by Pat Phillips West
This month’s prompt challenges you to describe how to do something or, in some cases, how not to do it. For example, how to follow a recipe or how to avoid catastrophe by following specific “do not do” instructions. Add a version of one of these to your writing and see what happens.
Fold a recipe into your work. Make it part of the larger “how-to” lesson that unfolds in a scene or story.
In his “American Zen Breakfast,” Dick Allen provides an excellent example.
How did [you] make his breakfast taste so good, Ye Feng asked.
I said, more than a little bit tongue-in-cheek, that it had everything to do with Zen Buddhist mindfulness. That is, simple food cooked simply can be as artful as flamboyant food cooked flamboyantly. And what could be as simple as a scrambled eggs and bacon breakfast?
Read the complete story/recipe here.
Consider giving directions about how to be a poet or a novelist or a memoirist. Click on the this link to enjoy Wendell Barry’s delightful how-to poem.
How To Be a Poet
Make a place to sit down.
Sit down. Be quiet.
In the film “Gremlins,” the grandson of an antique shop owner describes how to care for the Mogwai. He does so in terms of what not to do, ever, to this creature who soon will be named Gizmo.
Read the plot summary for his three warning/instructions here.
Pat Phillips West moved so often even her closest friends asked if she was in the Witness Protection Program. She refused to comment, except to say she’s in Portland, OR, for now. Her poems appear or will appear in Imagination & Place: Weather, Persimmon Tree, VoiceCatcher6, Manzanita Writers Press, San Pedro River Review and elsewhere.
Note: This month ends Pat West’s one-year tenure as the author of our monthly prompt. We’re grateful, Pat, for the contributions you’ve made to our website and for all the writing challenges you’ve thrown at us this year. Those of us who took those challenges have a sharper set of tools with which to craft our work. Thanks!