Creative prompt: Offerings #2

I saw these jugs early in one morning, while I was taking Baby Magpie off to nursery. I stopped to take the picture on the way home, and by the evening they were gone. In my post last week I wrote about the offerings members of my local community make to each other. When I saw these jugs I felt that this could be an offering of a different kind. I remember my aunt making wine in jugs like these when I was a child, and have watched the bubbles rise and collect in the top of the jug as various kinds of fruit fermented.

For me these jugs felt much more like an offering of a mystical or spiritual kind. Perhaps these jugs held an offering of wine for the local street gods who reside over our community, or an offering of mead to the ancient spirits of the land that lies below the streets tarmacked pavements. It makes me wonder what those street gods, or those ancient spirits may be like, and what they may think of us.

I’m not a huge fan of creative exercises, so it’s not my habit to tell people what to do with these prompts. There are lots of options – a scene, some flash fiction, a short story, an idea for a short film or a physical piece of art. If you do have a go with this one and would like to drop the result in the comments please do so. I would be very interested to see what people make of these.

Thank you for reading. I also write, make art and films. If you like these prompts and want to get a copy of a free short book of them I wrote, and to hear more about my writing projects please join my mailing list here. You can see my films at my YouTube channel here. You can see things with my designs on at my shop here. Could even treat yourself if you wanted to. Just saying. If buying art is not your thing, but you would like to support what you see I also have a Patreon Page here.

Creative prompt: Offerings #1

In the area we live in there is a tradition of people leaving things they no longer need outside of their houses, on the pavement, in the hope that they will find new homes. Baby Magpie and I were walking to the swimming pool when we saw these twin chests of draws, and the tantalisingly open bag of toys on the top. We stopped for a moment to pick a toy and then went on our way, leaving the rest for some other lucky soul.

I like the spirit behind this tradition, in which people offer things to each other in a relatively anonymous way. Of course it is a convenient way to get rid of things, but there is also a generosity to it. The person offering the gift cannot always know who will receive it, friend or foe.

It feels like a silent form of communication within a community. ‘I no longer need this thing, but maybe you do. We would like for this object, which has been useful to us, to be useful to someone else now. We will not waste its potential and send it to landfill.’ It stands in contrast to the silence communications of the fly tippers (of which unfortunately we also have a strong local tradition), which feels much more to me to be ‘we don’t need this junk anymore, someone else can deal with it.’

When I see these objects I sometimes wonder if they may be the start of a story, or a relationship between two people. Perhaps someone else, seeing that bag of toys, would have lingered long enough to meet the person who made this offering as they dashed to the shops, and said hello.

I’m not a huge fan of creative exercises, so it’s not my habit to tell people what to do with these prompts. There are lots of options – a scene, some flash fiction, a short story, an idea for a short film or a physical piece of art. If you do have a go with this one and would like to drop the result in the comments please do so. I would be very interested to see what people make of these.

Thank you for reading. I also write, make art and films. If you like these prompts and want to get a copy of a free short book of them I wrote, and to hear more about my writing projects please join my mailing list here. You can see my films at my YouTube channel here. You can see things with my designs on at my shop here. Could even treat yourself if you wanted to. Just saying. If buying art is not your thing, but you would like to support what you see I also have a Patreon Page here.

Creative prompt: Broken strings.

I walked past this broken tennis racket a number of times, and each time I thought ‘that’s not what I’m looking for’. But I began to feel more and more intrigued as I noticed the racket had moved each time I saw it. The first time I saw it, it was in a dark corner under an overhanging building where I would not have been able to get a good shot. But slowly it seemed it inch more and more out onto the pavement, as if creeping into the light, maybe wanting to be seen.

When I finally decided to stop and take a photo, it had manged to move several hundred meters down the street, and was almost in the middle of the pavement, right in my path. I felt as is it was asking me to take the photo, so I did stop and get out my phone.

The way the strings curve and wind against each other, and the way the frame, although broken, still sits in almost it’s original form is both beautiful and sad to me, as if the shape of it tries to suggest better days that are now past.

Once I had taken my photo, I did not see the racket again, as if satisfied, it melted away. Of course it is just a broken old object laying on the pavement, and someone has probably thrown it in the bin. But there was something about this episode that spoke to me, as if the racket wanted to be seen, and to be documented, to say ‘I existed’. I think there is something in this sentiment that we as humans can relate to.

I’m not a huge fan of creative exercises, so it’s not my habit to tell people what to do with these prompts. There are lots of options – a scene, some flash fiction, a short story, an idea for a short film or a physical piece of art. If you do have a go with this one and would like to drop the result in the comments please do so. I would be very interested to see what people make of these.

Thank you for reading. I also write, make art and films. If you like these prompts and want to get a copy of a free short book of them I wrote, and to hear more about my writing projects please join my mailing list here. You can see my films at my YouTube channel here. You can see things with my designs on at my shop here. Could even treat yourself if you wanted to. Just saying. If buying art is not your thing, but you would like to support what you see I also have a Patreon Page here.

