Every Wednesday, on Writing Under Pressure, you’ll find a post based on Today’s Word (from Wordsmith.org). You can find past essays, poems, or flash fiction pieces under the Wednesday’s Word category on the sidebar to the right.
This week, I’m out of town and mostly unplugged, so I’m taking a break from the usual Word of the Day challenge. But, I’m not ignoring my commitment to post a flash piece.
I dove head first into writing when I signed up for Ariel Gore’s online class over a year and a half ago. During her course, we began each week with a quick write assignment. We were given a prompt – a phrase, a photo, or just one word – and given a limit of seven minutes to free write.
Many of these quick writes, from myself as well as from other writers in class, ended up in an Anthology that we put together and published in July 2009: On the Fly: Stories in Eight Minutes of Less. It’s a great little book that illustrates the kind of powerful writing that can result from letting your mind go and your words fall onto paper.
Below is one of my pieces published in that anthology, one based on the word I pulled out from a word bag: cake. Enjoy, and at the end of this post, check out the links to other sites with word prompts or writing prompts.
Cake. My Nemesis.
2003: Find out that my son has an egg allergy. Remember that chemistry was never my best subject, but realize the importance of eggs when it comes to making a birthday cake. Wonder how egg substitutes will work. Hold head high and promise to be the best mom ever and make the best birthday cakes of all time.
2004: First attempt at an egg-free birthday cake. Things fall apart. No worries – next year will be better.
2005: The dinosaur cake. Recipe calls for no eggs – perfect. Cake stands eight inches high. Okay, plenty of eats for everyone. Decorations, which play well with the overall monstrosity of cakeness, include small, plastic dinosaurs and palm trees. Dinosaurs are a big hit, but the cake is dry. Cut myself a huge piece and pretend it’s the best ever (then slam 8 ounces of water nonstop, to wash it down).
2006: Block out all memory of cake, too painful to report.
2007: The Transformer cake. Recipe from a box, which calls for three eggs. Proceed with caution. Find a bubbling concoction of baking powder, vinegar, and milk to substitute. Looks good out of the oven, crumbles during icing. Decorations include small Decepticon figure climbing up the corner of the cake that fell apart. No one seems to notice. Disaster averted, this year.
2008: Wave the white flag cake. Recipe from a box, three eggs. Whatever. Find a pre-made substitute that looks like a fine white powder and smells funny, but works better than bubbling concoction from past years. Decide to bake and keep cake in metal 9×13 pan (to make sure the sides hold together). Decorations include a variety of sugary goodness: icing, sprinkles, more icing, and interesting candles. Tape wrapping paper around the outside of the pan in hopes no one will think I’m lazy.
2009: Hear a remake of that old song, Someone left the cake out in the rain. Empathize with woman in song who can’t bear to do it again. Wonder why cake is such a big deal anyway.
If you love writing prompts, here are a few sites to inspire your best ten minutes of writing:
Wordnik.com: This site offers a “word of the day” and a “random word” option. With “random word,” you can gamble for your word of choice: if you don’t like the first word, click “random” again. And, again. And, then twenty more times (I did when I tried it). But, eventually you’ll have to stop clicking and start writing.
Wordsmith.org: My usual favorite. There’s always a weekly theme and never a dull moment in word choice. Plus, there’s no “random” option. As my son says – in a mocking way at dinner sometimes – “You get what you get, and you don’t throw a fit.”
A recent post from Lisa Rivero, where she lists a host of links to writing prompts and writing exercises.
Take a peek at those sites and punch out your own flash fiction or quick write. Happy Writing!