Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
For Your Journal: Writing Prompt

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Do you keep a journal - or wish you could get one started? Literary Mama wants to help.

Three times a month, I'll post a writing prompt. Open a notebook and write for 10 minutes. Don't worry about grammar or punctuation - just write. Then let the writing simmer and your mind wander for awhile.

And who knows? Maybe you'll discover a character for your next short story or a theme for a narrative essay. Or maybe you'll use the idea to create a special holiday card or photo album for someone in your family. However you decide to use your journal entry, I know you'll enjoy re-reading it months--and years--down the road.

The secret to playing Ping-Pong with my brother, Kevin, lies in his eyes. If there's a twinkle in the dark blue-green circles, I know there's also a devious smile on his face -- and, he's planning to serve straight down the outside line.

His serve is low and fast. He often adds a spin to the ball, and if I return it too high, he's likely to "slam" it right back at me. But, if I catch the twinkle a split second before he swings his paddle, I move a half-step to the left and slant my paddle just enough to return the ball to his left, and weaker, side.

When we were growing up, our games were all about winning. We attacked each other's weaknesses as much as--if not more than--we concentrated on our individual strengths. Like typical teenagers, we argued about the score, slammed paddles on the table in anger, and stomped out of the room when we lost. There's a half-inch chunk missing from the table in Mom's basement, and we're both positive the other is responsible for it.

But, my memories of our childhood ping-pong games aren't only of conflict. There was a lot of laughter, too - and many, many lessons about how to accept defeat and how to win graciously. In addition to these social skills, the hours my brother and I spent together helped mold our relationship into the one it is today.

Laurie Kramer, professor of applied family studies in the department of human and community development at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, says a sibling's influence on a child's development has a considerable influence on our social and emotional development as adults. One of the most important things parents can do, she adds, is to help foster a supportive relationship between siblings from the very beginning.

That makes sense. After all, the sibling relationship could easily be the longest relationship that many of us will have.

Journal Entry: Write about the childhood activities and events that influenced your present-day relationship with a sibling. Describe one specific interaction. What words were exchanged? How where they spoken?

Karna ConverseĀ is a freelance writer who’s written everything from technical documentation and price proposals to newsletter articles, devotionals, personal profiles and essays. Her essays have been published in a variety of regional and national publications, including The Christian Science Monitor, Notre Dame Magazine, the Cup of Comfort and Chicken Soup anthologies, Our Iowa, and on Iowa Public Radio. She and her husband are parents to three young adults. Karna is a former blog editor, senior editor, managing editor, and editor-in-chief of Literary Mama.

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Karna, The details of your memories with playing Ping-Pong with your brother bring a poignancy to the possibilities of the journal writing process. Great memoir essays and books can come from well written and heartfelt journal entries. I have chosen your post for a journaling prompt on sibling influence and relationship for the #JournalChat Pick of the Day on 11/26/10 for all things journaling on Twitter. I will post it on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and my blog Refresh with Dawn Herring in the designated box for JournalChat Pick of the Day. You're welcome to follow my @JournalChat account on Twitter for all things journaling. :) Be refreshed, Dawn Herring JournalWriter Freelance @JournalChat on Twitter
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