It has been a day of rainbows here in the Scottish Highlands. I have counted six in total, ranging from faded half rainbows, to a full arcs.
We were out with the dogs today when Helen said to me, isn’t it amazing that we live in a world that does that, and pointed to the rainbow. I have to agree. I’m almost 49 years of age, and a rainbow still stops me in my tracks. They are a gift from mother nature, a reminder of her power, and that beauty still exists amongst the dreariest of days.
Write a poem, or a story beginning with the line – If she was colour blind, why did she chase rainbows?
The snow has melted from the mountains leaving only patches of white in the deepest crevices. The rivers are roaring and, with the constant rain fall in the last week, the river banks have burst. From the park the farmers field looks like loch Tay and the ducks have reallocated there for the day.
With an abundance of water though, comes an abundance of reflections, and I love a reflection. It’s like the water is capturing just a fragment of the world and holding it still.
Despite all of the flooding though, today was the first time this year that the warmth from the sun touched my skin. It is a wonderful feeling. I was mid walk with Helen and the dogs and I just stopped, closed my eyes, and soaked it up. Recognising this moment is an important tradition for me. I like to acknowledge that I am experiencing the cusp of change – in other words spring, and then let that feeling of newness wash over me. I know now that my little world will become greener, the garden will come to life, walks will be slower and days longer.
But returning to the now and to the reflections I spoke of earlier, I would like to leave you with a prompt.
Write a small memoir/true life story where water plays a significant part. Imagine you are viewing that moment in a puddle, what does it look like? Really delve into the details, what colours do you see, what shapes? Is there multiple faces in your puddle or just your own? How does the person you are now feel about the reflection? How does the person you where then feel about what was happening at the time? Can you compare and contrast your emotions? Has the shape of the puddle changed over time? If you could drop a pebble into your puddle and distort it or even change the reflection, what would you want it changed to? Or would you freeze it that way forever?
This is a working telephone box yet I’ve never seen anyone use it. We used to have one at the top of our scheme. It was red too, but a bit on the grubby side and with peeling paint. I remember the inside of it, the cigarette burns in the perspex windows, that kind of melted brown tear shape. I remember the ground was always wet and smelled of piss. I remember the air reeking of cigarettes and stale beer. We used to call the operator for a laugh. Pretend we were trying to get the number for Mr C Fax or Mrs C Saw. I rarely used it to make an actual phone call, but when I did, it was a hungry wee machine, eating up my silver and leaving me to say my goodbyes during the pip pip pip’s.
Do you have a telephone box in your town? What is it used for? Can you remember using them before telephones were in the house ?
This isn’t quite a prompt, but a request…
Imagine you you passing a telephone box and it begins to ring. You pick up the phone and I say. Hi, I’m Eilidh from Killin in Scotland. How would you greet me in your language?
I’ve had people visit me from 40 countries this year so far and don’t know who is from Scotland, Hong Kong, India, Vietnam and so on.
I’ve listed all of the countries that have visited my blog below.
Is the ocean chained to the land or is the land chained to the ocean? Are we free is this world or are we chained to a system that benefits the few over the many? Are we chained to a system who would drown those in need in order to keep those who don’t afloat?
I planned to write a prompt based on the above image but when I posted, all I could see is a big rusty chain and it got me thinking. Is it time for change? Can capitalism survive this pandemic or the next? How do the wealthy survive when there is no more capital, do they win or loose? Will the many ever be free from their chains?
Okay. I have a prompt
Write a short story in the form of a news article, T.V news report or radio report named, The Day That Money Ran Out.
Pick a ring, any ring. Take a moments to feel it in the palm of your hand. Now look closely, at the colours, the patterns, the tiny clasps that hold the stones. Now bring the ring to your nose. Smell it. What does it smell like? Where did it come from? Who once owned the ring that you hold in your hand?
Write a poem or a story about searching for the perfect ring in a charity shop. Who was it for, what was the occasion or, was it just a random purchase. Now tell the story of where it came from, perhaps the cashier told you, or you found a name inscribed inside it and looked it up, perhaps it was stolen and you found an article online while you were trying to find out what type of ring it was. Will you keep the ring, give it away, or return it?
Imagine stumbling across an old grave yard. Imagine wandering amongst the dilapidated weather worn grave stones. Imagine a cold chill wrapping around your neck while a black crow squawks from a stone wall. Imagine the iron gate creaking as it swings to and fro on rusty hinges. Now imagine a shadow, small at first, but growing longer as a figure appears below the orange light on the old kirk building. Suddenly, you see a face.
