I love writing prompts. They inspire me ,and exercise my mind. This initial stage is exciting, where ideas grow and move and come alive. After this, of course is crafting, which is what takes an idea and makes it a solid, readable piece. This page is basically my sketch book, to capture ideas before they are pruned and shaped into a fully fledged piece of writing. From these sketches I build the final stories and poems for competitions and submissions.
I hope you enjoy them, and as always, your comments are very welcome.
Mslexia photo prompt
What a tale
‘Just eat them,’ she says.
‘I don’t want to, Jen’
‘Listen, it’s important. If there’s any left I lose my points. You know that’ says Jen.
They are bitter. They have to be I suppose, to stop the kids eating them. I do think if they weren’t the colour of Dorothy’s slippers they’d be less appealing. Perhaps they should be the colour of broccoli. The skins mould themselves to the contours of my teeth, slithering as I try to extricates them with my tongue. I thought putting all five in would somehow make it less painful. They are a great masticated mass. Jen is watching. People do spit them out. But they’re always found. Then the rest of us suffer. The directive is clear. Removal and destruction of the berries is the only way to keep the rulers safe. We are honoured to be chosen.
I start to feel my throat muscles contract. My body knows.
‘Just get on with it’ says Jen. ‘It’s not like you’re the only one’
They begin to work so quickly. I see in Jen’s expression that she knows I caught her thoughts.
‘We all have to do it. Selfish cow’
‘Listen Fenny, you know how it is. I can’t help it. It’s normal. You know that’ she says.
Couldn’t you try to control them though? At least while I’m sat in front of you. They’re your thoughts.
‘I can’t just switch them off. You know that,’ says Jen.
I nod, reluctantly.
I gather up my bags and begin the journey home. We are allowed four hours of solitude, to allow the worst to pass apparently. Little research has been done, and less still is known, but four hours is what I have.
‘Look at the state of her. And she’s getting paid for it’
‘Out of the fucking way’
Five people before I’ve even made it out of the protected zone. Of everyone, these people should understand my vacant look and jellied walk. They attempt a benevolent smile. The falsehood makes it sinister.
‘I’ll fucking belt her in a minute’
I am afraid now. I know my awkward gait will degenerate. I will knock into people, and I will fall over. I will not get sympathy. If all these thoughts are to be believed, I will be harmed for being inconvenient.
It takes me twenty minutes to do make the short walk home. I draw the curtains, and hope for silence. This is ridiculous, there are people inside the block, as well as walking past. I will hear hopes, fear, happiness, anger; but most of all, I hear the sheer volume of lies they hide. From me, and of course, from you.
It’s a fabulous site, brimming with ideas and useful tips. They also send me a writing prompt every week. It’s great to have a jumping off point for more involved pieces of work.
#creativewritingink photo prompt March 2017
Tick tell me
Tick tell me
Tick tell me
that I slip away.
Mean slivers of life
watched, counted and cursed
#creativewritingink photo prompt February 2017
I sit here every evening, noted, but unnoticed. Just a nuisance, and that is how I expect it to be. If it wasn’t, I wouldn’t be doing my job. I watch your scurried, hurried, puddle dashes, dodging well aimed pigeon shots, which you rarely manage. The pigeons are quite accomplished, but do nothing for the reputation of our species, in my opinion. There is little I can do, we all live together on this little patch if earth we used to call our own.
I am not so crass as the pigeons, nor am I a thief, a familiar for old crones or a teller of bad fortune. I’m just a bird, with a distinctive voice, a keen eye and a keener mind. I’ve seen the changes in you over the last four months, subtle, and entirely understandable. Your step is slower. Not more careful,but with less purpose. You trod in four puddles this morning and didn’t notice. When I first came, you’d have cursed and scowled and shaken the grubby water from those beautiful shining shoes. Now, the shoes don’t shine, they shuffle. I don’t mind, but I know you used do, and I know she used to. I notice the hands that never leave your pocket, not even to wave at Jim in the doorway who looked forward to the coffee you brought him every morning. And the chat you always had. I wonder if Jim wonders what he’s done, but I know he’s used to it.Like me, he’s invisible to all but hose who want to see. I watch you now, walking to the building where you worked, from where you saw the crash that stopped your life. I wait, and watch until you step out, into our territory. You move towards the ledge. The pigeons scatter. I do not. I stand firm and wait. You stand, yours hands clench and your feet rock back and forth, back and forth. You look through me, to the lights below, so distorted it’s as though they are under water. They draw you like a siren. You step slowly, slowly, slowly to the parapet. To the point where all the pain will stop, the hole will be filled, the creeping, crushing ache of being disappear into the blackness below.
And then it floats. A cliched single feather, white of course, landing perfectly at your feet. And it stops you. Just that moment. You breathe.You breathe, you look up,and I see your mind tick over, think that it can’t have come from me.
