How Did I Become a Prompt Queen?

I went to a French high school.  We didn’t do things like the Prom Queen and King. Come to think of it, I wonder if any of the English schools in Quebec did?  Maybe it’s just an American thing. I honestly don’t know and frankly, don’t feel like looking it up because, in the grand scheme of things, it means diddly-squat.  Prompt Queen? Now that’s a different story.

Somehow any writing I have done in the past few years has been a good ninety-to-ninety-five percent prompt-related.  How did this happen? Is this a bad thing or a good thing?  Or a nothing to even waste my energies on?  I know I am far from alone.  Many bloggers only write prompt-induced posts. And that is a fine thing.  It has helped me work on my writing chops, I think.  Plus, when it comes to creativity, I need a nudge.

I take a pause in writing to think about this, and what my point shall be while I make myself a coffee,

Random shot of coffee

then get side-tracked by catching up on my daily blog reading, check my emails, and I land on my horoscope.  Coz yeah, I receive it daily, even though I don’t buy what they’re selling.  However, it is ironic that today’s says this:

07.30.2020

You may find yourself asking some major life questions today, Aries. Thoughtful Mercury finds itself opposed to grandiose Jupiter, asking you to ask whether you have all of the tools you need for the career you wish to create for yourself. You may find yourself revisiting educational or travel plans today. A positive sense of optimism permeates the day, lending support and strength to your questioning.

Okay, so why I write what I write is not a “major life question” but it is one of the questions I’ve been posing myself lately, and the only one I shall tackle at this time because it does affect how I spend some of my time.  Time that suddenly became plentiful, yet ill-used.  Since March, our lives, the world over, have been turned upside-down, sideways and inside out in a manner none of could ever have imagined.  Now that we are almost half a year into this (Seriously?!?!) we still can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel.  How are we spending this time?  Everyone has seen some kind of change in their schedule.  Some barely had a break as they went from working in an office to working from home (and are working up to 20% more than before), some went from working days to working overnight, many of us lost our jobs, some were/are on hold, waiting, convinced they will be able to return to their former jobs at some time (though less and less a probability) and some, like me, have managed to find new jobs.  A first, it seemed this no working thing would be the perfect time to tackle projects! Um. No. I couldn’t justify it as projects require money which is no longer coming in, or at least, not with the same flow.  Many took up baking and cooking and gardening.  And reading. And writing.

Because flowers are pretty even when they are straggly

Many bloggers went to town. Suddenly the once, twice or thrice-weekly bloggers became daily bloggers. The multi-posters wrote even more.  My inbox overflowed.  (I hate using the Reader though I swear I am contemplating moving to it so that my overwhelm doesn’t send me to the looney-bin.)

I know I have a point to all this.  Oh yes. Prompts.  I don’t know how I went from Friday Fictioneers to also participating in Crimson’s Creative Challenge, Weekend Writing Prompt and an occasional dVerse.  I don’t like to post more than once per day and I’m not a daily blogger, either.  I often would find myself wanting to write about something and then thinking, oh no, it’s Wednesday, that’s when I do FF and then I can’t write it on Thursday because that’s when I do CCC and then it’s too late because that feeling has passed.  Just so you know, there is no obligation for me to write FF on Wednesdays nor CCC on Thursdays. It is all self-imposed.  The reason I do this is it gives me a chance to read everyone else’s story/poem, whatevs… because. There is the rub. I’m an excellent participant and reciprocator. But it is as time-consuming AF to read and comment on 65 other 100-word stories. And I do. Mostly. I have since cut back on those who don’t even acknowledge my comment – after a few weeks of nothing, I drop them. Got better things to do with my time. And there are those who never visit mine. (And that’s okay, too. Just don’t expect me to go to yours after a while, either.)  That’s what blogging is.

