Beauty – Writers’ Well

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Each week, I share one of the writing prompts used the previous Friday in my weekly workshop, along with an example of what was written in response. Today’s prompt was our three minute warm up last week.  Very simply, take the word Beauty, immerse yourself in whatever you feel and think of when it comes to that quality, and write – without using the word beauty, or the word beautiful. We wrote for just three minutes. This was my response:

 

Playful and powerful, it winks at functionality and says you may be necessary, but I’m utterly free and superfluous, and nobody can agree on exactly what I am so they can’t give instructions or tie me down. I’m here because I choose to be. I’m here because there’s more to life than what we see, for yes, I am not only for the eyes – the eyes may receive information but they won’r see me unless they’re willing to open up from within – like a window being opened, I bring life alive with freshness and reward life with softness – an ache – that says, ah, you see me now do you – well that’s you. It’s all you.

 

Beauty is a topic I often reflect upon, and have explored on the blog before. Here are a couple of relevant posts that also explore this huge, potent theme.

https://wordsthatserve.wordpress.com/2014/01/17/beauty-triple-tanka/

https://wordsthatserve.wordpress.com/2013/12/03/leaving-beauty/

https://wordsthatserve.wordpress.com/2014/10/12/the-art-of-ritual-and-reverance-a-good-deeds-post/

 

 

If you enjoyed this prompt, then you can find more here:

https://wordsthatserve.wordpress.com/upcoming-writing-workshops-and-some-prompts-for-you-to-play-with/

and here:

https://wordsthatserve.wordpress.com/writing-prompts-the-elements/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Body scan: Writers’ Well

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Each week, I share one of the writing prompts used the previous Friday in my weekly workshop, along with an example of what was written in response. Today’s prompt was our three minute warm up last week.  All you do is sit or stand comfortably, and do an internal body scan. In other words, pay attention to any thoughts/feelings/sensations as you move your focus from your feet up through your body to your head. We just did a three minute ‘scan’ followed by three minutes writing whatever came, but you could of course extend this.

Actually, I’d had another warm up in mind, but had had a brief chat with the woman who runs the building where I offer the workshop, and my mind had wandered, so I needed something to help me get centered and grounded again. Here is what I wrote:

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LOL – I spelled ‘soles’ wrong 😉

I feel spinning disks in the soles of my feet, and I can’t feel my toes. The socks and boots feel in the way – my feet are hungry for the feel of the earth and the weight of my body which they’re made to carry. They feel too light, too floaty, when I’m sitting. There’s not much to notice on the route up – until I reach my heart – a bit fast? Maybe my coffee was too strong. My neck feels thick and stiff and my head’s heavy, it wants to move and roll around, shift it’s weight, carry less.

 

I’m about to go for a walk with a friend so luckily my feet will have a chance to do their job again and feel my full weight for a bit after a morning of lots of playful thinking…

Take care of it all y’all; mind, body and soles/soul 😉

If you enjoyed this prompt, then you can find more here:

https://wordsthatserve.wordpress.com/upcoming-writing-workshops-and-some-prompts-for-you-to-play-with/

and here:

https://wordsthatserve.wordpress.com/writing-prompts-the-elements/

 

A line of dialogue… – Writers’ Well

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Each week, I share one of the writing prompts used the previous Friday in my weekly workshop, along with an example of what was written in response. Today’s prompt is to take a line of dialogue and use it to start a short story. In our group we each wrote two lines of dialogue, one each on a small piece of paper, folded them up, and then each person picked one. If you’re doing this on your own you might want to write three or four and then pick one at random. I got “Well, that’s just how I’m made.” This is what I wrote in the 10 minutes allowed, no edits:

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“Well that’s just how I’m made.”

“And a good job too, I’d say,” replied her husband, as he pulled her to him and kissed her tenderly on the lips.

“Go on, ya daft beggar,” and she pushed him gently but firmly out of the front door, without closing it. He didn’t look back, but she didn’t close the door until she’d watched him get into the rusty blue old Ford he was too stingy to replace, and too stubborn to let anyone else have a look at. ‘I know cars,’ he would say.

