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A Writing Prompt

This week I have a writing prompt for you. It’s nothing too outlandish and should, hopefully, be a fun challenge.

Write a short story—or flash fiction piece—that has seamlessly integrated the first ten titles of your current song playlist or watch list.

Remember that you shouldn’t be afraid of wherever your writing takes you!

I hope you all have a good week, and I wouldn’t mind seeing some results of this prompt in our spring journal submissions!

An Exciting Announcement

Drumroll, please…! 

We are thrilled to announce that borrowed solace: the podcast will be coming to a listening platform near you this summer!  This is something that has been, and still is, in the works over here at borrowed solace.  We believe in creating a writing community and immersing ourselves in writing in any way that we can, so what better way to do that than through a podcast?

borrowed solace was founded on the idea of cultivating a moment of time out of our reader’s day-to-day lives to discover solace in writing and literature.  Most of us live hectic non-writing-focused lives and try to squeeze writing in here and there as we have space to do so.  We thought of starting a podcast as a way to make even more space for writing in your life.  With this podcast, our hope is that you are able to dwell in ideas, conversations, and stories centered on creativity while you go through the motions of the day-to-day.  This podcast will allow for moments of borrowed solace while you get ready in the morning, while you’re in the pickup line waiting for your kids to get out of school, or while you scurry about in the kitchen cooking dinner.  It will allow your mind to wander to writing during moments where you might otherwise be focusing on the day’s schedule, or while you work on your non-writing career, day in and day out.

Ultimately, we want this podcast to be for you!  We want you to have a role in this thing, too, because borrowed solace is all about creating a creative community.  From you, dear readers, submitters, writers, dreamers, we ask for your thoughts and questions.  Our goal is to come out with podcasts twice a month and to devote a few moments of each episode to answering your questions or focusing on topics that you care about while also sharing interviews with writers, artists, poets, and other editors.

To submit your thoughts to us, or let us know if you are interested in being featured on the podcast, we have added a brand new page to the journal’s website all about borrowed solace: the podcast. On it, there is information on how you can submit ideas to us.  No submission is off limits, but be forewarned that we may not answer everything that comes through to us on the podcast if it is something very narrow in scope or that we really aren’t knowledgeable about enough to answer. Please also submit your stories, poems, and nonfiction works to us if you are interested in having it read, or reading it yourself, on air!

We have already planted the seeds of a wonderful writing community here amongst our readers, editors, and contributors, and can’t wait to further water the borrowed solace garden with the addition of this podcast!

As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to email us. All podcast-related questions can be sent to podcast@borrowedsolace.com.

Weekly Round Up

What has been inspiring me this week? Well, the main thing is making some progress on an upcoming project for borrowed solace that is in the works (it’s a secret for now, but look for an exciting announcement coming your way next week!), but there have been some other tidbits of life that are inspiring me that I actually can talk about, too.

I go through phases where I read a lot, and phases where I don’t. Similarly, I go through phases with watching certain TV shows, and other phases where I haven’t watched anything in weeks. This seems to be how I roll for most things in my life — podcasts, crocheting, barre classes — you name it.

There’s only really one thing that I consistently come back to, and that’s music.

So this week I have some songs that are inspiring me (which probably isn’t surprising given that in my last weekly round up post I focused on music, too) as well as a few random one-offs from the list above.

The first thing that’s been feeding my creativity is a particular song by Ryn Weaver. I loved her first album when it came out, but since The Fool was released, Weaver has been on a bit of a hiatus. This song came out last year but I didn’t discover it until I watched the movie Someone Great on Netflix (which is worth a watch — not my favorite, but had a killer soundtrack and a good message if you can get through the sometimes clunky delivery) and it’s quickly become the newest song I play on repeat.

The song is called “Reasons Not to Die,” and I think the reason I love it so much is because it does something that I think all good art does to some extent — acknowledge that we’re all a little messed up, but that despite that, life is still worth living. It’s a good one — give it a listen and I can virtually promise you won’t be disappointed.

