Prompts and Personal History

My artist daughter Keliana has been participating in Mermay in which the goal is to draw a mermaid each day during the month of May. It has been fun for me to see her art go up on her Patreon, some of them finished, some only sketches, some with stories attached, others just images. In the past I’ve participated in similar prompt lists focused on photography. They can be very useful ways to spark new ways of seeing the world, to create things that otherwise would not have occurred to you. I really like that aspect, but my primary art isn’t visual, it is words. So I wondered if I could find my own prompt list to help me create more variety in the things I blog about. I also wondered if I could use a list to remind me to write about pieces of my life that otherwise get missed. I’d had an entire train of thought the other day about how during the first stages of the pandemic I was very focused on recording what daily life was like because it was suddenly different. Except in the Before Times I neglected to record daily life, and now that the pandemic is winding down, I’m again not recording daily life as much. So as a historical record, my recountings of pandemic existence lack a basis for comparison. Perhaps prompts would help me provide that basis. I figured that searching for personal history prompts might be a good place to start. I found these sites: 1, 2, 3

I gleaned out a set of prompts that might be interesting to write about. I was very amused how one site assumed some very specific things about who I was as a person and what my life had been like. It assumed my parents were dead, that I missed them, and that I had grandchildren I wanted to give advice to because I was myself approaching death. Only one of those things applies to me. (I do miss my parents because they live several states away and pandemic made visiting verboten for more than a year.) And then there were questions like this one: How common was working mothers in your day? Have working mothers been good or bad for our society? Explain why or why not. Which, yes, does possibly prompt a person to write something about their life experience and opinions, but wasn’t matched with a question about working fathers and whether they had been good or bad for society. I am side-eyeing the assumptions around that question and lack of matching question. So I’ve … adjusted… several of the prompts so that the shape of them doesn’t irk me.

(For the record: Working mothers have always been common throughout all of history. It is just that during a period of about fifty years in white, American, middle-and-upper class families there was a narrative that somehow having mothers work outside the home was an aberration that caused problems for society. Does Mom working cause problems? Yup. Does Mom being a home maker and domestic worker and childcare provider cause problems? Also yup. I’ve been both of those Moms. I’m in favor of providing families with choices and support so they can decide their own best balance.)

So there in the parenthetical I’ve answered my own first prompt. I don’t plan to do these daily. I have enough creative projects in progress without assigning myself another one to track. But sometimes I want to write a blog post and feel a little stuck on where to start. Now I have a set of prompts to pull from. In the meantime if you want to see some fun Mermay pictures, you can become one of Keliana’s patrons for only a dollar.