She sighed. Well, that’s just how he’s made. She allowed herself a deep chuckle and closed the door.

She was kneading bread when the call came. It took a few rings for her to clean the flour off her hands. and she picked up the phone, careful not to disturb the photos that grew thick as spring daisies on the small counter top. There always seemed to be more.

“Hello, 63-20-17?” She dusted the photo frames lightly with her finger tips.

“Mrs Crosswell,” said an unfamiliar voice.

“That’s me.” She waited.

“Mrs Crosswell, I have your husband here. I’m afraid we picked him up in a vehicle that, well, frankly, it’s not road worthy. We can’t allow him to drive home in it until it’s been seen to.”

She took a breath. The roller coaster those few sentences had taken her imagination on had left her light headed, and she waited for the relief to take hold.

“The daft beggar,” she muttered.

“What was that Mrs Crosswell?”

“Thank you officer, I’m sure I’ll be along presently. John next door’ll run me over. I’ll be along officer. Presently.”

Just the way he’s made, she thought, shaking her head as she replaced the receiver. Well, she’d be making him when she saw him, and no mistake!

 

If you enjoyed this prompt, then you can find more here:

https://wordsthatserve.wordpress.com/upcoming-writing-workshops-and-some-prompts-for-you-to-play-with/

and here:

https://wordsthatserve.wordpress.com/writing-prompts-the-elements/

Purpose poem…and Questions – Writers’ Well

Each week, I share one of the writing prompts used the previous Friday in my weekly workshop, along with an example of what was written in response. Today’s prompt comes in two parts. (Allow 10-15 mins total)

Part 1 – Complete these four half sentences spontaneously and freely with the first words that come to mind:

As a child I believed I was here to…

As a teenager I believed I was here to…

As an adult I believe I am here to…

The most important thing life has taught me about why I’m here is…

Now, allowing 10 minutes, write a poem in four distinct parts/stanzas, with each stanza expressing in some way, one of the sentences you completed. Here’s the poem I wrote:

 

You arrive complete

but with room to grow

so go, explore with curiosity

play with joy

and listen with kindness

for the whole world’s your teacher

***

I didn’t lie

there were no promises

are no guarantees

complete does not mean perfect

so take care if you focus

on picking up pieces

for sometimes it’s the cracks

that let in the light

and we don’t need

to patch things up

or put them together again

***

Humour helps

when digesting humble pie

and do digest it

don’t hold on

to what was intended

to lighten you

knock off some rough corners

sharp edges that get you stuck

make you prickly –

digest, rest, soften

and you’ll rise up

expand out

become the rainbow

not just a single favourite colour

***

keep asking the questions

but not to build solidity

rather to nourish curiosity

the questions

are far more important

than the answers

so be responsive

not conclusive

the nature of life is change

life lives through you

so you must continue

to adapt and change too

 

And speaking of questions, I’d like to share another ‘prompt’. This was super simple, our last prompt of the session, and I told people before introducing it that we would not be reading aloud what we eventually wrote, but the stimulus would be a gathering of questions. We each had a piece of paper, wrote a question on it, then passed it to the right and the next person could read what had already been written, and then wrote a question of their own, and passed it on. When we received our original sheet of paper back we read through the questions and placed the sheet silently in the centre of our circle, along with the others, and began to write whatever came in response. I will not share what I wrote, but I would like to share the questions we gathered, because I found them so moving, and so beautiful:

If you enjoyed this prompt, then you can find more here:

https://wordsthatserve.wordpress.com/upcoming-writing-workshops-and-some-prompts-for-you-to-play-with/

and here:

https://wordsthatserve.wordpress.com/writing-prompts-the-elements/

 

 

 

 

 

 

The power of changing ONE word

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Below is a poem I wrote by taking words directly from, and using them in exactly the same order as, an article that appeared online today:

Grenfell article

You can read the article here:

