By Hand is a monthly prompt that focuses on freeing our words by using our hands. This month, we’re exploring decorating.
For the last nine years, I’ve finished a big writing assignment—or two, or three—right around Thanksgiving. Which means my brain is fried, and I long to do something by hand, something that does not involve words. Which means I decompress from writing-jetlag by decorating for the holidays.
We moved into a new home this spring and bought a new tree, so decorating this year took longer because I had no idea where anything should go. I worked by hand for three days: unwrapping, washing, drying, hanging. It not only soothed my soul but also freed my mind.
While climbing a ladder to reach a tall branch, I had an idea for an upcoming creative writing workshop. I climbed down, jotted the thought on a notepad, climbed back up the ladder, and resumed decorating. By the time the house was done, I had jotted down half a dozen notes, all by hand.
Prompt Guidelines and Options
1. If you haven’t decorated for the holidays, no worries. If, perhaps, you’ve been avoiding the task, consider unpacking one box. (Singing along with Michael Bublé is optional.)
2. Consider decorating your table with goblets, fun plates, funky utensils, or special china before ringing in the new year. Run your fingers around the edge of your own goblet, utensil, or plate a few times to get the feel of the glass, crystal, porcelain, stoneware, etc.
3. Consider getting out a ladder just for fun and seeing how the decor of your living room looks different from a higher vantage point. Feel each rung of the ladder as you climb.
4. Write a poem, vignette, or fiction story opener that springs from your decorating or climbing experience. Or that springs from New Year’s or the holidays. Or write something entirely unexpected (Ode to a Fork Tine?)
That’s it! We look forward to what you create when you do it By Hand.
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“Megan Willome’s The Joy of Poetry is not a long book, but it took me longer to read than I expected, because I kept stopping to savor poems and passages, to make note of books mentioned, and to compare Willome’s journey into poetry to my own. The book is many things. An unpretentious, funny, and poignant memoir. A defense of poetry, a response to literature that has touched her life, and a manual on how to write poetry. It’s also the story of a daughter who loses her mother to cancer. The author links these things into a narrative much like that of a novel. I loved this book. As soon as I finished, I began reading it again.”
—David Lee Garrison, author of Playing Bach in the D. C. Metro
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