


In November we move into a new format. Instead of two posts a week, Weekly Scribblings on Wednesdays and Writers’ Pantry on Sundays, we’ll combine them into one a week – when you may respond to a prompt, or post on a topic of your own choosing.

We thought of 'Sunday Scribblings' but then realised – with some input from you, our community – that many people are busy with other prompts on Sundays. However Wednesday is a bit tricky for some of us on the team, so we're giving Friday a whirl.  We'll begin doing so on the first Friday in November.

It dawned on us that, with only one post a week, we don't need a subtitle at all. No need to specify Friday Scribblings or Friday anything, when Friday is our only day!


How is this a forward move?

~ More time to write, read and comment. ~

~ More freedom in what to write. ~

1. We don’t like being the Poetry Police or Story Squelchers – unlinking posts that don’t conform to a prompt, in order to be fair to those who follow it scrupulously. We’d rather give you more choice and have it all be OK.

2.  Our behind-the-scenes team of three has turned out to be remarkably harmonious. We think we're the dream team! Our various gifts and skills combine well; and when we do (rarely) have differing ideas, we work it out very quickly by consensus, with unabated goodwill. So we don't at present contemplate adding anyone else to this sublime mix, to share the work. Yet we all – like the rest of you – lead busy lives on and offline. Once-a-week posts will have things flow even more smoothly, for us and we trust for you too.  

For now –

Sorry to disappoint, but you don’t get carte blanche just yet; this is advance notice.

We do ask you to adhere to a prompt today. Please write something on the theme of ‘Forward Movement’, in whatever way you choose to interpret that.  

We’re accepting new pieces of poetry or prose (written in the last month – or, if older, extensively rewritten). If it’s prose, your upper limit is 369 words, excluding title.

Link us, below, to your specific blog post; link that post back to us if you will; read each other; leave comments here and there….

Have fun! 


Photo by Arek Adeoye, freely available from Unsplash

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Writers' Pantry #92: Better Than Normal

Hello, word artists and admirers! My husband and I got a chance to visit our Darling Eldest at his college this weekend. We kept our outings low-key (because COVID), but I had to stop to take a picture of this mural in the lobby of the Carnegie Museum of Art.

So as a reminder, we're changing things up too. Starting in November, we're going switch up our format to one post a week which will free up your creative options. Rosemary will have more details to share about that in this week's Weekly Scribbling post, along with the prompt "write something on the theme of forward movement, in whatever way you choose to interpret that".

I am ready to receive your words, old and new, fiction or non-fiction, poetry or prose. Just be sure to keep your prose to 369 words or fewer and one entry per person, please and thank you!

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Weekly Scribblings #91: Personal Symbols (and Changes to P&SU)

Greetings, my dearest poets and storytellers. It’s Magaly here, feeling a bit loopy (after yet another medical procedure), but also feeling hopeful and rested (after having slept 13 glorious hours). Speaking of 13, since I have been fond of the number 13 for a very long time, I thought the 13th of October would be a perfect day to inform you of changes Rommy, Rosemary, and I have planned for the Poets and Storytellers United blog.

The Change: Starting on Sunday, October 31st Friday, November 5th, P&SU’s Weekly Scribblings and Writers’ Pantry will merge into one and become Sunday Scribblings a single event. This means that we will go from two posts a week to one. Our new, weekly prompts will give participants the chance to respond to a specific prompt or to share new or old poetry or prose of their choosing.

So, there you have it. Everything else shall remain as it has been. We’ll continue to share our words. We’ll just have a whole week to delight in each other’s contributions before a new prompt is posted.

And now, for my last Weekly Scribblings, I invite you to write poetry or prose inspired by a personal symbol, or a thing that represents or stands for something else, especially a material object or an action representing something abstract to you (i.e., luck, remembrance…). For example, Serena Williams has a lucky pair of socks; Helen Mirren has a lucky pair of shoes; Benicio del Toro wears a ring with a wooden core so he can always knock on wood whenever needed; and I use 13 as often as possible, for luck and for centering.