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/jun/29/grenfell-survivors-barred-from-council-meeting-about-fire

Here is the poem:

Survivors banned

Amid fears of disruption

In the wake of fire

Avoid a repeat

Councillors joined by invited guests

If any

This meeting will be held in private session

In the light of public safety concerns

Council under intense criticism

Disaster

Residents left to fend for themselves

Protesters stormed Kensington town hall

Anger boiled over

We want justice now

 

But then I wanted to play, explore, see what I could do by changing a single word in each line. This is what I came up with (and yes, I chose to ignore the rule twice):

 

Survivors welcomed

Amid fears of indifference

In the wake of culpability

Avoid a cover up

Councillors joined by invited spokespersons

For the many

This meeting will be held in open session

In the light of public safety breaches

Council accepts intense criticism

Disaster

Residents left to speak for themselves

Pain stormed Kensington town hall

Truth boiled over

We have justice now

 

Perhaps change isn’t so difficult, if we take it one line, one word at a time…

 

Love and blessings all –

 

Harula x

Mirror Mirror – Writers’ Well

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Each week, I share one of the writing prompts used the previous Friday in my weekly workshop, along with an example of what was written in response. Today’s prompt (allow about 5 mins in total) is…Read the following poem by Hafiz. Allow yourself a moment to feel into your own response, and then write whatever comes for about three minutes.

Perfect Equanimity by Hafiz

Look how a mirror
will reflect with perfect equanimity
all actions
before
it.

There is no act in this world
that will ever cause the mirror to look away.

There is no act in this world that will
ever make the mirror
say ‘no.’

The mirror, like perfect love, will just keep giving
of itself to all
before
it.

How did the mirror ever get like that, so polite,
so grand, so compassionate?

It watched God.

Yes, the mirror remembers the Beloved
looking into itself as the Beloved shaped existence’s heart
and the mirror’s
soul.

My eye has the nature of God.

Hafiz looks upon all with perfect equanimity,
as do my words,
dear.

My poems will never tell you no,
because the Mirror is
not like
that,

and if God ever hits you with a don’t –

He has His fingers crossed,

He is just fibbing
for your own
good.

http://www.poetseers.org/the-poetseers/hafiz/hafiz-poems-the-gift/hlove/2-2/index.html

From ‘Love Poems From God’ by Daniel Ladinsky. This is my most treasured book of poems, given to me by a friend for my 30th birthday. This was my three minute response last Friday, but I would no doubt write something quite different if I did the same thing today.

 

So a mirror is like freedom. At once inviting, but also frightening, because with such clear and loving truth, comes responsibility. We ask for truth, celebrate it, but how willing are we, what amount of courage does it take to receive it, see it? And the mirror, like truth, is unmoving. It does not ripple or wave, like a pond or the ocean. It is still, clear, solid in its way, and untouchable, slowing down everything that approaches for to see what is so still, we must be still too.

 

If you enjoyed this prompt, then you can find more here:

https://wordsthatserve.wordpress.com/upcoming-writing-workshops-and-some-prompts-for-you-to-play-with/

and here:

https://wordsthatserve.wordpress.com/writing-prompts-the-elements/

War on Walls

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28 years ago

we took down a wall

that had stood for 28 years

and now the world wants

to build more walls

 

but all walls have cracks

inviting prayer notes

laced with tears

where colours grow

for no wall is impenetrable

if you find the weak spot

tiny tender roots can reach

 

28 years ago

we took down a wall

that had stood for 28 years

and now the worst walls are inside

but joy and hope still thrive

despite the hate and scorn poured on

love finds the fault lines and flaunts

the beauty and boldness

that heralds the strength of softness

crumbling rigid stone that refuses

to give and so breaks

 

28 years ago

we took down a wall

that had stood for 28 years

so now we need

a war on walls

to stop them being built

before the next generation

is left fighting

to take them down again

 

Can I help you? – Writers’ Well

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Each week, I share one of the writing prompts used recently in one of my workshops, along with an example of what was written in response. Today’s prompt (allow 10 mins) is…“Excuse me, can I help you?”

