Kristina Elyse Butke
Moxie Books: January Writing Prompts
Today's post was supposed to be spread out as a daily writing exercise over the month of January, but I only just now got the prompts. They come from Moxie Books, a website devoted to helping you write. In the meantime, I'm going to knock out all of January in a single blog article, whew!
You're highly encouraged to follow the creator of these calendars, Vicky Quinn Fraser, on Instagram -- @tinybeetlesteps. You can do the posts daily on Instagram, too!
1 - Why do you want to write?
I love the feeling I get when characters come to life on the page, and where the writing seems to just flow out on its own. It's something I can't properly describe, but it's a high that I can only get through writing. Also, I honestly don't feel like I can do anything else. My entire life has been building towards being a writer, ever since I was little. It is so wrapped up in who I am, that it feels like if I want to exist, I have to write.
2 - What do you want to change about your life?
I want to be healthier and more active and stop drinking soda.
3 - Festival of Sleep Day
To be honest, every day feels like a sleep festival day to me. I nap on a regular basis!
4 - National Spaghetti Day - What's your favorite pasta?
My favorite pasta happens to be spaghetti! I don't know if Asian noodles can be referred to as pasta, too, but I also like ramen - shoyu ramen, tonkotsu ramen, and more!
5 - Who do you admire? Why?
As far as writers go I admire Juliet Marillier and Margaret Rogerson because of what they choose to write about, their style, and the fact that I love their books. In terms of my personal life I admire my mother, especially when I think about what she did to raise us, and also my friend Kathy, who I can only describe as a bright shining light for having one of the best personalities around.
6 - Why do you think people should listen to you?
Oh wow, this is kind of a weird question, especially because it depends on the context. In general terms, it's respectful and polite to listen to someone when they are talking. When I am teaching, I should be listened to because you should trust my educational background and qualifications. But personal advice, medical advice, spiritual advice, romantic advice--I don't relate to everyone and I don't share a lot of people's experiences, so all of that should be taken with a grain of salt.
7 - What do not many people know about you?
I'm someone who kind of blabs everything, so I don't know what kind of secrets I have about myself that I could share...hmm. Well, I'll share this because it surprised some people I work with in Japan. But back in the States, I was a lecturer at a community college and I had students who bullied me, openly hated me, slammed my teaching, tried to get me in trouble with the Dean all the time, openly lied on evaluations...and this always surprised people because I do a lot of teaching at conventions and conferences, and I have been teaching in Japan for almost six years, and I get glowing responses from my coworkers, students, and higher ups...so it comes as a surprise that people love my teaching or absolutely hate it, or love me and absolutely hate me.
8 - What can you do really well?
I have a talent for lyrics and rhyme. I'm used to writing them all of the time. In musicals, plays, and stories, it's true--rhyming is something I know how to do. Seriously, though, I was good enough to make it to the applicant's weekend at NYU in writing lyrics for their Graduate Musical Theater Writing program (although I was eventually waitlisted). In my book Son of the Siren, because my character does a lot of singing, there are plenty of songs in the book. I also have a character who likes to tell riddles, and those rhyme as well. Rhyming poetry and lyrics were some of my favorite things to write in that book.
9 - A smell that transports you through space and time
Whenever I smell jasmine I think of the quirky shops in Yellow Springs, Ohio--one of my favorite places to visit. Whenever I smell a certain type of garbage I think of the hot summers in New York City. Whenever I smell wisteria I think of Japan. Whenever I smell vanilla I think of my grandma baking cookies, or my mother making cake.
10 - National Houseplant Week
The thing you need to know about me and houseplants is that I regularly kill them. I vacillate between overwatering or underwatering, and no matter what, they end up dead.
11 - Current Earworm
Boney M.'s "Rasputin." Someone was dancing to it on Tik Tok. Here, get it stuck in your head, too!
12 - Kiss A Ginger Day: What color is your hair?
My hair is supposed to be blackish-brown but it has since been growing in whitish-silver. I have to dye it all the time. My hair grows really, really fast and if I let the white grow out, it ages me terribly.
13 - Current box set binge
I'm not exactly sure what this means. Is it talking about books? If so, the last physical box set I got was years and years ago (coming in an actual box) and it had to do with mythic retellings, one of them being The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood. I haven't read any actual box sets since, unless you count trilogies or series bought through Kindle in a group. I'm not reading any currently.
14 - Currently reading...
I'm currently on Volume 5 of Inouesatoh's Ten Count.
15 - Most recent cinema trip
I have been hesitant to go to the movies because of COVID-19, but I made an exception and saw an early morning showing of Spiderman: No Way Home. Up until then, the last movie I'd seen in the theater was the final Star Wars movie in the new trilogy. Anyway, I enjoyed Spiderman immensely. It was great on its own merits, but the added nostalgia really made me feel good watching it.
