Join the Writing Pad community!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Winter Break Free Writing Prompt

Reuinification Palace, Ho Chi Minh City
By Antonia Crane and Marilyn Friedman

Relieved the holidays are over? Not so fast. Where did you go for your winter break and why? More Americans than ever drove their cars instead of flying this year and Antonia followed suit. At the last minute, she decided to cancel her flight. She took a 12 hour road trip with the boyfriend up the coast to northern California through pouring rain, enchanting wine country and then a winding, dark wet forest towards the beckoning waves of Samoa Beach. Antonia spent the holiday season hanging out with her family,  devouring crab in a boatyard where her Step dad restores ships, and playing blackjack at an Indian Casino.

Ta Prohm, Angkor Wat
Marilyn and Jeff went to Vietnam of all places (a 15 hour flight away from LA that was well worth the pain). They leapfrogged all over this vibrant country and even spent two days in Siem Riep, Cambodia to visit one of the seven wonders of the world, Angkor, a complex of 200 stone Khmer temples made well known to Americans by Angelina Jolie's "Tomb Raider" (the Ta Prohm temple was used as a location for that movie).

When she wasn't scaling stone temples in her flip flops or visiting palaces with computer rooms that reminded her of the "Wonder Woman" TV show, Marilyn walked through a sea of whirring mopeds to reach street restaurants in Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi, Hoi An, Phu Quoc island, and Dalat, Vietnam. She didn't get run over, but she was terrified every time she had to cross the street for a meal and had to hold onto Jeff (Mr. Writing Pad) and stare at the ground so she wouldn't be alarmed by all the mopeds zipping around her like bees swarming a beehive. Now that's foodie dedication! Marilyn says that it was worth risking her life because she feasted on the best pork bun, Banh Mi sandwiches, and grilled meatballs that she has ever tasted and usually only spent a $1.00 on lunch!

Best Banh Mi Stand in Hoi An

Glorious pork buns in Hanoi
It seemed like every square inch of Vietnam sidewalk was used for moped parking and impromptu restaurants with short, plastic furniture (see below). It was challenging to find any sidewalk to walk on, and Marilyn had to get used to mopeds and taxis careening by her as she walked in the street. But Vietnamese drivers are cautious and went around her so it was actually safe. Marilyn highly recommends that you consider going to Vietnam on your next vacation. It's a wonderful, delicious place!

Impromptu restaurants and moped parking in Hanoi
Now that we all have returned from our holiday time off (sigh), it's time to roll up your sleeves and get back into writing projects or kick start your writing practice for 2013! Lucky for you, we have a ton of classes to help you do that, and Marilyn will be partaking of several of them along with you.

This coming weekend, you won't want to miss DAME editor and former LA Times blog editor Margaret Wappler's "Getting to "Like": Crafting A Compelling Blog" to help you take your blog to the next level or start a blog that will stand out in cyberspace. Also, we are very excited about "YA Character Collage" with multi award-winning author Sherri L. Smith for your aspiring young adult writers, The Art of The Short Story with award-winning fiction writer Merrill Feitell, and Ideas Clinic For Magazines and Newspapers with successful journalist Taffy Brodesser-Akner who has helped 24 students get published and sell their essays so far!

Note: classes with an asterix (*) will be held at our new, posh Westside location in Westwood!

Stories That Sell: Ideas Clinic For Magazines and Newspapers*

Children's and YA Writing
It's Playtime: Writing for Kids (5 Week)

Creative Writing and Multi Genre
So You Want To Be A Writer
Finishing School*
Literary Games: Crafting the Conceptual Story*

Fiction, Memoir, and Romance
Memorable Memoir Bootcamp: Make Your True Tales Thrilling 
Cabinet of Curiosities: A Surreal Fiction Workshop
A Novel Approach: Tackling The Long Format Writing Project
Writing In Series: Crafting Stories That Keep On Telling
Structure, Structure, Structure: Building The Foundation For A Killer Book or Movie*
Literary Games: Crafting the Conceptual Story*
I Love You Silly: Crafting The Perfect Romance
Fiction Bootcamp: Mastering The Art of the Tale Tale*

Journalism, Personal Essay and Web Writing
You've Been Featured: Writing For Magazines or Newspapers* 
From Cheng Du to Timbuktu: Writing The Road Less Traveled (3 Day Intensive)
So You Want To Be A Freelancer*
Hook Ups, Break Ups, And Missed Connections: Writing The Relationship Essay
Query Letter Clinic: Writing The Pitch That Sells Your Story
You in 1200 Words: Writing and Publishing The Personal Essay*

Playwriting and Writing for Actors
From The Page To The Stage: A One-Person Show Workshop*
Say It Isn't So: A Storytelling Class*
Story Time: A Performed Essay Workshop

