November Writing Prompts
It's November 1st and I woke up still unsure whether or not I would do NaNoWriMo again this year. I've been going back and forth about it for weeks. This afternoon I decided... I'm not. And I am. Like NaNoWriMo I'm giving myself a word goal. I know that's what I need - discipline and commitment to the craft.
But unlike NaNoWriMo I'm not working on a novel. I need more freedom than that right now and I need to sharpen different skills. I don't want to focus on plot and structure, or even character development. I want to focus intentionally on description, body language, simile, metaphor, and poetic word choice.
So for the next month, I'm going to do my own sort of writing prompts. I'm going to write at least a thousand words a day about a picture. One picture each day. Pictures I've found, pictures I've taken, pictures that speak to something in my heart. I'm going to write a scene around that picture and then share that scene on my blog.
I want to share it because although I know I'm seeking grace and freedom right now, I also need accountability. I need to gain the ability to write through my ups and downs, and sharing always creates ups and downs for me.
I also want to share because I want my writing to improve and I desire the kind of thoughtful and helpful feedback that could spark improvement. That kind of feedback can only come through taking the vulnerable step to show someone else what you've created.
Keep in mind that I will be writing and posting right away. So these will be rough first drafts.
None of the scenes or stories shared will be true in the exact literal sense, even if using a picture I took myself from a particular moment or event. But, I hope that they will be true in the deeper sense, true in essence and heart.
Here is what I wrote for November 1st:
The clouds hung overhead, grey and violet, as if they couldn’t decide if they were storm clouds or cotton candy. The sun was beginning to sink low in the sky, but there was still time before it would drop behind the earth and cast it’s golden rays across the horizon. I sat on the beach and dug my toes and fingers under the tiny grains of sand. I wanted to sink deep into something. I wanted to hide.
I watched the happy family to my left as they packed up their little evening picnic. The small girl with the ringlet curls ran towards the water and her mother yelled, sharp and shrill, “Ally, get back here! Now!” They were not dressed for the beach. They didn’t wear swim suites or carry towels, but then again neither did I.
The little girl didn’t pay much heed to the mother’s warning and was now running with wet jeans through the edges of the waves. “Would you catch her?” The mother asked the man standing with her. His cheeks dimpled as he smiled back at her. “Sure,” he replied, but before he turned to catch the child he wrapped his arm around the woman’s waist and pulled her close for a kiss. All of her weary sharpness melted away. They kissed for a moment and my breath caught in my throat as I realized I was staring. I looked away quickly and wiped my eyes with the sleeve of my sweater. But I couldn’t help turning back to watch the family again.
The man was now down by the water, calling for his daughter. She looked over her shoulder at him, her ringlets bouncing to her playful giggles. She ran a few steps towards him before turning and running the other direction. He caught on quickly and chased after her. Both smiled as they ran and laughed heartily when the father finally caught her. He scooped the girl up into the air and twirled her around right in front of me. His eyes caught mine and he smiled, nodded, and said a quick “Evening,” before heading back towards the waiting woman. He lifted the girl up onto his shoulders, picked up the picnic basket in one hand and wrapped his other arm around his wife. They all walked off together and I was left staring.
The beach was empty. The waves were mellow and moody. The dirty teal color of them looked as if it held a secret that longed to be unwrapped. The noise of the waves was rhythmic and hypnotic. I moved as if in a daze. I took off my sweater and laid down on the sand. These grains had at one time been glass, or rock, worn down by a millennia of pounding waves, turned soft and small. My skin felt pricked by a millennia of memories, moments in time, mountains that were now nearly dust.
I lay on my back and slowly dragged my arms along the sand, as if making a snow angel. Then I softly pushed the sand as close to my body as possible, shoveling it up and over my waist. The sound of the waves repeated one word over and over in my ears, “Sink.” When the pile of sand felt heavy on my abdomen, I stopped. The urge to sink, dissipated. I stared at the sky without a thought in my head.
Eventually I could hear the waves again, calling out a new message, “Come. Come. Come.” I felt as Lazarus, buried and raised again. “Come forth,” the waves called. And I obeyed.
I pressed the pile of sand off of my middle and sat up. Looking at the waves I could hear them more clearly now. Come. Come. Come forth. I stood and brushed at my skin with the palms of my hands, as if brushing off old selves, peeling back death cloths. I unhooked my bra and let it drop to the sand, wiggled out of my jeans and the tan underwear with a hole in the back and let them fall away as well. I stood, alone, exposed, and vulnerable on the sand, staring at the waves as they called. Come. Come. Come forth.
Then I ran. Ran straight for the water. Ran straight into the water. Took a deep breath and dove shallowly into the waves. The water was cold and the shock of it chilled the numbness right out of me. I was awake. The tides pushed and pulled at me as I swam, flinging one arm overhead at a time, swimming as far out as I dared. I turned over on my back and floated, again facing the sky.
We glared at each other, the sky and me. The wind and waves tumbled over my skin and I shivered with each, but I stayed. I felt alive. Awake. Terrified and cold. And that’s when the tears came, the tears I’d been trying to push back and hide. They broke out and mingled with the salt water on my cheeks in their own sort of dance.
I swam back towards the shore, but I wasn’t ready to get out. I stopped were it was shallow enough to stand, but deep enough that I was still halfway covered in water. I looked out at the ocean and let the tears roll softly down my cheeks. I didn’t bother to wipe them away. The waves beat gently upon my body. Would they make me softer, smaller, turn me to dust at they had turned the mountains? The expanse of the sea stretched out before me and I could almost imagine I was part of it. Part of a whole. Part of something bigger.
I stood there until the sun had sunk low behind me. I stood there until goosebumps covered my skin. I stood there until all the tears had come forth. Then I walked out of the water and back onto the empty beach. I was just as exposed as when I ran down the sand and let my body crash into the waves, but somehow I didn’t feel vulnerable or alone anymore. I felt large. I felt connected.