Write a story or poem about the face that appeared in the old cemetery. Who is it, what do they want? How do you feel and do you stay to talk or run as fast as you can? You decide.
Below is one half of a telephone conversation. The person in the photograph is the person talking. The caller is a mystery.
They found what in my laundry bag?
Who found it?
I can assure you it doesn’t belong to me…
Yes. I’ll hold...
How could I have been so careless? It must have fallen into the bag when Harold was around. If only I’d left him on the doorstep instead of being sucked into party politics again.
Oh shit. What if Harold planted it in the bag.
If the team find out…
No, what if the family discover who I really am.
They’d never believe it.
I am so dead.
I’m still here...
Could you stop shouting…
Look it isn’t mine. You see, this morning, there was a man…
I understand that, but if this was anyone else…
I’m only 34 years old, why on earth would I be interested…
No. No. Please don’t , I can’t…
But if my mother finds out there was a...
I’ve never been on a cruise ship. In fact, I’ve never been on a bloody rowing boat...
Yeah, but that doesn’t count. Does it?
I think you’ll find I normally carry a red one. I usually keep it in the car though...
Is this a sick joke?
Who are you? Put the other bloke back on, I don’t want to deal with someone else…
You’re Kidding. Pat?
Thank God. Can you just pop it into the pocket of my jeans once they are dry? Your a babe...
Thanks. And tell Alan, I’m laughing now, but wait til I see him...
This is a one sided telephone conversation. It is a great way to add mystery to a scene. Perhaps someone is listening in on the conversation and trying to put the pieces together. Perhaps the protagonist is concealing the other half of the conversation. It is a fun way to write. This is also a great writing prompt.
How colourful is this photograph? It was taken in the garden of our old house in Bannockburn. I was trimming the roses when I looked up and saw Buddah, and he looks like he’s sneezing. It made me smile.
I chose to post this photograph today because not only have I been clearing out my writing study/meditation space, but I’ve also been sneezing. To be honest, I think it was the dust from the tumble dryer filter that irritated my nose, but I have done a bit of rearranging so it might be that.
I love having a clear space to work. I find that along with regular meditation, and an uncluttered work area, I can sit down at my desk and write easily. I began writing a novel on 1st April 2020 and am now 63000 word into it. I haven’t written since the beginning of December, my partner had a relapse of her neurological condition, NMO, feel to look it up, then we both thought we had covid but, it turned out not to be, and obviously there was Christmas. Now I’m ready. I have the rest of the novel planned out, I reckon I could complete it in a few weeks then begin the editing process.
But I’m ranting now.
Write a short story or a poem in the form of an email. The email should be an apology for not going on a date and, the excuse should be allergies.
I’ve just finished watching the opening concert of Celtic Connections 2021. What a show it was. I love music. I love hearing it sung in many languages as well as in my own tongue. Music brings people together, joins the dots between this land and that, builds bridges and, forms connections. Tonight’s prompt isn’t entirely a prompt, it’s a: FINISH THIS.
Write a poem, story poem, flash fiction or short story beginning with the line,
Let me sculpt music from this old silhouette
The only thing I ask is that, if you use this line and then post it on your blog, please credit my blog. Plus, I if like your post, I’ll share it.
We were on our first caravan holiday in Arbroath, me, Helen and Kimber (we didn’t have Millie at that point). It had been a hell of a week, Kimber was stung by a jelly fish, then a bee the following day, but was treated to her first ice cream cone by the harbour while we tucked into some greasy chips.
It was our first time on Arbroath. The seaside town looked tired, ramshackled in parts, but with pockets of charm dotted around and we fell on love with the place. The beach was long, and at one end flies buzzed around slimy seaweed, rotten and stinking. But in the opposite direction, it was wide, flat and when the tide slipped away into the distance it left silver mirrors in the golden sand.
Famous for its Arbroath smokies (smoked fish), we expected the harbour to reek, but instead, we were greeted with the smell of the salty sea spray that lashed the rocks and soaked our faces. The smell of garlic from a nearby restaurant hung in the air, and as we passed fishing boats tied to metal cleats, a waft of engine oil. I was struck by how much colour was to be found on the coast, from the lobster crates stacked in piles, to rows of washing flapping in the wind above a small cove, to the pretty white lighthouse, stark against a blue sky. One night, we even saw a supermoon.