Just write a story beginning with that line of dialogue, and take it in any direction you choose!

I am delighted to have the opportunity to share, with her permission, a story written by one of my regular participants. This is exactly as written, no editing or changes, created spontaneously in the 10 minutes allowed. Enjoy:-)

“Excuse me, can I help you?”
“No!”
The bitter, dirty back of the old woman turned away from the young man.
“You look like you’ve lost something”.
“Go away, you young varmint! I got nothing worth yer nicking!”
Her face was lined like a contoured map, the hills and valleys, challenges and
sadnesses of a life lived, so it seemed, without much in the way of comfort.
“Go on, bugger off!”
But the young man didn’t bugger off.
“Let me help you look”, he said, turning over the rubbish in the bin just as
she was. “What are we looking for?” he asked after a bit, when she didn’t
beat him about the head.
“Mind your own business”.
“Well whatever it is, it’s thirsty work”, he said. “Let’s have a cuppa, shall
we?” and he pulled a flask and two cups out of his bag.
The old woman’s greedy face searched his.
“It won’t have enough sugar in it”, she said but she took the tea he handed
her anyway.
“I lost something a while back”, the young man said. “I’ve searched for it
everywhere but I can’t find it”.
She looked at him with some interest and turned away. There was a long
silence.
“Well I lost my baby, so there!” she said, hurling it like a cannon ball of pain.
He reached out his hand and touched her’s, then held it. And then into the
space which held only the two of them and her lost baby, she wept and wept
her grief. Finally the torrent abated.
“What did you lose then?” she sniffed.
“My self respect”, the young man answered, quietly. “You just helped me
find it.”

 

If you enjoyed this prompt, then you can find more here:

https://wordsthatserve.wordpress.com/upcoming-writing-workshops-and-some-prompts-for-you-to-play-with/

and here:

https://wordsthatserve.wordpress.com/writing-prompts-the-elements/

 

Art that inspires – Writers’ Well

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Each week, I share one of the writing prompts used the previous Friday in my weekly workshop, along with an example of what was written in response. Today’s prompt (allow just 5 mins in total) is…Find a memory of a piece of art/performance, in any form (music, dance, theatre, painting etc etc) that really inspired and moved you. Immerse yourself deeply in that memory for a minute or two. Then write for three minutes.

As often happens, I was surprised by the memory that came to mind, a gumboots dance performance by a youth drama group ‘Ikamva le Afrika’ I worked with in South Africa. This is what I wrote:

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I was watching you from the crowd, a large audience the likes of which you had never performed in front of before, but you were totally unfazed. Your immaculate timing, your collective joy and commitment, pride in what you were doing – wow – I get goosebumps all over again remembering it. And then – the after glow. I was there, basking in the joy of your excited, exuberant faces when an older white lady approached a small group of you boys, you girls stood behind though you’d danced too – a feat in itself – and the woman said, “You, your performance, you’ve changed my life.”

I watched you take that on, grow several inches and find a new place in the world, still standing exactly where you were.

 

A little explanation:

The group performed an incredible 15 minute set of gumboots dancing, which they’d choreographed themselves, at an evening celebrating youth, as part of the 1999 Parliament of World Religions in Cape Town. The photos are from a rehearsal – sorry they’re so poor, my camera was giving out by then…

https://parliamentofreligions.org/parliament/1999-cape-town/cape-town-1999

Why that memory? I’ve seen/experienced a lot of great ‘art’ in many forms since then, some of it perhaps objectively more accomplished and impressive but this performance remains one of the bravest I’ve ever seen. Why? Because in that moment they really took their place in the world, and people noticed. Good art moves; the creator and the audience both, and good art changes the world by changing one heart, one soul, at a time, just like that lady from the audience said. And it stays with you…just like this memory has, so much so that it still genuinely gives me goosebumps. even after 18 years…

 

If you enjoyed this prompt, then you can find more here:

https://wordsthatserve.wordpress.com/upcoming-writing-workshops-and-some-prompts-for-you-to-play-with/

and here:

https://wordsthatserve.wordpress.com/writing-prompts-the-elements/

The five senses – Writers’ Well

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Each week, I share one of the writing prompts used the previous Friday in my weekly workshop, along with an example of what was written in response. Today’s prompt (allow about 10/15 mins in total) is…Start with the senses.