This prompt will remain open for a week. We welcome fiction and nonfiction, short and long(ish) pieces—if you go for prose, let the word count be 369 words or fewer. Please add the direct link to your contribution. And after you share your words, remember to visit other writers and let them know what their words did for you. Significantly rewritten poetry and prose are also welcomed.

And writers are Nature, speaking (in ink).

Sunday, October 10, 2021

Writers' Pantry #91: Musing on the Factual and the Imaginary

(and the possible effect of cultural differences)

My recent Weekly Scribblings prompt, Keeping it Real, proved difficult for most to adhere to. Don't feel bad – this is partly down to the prompter. I didn’t spell it out that Realism in art and literature involves looking from the outside and portraying / describing that.

However, I did give plenty of examples, and my prompt didn’t ask people to write about realism (though I am thinking in hindsight I'd have done well to give you that option) but to write ‘realistically’ / ‘from a realistic perspective’.

So I found it fascinating – why did so many have so much trouble being able to do that? 

The Subjective

First of all, it seems we have huge trouble not being subjective – myself included. It's as if some of us simply can't. (Which is rather scary, as objectivity is so often needed when navigating life!) It is possible to write Realism with oneself as subject, but it's more difficult. One needs to stand outside oneself mentally, as an onlooker.

I am thinking there is, perhaps, a cultural aspect. Individualism is highly valued in our culture and has long been so, to the extent that its value is taken for granted and we're probably all conditioned that way from an early age without even realising it. (In some other societies – the tribal, the Socialist, many other species – the group as a whole is considered more important.) A subjective point of view seems to follow naturally from our focus on the rights and importance of the individual.

The Imagined

Also, in what we think of as the Western world, poetry is the realm of the metaphorical. Stories, too, it is agreed, come at least partly from the imagination.

The best-known form of Japanese literature, the haiku, is rooted in nature, whether observed or recollected. Even when the writer’s feelings are included, they are those directly experienced, not imagined. Metaphor is eschewed in traditional haiku. Instead we may have a juxtaposition of two apparently unconnected images, which allows for a mental leap, an understanding beyond what is written on the page. That, however, is still in the realm of reality, not fiction.

Many Westerners have enormous difficulty understanding how to write haiku, instead producing three-line verses of 5, 7 and 5 syllables per line, which are not haiku. Many things make them ‘not haiku’; the use of metaphor, internal dialogue and imagination are some.

Realism and Naturalism

Realism in art became synonymous with the early days of Communism in Russia, as a departure from what was seen as Western decadence (one reason I included the photo of Lenin’s statue in my Scribblings post). It was fashionable to extol the workers by depicting them engaged in their work – in fact not always very truthfully, though purporting to be. Manual labour was officially regarded as a noble calling. This is not something given much attention in non-Communist countries – where realism tends to pertain only to landscapes and portraits (and not all of them).

This article on realism in 19th Century Russian literature tells us:

The general characteristics of 19th-century Russian realism include the urge to explore the human condition in a spirit of serious enquiry, although without excluding humor and satire; the tendency to set works of fiction in the Russia of the writer’s own day; the cultivation of a straightforward style, but one also involving factual detail; an emphasis on character and atmosphere rather than on plot and action; and an underlying tolerance of human weakness and wickedness.  The leading realists began to be published in the late 1840s: the novelists Ivan Turgenev, Ivan Goncharov, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, and Count Leo Tolstoy; the playwright Aleksandr Ostrovsky; the poet Nikolai Nekrasov; and the novelist and political thinker Aleksandr Herzen.

The author goes on to explain how this movement, portraying the condition of the people under Tsarist rule, actually led to the Communist revolution of 1917.