Another song that’s been on repeat for me this week is “scared” by Jeremy Zucker. I was introduced to this song via an Instagram story from one of my cousins and it is a song that hit me right in feels with how much it reinforces an idea that keeps showing up in my life lately (for more on that, you can read this blog post). It has a wonderful message, and also sounds really pretty, so that’s a win-win if you ask me!

Another thing that has inspired me (and shocked me) is something I binge-listened to this past week. I guess you could say that “The Dream” got me squarely back on the podcast train, although who knows if I’ll find another one that will capture my interest in quite the same way (spoiler alert — I did and have been listening to another podcast non stop for the past few days). I don’t want to give too much away, but this podcast is all about multi-level marketing companies (MLMs) and tells a lot of different stories about the people who ‘work’ for them as well as the history of these types of organizations. I found it sparking ideas in me about topics I might want to write about — whether creatively or to purely investigate whatever I find intriguing — and inspiring me with the way it kept everything so human focused and wove emotion and care into sometimes difficult topics and conversations. I think that’s something we all can take inspiration from in both writing and life.

So these are some of the things that have been inspiring me lately. I find that even when I don’t feel like writing or creating, life has a way of leading me towards inspiration that spurs me to do so anyway, and I think that is a beautiful thing — something worth writing about in and of itself!

Hone in on Your Creativity!

Experience art once a month to gain creativity!

Some places to go:

Museum

Concert

To see a film

Theater

Local monuments

National parks

State parks

Go for a hike

A festival

Some place magical

Don’t just go and look at paintings or try to find art—feel art, it will find you. Embrace the emotions. Study the craft. 

Any artist knows it takes hard work, patience, silence, a flood of emotions, or a lack of emotions, and sooo much time to create—and it helps if you have natural talent. And if you don’t, the great thing about art is everyone can do it at any level. I learned how to paint like I learned how to ride a bike (both of which, I learned from my father).

So, think about the passion—where does the artist’s love of art come from, the technique—are they self-taught or professionally taught, the sacrifice art takes—working a full-time job could mean art is clocking in during personal time (unless you get to create art for your job, in which case I envy you).

Artists learn from other artists, in my opinion, just as writers learn from other writers. So, how can experiencing art once a month help you?

Writers can learn to walk into a painting. A character from a play can inspire a creation of your own. Music expresses more ways to say things in beautiful ways like poetry, since writing song lyrics is a form of poetry. Every writer can learn something from art. I am a painter, and what I feel and what I want to say I can conveying through a painting.

So when I go to an art festival, I carry around a small pocket book. I jot down what I see—colors, shapes, animals, animated people, clothes people are wearing, face paint on children, the Ferris wheel turning high in the sky, and the type of art I would like to recreate but differently and in my own style. I take these creative notes home and I can write by using them as prompts, or start a painting by trying to imitate the Ferris wheel as a clock with the people in the little buckets as the numbers.

While sitting at an art museum, I sit in front of a painting and use it as my muse to write a story. What kind of world would that painting be, what characters would exist there, and I attempt to give the story the tone the painting gives in the form of emotion.

Or while hiking, sit down to sketch the chipmunks chasing each other. Or write a story about how the leaves of trees whisper to each other.

The greatest inspiration for me is when I am connected to mother nature because she teaches us what beauty in art is after all.

Submissions Update

We have barely a month left of open submissions, so we thought we would check-in to see how it is going with each editor.

From our poetry editor:

Submissions for borrowed solace issue 2.2 are intriguing, as always!  I love our themed editions because it adds another layer to whatever I am reading — corruption seems to be a theme that everyone found inspirational, but I would love to see even more poems that adhere to this theme.

From our fiction editor:

Submissions are going, reading through lots of interesting stories, but one thing is lacking; the theme. No one quite hits the theme for me, but I still have hope as I continue to work my way through submissions.

From our art editor:

There has been some awesome art this time around, the only problem is there isn’t enough art to go around. So, please submit more art that you find unique and corrupt at it’s being. 

From our nonfiction editor:

I am finding the same thing as Amber to be true, a lot of good stories, but hardly any that relate to the theme of Corruption. With almost a month left until submissions close, there are still so many possibilities that could come my way.

