An unexpected attack of writing

Early this week, a colleague was suddenly unable to attend an online writing workshop she’d booked (with the wonderful Matthew Curlewis of Amsterdam Writers – highly recommended!), so I jumped in and took her place at the last minute.

It took the format of a writing prompt, followed by a set period for writing, then any participant who wanted to could read their piece aloud and we all commented on strong or memorable aspects (no negativity permitted!)

One of the prompts was these images:

This is apparently a kind of tag cloud of Leonardo DaVinci’s words about water.

We were then asked to take these images as our prompt and write for 12 minutes.

If both had been presented as typed documents, I think my output would have been very different. As it is, the manuscript version on the left made me think of old documents, and old documents made me think of libraries, so I read the words on the right with a different mindset. This is what came out:


People always have this image of libraries as quiet places, with librarians pointing crossly to SILENCE signs… But actually they’re pretty noisy on the whole.

We have the babblings and stream-of-consciousness mutterings of the homeless or near to it come in for a warm in the reference library. The gushing of the middle-aged ladies – and some gents too – when we’ve saved the latest Marian Keyes or Jill Mansell. The whispered divisions and equations, resistance and revolutions of students; the undulations, reboundings and reversals of teenage lovers… In other words, we have it all.

But we don’t often hear violent crashing noises followed by breakages, confusion and furious roaring. Then again, it’s rare that we have a fully armoured warhorse, complete with mace-wielding rider, suddenly materialise in Autobiographies R-T.

Even when we are doing a Tolkien display for Year 5 again.

Fortunately, it was Wednesday morning, one of our quietest, and not long after nine o’clock – far too early for most of our patrons to have arrived yet – so the injuries amounted to a copy of the Silmarillion with a hoof print right through it – no loss there – and a severely mangled cardboard Tolstoy.

Writing prompt #17 –29 December

Yes, it’s been longer than I expected since the last one! But I haven’t been entirely idle in the meantime, what with festive wossnames and writing a story that doesn’t quite capture the spooky brittle feeling of the track it’s based on, but anyway.

So here’s today’s prompt. Feel free to use “purple” (or “lilac”, or whatever colour you think it is) for your prompt, if you’d prefer!

See below
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Calming Tummy Tea – Herbal Tea Blend – Certified Organic
Tonight is the longest night of the year. Winter solstice is when Raunächte* start. This is a very special mystical time for me. It is the time to let go of old things and make room for new ones.
*twelve days of Christmas

Writing prompt #16 – 23 December

Every day when I post the prompt I have to check the number of the prompt. Sigh. I’ve never really got numbers – my brain rejects them as soon as I’ve seen them.

Words, of course, are different. And here are today’s choices, some of which are definitely not what I’d have picked if I’d been translating this from German, but anyway:

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Winternight – Fruit Spice Tea Blend – Certified Organic
Have you got things that you have cherished forever? For me it is an aroma lamp, which I potted with a friend. Every year I use it to evaporate my favourite essential oils.

Writing prompt #15 – 22 December

Here’s today’s sachet (as I mentioned on Sunday, I was a bit woolly-minded over the weekend, and I was in the kitchen about to take the photo of this when I got distracted and opened it instead. Feel free to use “Torn” as a prompt instead of one of the words in the text!

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Balance Tea – Herbal Tea Blend – Certified Organic
Have you planned your Christmas dinner yet? I have just started thinking about it. It should be something special. Often the best things are right at our door step. I find inspiration at the farmer’s market or the organic grocer.

Writing prompt #14 – 21 December

Well, it’s the shortest day, and even in the far south of Sweden that means it’s a very bloody short day, especially as we still haven’t had even a tiny bit of sunshine yet this month. But hey ho, writing waits for no one, and certainly not for sunshine. And it’s all uphill from here! At least in terms of daylight anyway.

Here’s today’s prompt:

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Green Fortune Tea – Green Tea Spice Blend – Certified Organic
Advent time is the time of reading. We have made it a tradition to share a book or a story that we particularly like. We cuddle up on the sofa, read, listen and talk.

Writing prompt #13 – 18 December

I think I actually will go for the obvious word here, particularly given how yesterday’s piece turned out.

I’ve just had a thought about the fact that one of the words on this sachet is “children’s”. Because there haven’t been many children (just one, I think) in my fairy tales so far. But then there aren’t, IIRC, in the traditional Manx fairy tales. And yet as a child I still loved those stories. Must mean something, but I’m not sure what.

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Bloomy Turmeric Tea – Spice Herbal Tea Blend – Certified Organic
Today we made music together. No, we are not musical geniuses, more category children’s songs. It made us so happy and what fun! At the end, we even sang a canon.

Writing prompt #12 – 17 December

Eek! Seems like every day the choices offered by the writing prompt tea sachet are getting fewer and fewer. Given that in my not-quite-realistic Isle of Man of sometime around the late 1800s it’s summer, I don’t think I can squeeze Christmas into a story except as a tiny reference. So what does that leave me?

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Fortune Tea – Herbal Tea Blend – Certified Organic
What scent comes to mind when you think of Christmas? I will cut oranges into slices and dry them. They will look great on my Christmas tree.

Writing prompt #11 – 16 December

Late again, but I’ve got excuses (as always). Anyway, pick a word, any word… then write something about/not about/around that word, for 15 minutes. By hand, on a device, dictate it, spell it out in seashells in your garden…. Whatever takes your fancy.

Pratchett fans will appreciate one of the tags for this post, which is also a fair indication of where I think my choice will fall.

Also, is it just me or does cinnamon not really go with jam? Just me…? I’ll get me coat.

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Baked Apples Tea – Fruit Spice Tea Blend – Certified Organic
When did you last have baked apples? I really fancy some. I will get apples: core out, nuts, cinnamon and jam in, butter on top and into the hot oven. The anticipation is the best part!

Writing prompt #9 – 14 December

For the how/why of the writing challenge, see here.

As I always say when talking about my infrequent attempts at running, I enjoy what it feels like when I stop doing it. In this case, “it” is this writing lark. The results are fun. The process – or rather the procrastination – is less amusing. I’ve been up now for 2 hours and still not actually got around to writing my 15 minutes’ worth or doing any work.

I could blame the prompt of the day, which doesn’t contain any words that spark my imagination, but no – I hadn’t even looked at it until I uploaded it just now. I suppose the only thing to do is just…write.

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New Year Tea – Herbal Tea Blend – Certified Organic
How do you bring warmth into the cold season? I use lots of candles with lots of different colours I collect them from wherever I go. This year I have even made some myself from beeswax. Oh, what a smell!