Jul 02, 2021
3 mins read
All things going well, this post will be the first of a daily series in which we (I encourage you to have a go) take a prompt, usually one word perhaps a sentence, and try to write something. That something might be a poem or a brief story, or just a beginning, don't aim too big. The point of this is to start working the brain and loosening the creative muscles. That's right loosening, I prefer relaxed squishy muscles rather than those strong rigid ones. Bad metaphor? Probably. All I want to emphasize is that you shouldn't be judging the ideas you have, don't expect too much from them or they will shy away. Stupid is better.
Today we are starting with the prompt of preowned. Not the most exciting word, heavily reliant on its brother: owned. It lacks an identity, or at least that's where my mind was drawn. Below is a picture of my brainstorming process:
The most immediate image that came was a DVD, maybe I have repressed a memory of a friend scratching or simply not returning one, who knows. I’m certainly bitter about something.
Anyway, I quickly moved on. I could have gotten hooked on that idea and rolled with it, but I wanted some more angles. Not much came so I refreshed my memory of what the prompt was. You forget these things. I tried to collect a variety of ideas, not dwelling on any for long.
There were two that ended up speaking to me the most. One of which you'll note, I marked with "Book? Worthy?". Not quite sure the relevance of two question marks, but after some reflection I came to the conclusion, yes it was. You might disagree. That is the beauty of art, different things catch our eyes. If two writers are given the same scene you may not even recognise what they started from by the time it is done. In one, the room itself might undulate, the walls tightening, in the other everything is still and drained of colour. This exercise, when done consistently, might help you discover what it is you find most compelling.
The final idea is what ended up becoming a little poem. Only a rough first draft, but things have to start somewhere. It focuses on the feeling of hand me downs, of living in the shoes of a previous generation and trying to find your own identity.
Contained within that steamer trunk, Buckle studded leather walled box, All the history I was born with, My cot was colour sapped wood, The horses roundabout above it, Was several generations old, But still they looked like foals, Even the buggy wasn’t brand new, Except for the wheels that got worn through, In the older years, clothes were given too early, A bit baggy for me, stretched on my brother's shoulders, You could see their frayed history, One year scrapping in the mud, For me collecting dust in the library, Repaired with mismatched fabrics, That was who we were, and set to be, Our toys scratched, one armed but still walking, It was a procession of the past, We travelling through it, expectedly and unhurried, Even plates shattered in those parental clashes, Were fused back together and handed down, For us to use in our own arguments, What about the ring with its gold and diamond glint, whose stone is worth our whole mortgage, Tie the knot to sentiment, I am connected to these, My given history, A treasure only to my family, I wish I could start something, Because I am not my own, I have become preowned,
It is far from perfect, words need cutting, sentences need rephrasing, I haven't even considered form and the images need cleaning up.I start with a description of a steamer trunk, a good idea. It opens the theme well, it is certainly a place where old family heirlooms might congregate. Then I slap you in the face with a cot, which is a bit big to fit in there. Does it matter? That's for my editing brain to figure out.
The important thing isn't a finished project, but that I've thought about something unusual. Something I wouldn't have if it was up to me. I am a lot less interesting than randomly pointing in a dictionary. If you have anything to share, a sentence, a poem, a story, I’d love to hear it. Whatever it is, feel free or send it to me, or post it somewhere and share the link. I’m keen to see the different directions people take this.