What is important to remember is we love publishing both unpublished writers as well as well-seasoned writers who are always working to develop their craft, and it is wonderful to see the ideas and stories people come up with. We enjoy reading the interesting lives of other people and experiencing the beauty that inspires them to create art or take a photo.

We want to enforce the theme a little more, corruption is with us every day through people around us, the news, the media, and even crime happening outside your window at this very moment. We want to read more of these things and we appreciate every submission we get. We are still, honestly, shocked by who submits to our journal and how many submissions we get. So even if you are turned away, please try again, because in this corrupt world you never know.

-editors, borrowed solace

Writerly Inspirations

This week our executive and fiction editors took a fun writing prompt and wrote up an exquisite corpse to share on the blog. If you’ve never heard of an exquisite corpse before, you’re probably scrunching up your nose and thinking about how morbid it sounds right about now, but we promise you — it’s not.

An exquisite corpse is an old writing activity/parlour game that was supposedly started by the surrealists in the early twentieth century, but was probably used even before then. It’s a method of creating a story where one person starts off with a sentence (or word, or whatever fits into the parameters the participants set) and then the next person in line builds off of that initial tidbit to slowly create a story.

All of us editors were first introduced to the exquisite corpse in college where we divided into groups, and sometimes even utilized the whole class, to create what often turned out to be absurd (or sometimes pretty fantastic) stories and poems. Now we all like to do it for fun, and it certainly does get the creative juices flowing!

It’s nice to carry forward a traditional exercise that has inspired writers for over a century — and it’s fun to imagine fanciful lords and ladies sitting in parlours creating what could have been the inspirations for countless classic stories and literary tropes. Give this exercise a try if you are looking for some writerly inspiration!

The Desert Runs Red Tonight

By Amber Porter and Kenna Jackson

Ice cubes clinked in amber colored liquid, condensation pooled around the small glass.

It went down smooth considering I just buried a guy in a shallow grave in the middle of the Nevada desert.

Other than the two dried spots of blood on my hiking boots, there was little evidence left on my sin.

Will the devil drink with me tonight or could his wife of an angel forgive me for what I had done.

Not that I cared for forgiveness, that asshole had it coming.

But I didn’t give it to him. I only washed away the crime, buried the evidence along with him, letting nature take back what she gave, and breathed a sigh of relief.

I heard someone sit beside me at the bar, the scent of lavender wafting over me. The smell of my sister’s shampoo was unmistakable—least it was better than the stink of blood she had been covered with.

It was her husband we laid in the ground. I poured her a drink, and selectively plucked a chunk of ice from the bucket. It clicked in the glass and she busted out laughing.

I looked at the old scars and new bruises across her exposed skin, but her laugh proved too infectious and soon I joined in. After all, it’s not every day you get away with murder.

All About the Writing Conference

This past weekend, our executive and poetry editors attended the Pike’s Peak Writer’s Conference (PPWC).  This was the third conference that we have had borrowed solace representatives at in some capacity, and it never ceases to provide a tantalizing learning and networking experience for whoever is in attendance.  This week on the blog, we thought we would recap what we learned — or, at least, recap what was the most instrumental thing each of us learned — during PPWC 2019, It Takes a Tribe.

From Addey:

“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heavens.”                      – Ecclesiastes 3:1

If there is one thing that I took away from PPWC this year it is that things take time.  I think we’ve all probably been told something similar, or used it as an excuse when we’re feeling blue, but it was so refreshing to hear all sorts of industry professionals and New York Times best selling authors expound on that fact.

Hard work and dedication pay off — at least, I’m hoping they do.

Writing, or editing, or agenting (is that a thing?) or literary journal-ing (that’s definitely not actually a thing) all seem to take a lot of turns around the sun to finally become anything fruitful.  I heard from some amazingly successful authors this past weekend on how they didn’t even quit their day job until (insert shockingly high number here) of books were published. There was even one New York Times best selling author who still was working her day job.  I listened as agents expounded on how remarkably naive they were when they first started in their career and now 10, 15, (insert shockingly high number here) years later they finally get what those well seasoned gurus at some of the first conferences they spoke at were talking about.

