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Mini Sledgehammer: November 2013 Metlakatla Library


Elissa Nelson and her dog, Ollie

Now that I’m back in Alaska for the winter, we finally started up the Metlakatla Mini Sledgehammer again. This one went a bit differently than usual, though.

As many of you know, ardent Sledgehammer supporter Elissa Nelson has been ill for a while. Just a few days before this Mini Sledgehammer, she passed away. I felt compelled to honor her with a tribute activity, so I came up with writing prompts all related to Elissa. Although the other writers here in Alaska didn’t know Elissa, who lived in Portland, they joined me in honoring her with these prompts:

Character: someone terminally ill
Action: squinting one eye
Setting: on the front porch
Phrase: [silence]

While Sledgehammer was founded to help shatter the fiction writer’s block, this combination of prompts led us all to write nonfiction. Grief, it turns out, is a topic most people can relate with and most writers can convey.

It was a beautiful moment to hear the true stories as these writers honored someone they’d lost. And it was not a moment to pick a winning story to post on the website. We’ll keep our stories to ourselves this time, but we invite you to write your own story with these prompts. And we hope you’ll find healing in the process.




One Response

  1. I’m sorry to hear about your friend. I didn’t know her, other than maybe seeing her around at the Sledgehammer start one year, but she must have been amazing to inspire such a tribute. In all seriousness, the format of Sledgehammer prompts is a great way to review one’s own life — like what kind of prompts would be made about you and are you happy about that.

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