Creative Prompt: The missed shot

This year I’ve been experimenting with creating creative prompts for other creative folks by taking photographs of strange or quirky things that I see when I am out and about. My general format is then to post the photo along with the story of the picture, or some thoughts that the picture provokes in me. In last week’s creative prompt I briefly mentioned the sometimes transient nature of creativity, and this weeks photo is a really good example of that.

I first saw this broken pair of sunglasses on the road a day before I took the photo. My initial response was that they weren’t that interesting to me, but then when I found myself thinking about them a bit later in the evening knew that they had caught my attention after all. When I went looking for them the next day I was relieved that they were still there, but they were not arranged as I remembered.

When I first saw them one of the lenses was still in place in it’s frame. While I like this shot with the strip of yellow running through the photo, it’s not as good as that first glimpse. Basically I missed the shot because I didn’t take advantage of the moment.

I’m sure I’m not the only creative with experiences like these, and would like to hear about other similar experiences in the comments below. What was your best (worst!) ‘missed shot’?

I’m not a huge fan of creative exercises, so it’s not my habit to tell people what to do with these prompts. There are lots of options – a scene, some flash fiction, a short story, an idea for a short film or a physical piece of art. If you do have a go with this one and would like to drop the result in the comments please do so. I would be very interested to see what people make of these.

Thank you for reading. I also write, make art and films. If you want to hear more about my writing projects please join my mailing list here. You can see my films at my YouTube channel here. You can see things with my designs on at my shop here. Could even treat yourself if you wanted to. Just saying. If buying art is not your thing, but you would like to support what you see I also have a Patreon Page here.

Creative Prompt: left broken on the tarmac

This isn’t the best photo I’ve ever taken for one of these posts, but it was the best I could manage in the moment.

I saw this record in the middle of the tarmac on a busy main road. Not far from that spot is a set of traffic signals, and then a bridge. The cars emerge over the crest of the bridge in waves as they accelerate away from the lights. I was out with Baby Magpie in the pram, and found myself hovering right on the edge of the pavement trying to take the photo in between clumps of fast moving cars.

I was intrigued by this record. You seldom see discarded tapes or CDs these days, let alone a violet vinyl record on the floor. It left me wondering what kind of scene would have led to it being ejected from the car.

Was the record as casualty of a long running argument?

Or was there and accident in the car, resulting in the break on the records edge, resulting in it being discarded out of the window?

Maybe someone in the car simply got fed up of the songs?

Let me know what you think in the comments.

Thank you for reading. I also write, make art and films. If you want to hear more about my writing projects please join my mailing list here. You can see my films at my YouTube channel here. You can see things with my designs on at my shop here. Could even treat yourself if you wanted to. Just saying. If buying art is not your thing, but you would like to support what you see I also have a Patreon Page here.

Creative prompt mini-series: paying respect to trees #2

I imagine that someone decorated this tree around Christmas with these sparkling snow flakes, but it was some time after the end of the holiday season when I took this photo. It was a bright crisp winter day and the snow flakes stood out more brightly than the photo does justice to here.

I have spoken before about my somewhat romantic relationship with a snow and ice. In the UK the summer has just arrived, and our final frost is long behind us. The trees are growing green and many plants are in full flower now, so perhaps it was a little odd to include this picture in this mini series, but I felt that it was an oddly good fit here. I often find that some of my better ideas come from seeing something familiar in a different context, where it suddenly sticks out as a poor fit.

The decorations on this tree seem slightly wild to me, like an offering made to the local tree nymphs, left out in the wind, sunshine and rain. They remind me of how humans have celebrated in the depths of winter with feasting and gifting long before Christmas was established as a Christian festival.

I hope that they will provide inspiration for someone, what ever the weather.

Thank you for reading. I also write, make art and films. If you want to hear more about my writing projects please join my mailing list here. You can see my films at my YouTube channel here. You can see things with my designs on at my shop here. Could even treat yourself if you wanted to. Just saying. If buying art is not your thing, but you would like to support what you see I also have a Patreon Page here.

Creative prompt mini-series: paying respect to trees #1

One of the things that really catches my eye when I am our and about is where people decorate or otherwise mark local trees. I frequently find the way they do this to be interesting and mysterious, and it allows my mind to wander into spaces that are both ancient and mystical.

This tree is close to our house, and has been marked with this ring of stones for some time now. I frequently walk past it, and wonder who may have put these stones there. What do they mean to the person who placed them?

In my own work in progress (Feeding Jasmine Valentine) natural cycles, and plants and trees play quite a big part in my world building. One of the things I want to do a bit more with this blog is to share some of the things that are feeding into my ideas for that work. So over the next four weeks I’ll be sharing some photographs of trees that may spark your imagination.

I hope that this mini series will provoke new ideas for you, too.

Thank you for reading. I also write, make art and films. If you want to hear more about my writing projects please join my mailing list here. You can see my films at my YouTube channel here. You can see things with my designs on at my shop here. Could even treat yourself if you wanted to. Just saying. If buying art is not your thing, but you would like to support what you see I also have a Patreon Page here.

