I have learned something valuable: Prompts are well liked.
I guess I get a little frustrated with prompt-driven writing because it was so much a part of the public school classroom. I, the student me, hated grade school (and everything after), and teaching, though it could be beautiful, was fraught. With what? Different post. Maybe also an encyclopedically long novel.
Also, I tend to panic when I am given a prompt because I am still neurotic enough to immediately assume I’m going to blow it and write something stupid and the prompt-er is going to look at me-the-prompt-ee and say something like, “That’s not what I meant at all!” You know, “of all the Charlie Browns in the world…”
But I am willing to say that I’m on my own, mostly, in this grudging relationship. And the writing of writing prompts, or finding good ones elsewhere, is a parliament of hoots. So here you are, two multi-potentialed prompts–and I’m thinking of making this a regular thing.
Prompt 1: Let’s get ekphrastic.
Saying ekphrastic reminds me, sound-wise, of ecstatic and that leads me to consider all the ways art can lead to an ecstatic state…but then saying “ekphrastic” can also feel intimidating (I’m jumpy, y’all) as I typically associate this word with observance of the masters, works of art universally recognized as worthy of observation and response. Here’s some detour in that bit of heavy: between emotional freeze factors (“What could I possibly say about Van Gogh that Van Gogh doesn’t already say?”) and right-to-use image issues, we’re going to go more casual here with our images.
Use this totally unintimidating and litigiously risk free image to feed your thoughts. You can use the title or not. Make the image your environment, your creation, your discovery, your recurring dream. Or anything else you’d like to do with it, for it, near it. Talk in front of it, about it, to it, or behind its back, quite puckishly.
If you would prefer to use a photographic image, try this one:
Prompt 2: Talk about talkingheads.
Here we are, a couple days before the Oscars. No one watches the Oscars anymore, except for my sister and me. We eat that funky shit right up. We’re going to have a sleep over and watch every lavishly weird second of it. So with that in mind, write your acceptance speech. For what? Whatever far flung thing you’d like. Or tell the story of an acceptance speech. If words have souls of their own, then they surely must live, learn, die. What beautifully flawed Bildungsroman can you envision for the life of an awards speech?
Always recommended: keep the initial draft around 500 words. That way you plow through rough drafts and find the ones you want to expand, the ones you want to refine, and the ones you want to make into paper airplanes. If you should happen to come up with a killer final draft under 750 words, well, you know what to do: rawboned that thing.