16 - World Religion Day
I have a complicated relationship with religion. I have always believed in something. I am not sure if I could count myself as a Christian because while I believe the important tenets of that religion, some paganism, and aspects of Shintoism and Buddhism (thanks to living in Japan) have kind of crept in there. Whenever I visit shrines and temples in Japan, I take it seriously. I have no idea what this makes me in terms of religion. I struggle all the time with trying to figure it out.
17 - Brew Monday
Is this talking about alcohol? That kind of brew? I used to drink in college, but mostly at social events, and never on my own just for fun. Then I was put on medication that doesn't agree with drinking, so I've pretty much stopped. Plus, Japan is zero tolerance on drinking and driving...you absolutely cannot have a single drop of alcohol and get in your car. So, at enkai, I wear a special little badge or ribbon that shows I can't drink because I drove myself to the event. They usually pour me non-alcoholic beer which I find pretty gross, but out of politeness I drink it.
18 - Winnie the Pooh Day
First of all, I don't know if you know this, but Winnie the Pooh (the original books, NOT Disney) entered the public domain. So if you wanna write the next books, go for it! The only other thing I can think of about Winnie the Pooh is of course the Heffalumps and Woozles song from the Disney movie. Scared the crap out of me.
19 - Feet for hands or hands for feet?
Hands for feet. I don't know if they can support my body but I'm all for the extra dexterity. Plus I want to keep my original hands, too...I cannot imagine trying to hold things with my toes. I mean, I can, but doing things like opening jars or writing, that would be too hard for me to figure out. I know people can do this in real life, and it's super impressive, but I'm too lazy to retrain my body in that way.
20 - Describe your favorite outfit
All of my favorite clothes come from Modcloth. They have clothes in a variety of sizes and they have a lot of cute stuff available. My favorite outfit is something I wear to work. It's my usual black pants and socks, but the top is a silky sort of puff-sleeved piece that's a really pretty green with a faint plaid pattern printed on it. It's really comfortable to wear and looks nice.
21 - Squirrel Appreciation Day
I do think squirrels are cute. I get excited whenever I see melanistic or albino squirrels. They're really pretty.
22 - Do you dance?
I used to. I was a ballerina for ten years and even got to dance en pointe! I also used to be brave enough to dance at clubs but I was usually laughed at. I'm not a sexy dancer.
23 - Pie Day
I'm not someone who really likes pies. I don't like that much fruit and I don't like pie crusts. The one exception was a chocolate pudding pie with graham cracker crust that my grandma made for us. That was scrumptious.
24 - January haiku: new beginnings
When the sunlight shines
The dawn of a new morning
Each day a new year
25 - Burns Night
I have no idea what the heck this is.
26 - If you could have a tail...
I would want a fluffy fox tail. Fox tails are pretty expressive. They don't wag like a dog's, but when a fox is being passive the tail gets lower and close to the body. There are some interesting photos of fox tails out there. I just think the fur is pretty.
27 - Favorite vegetable?
I dislike most vegetables--I find them kind of bitter--but I love to eat raw carrots. I'll never get sick of them.
28 - What pissed you off recently?
The news from America pisses me off recently and regularly. COVID is a dumpster fire there and I am terrified of moving back. The National Guard is in the hospitals in my home state and people don't want to wear freaking masks.
29 - What delighted you recently?
Once a month I go into Kumamoto City for therapy and I make a weekend of it. I book a hotel and order pizza delivery (pizza's kind of hard to come by where I live). Sometimes I'll also walk down the street to Shimotori and go shopping at Animate. Anyway, I had really good pizza during my latest therapy weekend and it made me really happy. I like simple pizza--double cheese. The cheese on that pizza was magnificent.
30 - What's on your left? Write about it in great detail.
To my left is a huge stack of solid-white scrap paper. There has to be over 200 pieces. I was making fortunes (omikuji) for my students to fill out for the January/New Year Lesson but the fortune strips (more like squares) didn't fill up a full page when I went to print them, so I wasted a lot of paper. I saved all of the scraps to make a mountainous pile of paper for me to take notes or write on instead of using post-its from now on. I wonder if I will be able to go through them all by July 31, my last day of work.
31 - National Storytelling Week
One of my favorite memories of storytelling was at summer camp, during the annual overnight stay (this was a big deal as Happy Hollow was a day camp). We had a counselor, Mr. Chad, who was really good at telling ghost stories, and we'd sneak over to Fort Hot Dog in the woods and listen to him. We also had an even more famous tradition, which was to make a bonfire where everyone at camp would sit around it, and listen to the tale of "Horsethief Jack."
This was a lot of fun to do, with some random things, and some thoughtful things to write about. The January writing prompt calendar was a private freebie, and I don't know if more will be available to me (I'd really like to do these once a month!), but I'll keep an eye out. As always, thanks for reading!