Throw me Thursday: Memoir Mash-ups

Pixomar /

I felt the hard minds of my family charged with anger, fighting impractical hurried,
driving themselves through the backwater streets in flight looking for an easy out,
blue-collar babies rebelling against the paternal accusing clatter for the wild banshee in the disco of night…

This week’s writing prompt is an exploration of language submitted by @andilit (Andi Lit) who suggested taking passages from books and imitating the grammar while using something you’ve been working on or something off the cuff.

She says, “The purpose is to simply try imitating the language and see how it opens up your writing. Try it with a short passage first (and don’t stress if you don’t know the grammatical terms – just imitate). Then, you can play with longer passages.”

I couldn’t resist since I’m already so guilty of mutilating songs (Across the Twitterverse?). And I’ve been in a sort of writing snit and it’s time to loosen up. So I pushed up my sleeves and ransacked the shelves. I hope you give this exercise a try, it’s good therapy and fun if you get off on writing stuff.

Feel free to post your own excerpts in the comments below or on your own blog and link to this post. We could start a writing revolution! (A peaceful one, where we all get to keep our office appointments)

In case you didn’t recognize the piece from above it is a rip off “Howl” by Allen Ginsberg:

“I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked,
dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix,
angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night…”



Dorothy Parker

Razors pain you;
Rivers are damp;
Acids stain you;
And drugs cause cramp.
Guns aren’t lawful;
Nooses give;
Gas smalls awful;
You might as well live.



Sewing bores you;
Pictures blur;
Knitting binds you;
Potting wheels whir;
Oils stain;
Band mates fight;
Tattoos wane;
You might as well write.


From “The Call of the Wild” by Jack London

“Buck did not read the newspapers, or he would have known that trouble was brewing, not alone for himself, but for every tide-water dog, strong of muscle and with warm, long hair from Puget Sound to San Diego.”

The Howl of the Womb by Me

V did not believe the psychic, or she would have known her belly was growing, not alone for herself, but for her sleep-deprived husband, hard of work and with great, generous patience for days on end.


From “Dead Poet’s Society”

“I close my eyes and this image floats beside me
The sweaty-toothed madman with a stare that pounds my brain
His hands reach out and choke me
And all the time he’s mumbling
Mumbling truth, like a blanket that always leaves your feet cold.
You push it, stretch it, it will never be enough
Kick at it, beat it, it will never cover any of us.
From the moment we enter crying, to the moment we leave dying,
It will just cover your face as you wail and cry and scream.”

Caffeinated Mom’s Impropriety

I close my door and my daughter sits beside it
A freaking-out babygirl with a scream that eats my brain
Her feet kick out to frustrate me
And all the time I’m mumbling
Mumbling quiet, like a librarian who never gets her way.
I shush her, hold her, she will always be testing
Look at her, love her, she will always want more of us.
From the moment we wake yawning, to the moment coffee is brewing
She will continue testing limits as I pour and drink and stretch.


About E. Victoria Flynn

E. Victoria Flynn is a mother and a writer living in Southern Wisconsin. Published in a variety of venues, Victoria is currently writing the first in a series of three fantasy novels based on Cornish folklore. When not taking part in a shrieking dance party or engrossed in her own little fictions, Victoria is keen on art, the natural world and people unafraid to explore their own brilliance.
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13 Responses to Throw me Thursday: Memoir Mash-ups

  1. Kelley says:

    I like how you took me to another place with your words! I remember reading a lot of poetry in my early 20’s. It has been a while… Thanks for inspiring me to write more!

    • pennyjars says:

      Kelley, thank you. I don’t read nearly as much poetry as I did in high school and after, but sometimes I pull books off the shelves and get lost in the passages. I hope you do write more and more and more. I hope we all do. It makes the world explode with light.

  2. Lisa says:

    This is soooo cool, Victoria! I love what you’ve done with your examples, and I strongly recommend this exercise. It’s one I’ve used with both college students and younger children, and it always leads to innovation and fresh ideas. I haven’t tried it myself for awhile though. Here goes, from one of my all-time favorite beginning passages… (and thank you for the opportunity!)

    From Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh:

    “I have been here before,” I said; I had been there before; first with Sebastian more than twenty years ago on a cloudless day in June, when the ditches were white with fool’s-parsley and meadowsweet and the air heavy with all the scents of summer; it was a day of peculiar splendour, such as our climate affords once or twice a year, when leaf and flower and bird and sun-lit stone or shadow seem all to proclaim the glory of God; and thought I had been there so often, in so many moods, it was to that first visit that my heart returned on this, my latest.”

    My Version

    “I have known this before,” I thought; I had known this feeling before; first with my grandfather more than forty ago on countless clear summer days, when the fields were white and violet with sweet alfalfa and the air thick with all the scent of newly mown hay; this was a day of particular clarity, such as nature affords in her fickle randomness, when soil and wheatgrass and prairie dog and sun-reflected gravel road seem all to proclaim a peace and certainly once lost; and thought I had felt this so often, in so many other places but brought from here, and it was to those early years that my heart returned on this later visit.”

    • pennyjars says:

      Lisa, this is just wonderful. Reading your passage takes me right to a day I had forgotten years and years ago on the road with my dad stopping somewhere in the country where he knew of a water spring, and he filled jugs, and the sky was overcast, and the fields were green with small white flowers, and yellow, and purple. I don’t know where that place is or was, but I remember the gravel at the side of the road, “and thought I had felt this so often, in so many other places.”

  3. Pingback: Bookmarkable Friday | Log Off. Write On.

  4. poetsplace says:

    Victoria your writing is — I don’t have words, but I’ll try. When I read it, I just feel good finally. It is hard to explain. I read so many poets today, so many authors today, and I just feel disappointed and let down. Nothing really lights my fire or wows me. Nothing leaves me wanting to read the line again, wanting to sit and breathe with it. I shouldn’t say “nothing,” but rarely do I read something that leaves me with those feelings. Even this exercises of yours leave me wanting more. Love it!

    • pennyjars says:

      Jacque, Thank you so much. I fumble and grouse with my writer-self constantly wondering what the heck I think I’m doing, but then wonder what I’d be doing instead. Your words mean a lot to me. And I know what you’re saying, it’s magic when the lines lift us off the page.

  5. What a wonderful way to celebrate your arrival on/ in this world! I’ve got some E.E.Cummings emulasions in my files. DP is great for those certain spewings. Like yours a lot! Will read more and better later from larger screen and after better groomed xoxo

  6. Mandee Sears says:

    I love this!! You are a talented wordsmith. Following examples is not that easy — not just any words will do. You paint a picture my friend!


  7. Christine says:

    I love the poem “You might as well write”!

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