You need three things to give you a frame; a time of day, a time of year, a place (generic). We were three, so we each had a piece of paper and wrote one thing, passed it on, added another, passed it on, added the last and then passed it back to the originator. I got:

5.30 am, autumn, a harbour

You can now write anything, using those three things as to guide to inspire, frame what you write. The only rule…you must refer to all five senses; sight, smell, hearing, taste, touch. This is what I wrote:

loutro-2

image credit: http://www.explorecrete.com/crete-west/Loutro.html

The air is crisp but not uncomfortably cold. It’s sill very much dawn, and the palette of the sky is changing by the second; grays, blues, purples and the remains of silver from a moon whose work is almost done.

There’s a silence, or rather a hush over everything that’s magical, secretive, like I shouldn’t really be here yet. I’m a special guest who’s arrived early, while the rest of the world sleeps on, dreams on.

I close my eyes to savour the smells; salt, fish, gasoline and I hear the sea, lapping at the quayside while the lazy chains of the anchored boats knock knock against the wooden hulls. I sit and dangle my feet in the water, watching in the gradually lifting darkness – is that – no! A boat coming in? And I thought I was early! But then again…wow, already 7 o’clock. The first ferry of the day, and the magic is lifting, disappearing, running scared from a day whose busy-ness is about to arrive and chase it away.

I shiver a little. The sun still hasn’t reached this spot, and my feet in the water have cooled my whole body. I stand and walk back towards the apartment, slowly, lingering, and as people crowd around the ferry to unload the deliveries I can almost taste the fresh bread and the sweet oranges being wheelbarrowed bumpily away over the pebbled beach to the hotels and tavernas, to be turned into breakfast.

I carry my sandals still, feeling my feet mould to the stones beneath them with each careful step. I look out towards the horizon where the sun is no longer hiding any of itself, a bright full circle though still low, and wonder what this day will bring.

Yes, I know I pushed the ‘autumn’ part a bit, but really, September/October in Crete is gorgeous!

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And, as I didn’t offer a ‘writers’ well’ post last week, here’s a second prompt! Firstly, complete this phrase with you own ideas, at least 5 times;

A good friend is…

And now this one, also at least five times…

Community is…

Using the creative emotional juices now flowing from making those lists, write a poem entitled An Antidote to Loneliness. Here’s my version:

Antidote to loneliness

 

A friend is after all

Only a stranger

You haven’t met yet

Community begins after all

With the man next door

Who’s just finished mowing

his front lawn

And stands by the pavement

To catch your eye

As you pass by

Wanting to chat

For he doesn’t know

You have somewhere to be

But take each opportunity

To build from the material

Surrounding you

Though they may yet disguise

What they can become

Should you dare

To get your hands dirty

And bring them together

Heart thirsty

But it takes more

To meet that need

That turning on a tap

So put on your hat

Coat too if it’s cold

And be bold

There’s a whole workd

Beyond those four walls

That will share songs

If you’ll open your ears

To listen

And food

If you’ll bring what you can

To the table

To share

And dance

If you’ll offer your hands

And let the circle hold

You move you

Growth doesn’t happen

Inside the packet

Dreaming of becoming

The beautiful picture

With the fancy name

so open the door

the whole world is your home

and you don’t need keys

to be let in

but you might want to check you have

your house keys on your way out

in case you want

to get in again.

 

If you enjoyed these prompts, then you can find more here:

https://wordsthatserve.wordpress.com/upcoming-writing-workshops-and-some-prompts-for-you-to-play-with/

and here:

https://wordsthatserve.wordpress.com/writing-prompts-the-elements/