Which is exactly as it should be.
creativewritingink prompt January 2017
‘At least get out of the car John’
‘Piss off. I told you we’re not doing it.’
Clair stood at the car door. The clouds annoyed her. The way they glowered just made the dirty grey of the building look greyer. The wind was making the old metal sign creak like a cliché from a bad horror film. It was such a small place, for such a small dream. But she needed a new dream. Something resembling a purpose. She gripped the keys in her hand, feeling the outline of the P shaped keyring. She’d bought it for Dad when she was seven. He’d never used another, just added keys upon keys to it. Even when he went into the home he put the tiny one on that locked his bedside cabinet. ‘Always keep things safe Clair’. Tears were no use now though. John always got cross when she cried. A month was long enough to get over things in his mind.
‘Shall we just go home then? Or go for lunch somewhere?’
‘Well we passed Dad’s local. We could try there’
She got back in to the car. A hot meal might improve his mood. Perhaps a couple of pints. That could go either way of course. Looking over at him, slumped in his seat, jacket half covering his face, just his glaring eyes and frowning brow were visible; she suspected it might not go the way she wanted.
She started the engine, plastered on her bright smile.
‘Dad always said this was a goldmine. Just needed the right person to bring it back to life. He made a fortune you know’
‘Pity it all went on that bloody care home. The council one was fine’
Always a row. Always a dig. Clair tried to remember the last time she’d had a conversation that hadn’t ended in a sullen silence. The bright smile was starting to hurt.
There wasn’t a parking space outside the pub. The Black Dog. She winced. Perhaps it was an omen. They parked up the road.
‘If we get a ticket you’re bloody paying it’ said John
‘I’m pretty sure we’re ok. I don’t expect they have many traffic wardens out here’
‘I’m amazed they’ve got cars’ he replied
She pushed open the door. Her bright smile faded instantly. It stank. That sticky feel of years and years of ale thickened the air. She glanced over at John, imagining him comparing it to the places in town. As she walked over to the bar, six pairs of eyes followed them both. She almost expected a pitchfork to emerge. Ten years ago, they’d have laughed.
‘Do you do food please’
The barman tried to hide his mirth. Bloody tourists. Did this look like a gastro pub?
‘We don’t. I can make you a ham roll. And we’ve got scratchings’
‘That’ll be great. We need a quick bite before we go and look at the service station. It was my Dad’s ‘
‘Right you are. Drink’
‘Erm, yes. A Guinness, and a lime and soda, please’
John had perched at a table. He scowled at the drinks as she carefully placed them down. Her hands were shaking again.
‘What did you expect? A great hug and clamour that old Pete’s daughter had returned to the homeland. Stupid cow’
Clair’s face reddened. He never usually said things like that in public. The folk in the bar became fascinated by their pints and papers.
‘I was just being friendly. That’s all’
They sat in silence until the barman brought their rolls over. John opened his, poked the ham, glared at Clair again.
‘I rest my case. Pointless exercise’
Clair thought it proved her point beautifully. Even if the locals wouldn’t appreciate a café with good homemade food, then tourists would. She was wrung out from arguing, and ate, chewing as quietly as she could. The silence hung around them like stubborn mist. She twisted the sentence round and round in her mind, then slowly let herself speak
‘I thought you’d be proud of me John, trying to move on. You said we should try’
It was as though he hadn’t heard.
‘In fact, it all seems pointless. We can’t move on Clair. We need to be honest. It’s too late. ‘
The bar fell silent again. Clair couldn’t think. Or shout. She wasn’t sure what was more distressing. The fact that he appeared to be ending their marriage, or the fact that he’d chosen to do it here. On this day. It was supposed to be the start of something good.
She got up.
‘Where the ladies please?’ She winced as her voice cracked, nodded her thanks and followed the barman’s brusque direction. Her face in the age spotted mirror wasn’t what she wanted to see. Drawn, grey, decorated with red blotches from the effort of not crying. Her eyes still glittered though. She was still in there somewhere, underneath all the grief, all the disappointment, month after month after month.
John was smiling when she got back to the table. One of the old boys was sitting with him.
‘Seems your old dad wasn’t so daft after all. Tell her what you told me’
The old man was silent.
‘He reckons there’s money in that shithole. Real money. Not some pipe dream. He reckons he squirreled it away. ‘
Clair looked at the man. He looked back, nodded at the keys in her hand. She picked them up. And she knew. The old safe. Just a little box, but well hidden. She knew.
‘Come on. Let’s get out of this excuse of a pub. We can see what the old fool left’
Her coat felt less heavy as she pulled it on, her feet felt lighter than they had in months
She looked down at John, taking in his triumphant grin.
‘It’s too late John. Just too late. ’