free the pen, a blog for writers

July 22, 2017

I Look Like My Mother . . .

Filed under: memoir — freethepen @ 12:20 pm

meandmom70s “I look like my mother. . . ” starts a line in Allende’s book, Maya’s Notebook. That line brought up all sorts of emotions for me. What about you? Does that line bring up emotions for you? What are they? In what ways do you think you look like your mother? Is that a good thing or not? Write with every nuance and detail.

Keep the pen moving,


July 18, 2017

A Fight That Changed My Life

Filed under: memoir — freethepen @ 2:14 pm

fly Sometimes we reach a part of life that makes us give up something for a bigger gain. It can feel like the fight that will change our life. Have you had one of those? Perhaps it was a health issue, or took place in your relationship with your mother, or a decision you had to make when all was against it. Write it out in full detail. What happened? Why did you have to fight so hard? Was it worth it? Why?

Keep the pen moving,


July 15, 2017

Bit of Wisdom

Filed under: memoir — freethepen @ 2:23 pm

Thinking Cute Kid Girl Looking. Instagram Effect Portrait What is the last bit of wisdom you received from your mom? How old were you? What brought her to speak to you about the topic? How did you feel about it? Will you follow that wisdom?

Keep the pen moving,


July 10, 2017

Favorite Artist

Filed under: memoir — freethepen @ 2:02 pm

Thinking Cute Kid Girl Looking. Instagram Effect Portrait Think for a minute. Who is your favorite artist? What is your favorite piece of art and what about the artist’s work do you enjoy?

Years ago, I went to the De Young Museum in San Franscisco to see a Picasso exhibit. As I stared at one of his paintings, I turned my head to the left and nearly fell apart. A huge painting, titled, Two Women, (as I remember the name) had a profound impact on me. I must have stood in front of it for 20 minutes fighting back tears. It gave off an endearing, tender, powerful punch. Rectangles and cubes, circles and twists, came together in a revealing sense of the female, but not just that. It was the tenderness of the two women connecting with each other. Whether he was depicting sisters, mother with daughter, friends, it was difficult to decipher. It captured the feminine essence and I was deeply touched.

Although I have many favorite authors, this one piece, and the experience it gave me, will remain with me forever. What is the piece of art that has moved you?

Keep the pen moving, and



July 9, 2017

Sweet 16

Filed under: memoir — freethepen @ 1:57 pm

Long Stem Red RoseDo you remember being sweet 16? What were you like back then? What mistakes did you make? What wisdom did you have at such a young age? What was happening in your family? Write it all.

Keep the pen moving,


July 4, 2017

Independence Day

Filed under: Journal writing,memoir — freethepen @ 12:42 pm

Vintage abstract green background with flower July 4th is our country’s special day. I hope you all have a safe holiday. But, independence day for each of us comes once or more than that while set out on our personal road to find our free and unique life. What independence days have you experienced? Write then out in full detail including why you needed an independence day and how it turned out.

Keep the pen moving,


June 26, 2017

First Sight

Filed under: memoir — freethepen @ 2:00 pm

bigstock-Love-Birds-on-a-branch-56002589It was love at first sight. Go! Write wild! Write without censoring. Write until you are totally spent.

I dreamed about him last night, my first love. He has been on my mind lately. I worked with him on Wall Street back in 1967 for four years. I was only 18 when I met him. Didn’t care much for him but we worked together so we had daily contact. Even after I changed jobs, we stayed in daily contact. I had become friends with his team at work so it seemed inevitable. We were to meet for lunch one ordinary day. I exited my old office building and saw him waiting for me against the Chase Manhattan Bank building. He was staring into the mass of people walking to lunch in his grey suit and skinny tie to match his skinny body. Something in the way he looked, or the way we had kept connecting, or the way he laughed or knew things I didn’t. It is difficult to pinpoint. But suddenly, staring at him waiting for me, my heart took wings, I lost a breath, I felt an unimaginable joy. Love. I was taken over by a feeling of deep and rich love. I couldn’t feel the ground below me or the air against my face. Even if I had known in that holy second what tumultuous events would follow in the next five years, I wouldn’t have given up that moment. I had no idea I was capable of such a feeling. I still treasure that split second even though I have not had any contact with him since 1975 and he put me through hell.

Keep the pen moving,


June 23, 2017

Your World

Filed under: memoir — freethepen @ 1:43 pm

hugo We think of the world as being outside ourselves which makes this quote by Victor Hugo rich with ideas for what lies inside us. What world lies inside you?

Keep the pen moving,

Jan and

June 22, 2017

What he said was –

Filed under: fiction,memoir — freethepen @ 2:00 pm

bigstock-feather-icon-41376454 Starting with a quote like, “What he said was . . .”, allows your imagination to run wild or your memory to recall something you experienced or overheard. Perhaps what he said was funny, annoying, sad, irrelevant to the conversation, or some other interpretation. Perhaps it was a family member who said the comment, story, or advice. There is so much to work with here. Let your imagination run wild.

Keep the pen moving,

Jan and



June 20, 2017

In the Kitchen

Filed under: memoir — freethepen @ 2:35 pm

Nana I would venture to say that almost all of us have memories of being with someone in the kitchen. Here is mine:

My Nana was a fabulous pie maker. One afternoon, as we sat at the table gabbing, she started making my favorite pie: lemon meringue. I must have been around 17. I got a pad and pencil and begin to document her recipe as she dropped pinches of flour, sugar, baking soda into the bowl. Each time I wrote down an ingredient, she would add another pinch, then another. It was impossible to get the recipe accurately. I asked her how she knew she needed more ingredients but she’d just laugh and tell me, “I just know.” In a separate bowl she dropped in the egg whites, white sugar and with a wooden spoon began to rapidly beat the mixture. The meringue was always peak-perfect, and not too sweet and not too tart. She worked hard at making her pies. And everyone in the family knew Nana’s pies were the best. In fact, she made them for a restaurant below her apartment and the customers went crazy for them.

I told her that I used an electric beater and Duncan Hines mixes and I didn’t have to guess at the amount of ingredients. Everything was perfectly measured in a box. I told her the next time she came over I would show her how I made a cake.

She sat in my kitchen a few days later. I opened a box of Duncan Hines chocolate cake mix. I poured the dry ingredients into a bowl, added an egg, easy peasy. Right? I got out my electric blender and plugged it in bragging about modern life and how easy it was. Nana watched shaking her head, laughing. She liked doing it her way. It didn’t seem right to be making a cake my way. I started paying more attention to my point about how quickly her egg whites would peak if she only . . . then it happened. Inadvertently, the beaters rose above the cake mix causing the batter on the beaters to fly out in a three-feet circumference. Nana covered her face with her hands as chocolate batter covered her face, hair, dress, and arms.

“I’ll do it my way,” she exclaimed.

I couldn’t argue with her.

Keep your pen moving,


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