There are some parallels in the literature of non-Communist countries, e.g. (just to take one example) John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, about the terrible conditions for farm labourers and others during the Great Depression, published in 1939. In fact this book has been cited as an example of Naturalism, which takes Realism further. This site, which goes into detail about both, differentiates them thus: 

Realism is a literary movement that began in the middle of the nineteenth century in France and spread across Europe. This movement can be defined as a reaction against Romanticism. Realistic literature depicts ordinary people in everyday situations. They depicted events that could happen to anyone in real life.  Realism portrays life as it is, without idealizing, flattering or romanticizing. 

Naturalism proceeded from realism [and] is often referred to as a logical outgrowth of literary Realism. It can be considered as an exaggerated form of realism since it used detailed realism to propose that social conditions, heredity, and environment were the three main forces in shaping human character.

Wikipedia tells us that The Grapes of Wrath ‘won the National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize for fiction, and it was cited prominently when Steinbeck was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1962.’ However, we are also told that it was a controversial book at the time of its publication and in some quarters was denounced as socialist propaganda. Now known as a great classic, it was banned in many places.

Summing Up

Whatever the reasons, it seems those of us in this community are used to using our imaginations in our writing. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, and I’d hate to see it change! It produces some beautiful and wondrous results.

However, I think it’s good to expand our techniques. Describing something ‘from the outside’ in such a way that we – in the famous phrase – ‘show, don’t tell’ can be a useful exercise.  

I’ll leave you with that suggestion, to take up or not.

Meanwhile, for our next Weekly Scribblings
, Magaly invites us to write poetry or prose inspired by personal symbols. Not a symbol that holds the same meaning for everyone, but something special to you. For example, Serena Williams has a lucky pair of socks; Helen Mirren has a lucky pair of shoes; Benicio del Toro says that he wears a ring with a wooden core so he can always knock on wood whenever needed.

And, for our Writers' Pantry today,  you may let your imaginations run as wild as you like, and share whatever you will – poetry or prose; new or old; any subject, form or style. Only, if it’s prose, we ask that you restrict it to 369 words.

Post it on your blog, add the link to your post to Mister Linky below, enjoy reading each other and leaving what encouraging comments you’re moved to. Also we’re always interested to  receive your comments here.

The prompt will stay open a week.


Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Weekly Scribblings #90: October

Hello, Word Artists and Admirers! One of my childhood favorites is Anne of Green Gables. As soon as I flipped the page in my planner, I couldn’t help thinking of Anne’s declaration, 

“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers!” 

For this week’s prompt I would like you to take your inspiration from this quote, October, or autumn in general. All pieces submitted should be new-ish (less than 30 days old) or substantially reworked. I’m taking poetry and prose, fiction and non-fiction. Please keep all prose to 369 words or fewer and one entry per person please.

Sunday, October 3, 2021

Writers’ Pantry #90: Why Do You Write and Share?

I have spent a lot of time, these few days, pondering the reasons why I write and share my words online, and in this community specifically. Had I been asked the same question a few years ago, I would’ve probably said that I wrote and shared my inked thoughts online in an effort to hone my craft. That used to be true, and it still is at some level. But at the moment, it would be more accurate to say that I write and share and read what others share because I enjoy the sense of community the activity brings.

Some years ago, my immune system started keeping me from going outside as often as I wanted. These days, the pandemic keeps the whole world from going outside as much as anyone might want. These facts have affected what I write and share and my reasons for doing so. I went from always sharing fiction, even in my poetry, to mostly writing poetry and prose about my daily life and my observations of the world. When I write, I feel like I am having a conversation with a room full of friends. I will always write my beloved dark stories, which I hope to publish someday. But on my blog and on Instagram, my reasons for writing and sharing involve the spreading of hope, friendship, and community.

What about you, dear poets and storytellers, why do you write and share?

Now, the Pantry is open! Share prose or poetry. Let your contributions be new or old, short or longish (if going for prose, the word count should be 369 words or fewer). One link per participant, please. Visit other writers. Comment on their words. Be community.

- for next Wednesday, Rommy would like us to take our inspiration from the quote “I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers”, the word October, or from autumn in general.

photo by Shane Rounce, on Unsplash