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Smashed China (writing prompt)

Writing stories is like harnessing yourself to a chaos engine and ain't that the whole entire best?

Yes, absolutely, the answer is totally yes and let me tell you why.

Look at This Writing Prompt

You look at it and you nod and you think, "Huh. Those weird light elements kinda remind me of that play I saw a couple years ago. The one that used light effects to signify time skips. Maybeeee, maybe I'll write a little sci-fi thingy." And you frown and try and dig about for a sci-fi thingy and then.

Then you look at the words smashed china.

You shiver and it takes you a couple seconds to realize why and then you're all "Oh shit, shit, shit," cause now you remember that damned story, that creepy AF story you heard about your great grandmother's china tea set in the attic of the house your mother grew up in.

Damn. You don't even remember who told you the story but you did see a photo, you are absolutely positive you saw an actual photo of that freaky thing, and how all the cups and the tea pot itself had inside the abandon nests of paper wasps.

Sure sure, no one's surprised about wasp nests in an attic but that's so not the weird part, the weird part is that each horrible beautiful nest was exactly the size of its vessel, as if someone had invited the insects to make their homes there.

And now you're all freaked out because nobody ever found out why a full tea service of twelve, with cream and sugar pots, was packed with abandoned nest but SUDDENLY you have an idea to add to this horror show of the creepy mundane, yeah, yeah, you've decided that a few of those cups? They had silver teaspoons in them, with the nests built around each spoons, making it look for all the world like, like, like somehow, during a perfectly normal tea party, people vanished and hundreds of insects had taken their place.

See What I Mean? Writing Is Welcome Chaos

Now, because you looked at that prompt and your brain did what brains do – connected this with that and invented a third thing besides – you're writing about a thing you totally forgot until just this moment, and you've made it better by making it so much feckin' worse and isn't that the damned best?

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Emerging as a Writer

I know you know that it is, that our beautiful busy brains are full up with so many amazing things unique to just us, and so every last one of us can take A and QQ and put them with 3 and suddenly we've got 4F112, which looks nothing like A or QQ or 3 but we'd never have got to 4F112 if we hadn't just sat down and…started.

Look at the word china. Or at the snail shell. Or at anything in thge room with you. Start because you never know where you'll end so let these prompts start you.

One sentence. Just one.

Which can lead to two.

Which sometimes brings up a memory.

Which often takes you so very much further.

Share that sentence here. Or keep it close to yourself. But write it? Find that memory, that sentence, those few words that may go so much further than you even knew but they need you to do this one thing first:

Start.

Ready?

Go!

(P.S. I made up the stuff about the china and wasps nests but I absolutely freaked myself out with the idea, and damned if that's not going to appear in a story somewhere. SEE WHAT I'M SAYIN'?)
Atlin Merrick



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  • Verity on

    Afterimage
    … an image that remains after a stimulus ends or is removed.

    We can all see them.
    Some of us more clearly than others.
    The echoes of experience.
    The writing on the walls of the faces that surround us.

    ‘Mum’ scrawled in green across a woman’s smile.
    The same word stamped in scarlet over the worry lines on her forehead.

    ‘Widow’ in black and covering every scrap of skin for the recently bereaved; churning and writhing and blocking everything out because nothing else exists now.
    She is grief.
    That’s who she is.
    No point to talk to her.
    She can’t hear you.

    ‘Loved’, in red and the warmest of earth tones, twining up the limbs of those who know they were precious, even if that love is now gone.
    They were worthy.

    ‘Coward’ on most of us, in different ways and in different places.
    On hands that cannot reach out.
    On tongues that cannot apologise.
    On eyes that look away because they don’t want to be next.
    We all hide from something.

    ‘Brave’ too, in shining gold running up legs that ran towards, and along feet that stood firm. Wrapped around throats that used their words despite fear of reprisal.
    We can be bold without risk, but not brave.
    There’s no courage without fear.

    - Protector
    - Aggressor
    - Survivor

    It’s all there.

    Written all over us.

    I mean… you can call it body language if you like.

  • Atlin Merrick on

    Suture, it’s such a heavy word for something as light as stitch.

    The first speaks of being rent, of tearing, of vital damage needing desperate care.

    The common use of the other though, oh that’s a different thing entire. Stitch implies uniting. In mind’s eye we see a small needle in capable hands, bringing two, three, or so many sides together.

    Other words mean suture: mend and patch, darn and repair, and so what a delicious bounty language is! We have half a dozen words to discuss how we might help something heal, whether person or a pair of jeans, and though they all mean the same thing, the pictures they bring to mind are wildly different.

    I love the magic of meaning, of how it changes, of how we can change one another by using words just so…


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