I think a prompt is everything that motivates you.
It can be anything, and it doesn't have to have anything to do with what you go on to create, it's simply a catalyst. Maybe that's what this semi-regular column should be called: catalyst.
Whether you're writing a poem or a polemic, if you're noodling on a novel or stewing over the next step in a short story, sometimes a lyric is enough to propel you forward – I know lyrics can often help me as I walk around grumbling to myself about a plot point – and speaking of point, mine is just this:
Oh ye! Look upon this image of an exploding apple, a lighted sign at night, at the fulsome words cathedral and matches burning, and let any or all of these clear your brain or fill it, whatever you need right now to help you write.
P.S. As ever, we have to moderate anything you share in the comments because o' bots, but that's one of the purposes of those comments: share whatever this brought out for you!
I lit a candle for Jane in the cathedral of St. Joseph and watched as the match burned down to my fingertips. I didn’t feel the fire. I didn’t feel anything. Then a whisper made me drop the match on the stone floor, and I looked around. There was no one there, but something made me stand and walk out into the gentle rain.
The whisper led me past Nelson’s, and my heart ached. This was where we met. This was where we fell into each other’s eyes and decided we were never going to leave. But this wasn’t my destination. The whisper led me on.
I walked for miles, till the city was well behind me. I found myself in a place they call Cathedral Grove; the trees are taller than most skyscrapers. I picked my way among root and shrub. The canopy of the grove blocked out most light, and the plants on the ground struggled to survive. Most would probably die.
But here was one, a little dandelion, that had managed to sprout in a patch of sunlight no bigger than my hand. Compelled by the whisper, I pursed my lips and blew on it, creating a small blizzard of seeds that floated up and danced around me. I stretched out my arm and they gathered on my skin, tickling me, thanking me, before drifting away on the updrafts, carried to pastures new.
Tears fell from my eyes, but for the first time, they were not tears of grief.