Here’s a writing prompt, a warmup writing exercise, a first draft with no revisions:

A little girl growing up in the suburbs of Philadelphia was afraid of the dark. Every night Pop would tuck her and baby sister in bed for the night, and leave them alone in the rambling brownstone to work on the docks. As soon as he locked the front door, heading into his own world of heavy cargo and sweat and muscle, the little girl would swing the covers off her legs, and slip quietly out of bed.

The girl had long black hair that fell down her back to her waist and thick bangs, long and in need of trimming, that fell into her eyes. She tip-toed down the narrow hall, and wondered many things. But what she didn’t wonder was if all little girls were left alone in the middle of the night in dark houses. They were not. She knew that. She was alone because her mother had died, and Pop had to feed and cloth them, and put a roof over their heads.

Finding her secret spot under the staircase, and by way of tiny slats of moonlight that came through the blinds on the window, the girl could see the faint outline of her flashlight and art book and pencils. Turning on her flashlight she knew the exact spot to position the beam of light so that she could sit comfortably and draw in her art book.

With darkness pooled around her, alone, and not one who particularly enjoyed either, the little girl created an imaginary creature who would whisk her away to another place where little girls were never left alone in the dark.

This little girl was my mother. She told me this story my entire life. And so, I wrote a MG fantasy series about this creature my mother invented to comfort her fears and to survive childhood. Because my mom is half-Irish (her mom was Irish) and half Filipino (that would be Pop), one day I wrote an Irish lullaby about the magical place my mom escaped to every night under that dark stairway.

Here’s the Irish lullaby I wrote, years ago actually, (dedicated to my mom, grandmother, and my grandpop).