Writing Prompts

Impediments

Impediments
by Johanna Stoberock
It’s been a long time since I posted to this blog. Pigs came out on October 1st—that’s fifty-three days now that it’s been alive in the world. I’ve been heading out weekly from Walla Walla on its behalf since mid-September (to Missoula; to New York; to Portland; to Richland, WA; to Portland again; to Seattle; back to Portland) to read from it, and talk about it, and meet other people who have new books out as well. I’ve listened to a lot of audio books (Kate Atkinson now has my vote for best long-ride listening material). I’ve spent a lot of time wishing I had cut some sentences from Pigs and wishing I had added others. I’ve spent a lot of time wishing I’d brought my own pillow along with me. It’s been thrilling. It’s been exhausting. What it hasn’t been is a good time to write.

Ghost Stories

Ghost Stories
by Johanna Stoberock

I’ve always had a fascination with ghost stories. I love the idea of something being present that is real, and that you can feel, but that you can’t quite see—and even if you could see it, you couldn’t know it in the way you know other things in life. I had a dream, once, while sleeping in a strange bed in a strange house, that a man came and showed me around the room. He opened drawers, and folded clothes, and put them away, gesturing to me how it should be done. When I woke in the morning and told me host, he showed me a picture: the man of the dream was the man who had died in the bed I’d been sleeping in.

Keep an Eye on the Weather

Keep an Eye on the Weather
by Johanna Stoberock
It’s been snowy here for over a month. It’s never snowy here in March. Walla Walla is a place where the winters are gray, and fog freezes, but the occasional snow disappears pretty much as quickly as it comes. And it’s also, usually, a place where spring comes early. When my husband visited Walla Walla in March fourteen years ago to interview for his job, he called me and said there were trees already in bloom. We were living for the year in Arkansas, where it was springtime, too. I was eight and a half months pregnant, wondering if the baby would be born while he was away, and it seemed like every time I ventured outside, more flowers had opened: the whole world was making itself beautiful for the baby.

The Dress Contains a Story

The Dress Contains a Story
by Johanna Stoberock
When I was in my twenties, I interned at an arts advocacy organization in Seattle. I mostly spent my time there filing and sorting mail. Most of what came in the mail were press releases for gallery openings. I spent a lot of time looking at the images on those press releases, trying to figure out what made something draw me towards it, what made something push me away. One day, a card came in with a photograph of a dress printed on its surface.