I sometimes say that I don’t like to write from prompts–I’m a slow starter, & brilliance doesn’t flow at the drop of a hat or a word. I need to mull it over, let it steep. And yet. And yet, a number of my successful essays have come from prompts, especially the ones from Judy Reeves’ Saturday retreats. Back in the summer of 2011 a theme was food, one of my favorite topics in life and in writing. My notebook section from that day is marked with a red-stamped strawberry. At one point during the day Judy distributed some paeans to food from Pablo Neruda’s brilliant Odes to Common Things. We read them aloud–I remember bread and tomatoes, onions and artichokes. When we finished, Judy said, “Now write your own.”

Last summer I sifted through my old writing notebooks, where I sometimes find hidden gems, what Virginia Woolf calls “orts, scraps and fragments” that I might stitch into something new. And there was my long-forgotten “Ode to Basil.” I rewrote it in prose form–I don’t think I changed a word–and sent it to Susan Bono’s charming Tiny Lights Journal. A feature at Tiny Lights is the “Flash in the Pan,” what Susan describes as “those shining flecks of pure gold that often appear when we least expect them, when our hunger for bigger prizes is temporarily sated, when we relax and take the time to look at what’s really in our hands.”

I’m delighted to have “Ode to Basil” (linked here) in the latest “Flash in the Pan” from Tiny Lights. With thanks to Judy for stirring the pot of creativity.

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