Friday, 6 January 2017

Writing prompt for the new year

A new year seems to take us on reflective journeys back in our lives. We re-examine our choices. We poke through the entrails of our history, looking at how we got here.  

When we think back on our various choices and journeys, we freqently find there was a pivotal moment when something happened or someone said something that nudged us down one path or moved us somehow to make a certain choice. We don't always see it at the time. 

The UK's Guardian newspaper invited their readers to describe times when conversations or advice from other people or some event swayed them towards something or affected them (positively or negatively) in some way. And of course things that seemed negative at the time can with hindsight seem to actually have been positive. 

Pivotal events can be quite small and seemingly insignificant. It might be picking up a brochure, seeing a sign, hearing a talk, answering a phone call, even a song on the radio. Or it can be about things people said or did that had a lasting effect on us or in our lives, sometimes even in damaging ways that we spend years clearing up.  

This prompt is a good one to get going on while we're still in the new year's reflective auld lang syne mode. 

Here are a few the stories. Read a few, reflect -- then set your timer and start writing whatever comes to mind. (Remember you can edit later; just get the gist down while it's flowing).

You may come up with several things at different times in your life. When you finish writing about one,  then expand it a bit answering, "How did that work out?" and write about the effect it had on your life til now

(c)2017 Margo Lamont

'She'll never realise the impact she had': life-changing conversations 
We asked readers to tell us about their most significant conversation, or a letter  

What some Guardian readers wrote. This is the link to the article.

Richard, 50, mortician, US
My wife of 18 years asked me to see if I could fix something on her computer.  In doing so, I found a journal she had written revealing she was in a “loveless, parenting partnership”.  This was news to me.  I didn’t confront her about it at the time, but she revealed an affair a couple of years later and our marriage ended.  We are now parenting partners by law, and not particularly friendly.

Carol Jeffery, New Hampshire, US
As a senior at university, I was making up for an incomplete in the only course I had taken that semester.  My professor, who had known me and my family since I was a toddler, asked me what I expected in my future.  I told him that I would be a dedicated teacher. 

“Dedicated?” he said, “You are the most cavalier person I know.” I was, at that moment, liberated from all the admonitions of my upbringing, and I have gratefully acknowledged his comment ever since.  I believe I have been true to my moral code.  I also think that I have had more fun than most people ever do.

Anonymous, doctor, 67, Hampshire
I was 14 and at an average private school.  It was the school my father had been to and his brother taught there, which I found uncomfortable.  My younger brother had just won a scholarship to a much better private school.  I was at a sports event with my father at my school and he got talking to another parent, who congratulated him on having clever children. 

My father indicated towards me and said, “No, he’s the dim one.” I remember the parent’s intake of breath and a surprised, “Oh.” I have never forgotten this.

It is shattering how one unguarded comment can resonate for a lifetime My father died at the age of 51, when I was 29.  It is shattering how one unguarded comment can resonate for a lifetime.  I feel that the very many things I have done in my professional life have been to try to prove him wrong.

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