Sure, this thought could be seen as a bit distressing, but I have chosen to see it as a positive sentiment.  For me, this idea harkens back to the Bible in Ecclesiastes —“to every thing there is a season.” For any bright eyed new writer hoping to one day be a New York Times best selling author giving the keynote, rather than listening intently to it from the audience, I think this is encouraging.  Right now, you (and me) may be going through a season of sowing. We are working day in and day out, planting the seeds of our writing endeavors but not yet seeing the end result. One day, if we keep at it, and water those seeds with a lot of effort and even more persistence, I think we will come into a season of blossoming.  

For everything there is a season — for some, they are in that season where writing takes the back burner.  For others, they are in the season where hard work is starting to pay off, and for others, they are already in the season where they are starting to be invited to speak at conferences (those lucky few!)  What PPWC taught me is that everyone can go through each and every one of those seasons, but to get to that season of blossoming and prosperity, the harder seasons might just have to come first.

So I am going to keep plowing the fields of my writing and planting those seeds for as long as I need to, because I have faith that a greater season is coming — one where I can look back on today and see the serendipitous moments that led me to success.

From Nicole:

Learning even more about characters!

I know already that society has become more self indulgent, but now know that we writers, too, tend to become character indulged. People no longer want to read large paragraphs of scenery or world-building. Most editors and authors at the conference who were presenting or critiquing went straight for the connection to the main character. They wanted to know their name on the first line, then their description, in five words or less — who they are.

I am a YA fantasy writer and spend a lot of time building my cultures; different races and classes; the weather and atmosphere; the wars that scared the land; and how the world differs, or is similar to, Earth. But now, I’ve learned that instead of showing the readers this up front, those things must be woven later in the story. This truly amazed me. The story you are supposed to tell (write) is a series of events your characters comes to and overcomes to reach the final destination — this is what we all know. But even developing a scene is now centered on how primary and secondary characters should react, feel, internalize, voice their opinion, and act towards others in the story — this gives the reader more insight to connect with your story. It tells who the readers are supposed to love, hate, cry with, rant with, join the emotional train ride of when they fail or triumph, celebrate with when they win the guy or girl at the end, or seethe with anger when it all gets lost even though they were supposed to be the hero standing in glory.

What I really mean to say is that I learned how characters now come before anything else. They must be fully developed and evoke the reader to reader more.  They must set your character on a train track and let their engines be fueled with emotion….and they always come first.

An Editor Update

Please help me welcome someone new to the team of editors: Karen McConnell, who will now serve as our guest art editor. I interviewed her to dive more into her tastes and preferences, and it has definitely been interesting. Her favorite part about art is the storytelling, what kind of words can be used to describe a single photo, moment, or life on canvas. She admires a piece she can walk into, and take a moment to connect with emotions, thoughts, or memories that come flying at her. She likes art that leaves her with an impression. Photography that makes her feel like she is in the picture. And anything inviting her into the artist’s mind or life.

Why was she cast into our borrowed solace kingdom?  It is directly related to her experience. Having her art work displayed before and published in Fall 2018 borrowed solace, her life is a creative one. Creativity and making art runs in her veins. Karen’s mother also is very creative and in the past owned a ceramic shop for more than 20 years and sold those creations at local festivals and fairs. Karen is also my mother.  I remember as a child she had to help out at the store by making dolls and dinnerware. At the festivals, my cousins and I would play and go on adventures around the parks and downtown while our mothers worked the stalls. Every year when I was younger, aunts, cousins, friends, and anyone who wanted to come could go to the Christmas crafting party. Ornaments to hang on the tree were made. To this day, crafting parties for my grandmother’s church, for local nursing homes, shops, family’s homes, and craft festivals are when my mother’s family gets together to create any and everything.