The swirls of the clouds resemble my thoughts

So what about those blogs I follow (and love) and read outside of these prompts? I feel so bad when fellow bloggers read me and I find myself three posts behind on theirs.  How much time per day is a person supposed to sit on their ass reading and commenting on blogs?  I swear I must read a novel’s worth per day.  When can I sit on my ass and read a book?  Because, frankly, after reading off the computer for 3-4 hours (if not more) I no longer feel like picking up a book.

That’s a helluva detour to my point, isn’t it?  Maybe that’s why I do these prompts. They force me to keep myself brief as none of them are longer than 150 words. 😉 They have and will continue to serve their purpose as they push my creativity to write different things.  And I think my writing has improved because of these challenges so no, I am not giving them up.  I am, however, going to cherry-pick from now on because for me it is important, when participating in a challenge, to participate.  I’m not a write-and-run kinda gal.

Back in February 2016, Eric Tonningson, Awakening to Awareness (a coach, speaker, writer, blogger I admire) commented with:  “Hey, where are those thoughtful Dale posts??? All I’m seeing in my WP Reader is Friday Fictioneer stuff. 🙂”.  I haven’t heard from him since this time, last year, but his words have been swirling in my head lately.

What would he say now?  He’d probably nod his head in agreement.

I have now seen the light.  I officially demote myself from Prompt Queen to Prompt Baroness.

Apologies. I understand if it was TL:DR

The Right Thing – Crimson’s Creative Challenge #82

Well, hell. Here I was, minding my own business, reading blog posts when I happened upon Na’ama’s take on Crispina‘s lovely image below.  I dutifully left a comment, telling her she had no business leaving us hanging with her post and that I was probably not going to play as I had no ideas. We back and forthed in comments till she retorted with:  Wanna write ‘chapter 2’ to what I’d begun…?  And well, here I am. Nothing like being coerced challenged.  While mine can stand alone, please, do me a favour and read Na’ama’s post first right here before reading mine.  Thank you Crispina for hosting this here party weekly!  No matchy-matchy this week again 😉

The Right Thing

The attorney frowned at Juliette over his reading glasses. “You’re sure you want to leave that old farmhouse to this Morris guy?

Juliette nodded weakly. “Yes, it is the least I can do. Besides, I made a promise all those years ago.”

“An old promise. Ridiculous!  Does he even remember you?”

“I might have broken his heart.  I couldn’t tell him I had this heart condition. I didn’t want him to feel obligated to stay with me.  So I let him go.”

“That was a big decision for you to make for him.”

“Yes.  It was mine to make.”

“As a result, you dealt with this alone.”

“I felt it was the right thing. Better to break it off in the beginning than for us to get in deeper and then still have to lose me.  This way he had a chance at finding happiness.”

“I hope he appreciates this.”

I’m Sorry, But, We’re Done

That’s right, Sourdough.  You and me? We’re done. Finito. Kaput.  No matter how much love I give you, you refuse to do your thing.  I had to bring in Janet into the situation for one-on-one consultations and STILL, you gave me grief.  Janet asked me what I had named you and I apologise; I had no idea.  So I gave you my favourite name:  Charlotte.  And what did you do? NOTHING.

But let me go to the beginning.  When I first decided to try my hand at sourdough – yeast having become more impossible to get than toilet paper – (and like every other Tom, Dick and Harry during the great Sit-In – so unoriginal and such a follower, am I) I followed Janet’s instructions to the letter. 50g flour, 50 g water (filtered), mix, set aside, covered, room temp. Days 5, 7, 9, I did the 50g sour, 50g flour, 50g water – keeping the discard for future waffles (which were rather good, I might add).

Days 10, 11, 12, I left you alone.  When I uncovered you, your stink made me recoil.  “It should smell pleasantly like cheesy beer.”  Ummmm. No… this was closer to vomit.  I threw you out.  Oh wait… this would not be YOU, you.  But let’s call him/her your late cousin, who shall remain nameless as well, I didn’t know.  Plus there was an orange tint to it so, I took no chances. Of course, once I posted my failure on FB, everyone who could chimed in with a NOOO don’t chuck it!  Too late. NEXT!

