Go ahead, lift that line. Take it. Use it as your own.
I know, I know. We've been taught "Do not steal." But I'm breaking the rules and I'm giving you permission to do the same. I gather lines from magazines, horoscopes, and even phrases of poetry and prose. I cut them out, or write them down, and paste them in my journal. I use the words of others as my own springboard. Try it!
There are rules, of course. Well, just one: You must attribute. You gotta give credit to whom and where it's due.
Comb and cull: Thumbing through a magazine the other day, I was drawn to a photograph of a woman wearing a mid-thigh skirt, paired with over-the-knee socks — the very same outfit I wore on my first date with my now-husband! (I loved those socks and felt a bit racy wearing them). The image, and the memory, struck a chord so I clipped the words beneath the photo: I Am The Coat. There's gotta be a poem in there somewhere.
Let words work: I recently read "Resume of Failures," an essay by Kim Stafford that appeared in Oregon Humanities magazine. One particular line grabbed me, and I used it as a writing prompt. The line became my title. Here's the work in progress:
You may think failure is your story *
Let’s say you see us. Our conversation does not stumble or stalk.
There is a lilt in my voice, brightness in his eyes. You see wide
smiles, hear quick laughs. You’d say, happiness.
You wouldn’t know we spend hours pressed against water —
rivers, lakes, sometimes oceans, tears — studying rain
to understand cement skies and uncertainty.
Every graveled edge is for sale or forgotten. There are no bargains.
All appearances are flimsy replicas, cheap wine in plastic cups.
I’ll pay extra to feel full-priced joy.
* A line from an essay by Kim Stafford, Oregon Humanities, Spring 2011.
Try this: Lift a line — from anywhere, anything. Can't find a line? Use a line or phrase from this post. I'd love to read what you create. Share your work here.