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


Do you keep a journal – or wish you could get one started? Literary Mama wants to help. Several times a month, we'll post a writing prompt. Open a notebook and write for 10 minutes. Don’t worry about grammar or punctuation – just write.  


The Amazing Grace of a Snake

When a snake molts, it not only sheds the skin over its entire body but also the transparent ocular scale covering its eyes. He is not only born of new body, but new vision. 

It's a lot like divorce.

I remember the exact moment when I shed my skin, crouching on the pink tile of our kitchen floor, placing a pan below the sink. I asked my husband, for better or worse. 

"Are you going to do whatever it takes?"

I thought there would be a long dramatic pause like in my mother's soap operas where you start zeroing in on the star's facial pores. The music starts to play, and a melancholy cello pulls you to commercial; something exotic like a Caribbean vacation or Pizza Hut.

But it was so fast.


It was a car horn announcing a green light. A short, polite, "go already." We've been sitting here too long.

The person I was didn't exist anymore except in a skeletal case, like a sausage, a cellophane history that was my life for ten years. It was all gone, in a moment, a slough of skin. Shed. For better or worse.

Most amphibians do not leave an entire replica of their former selves behind. But a snake leaves a life-size fingerprint, a CSI story of all the twists and turns, of  life in the desert, peaking out every once in a while to catch a view of the harvest moon. He is a novelist, a ghost writer. 

The brille is there to protect, as the snake slides through sand picking up the dust of life that collects and clouds. And finally when he can't see anymore, when he is almost blind from the life he's seen, when he can't go another inch, he is reborn. 

I too leave it in the sand as I slip into rocks and crevices, climbing in and then out again, every once in a while catching a glimpse of the harvest moon. I once was blind, but now I see.


In your journal today, write about a moment in life where you feel you shed your skin, where the lens fell away and you viewed the world with brand new eyes. Was there an exact moment? Was it a slow process, or quick like a snake? Was it a permanent change, or merely fleeting? 


Do YOU have a writing prompt to share with Literary Mama readers? Send your 150- to 300-word narrative and associated writing prompt to lmblogeditor (at) literarymama (dot) com. We'd love to read your ideas! 

Elise Free’s plays have been produced at the Harold Clurman Theatre, the Abingdon Theatre and the Creative Place Theatre in NYC and The Gardner Stages in Los Angeles. She is the recipient of the Nicholas Meyer Playwriting Scholarship, where she graduated from the University of Iowa. In 1994, Elise won the Dartmouth Literary Award and was offered a scholarship. Her plays Holding Achilles and Hospital Corners have received readings and staged readings with The Road Theatre Company, Deaf West Theatre and East West Players in Los Angeles.

In 2007, Elise won first place in the LA. Parent Magazine Comic Essay Contest, and her parenting essays have been produced on KPFK’s radio program, “Motherhood Unplugged.” She is also the proud (and tired) parent of a spunky eight-year-old nicknamed Froggy.

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I love this prompt! My 8 yr old, a wonderful, soulful boy was recently diagnosed with ADHD. The testing process was really a beautiful experience for us all, and I wrote a long piece about the new perspective I gained of him just after hearing the results. What had been frustration mostly turned into admiration, and I was grateful for that shift!
Just beautiful and completely true to my life. The full experience of coming to realize that I was truly alone as a single parent could very well be related to the blindness of the snake.
This is amazingly beautiful, wrenching, and such a fabulous prompt!
When the mundane becomes immortalized, a pan on the kitchen floor, and the strike of "no", captured brilliantly here. I felt it. And damn if we shouldn't all do everything it takes. Great prompt.
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