Prompt for February 5 – Virtual Barat House

My name is Ruth. I grew up with my younger sister, Lucille, under the care of my grandmother, Mrs. Sylvia Foster, and when she died, of her sisters-in-law, Misses Lily and Nona Foster, and when they fled, of her daughter, Mrs. Sylvia Fisher. Through all these generations of elders we lived in one house, my grandmother’s house, built for her by her husband, Edmund Foster, an employee of the railroad, who escaped this world years before I entered it. It was he who put us down in this unlikely place.

Opening of Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson

Use the prompt to inspire your work in any form (poetry or prose; fiction of any genre; creative nonfiction, essay, or memoir).

Log into our virtual meeting at 1pm for readings and discussion.

A note on how to use the prompt

Writing is part of a conversation. We write to articulate our understanding of the world, and through writing, we often come to a new understanding. Sometimes we even succeed in bringing readers along with us. Reading helps us as writers because, though we might not be conscious of doing so, we write in response to what we read. 

So you might enter into conversation with this prompt by simply jumping off from the first sentence, “My name is Ruth,” and wondering what kind of person Ruth is.

Or you might jump off from another part of the excerpt that stirs you up. (For me, it would be that last sentence: “It was he who put us down in this unlikely place.”)

Or you might respond to the excerpt as if you were conversing with Ruth. To whom is she speaking, where is the conversation taking place, and how does that person respond? You might also write as if you were corresponding with Ruth through a personal email, a business email, or as if this excerpt were part of Ruth’s yearly holiday letter (did she write it to you? Or have you nosily read someone else’s mail?).

Or you might respond by picking up a different book and finding a different first line from which to jump!

Hope you find some richness here.