Quick! Make a list of your ten favorite things. When asked to do this recently, I wrote: Battersea box with the image of a hot air balloon on it; silver-framed wedding photo; Frampton, my stuffed bear; Carson, my dog; skiing on a sunny day; Spaghetti Bolognese; pizza; spending time with my husband; and Hercule Poirot DVDs. (Not necessarily in that order, of course.)
At seven a.m. on Saturday, October 22, I had the good fortune to participate in a prose prompt workshop led by Jamie Morris, Director of Woodstream Writers, at the Florida Writers Association’s annual conference in Lake Mary, Florida. I don’t know how she got us to be productive at that hour (the Starbucks helped), but thirty-five attendees were then instructed to create something from their individual lists. Here’s my effort:
“How she could have misplaced the bear was a mystery. It’s not as though he were that small, and spending time with him was—don’t laugh—a big part of spending time with her husband. Frampton had traveled with them to Hawaii, New York, France, Portugal, even to England, where the British Airways flight attendants humored her and brought her fuzzy friend a glass of champagne and a passport, the kind they give to children.
How had he disappeared? Where was Hercule Poirot when she needed him? Libby’s Maltese, Carson, watching from his perch on the couch, cocked his head in answer to her, as though reading her mind.
The day had started simply enough. Cold and sunny and dry, the conditions had been perfect for a few hours of skiing. When Libby had returned, she’d reheated last night’s spaghetti and meatballs while the dough rose for the pizzas for tonight’s farewell dinner. She stared at the silver-framed wedding photo on the living room end table. What was Adam going to say when he found out? The last minute packing had been frantic, and now she wished she were already gone, taken off in a hot air balloon like the one in her Battersea Box collection.”
It doesn’t take too much to figure out that someone has misplaced an item that she was supposed to pack before the next day’s journey, and her husband is going to be mighty unhappy about it. Could this be a start of a short story? A scene in a novel? Maybe it’s just what it is, a writing exercise. No matter what, to be forced to connect the dots within a ten minute time limit was a delicious mental workout.
Why not try it? Whether you’re a writer or not, stimulate your creative juices and perhaps you’ll find a special story inside you. Worst case theory, you’ll think about the things you hold close to your heart. And with Thanksgiving almost upon us, that’s a good thing.