I've read a lot of writing prompts in my time, and they all suck. Seriously. What is with this “Write a poem about a man who finds a dog on the side of the road and then he brings it home and then it eats his shoe . . .” prompt bull-honkey? (Okay, I made that prompt up, but that’s how most of them sound.)
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We all have a little darkness inside. Except mine is real. I see it when I look in the mirror. I turn my head to reach for a towel after showering; the mirror is white with fog and from the corner of my eye my shadow moves—like it’s got a mind of its own. Like it’s waving hello. It’s not there when Benny comes to stay. I’ve been asking her over a lot more...
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I have a new poem up at the Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association mag Eye to the Telescope. It’s called “Now the Patient Recounts the Houses in Her Mind.” This poem is inspired by the work of author Shirley Jackson. It’s a combination of The Haunting of Hill House and We Have Always Lived in the Castle.
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We’re all being forced to slow down right now, and some of us are better at it than others. But I’ve noticed that writers, and creatives in general, are really, really bad at this.
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Thanks to J.A. Sullivan for reading the Coppice & Brake Anthology from Crone Girls Press, and this lovely review of my story "The Red Shoes."
One of the stories I enjoyed most, “The Red Shoes” by Holly Lyn Walrath, is a perfect example of unexpected twists. Walrath gives us a story of a lonely old witch in a deserted forest. You would expect that when the witch finds a lost girl (“A lovely redheaded thing curled in the litter of the forest floor like a fairy in bracken”), she would immediately make a meal of her, as the witch had done with so many other helpless children through the years. Yet she doesn’t. Obsessed with the past when trolls, werewolves, and other sorcerers called the woods home, the old woman casts a spell on a pair of red shoes for the girl. But magic rarely brings us the things we most desire, especially not without a hefty price. This was a beautifully written story with sharp images, and it reminded me of being a child, listening to Grimms’ Fairy Tales for the first time.
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This is an old-fashioned kind of place in the heart of a new-fangled kind of city. I always pick the place for us to meet. Ducking through the door, I push aside the black velvet curtain meant to keep out the cold and I shake my head as the host tries to take my coat. For a moment, I smile grimly. I don’t get cold. . .
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So, I broke my knee in January. Which means that I have pretty much been inside for all of 2020. And you know what I’ve been doing? Catching up on trashy reality shows and finding comfort in soft things.
What I mean by that is media that doesn’t ask much of its viewers. Media that has all the feels, but none of the pain. That show that you go back to again and again, even if you feel like Netflix is judging you for watching it once more. We all have our favorite comfort movies and TV. I love edgy, dark, hard-edged things too. But we all need a little softness sometimes.
I know what you’re thinking. Wait a second, this is just a list of your favorite movies, isn’t it?
Why yes, yes it is.
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About the Author
Holly Lyn Walrath is a freelance editor and author of poetry, flash fiction, and short fiction. Find her on Twitter @HollyLynWalrath
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