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I spent the afternoon at a public writing workshop, which is the kind of amazing thing that just happens in my awesome little Maine town.

The author Diana Altman, who you should defiantly check out if you’re even a little bit interested in the history of film making and Hollywood, held a writing workshop at Nathanial Hawthorne’s childhood home. (Yes, I live in the same town Hawthorne did – click here for that story.) Because of the setting, she used Hawthorne-esque words as writing prompts for our ten-minute writing exercises.

My personal favorite?


Overrated, I’m assured.

And, even if one counts it among the virtues, it must be admitted that it is a tad dull. To withhold. To deny. To remain as you were in childhood. Infancy, even.

Well, now, that’s all a bit much.

As if you were given a sip from life’s fountain, one sweetly bitter draught from the spring in the garden — you know which one, my dears; we all know — and then told, No! That’s quite enough, thank you very much. That one sip will do you.

And if you spend every night dreaming of that fountain? If the way the nectar burned against your tongue haunts your nights, if it even seeps into your days, so that you find yourself standing at the kitchen sink, perhaps, and scrubbing the last vestiges of the morning’s porridge from the pot, and you start to think, Oh, stars! What I wouldn’t do for one more taste!

And then you begin to remember the path through the garden — you know the path, don’t you, sweetness? You remember the way it turns and bends? A left at the great oak, another right beyond the aspen grove.

Yes, you know the way. The fountain is still there, my darling. It still flows.

Perhaps it would even flow for you.

But, no! Your thoughts slam shut like the oaken door. That’s one sip you’ve had, one drop for you, and that’s all you’ll ever take.

Well, that’s chastity for you.

* * *

(Thanks to everyone who attended the workshop, especially those of you who laughed at that last line. And thank you, Diana Altman, for hosting. You’re an inspiration!)

Like what you’ve read? Join my newsletter and I’ll send you a free copy of Tam Lin, my sexy modern take on the Scottish folktale.

2 thoughts on “Chastity Leave a comment

  1. Thanks for the mention, Samantha. So happy you enjoyed the prompt workshop. Please stay tuned for my short story In The Wrong Skin soon to appear in the summer/fall issue of the Notre Dame Review. Also check out my short story A Night At The BSS now available at Trampset, an online literary journal. Scroll down to come to it. My novel We Never Told is due in spring 2019 and I’m looking forward to doing some promotion here in Maine. Hope we meet again, Diana Altman


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