writing prompt: 2 lists of 10

step 1: 
write a list of ten things that happened this week that made you happy, then write ten things that happened this week that made you sad.

step 2:
choose two–one from each list. you’ll use one happening to begin a story and one to end the same story.


abbreviated example:

my happy list:
1. the first tinges of red in the upper leaves of the sugar maples
2. in church, swaying back and forth with sleeping baby june heavy on my chest, worship music flooding the room
3. writing the psalms with my own hand. the slim pen between my fingers, the textile scratch of ink sliding onto paper, looping cursive the words of scripture.
4. zu dancing naked down the hallway
5. june and zu conversing in squeals and smiles
 . . .

my sad list:
1. the dead squirrel in our driveway that zu tells me is taking a “nap”
2. not knowing if i should respond to a friend’s text to hang out because she said something careless last time we were together, and it still stings
3. up at 10pm, midnight, 2am, 4am.
4. the despair of a closet more than half-full of clothes that do not fit.
5. having to go grocery shopping on senior citizen day
 . . .

my story:
The carport is bricked off at one end, the end that overlooks the drop-off to the creek, and the cats have discovered this is the ideal place to run a squirrel or chipmunk and corner it in. I have always liked cats, but I can see why they’re not man’s best friend–Ralph casually tortures a bushy gray squirrel to the point that it lays down beside him, and Ralph lays down too, confident that its too injured to slip between him and the moss-covered brick wall. Zu notices first–“squirrel nap, mommy” she points, and Ralph blinks sleepily as I open the door to shoo him away from his victim, limping, sniffing at the base of the brick, already given over to his fate. . . . (to be continued)


i’ve used this in my fiction writing class, but i think it could be easily modified for use as a poetry or even blog writing prompt.

if you do end up using this for your work, please feel free to post your story/poem/blogpost link in the comments or email it to me–i’d love to read it!