There was one place that stood out above the rest though. It was close to the end of our holiday and we were wandering. We’d climbed a hill above the harbour and had a picnic while looking down at the orange roof tops and the grey sea, then we strolled by the abbey, and shortly after, into a hidden garden. It was tucked away, between Arbroath’s high street, a park and a rural area. We wandered through an archway into a beautiful walled garden. The garden was in bloom with red roses, white roses, trees, a manicured lawn and a variety of shrubs. There was a wooden bench where we sat for a while. All around us, birds sung in bushes and trees, butterflies fluttered and insects buzzed, hovered and jumped. It was a lovely day and the garden offered shade and a pocket of quiet and stillness, a rest from the world outside.
I have such fond memories of this trip, and I never intended to write such a big post.
But perhaps a prompt?
Okay. Write of place of tranquility, somewhere hidden amongst the hustle and bustle of busy life. Was it found by surprise, why was it there, what did it look like, smell like, sound like, feel like? Was it surprising and did anything happen that changed you or your character? Now hide something, bury it, hide it in a wall or a tree or amongst shrubbery? What was it and who will find it?
This is me, my partner Helen and our youngest dog Kimber.
I love this photograph so much, it says a lot about our little family. The photograph was camptured by Helen’s mum while we were camping at Comrie Croft in Perthshire. You can see that is was a happy day, a fun day. I think we were relieved, it rained loads while we were there, but on this day, there was a break from the grey, the cold and the dampness, and it lifted our spirits.
Write a story or poem about a group of people camping, but write it in two parts.
The first should be set inside the tent. The weather is cold, wet and grey. Everyone is a bit damp and miserable. What does the atmosphere feel like? Is there conversation? What can you see, smell, taste, feel?
Now write the second part. The weather has changed, the clouds have shifted and the sun is high in the sky. The tent is suddenly warmer, there are voices outside as people unzip their tents and venture out into the bright open field. How does the mood change inside, and then outside of the tent. What happens? How does it feel? What can you see, smell, taste, feel?
There is so much going on in this photograph and that’s why I took it. It was taken outside the 17th century mansion Bannockburn House. Notice the man in his traditional Scottish dress, the wheelchairs – one neatly placed, one abandoned. Then there is the bike propped under a window beside a 1980’s wire bin.
Using the photograph above, write a short story or poem about arriving late to a party and finding yourself back on 1984. When did you realise and how? Who was there that you haven’t thought about in a long time? How was everyone dressed, what music was playing and what was on the buffet?
What are the first words that spring to mind when you see this image? Danger, security risk, unsafe?
Barbed wire is a barrier, a rusty knotted, a twisted barrier between YOU and IT, or visa versa. But what is IT, why does is IT need to be segregated, and what would happen if the barbed wire was cut and suddenly YOU and IT were confronted with one another?
Write of a character confronted with a barbed wire fence. What is behind the it? Why do they want to get beyond the wire? What are the risks? And what will they do when they get through?
If you are struggling to write about something from a particular point of view and not quite hitting the mark, or if you are stuck in a certain scene – change your perspective.
Example: I stood at the back door and watched the sunset. The orange sky stretched across the horizon, widening the earth. From where I stood, the hills were on fire. I want to put my trainers on and run. I wanted to run into the sun and far away into those glorious orange hills. I looked to Joanna, who sat drawing, her chair turned away from the dazzling light. She smiled.
Now change perspective.
Joanna sat with one foot resting on the table, and a drawing pad balanced on her knee. She’d drawn the framed mirror first, then carefully sketched the lines of the six-foot fence. The plant pots were easy, but those damn lanterns, she just couldn’t get them right. In the mirror she could see that the sun was setting, the colours in the frame changed, adding pinks and purples to the fence, and the silver pot rims were dazzled with orange. She heard Bella at the back door. Wow, she heard her say, and Joanna guessed it was the sun set that caused the reaction. She wondered if the hills looked epic, like that time Bella had taken her to the park at dusk. She smiled, not only at the memory but at how beautiful the garden looked in the mirror. She took the brake of her chair and turned around.
By changing perspectives we now know more about the garden, about Joanna, and about Bella. Now if we were to go back to Bella’s pout of view we could expand the scene:
I stood at the back door and watched the sunset. The orange sky was stretched across the horizon, widening the earth. From where I stood, the hills were on fire. Wow. I said. Joanna sat in the garden. She had one foot rested on the table and a drawing pad balanced on her knee. She’d stopped drawing and I could see how hard she’d worked on the picture, each fence slat was perfectly aligned, the curve of the pots and even the lanterns looked perfect.
How does it look from up there? she asked.
You’ve done a brilliant job. I said.
No silly, the sunset.
Incredible. I said. Turn around.
I can see it from here. she pointed at the mirror.
