I should take a photo of the rain pouring down outside, and the large puddle of water in our driveway. It is freezing out there, so I’ll just stay in my nice warm office and write about it instead. Take the easy option – quite a reasonable motto in this situation. Looking out of my window is not easy, what with all the raindrops pouring down the glass. So that eliminates taking a photo through the window too. Never mind.
Where I live in rural South Australia, rain is something to celebrate as we don’t often get downpours like we’ve had over the last 36 hours. Here in SA we often say that we are the driest state in the driest continent. It’s a claim which probably isn’t completely accurate, but we say it all the same. I don’t mind cold, wet winter’s days. It gives me a perfect excuse not to go out and weed the garden, or mow the grass, or chop the firewood, or fix that gutter, or… I think you get my point.
Instead, I like to stoke up the fire, make a good cup of tea and settle down with a good book. Or even an average book. Truth be told, I don’t get to do that as often as I’d like to these days. My writing takes up a good part of the day, my church involvement takes up some of every day, and now my lecturing position is further cutting into each day. Relaxing with a good book is becoming a luxury but it’s something I need to make sure I do. Taking time out to relax is important.
Writing prompt: what do you like to do on cold, rainy days?
Good writing – and reading.
I recently been looking through my library of photos trying to find suitable images to share on my birding site. I’d forgotten about the photo shown above. I took it some years ago when driving through suburban Adelaide in South Australia. A small flock of Sulphur-crested Cockatoos was investigating some hollows in a street tree. I stopped, whipped out the camera and they posed very obligingly for me, including the curious bird in the photo.
Writing prompt: What is the bird thinking? What might it say if it could talk? Many parrots, including this species, can be taught to say quite a few words. Imagine a conversation between you and the bird.
I took the above photo while in Addis Ababa last December. It is typical of so many ‘homes’ in the capital of Ethiopia. Literally around the corner are lovely homes which would not be out of place in my home town here in South Australia. The contrasts in many cities of the world are there for all to see; I find such inequalities distressing. I feel helpless in the face of such poverty.
We take so many things for granted in our comfortable homes and offices and schools. We take for granted a warm bed on a cold night (we are heading for a frost as I write this). We take for granted enough food in the pantry for many days. We take for granted hot running water when we turn the tap. We have so much; many have so little.
Writing prompt: write about being grateful, write about the things we normally take for granted, the thousand little blessings we overlook every day.
Ever since I started my creative writing degree in 2008 I have been a part of two writers’ groups at the university where I studied. One was primarily a prose group. Each meeting the participants are given a writing challenge. The latest challenge was to finish a 1000 word short story with the last few words of a classic novel. The resulting stories were amazing in both the variety and the quality.
During the last four years I have also been a part of a poetry critiquing group. Over the last two years I have helped to organise this group. We also set writing challenges for the participants. It might be a set theme or a set form (eg sonnets) and sometimes both. The discussions are also very stimulating.
On Saturday just gone I joined yet another writers’ group. This group meets only a few times a year, usually in someone’s home. The group has a discussion on a set topic and then there is a sharing of current projects before breaking for a shared lunch – and more informal discussions. This group has a special focus, as it’s title implies: it is a Christian Professional Writers’ Association. All of the participants are either professional writers – or aspiring to be. Everyone in the group has a publishing record, and is striving to have more published. Our focus discussion this time followed on from the last meeting: “What is Christian fiction?”
I find that attendance at such meetings to be very stimulating, always generating new ideas, new writing avenues, networking (I found out about a potential opening at a publisher for my novel), encouragement and just plain good fun. If critiquing of one’s writing is also part of the activities, this is a bonus. Having others reading and commenting on your work is invaluable in the process of becoming a better writer – and more likely to get published.
I’d strongly encourage you to seek out a local group for writers and try it out.