The new thing in art that my mother and I are both trying is diamond painting art. If you haven’t tried this already, I forewarn you, it is addictive. For those of you who don’t know what it is, you can buy them on amazon for cheap, but it is a canvas with an image you pixel in with tiny rhinestones. My mother’s first adventure into this is one good angel and one dark angel to represent the light and dark of the world. My first adventure is the little mermaid sitting on her famous rock under the moon. It is addicting because you can’t stop at one rhinestone or two or three, you have to do half of the damn thing! Even then, when your eyes need a break, it’s hard to tear yourself away from how the art will turn out and the fact that it is not finished. But nonetheless, art is something that keeps Karen on her toes, since creativity is one thing that the world has lots of left to still explore. She is excited to review all of the art that is submitted to the upcoming journal.

Writerly Inspirations

I haven’t had much time this week to concentrate on writing. However, I’ve found—at least for myself—that the writing spirit doesn’t care if you’ve got the time or not. It likes to strike when it pleases. There I was, minding my own business, watching the most recent episode of NCIS when it decided to lunge at me.

One of the characters watches a funeral come to an end a few steps away. Memories of a previously deceased wife and a broken engagement no doubt filled his mind. His voice, full ofremorse, says “I was trying to do the right thing for her, but she still ended up here…”

All I could think was “Damned if you do, damned if you don’t” with the addition of “so you may as well do.” And just like that a new character popped into my head. Within minutes I had his whole backstory planned out. His mannerisms, his quirks. Likes and dislikes. I even had a scene with him saying the above. I don’t know where I’ll put him. I don’t even know if he’ll be used beyond writing practice.

But that’s a concern for another day. For now, I’m just marveling at the persistence of the writing spirit and awed by what it finds inspirational.

Weekly Round Up

New on the borrowed solace blog: the weekly round up, a recapitulation of what is inspiring us, what the borrowed solace community has been up to, and what you can look for next from the journal.

This week has been a bit of a strange one here in Colorado.  We had near record breaking high temperatures to start of the week, a blizzard to see us through hump day, and more snow to come for the weekend.  Spring has sprung! Despite all of the chaos mother nature seems to be experiencing in this transitional time, we have been thriving (or trying to, at least).  There are some exciting new ways that borrowed solace will be branching out in the coming weeks, so keep your eyes open for more news from us!  In the meantime, here is what has been inspiring our creativity this week, we hope it might inspire you too!

I am currently getting readying for a writer’s conference, and getting some stories put together for critiques and reviews. One piece in particular, I have been working on since my last year of college two years ago. This piece has sort of haunted me in a way so that I can’t get it quite right; even though I have completed the 100th draft, though I feel a small step towards completion every time a draft is done. Slaying the words, adding new words–revision is definitely the hardest part of writing for me!

Nicole M.

As the daughter of a musician, music has always been a big part of my life.  My parents met because of music, so it’s no wonder I am consistently inspired by new sounds and lyrics.  As a poet (and poetry editor), music is a big part of my writing, too. Songs are poetry to music, after all, and I like to think that a beautifully written song is every bit as dazzling as the perfect marriage of words to the page.

This week, I have discovered a new duo that I have been listening to nonstop, Ward Thomas.  This duo is a sister (twins!) country group from England, and I stumbled on their music a while ago and didn’t listed for whatever reason, then somehow came back to them again this week.  I’ve basically been listening to both their albums (there’s a third that isn’t available to me in the US unfortunately) for the past several days, and while their use of instrumentation and their luscious harmonies are what got me at first, I found myself sitting in my living room listening to their voices as I read along to the lyrics last night and feeling so enraptured by what the songs were saying.

Some of my favorites are “No Filter” which has a fantastic pre-chorus: “I reposition my hands, my hair, my cheek so you might listen to me.  I’ve been conditioned to win a piece of the war you started.” “Little Girl Sorrow” which personifies feelings with the best literary masters, and “This Too Shall Pass” which is so simplistic it makes me want to cry (listen to this one if you are in your twenties and struggling with making sense of your life).

Music always inspires me, and this week it’s been Ward Thomas.  Give them a listen — I don’t think you’ll regret it.

Addey