We decide, Janet and I, to start fresh and do a double-feed per day for three days and then bake.  Let’s see…  You looked nice

So I did my kneading (stretch, pull over, eight “corners”) every half-hour for three hours.  Followed the video, EXACTLY, the bowls, the cloth, the flour.  I was not impressed with the rise at all. But I went with it anyhoo. My boules looked nice though not huge. (Haha! I wish!)  Used my special Dutch oven, preheated, baked and… phooey.

“Looks acidified,” says Janet.  Well hell and damnation.  The crust was nice, as you can see but the crumb?  To the bin with ya.

We start over.

We do the double feed, for three days to speed up the process with the intention of trying just one loaf.  At one point Janet said you looked cold, Charlotte,

so I gave you the oven with the light on.  Barely a bubble.  We tried all sorts of feedings. Nothing.  I left you alone for a few days, figuring you were in a mood.  All you gave me was a thin crust of hardened – something.  I think my oven lights are too hot.  Skimmed off the goo. Oh! But you did smell wonderful and guess what?  Yeah. You made FABULOUS pancakes.

Will I ever try this sourdough thing again?  Maybe. I dunno that I have the patience for this type of endeavour, to tell the truth.  Ironically, I was on Twitter when I caught Lesley Chesterman’s tweet (she was a food critic for the Montreal Gazette):  “I think I’m ready to break up with my sourdough starter. Too moody, too needy, too high-maintenance, sure to let me down in the end. And a bit stinky.”  Yep. Pretty much covers my feelings.

Nota bene (or post scriptum):  Since last Monday… I have yeast, so…

****

Running Diary

For those of you who ready my post where I shared my new “love” of running… ok, ok… I don’t love it. Yet. I thought I’d bring you up to date on the last two.

Saturday was a gorgeous day and there were way too many people out.  Some were being good, some, not so much but all of them I kept my distance from. That said, off I went, enthusiastically, for my 10 X 2/2.   I made it all the way to the park where I discovered a beautiful field of flowers last year. By the looks of it, there will be more this year – Yay! Plus I ran into a couple from the golf club – chit chatted for 30 seconds, luckily during my walk part. Soon as the bell rang, I was off.

On my way back I was feeling like there was no way in hell I would complete my ten sets.  I fudged a little on the times, cutting the run parts twice by 10-15 seconds in an attempt to catch my breath.  By the time I was just past my Willow the guilt set in so I added a rep and a half to make up.  I was glad it was over.

Today was another story. Like a recalcitrant child who doesn’t want to go to bed, I dug my heels into the entry rug.  It was cold outside with a light wind and rain was threatening. Really? Do I have to? I don’t know what force pushed me out the door but it worked.  And you are right, B… nothing more satisfactory than pushing yourself to do that thing you don’t feel like.  Not only did I do my ten sets, but after the first two, I felt I could actually control my breath.  And then, after walking for four minutes, I thought… why not? And I added three more!  Woot!  My knee felt a slight twinge just as I finished the third so I made sure my stretching session was properly done.  Extremely pleased with myself today.  Oh, and, following a discussion with Monika over at Tails Around the Ranch, about her lack of belief there is anything good about running (my former belief, as well), and did I ever notice that runners never smile?  Well, guess what Monika!  I kept thinking about you and put a smile on my face every time I heard the alarm that yet another set was completed 😀

Itty-bitty magnolia

 

 

 

The Project – Crimson’s Creative Challenge #61

I have done something completely unorthodox and I hope Crispina forgives me for it. Rather than start with her fabulous image, I started with my own so I could work my way up to hers.  I’m truly hoping it will fly (though, generous soul that she is, I feel I’m safe). I would not have known what to do with it if her image had not been titled “Winter Gardens”. So… this led me to, well, to here.

 

The Project

I have a project for you.

Oh, you do, do you?

Yes, you remember that abandoned greenhouse you transformed?