On not having a niche: diverse interests and creativity

When I first started blogging a number of years ago now, I spent a bit of time looking at what other people said about creating a successful blog. There is lots of advice out there, some of it sensible, some of it conflicting. I tried to build some of it into my blogging, with various degrees of success (if you are looking for a good site on this is suggest taking a look at Female Blogreneur here). Most were easy enough. Include pictures. Check. Include pictures of cats. Double check.

But the most consistent piece of advice that came up was to find a niche and stick with it. This is where I have a problem. My blog and website started off as a place to talk about my writing, films and art. But over time I found myself wanting to write about other things and other ideas. This is mostly because my magpie brain is attracted to lots of things, and you know, life happens. So over time I have written about the flowers in my garden, interesting sentimental objects, open water swimming and IVF.

It’s not a problem to have diverse interests, but it makes it a bit more difficult to describe what you do. ‘I write about art, writing, and lots of other things’ is a bit vague. One of the other bits of advice that is out there is to ‘build a community around what you do’. If you are at best vague about what you do, that also gets a bit tricky.

Over time I’ve been thinking about this and what it all means. There are definitely groups of people out there ‘like me’. Emily Wapnick calls us multipotentialites. Barbara Sher calls us scanners, and urges us to ‘refuse to choose’ (affiliate link). There are several existing communities that exist around this notion, but somehow the idea of joining one doesn’t scratch the itch. I think the closest I’ve come to feeling like I’ve met ‘my people’ is when I meet other artists and writers, particularly the ones who deal in science fiction and fantasy.

On a number of writing shows and podcasts I have listened to recently I have come across this idea that as writers we need to fill the creative well. I feel my creativity is a bit more like a river with multiple tributaries that derive from many different sources. I can identify a variety of influences in my current work in progress, Feeding Jasmine Valentine. I actually think that my ‘niche’ is creativity itself. The things that inspire creativity, the processes that are involved, and the many splendid expressions of it. But the niche of creativity is so broad, and has so many possibilities that it is almost no good as I niche at all.

And I don’t think that matters.

Thank you for reading. I also write, make art and films. If you want to hear more about my writing projects please join my mailing list here. You can see my films at my YouTube channel here. You can see things with my designs on at my shop here. Could even treat yourself if you wanted to. Just saying. If buying art is not your thing, but you would like to support what you see I also have a Patreon Page here.

My toddler is a scientist: experimentation and the creative process.

A few weeks ago my son learned to walk. Like every other skill he has picked up, the process involved a lot of trail, and a lot of error. There were plenty of missteps and a few little falls here and there, but it didn’t take him long to get the hang of it. Now he likes to spend his days charging around, while we spend our trying to keep up with him.

Over the last year it has been his gift to us to hang out with him while he learns to do new things. I am sure all parents think their children are clever, and I am no exception to this rule, but it has been one of the most delightful surprises of parenthood to be able to see this unfold. He is the epitome of a little scientist. Touching. Tasting. Moving things about. Trying one thing, seeing it fail, trying it again with adaptations, before moving on to the next option.

The other morning we were eating breakfast together and it occurred to me that this process is also the process that underpins good art. Trying one thing, adapting it, trying the next. I am one of those odd people who trained in the sciences, but is drawn instinctively to the arts. In my mind there has never been a huge distance between the core process involved in doing science, and the one that underpins the making of art. Watching my child develop has reinforced this for me in the most profound way.

Now he has walking mostly under control, we’ve moved on to putting blocks together in new and interesting patterns. For him, inspiration appears everywhere. We aren’t quite up to building yet, but that too will happen in time. I can’t wait to see what he will experiment with next.

Thank you for reading. I also write, make art and films. If you want to hear more about my writing projects please join my mailing list here. You can see my films at my YouTube channel here. You can see things with my designs on at my shop here. Could even treat yourself if you wanted to. Just saying. If buying art is not your thing, but you would like to support what you see I also have a Patreon Page here.

Creative prompt: fox came a calling

We have a fox that pops in and out of our garden on a regular basis, and this photo was taken earlier this year when we had a rare few days of snow. I had thought that I had missed the boat with this prompt but then we had an odd morning of April snow last week so here it is. In the novel I am currently working on, Feeding Jasmine Valentine, foxes play an important role in the narrative, so it was a bit magical to see these foot prints in the snow.

I have the kind of romantic relationship with snow that you can only have when you don’t really have to deal with the practical consequences of it. When I was a child I was enthralled by the tale of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, (affiliate link) in which a group of children climb through the back of a wardrobe and find themselves in a snow covered landscape. I could help but feel a bit disappointed when that snow began to melt.

I like to share photos of things that give me ideas, as sometimes I think they may give other people ideas too. What does this picture make you think of? What kind of tales does this picture inspire? Ideas or flash fiction welcome in the comments below, or turn it into a post on your own blog and let me know

Thank you for reading. I also write, make art and films. If you want to hear more about my writing projects please join my mailing list here. You can see my films at my YouTube channel here. You can see things with my designs on at my shop here. Could even treat yourself if you wanted to. Just saying. If buying art is not your thing, but you would like to support what you see I also have a Patreon Page here.