I felt a familiar gnawing in my stomach as the guilt of what had happened crept in. I wanted to put my my trainers on and run. Run into the sun and far away into those glorious orange hills.
Now the story has a new slant. Changing perspective opens up opportunity. Why not have a go yourself and be sure to let me know how it goes.
I haven’t seen the sea for over a year. Living in Killin, I am close to several lochs and rivers, but there is something special about the sea. For me, it’s a feeling that wraps around my ribs like a hug. It’s that feeling of wonder, the mystery of nature and the universe. The sea is a place for contemplation, for stillness and a place to feel whole.
I love this photograph , I snapped it while walking on the beach at St Andrews. The photo is of some teenagers huddled together on the sea wall. I couldn’t hear their conversation but I noticed the long pauses where they all looked out into the endless grey water. Perhaps they were thinking about their studies or their future, perhaps they were lost for a moment in a memory. I like to think they were contemplating their place in the world, their responsibility to the earth and her future
Write a story with two characters, each going through individual difficulties in their lives. The characters should not talk out loud to one another, but sit together on a sea wall watching the sea. The story should record their thoughts, perhaps scattered like a stream of consciousness, or like an internal conversation or monologue. Notice the difference between the characters voices. Did the sea calm them or increase the storm within?
Have you ever stepped outside into a cold morning to find that your garden has been spun into a new world of silver threads and pearl droplets? Think about how hard those tiny spiders have worked to create this masterpiece. Look at the photograph above and imagine only one strand of the web. Now imagine that single strand is the first draft of your novel, short story, poem or whichever creative masterpiece you have just finished writing. Now it’s time to build your web. Editing is the job of going around and around, reworking, re-writing, correcting, enhancing, adding and subtracting, developing and enriching. It’s like building a spider’s world.
Can you see the climber? I took this photograph in Bannockburn in Stirling.
Did you climb trees when you were a child? Perhaps you lived in the city and liked to climb drain pipes, lampposts or onto roofs. It goes without saying that human beings like to climb, to look down at the world below and see it from a new perspective. Perhaps we want a broader view of the world, perhaps we want to separate ourselves from our fellow creatures, or perhaps we enjoy the challenge of the climb itself.
Write a childhood memory about climbing. What were you climbing? How high, wide, difficult was it? Why were you climbing? What did it feel like to climb and to reach the top? Where you climbing for a thrill or to get away from something or someone? What did you see, hear, smell, feel?
I struggled to find the motivation to walk the dogs today. I had a busy morning delivering an emergency package to my partner, Helen, who is currently in hospital, and returned home tired and with a headache. But those pretty brown eyes kept pleading for their walks, and who could resist the eyes of a Labrador (never mind two). So, I got them rigged up and we tottered off to the field at the back of the house. It has been a lovely clear day here in Killin and the sky at 3pm had barely a cloud. We wandered into the farmers field, along by the river and with one of the best views of the mountains. That’s when little patches of red began to appear on the furthest mountain, then slowly, as the light dimmed, it spread right over the mountains in front. Of course, I had to stop and capture the moment on my phone. I even took a video for Helen. But for a moment, the smallest moment, because the dogs can’t stay still for long, I stopped, put my phone on my pocket, and just looked. I felt the cold air in my lungs, the nip of icy wind on my face and my heart filled with the sight before me. I felt alive.
If you want to enrich your story, look at it from a different perspective. For example, if this photo is turned the correct way around, what does the protagonist see? But when it’s turned on its side, the view suddenly changes. Could the protagonist be lying down, or have fallen? Have they been looking for clues to solve a mystery that is revealed from this new perspective? Changing the way wee look at a scene, by either changing where we view it from or, from a different character’s point of view, can bring a whole new perspective to the scene, and perhaps add a new strand to the story.
My short story ‘Message in a Bottle’ was awarded second place in the SMHAF writing awards tonight. Congratulations to Shirley Gillian for coming first with her short story ‘Outside In’, and Benny Allen for winning third prize with his short story ‘Twenty-Five, Vanilla Milkshake.’ The evening was hosted by Ian Rankin and there was music by Emma Pollock and overall it was great. All the the twelve short-listed writers were fantastic and I’m sure will go on to do some brilliant things.
Some of you will know that I struggle with anxiety, especially social anxiety so getting up and reading at a sold out event was tough. I am lucky to have help and support from my partner Helen, my rock.
I mentioned some time ago (2017), that one of my poems was selected to appear at two railway stations as part of the Renfrewshire metal health festival Scotland. A few days ago, I got along to see it displayed. I hope it moved some people, or just passed a minute while they waited at the station. A fresh batch of poems will go up in May.