July 15, 2019

Monday, July 15


I am jumping right into the prompt this week, in part because my dear friend Jessica, the founder of the esteemed Westport Writers Workshop, is reading a charming book about writing titled “Dreyer’s English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style.” 

One of the chapters talks extensively about useless words. 

Useless words are, well, useless. I see them in good books; I’m reading one right now that refers to a man’s face as “rather ruddy.” Is it ruddy or isn’t it? Stop fiddling around with such silliness and decide. “Omit needless words,” Strunk and White repeats in “Elements of Style.” Please, please, listen. Read through your work after you think you’re done. Omit needless words.

For this week’s prompt, I am asking you to write a 600-word story that ends with the sentence, “And after that, nothing was ever the same.” In this story, I also ask that you omit all wishy-washy words. Here’s a beginning list:



A lot






Kind of


Pretty much


Some (and cousins: something, somewhere, somewhat, sometime)

Sort of


Virtually and so on.


After you are done, read your piece aloud to someone: your dog, roommate, spouse, significant other, neighbor, your child for whom you have sacrificed so much and who owes you a listen. Then pat yourself on the back, and if you are a previous workshop participant, aka a Candlelighter, send it along to me. I may respond, I may not, but know I will have read it. 

Thanks to everyone who shared their poetry with me, particularly the sonnets, which were challenging, I know. They were well done, often absolutely charming. Patti Muldoon agreed to let me share hers; Patti is an accomplished poet and Candlelight Writing Workshops participant. But whether you are an accomplished poet or a tinkerer, do write poetry! Poetry gives us a sense of pace, of style, of cadence and rhythm. It’s marvelous exercise for writing muscles. 


Mind and Body

By Patti Muldoon


Can we withstand the damages of time?

Or break irreparably as eggshells do?

Our ginger early steps, recall, aligned –

the novelty and wonder, all was new.


Now I am wont to wander aimlessly,

While you are stuck to one place fast as glue

Each day you gain another malady

As I lose precious marbles – where? – no clue.


Oh, body how you jumped for me!

I’d a chart a complex course, you’d find the prize.

I can no longer count iambic poetry

To woo a form with twenty-twenty eyes


But I can fantasize while you ignore –

The mind sashays, the body snores.