Dr. Ed's Development Bootcamp: The Ten Page Workout*
Business Time: A Screenwriter's Survival Skills Workshop
Dream It, Write It, Pitch It: Screenwriting Bootcamp*
Structure, Structure, Structure: Building The Foundation For A Killer Book or Movie*
Punch It Up: Polishing Your TV Pilot (or Spec Script)
Dr. Ed's Development Bootcamp: A Script Doctor Workshop*

Dragon Boat, Halong Bay, Vietnam

Writing Prompt: Where did you land this Christmas and New Year's? Did you go home or avoid home at all costs? Did you go on a fabulous overseas vacation or thrilling road trip? If this year was a bust, make a list of 3 memorable Christmas/New Year vacations. Pick one. Write down three specific details of the trip that you will always remember (e.g. For Marilyn it was: pork buns, sea of mopeds, computer rooms that looked like scenes from "Wonder Woman").

Write for 10 min. about this memorable vacation, including the specific details. Then post your ten minute write in the comments of this blog to get entered into the contest for a free class!

What did you do this winter vacation? Write about it in the comments of this blog to be entered in the contest for a free class!


Girl Mix-A-Lot said...

My parents have lived in this house since I was in the third grade.
The clutter seems to increase every time I return, but I think it's too gradual for them to notice. It's not all clutter, and not all of it is their fault. My sister's room, my brother's room, my room- we have all left far too many remnants of our childhood selves behind.
Sometimes I try to go through a few things, ask my Mom to donate.
"Oh, but you made that," she'll say- certain that one day I will be happy to have a stone wash jumper that I sewed for a 4-H project. Haute Couture, indeed.
This trip, my eyes are drawn to a box of old photos. Held together by a plastic binding, each set captivates me. Here we are in South Carolina, I think. I suppose I remember this trip, but I don't really. It's weird to think of all the childhood memories I have forgotten. I had a great time growing up- it's sad that I can't remember all the happy times more clearly. Here I am in a red t-shirt, light blue glasses, long hair, feathered bangs. I'm sure I worked really hard on those bangs.
Here is my brother holding a huge, black video camera. Here I am posing in front of some outdoor steps, maybe at a motel. I have on a huge hat and I am posing like a model. I think I do recall that hat, and the way it made me feel cool and stylish, which is not something I felt very often. I wore it everywhere on that vacation.
Later, I am reading the paper when my niece approaches the table.
"What do you want from my restaurant?" She asks. "I have everything."
She offers me a scribbled paper as evidence, the menu.
I love her so much in this moment. This level of commitment to her imagination, to the idea that she has everything. Because she does. And she reminds me that I do, too.
I wish that she could remember and act this way her whole life. I know she won't, because that's just the way memories and feelings work. But for now, she has given it back to me. And that is quite a Christmas present. (That bright orange scarf she picked out for me is pretty great, though). :)eo

cwyatt said...

Christmas at the condo on the 12th floor.
Every member of the family would gather for dinner at the large, white home of my Grandparents. The dining room glittery with polished silver and mirrored placemats. A sharp, sparkly, crystal pineapple as the centerpiece. Bright red pointsettia plants placed throughout the condo. The warm smells from the kitchen enveloped me like a baby blanket.

The crazy Aunt rambling about herself. The layed back Aunt laughing at her tales. The eager to please Dad hoping to avoid conflict. My stately Grandfather, dressed as a proper Hugh Heffner complete with ascot and smoking jacket. Slippers to match. Always the gentleman holding my Grandmother's chair for her.
With the Dad and Aunt's help, the matriarch would groan as she struggled to move into her chair from a nearby wheelchair. Finally settling into the soft cushion that would later be very difficult to get out of.

"You can all go to hell!" My Grandmother exclaimed, dementia setting in. Each member of the family had a reaction. My grandmother asked me softly through tears, "What did I do?" Everyone tried to make her feel better, but my Grandfather gracefully changed the subject to questions about each person's far away life. A million tiny details of each person's job, children, home, and life.

When my Grandmother died, a couple of years after my Grandfather, the holiday gatherings stopped. No one filled the matriarch's chair. The sparkle of our Christmas gatherings ended.

When I take my children shopping during the holidays, we see silver and sparkly glass through store windows. Sometimes we buy crackers for our table, just like the ones we had at my Grandparents. Each of us wearing a colored paper crown.
The bright, white condo out of reach, just like the store decorations. Just an illusion.

I can never forget the smells and the beauty of those dinners at the condo. My Grandfather's endless questions and my Grandmother's sweet, innocent voice. We were surrounded by warmth and glittering light. Happiness. It was magic.