Oh yes, I do. It had good bones and I was able to really make it swell.

You made it more than swell.  You turned it into a work of art!

Oh come now…

Seriously. The way you fixed the outside and the inside, oh my!

It did turn out rather grand, now that you mention it. So, where are you going with this? I feel you’re trying to butter me up.

Me? Butter you up? Never. However—

However, nothing. Spit it out.

I found us a great project. I think it has great bones and when we are done with it, it will be like nothing we’ve ever seen before.

Oh, hell. Your enthusiasm is making me nervous.

Come, let’s go check it out!

Have you completely lost your mind?

 

Word count: 150

This Way – Crimon’s Creative Challenge #46

Crispina‘s image reminded of me of a great trail we used to take up to the water tower near my mother’s former home. It was in St-Rémi d’Amherst, in Quebec. The trail was built, handrails added here and there but over time, the maintenance stopped and it became quite the challenge. Every time we went up north, we tried to fit in a walk up to the top. Fun times.

This is quite the trek you are taking me on. I hope it’s worth it at the end!

Stop your moaning!  Look at how far we have come.  We have done the easy bit, by the way.

What? It gets worse than what we have already done? We seem to have gone up and up and up for miles!

We have gone up and up and up for miles.  However, the next bit is more challenging. There are no more handrails.

Oh for heaven’s sake! Are you trying to kill me?

Don’t be silly. It’s a great workout and once we get to the very top the view is amazing.

It better be.

Trust me. Only the ones who don’t give up are blessed with a view they will never forget.

Okay then. Gimme another sip of water and let’s go.

There’s my girl…

View from the top

word count: 148 (including the added intro to the last photo)

Steps – Crimson’s Creative Challenge #40

Good Thursday night… for twenty minutes, anyway!  I wasn’t sure I would participate in Crispina‘s challenge this week and then, I thought I would just supply a “reply photo” but then found two and couldn’t decide on which one to use and decided to use both, then thought: “I can’t just plop two photos!” So I thought I’d write a little story but then nothing came to me and, driving home from work, a haiku came to mind. Only to promptly disappear as I parked my car.  Sigh.  As I played with my pictures, other words came to mind so. Well. This is what you get!

Where do these steps go?

In the middle of no where

How can I resist?

Do I see a light?

This is an invitation

I cannot resist

More steps up ahead

A neverending journey

Makes life worth living

3-2-1 Quote Me Challenge – Expression

“Some things are hard to write about. After something happens to you, you go to write it down, and either you over dramatize it, or underplay it, exaggerate the wrong parts or ignore the important ones. At any rate, you never write it quite the way you want to.”
Sylvia Plath

 

“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and will be lost.”
Martha Graham

 

This post is in an answer to 3-2-1 Quote Me Challenge which was started at  TeleportingWeena. I was then tagged by Crispina to take part in this challenge.

So here’s how it works:

Thank the selector: “Thanks, Crispina, you knew I’d be willing to play.”

Post 2 quotes for the challenge of the day, which is Expression.

Select three bloggers to take part in this challenge.

My three choices are as follows and please note, there is never any obligation; only those who desire to play, should.

Willow

Janet

Monika

Weekend Writing Prompt #107 – Spin

I cannot resist this challenge even when it is a “long” one of 92 words 😉 Thank you, Sammi, for offering up this weekly word challenge!

A word prompt to get your creativity flowing this weekend. How you use the prompt is up to you. Write a piece of flash fiction, a poem, a chapter for your novel…anything you like. Or take the challenge below – there are no prizes – it’s not a competition but rather a fun writing exercise. If you want to share what you come up with, please leave a link to it in the comments.

Word Prompt

Spin

Challenge

As a child, she loved to spin.

Arms wide, head thrown back

Feet turning in one direction

As the surrounding scenery blurred

She did her best to remain upright

 

As a teen, she chose to spin

Going on amusement rides that spun her around

Dating guys who left her dizzy

A mix of confidence and uncertainty

Tried her best to remain upright

 

As an adult, she’d rather not spin

But life has other plans

Tossing challenges her way

Till she feels loss of control

Still, she does her best to remain upright

Not Just My Verse, Your Two Two, Too! – Bucket List

Thank you ? To Willow for challenging me to play.

Roy, over at A Guy Named Bloke, created this super cool challenge!

Rory’s Instructions:
I will choose a topic, write four lines of Rhyming Verse then l will tag one of my readers who will in turn add four lines of Rhyming Verse to my mine and Tag one of their own readers, and then it is a case of wash rinse repeat and let’s see how far our topic goes in so far as a Rhyme?…

The Perfectly Crazy Bucket List!

 

Rory Starts us off:

So, so much to do, and with so little time,
I want to do everything, nothing to be missed,
But how do l plan it all, how do l define,
The perfectly crazy bucket list?

Paula adds:
First up is a lush tropical jungle,
Jaguars and waterfalls… all quite insane;
I do hope my parachute isn’t all bungled,
When I jump from the doorway of this airplane!

Fandango Continues:
I want to take a rocket into space,
Or maybe a submarine ride deep in the sea.
I sure hope they will save me a place,
Because that’s where I really want to be!

Cheryl Contributes:
A trip to the mountains is what l’d choose,
I’ll make sure to wear climbing shoes,
Rocks are high and edges slippery,
Wouldn’t want to fall off the perifery,

Kristian’s Contribution:
I’d like see the world, visit the sands of Abu Dhabi
take a cruise down the Golden Gate Bridge in my Maserati
head to New England and catch a game at old Fenway Park,
then board a ship to Costa Rica where I can swim with a shark.

Nova’s Addition
I’d travel to the desert in Egypt
And photograph the pyramids
Then board the Ciaro railway,
To the Chocolateria in Madrid.

Ritu’s Addition
Swimming with dolphins in the ocean deep
A worldwide cruise, though it won’t be cheap
I want to write a novel, and hope it’s a best seller
To see my book upon a shelf, wouldn’t that be stellar?

Willow’s Addition
I’d love to ride a zipwire high up in the trees
And to do so fearlessly as often as I please.
A Starfighter pilot I’d dearly love to be
I smash the evil aliens and set the good world’s free.

Dale’s Two Cents’

For the longest time I have dreamt of Tuscany
Not merely to visit, but to eat, live, and dine
Vacation in ’16, felt like my destiny
I’m ever so convinced, I will fit in just fine

***

I challenge Christine to play along!

A Better Plan – Crimson’s Creative Challenge #23

Thought I was gonna forgo Crispina’s weekly challenge.  My head was too stuffed up to think up something half-assed decent.  Feelling better and since Zeke is too tired to go for a walk with me as he already went a-running, I figured I’d let him rest whilst I cooked up something for Crispina’s wonderful cabin photo.  Now I don’t usually do sequels, but I couldn’t resist. To find out the rules and regs (I mean, there are still two days before her next one, so… yanno, if’n ya want to) click here.

A Better Plan

Do you think I’m going to trust you after that last crazy stunt you pulled trying to add spice?  Talk about overkill.”

Bill had the grace to look contrite.  “Not one of my finer moments, admittedly.  But Harry’s plan backfired, too, remember?  Helen had the crap scared out of her but it all worked out in the end.  Now they’re both spies!”

“For the love of…. that was a movie, you fool!  Plus Harry really was a spy so he was better equipped.”

” Yeah. Anyway.  Trust me.  Let me blindfold you.”

“No!”

“Gin, I promise.  This one you will love.  Turn around.”

“You better not—”

“Shhhh.  Now, sit quietly while I drive, please?”

Seething yet curious, Gin sat back, arms crossed, lips a thin line.

Bill stopped the car, opened the door for her, helped her out and free’d her eyes.

“Ta-dah!  Our weekend getaway.  Just you and me.”

“Oh, Bill!”

****

150 words