I took the photo above while on a tour of Morocco in December 2011. You can read more about my travels on Trevor’s Travels.
My wife and I found that our experiences over just two weeks in Morocco were not only fascinating – they were almost overwhelming. The colours, the sounds, the aromas, the food, the masses of people in the medinas, the amazing mosaics everywhere and the silence of the Sahara. Everywhere we looked we saw new things, different things, amazing and downright perplexing things.
I found it easy to write a daily journal during our trip. I also wrote many poems along the way. (You can read some of my poetry here.) Unusual experiences, or undertaking activities which are out of our usual realm of experience are often excellent stepping off points for writing.
Today I want you to focus on the photo of the farmer shown above. I am assuming he is a farmer on his way to, or just coming back from, the market place. Here are some ideas to help you with your writing.
- Imagine you are the farmer in the photo. Reminisce on your day so far.
- Write a poem (or poems) inspired by the photo.
- Imagine the man in the photo has had a tragedy in his life recently. Describe how he is feeling, what happened and how he is going to respond to his changed circumstances.
- Use the photo as a jumping off point for a short story. It does not have to be set in Morocco.
- Where is the man going? Where has he been? What is his purpose in travelling along this road? Let your imagination soar.
- Imagine that the man has just heard some bad news. Describe his feelings, trying to get inside his head, his thoughts, his emotions.
- Write a story about the man in the photo assuming that he is not a farmer. What is he doing? Where is he going? What is his background? What happens next?
Today’s writing prompt is a little different.
I took the photo above a few years ago on a wonderful tour of magical Morocco. My wife, daughter and I spent two very interesting weeks on a guided tour by mini-bus visiting some of the highlights of Morocco. We visited ancient Roman ruins and modern mosques, the sands of the Sahara desert and the frenetic market places in the exotic cities of Fez, Rabat and Marrakech.
One quiet rural town we stayed in was Midelt where we were taken on a walking tour of some of the local farms. While on this walk I spied this local woman at a water source. I am not sure what she is doing with the pot in her hand. It is at that point I want your imagination to kick into gear.
Here are some suggestions to get you going:
- Imagine you are the woman in the photo – describe a typical day in your life.
- Write a short description of the scene shown in the photo and your reaction to it.
- Wrote a poem about the hardships of rural life in a country like Morocco (or any other country you know well).
- Make a list of the differences between your life, and what you can imagine this woman’s life might be like.
- Use the photo as a jumping off point for a short story with you as the narrator. Place yourself in the scene and imagine what happens next.
A few years ago my wife, daughter and I travelled through magical Morocco. It was an amazing experience which assaulted the senses in every way. I still look back with amazement at my photos which beautifully encapsulate some of the sensory experiences of that trip.
I also took more than a passing interest in the wildlife, the birds in particular. I write about Australian birds here. In many places we saw plenty of White Storks, shown in the photos above and below. They are amazing birds, and their nests on chimney stacks and on roofs are enormous. They make quite a picture against the sky.
The photos I have included were taken in the village of Ifrane, one of Morocco’s main skiing resorts. That’s snow skiing, by the way. Not many people I know realise that Morocco has extensive snow fields in the Atlas Mountains. The village felt as though we had stepped right into the Swiss Alps, complete with ubiquitous chalets (see last photo).
- Write about skiing trips you have been on.
- Write about the most interesting birds you have ever seen.
- Imagine living in a house where a pair of storks have made a nest. Describe your reaction and how they impact your life.
- Describe a wild storm which destroys the storks’ nest on your roof. Imagine how you deal with the orphaned chicks. Turn your writing into a short story or a series of poems.
- Have you had birds nesting on or near your house such as a tree or bush in your garden? Describe your feelings and how the presence of the birds affected you.
- Research the mythology associated with storks and write an article or blog post about them.
- Explore the relationship between storks and humans in different cultures and write a short story featuring storks.
- Write a series of poems about storks and how they influence or interact with humans.
A few years ago my wife and I toured Morocco for two weeks. It was a magical tour with many highlights. I write more about this trip on another site called Trevor’s Travels.
One of the places we visited on the tour was the village of Sefrou which is about 30km from Fes. It was a delightful and interesting place to experience. As we were wandering through the streets we came across this group of children playing. They seemed to want me to take their photo, but were a little hesitant at first. Eventually they posed for me.
Whenever I look at this photo I wonder what their story is. It might prompt one of my readers to think the same, or similar, question.
- Tell the story of this group of children.
- Use your imagination to think about what they were playing.
- Imagine being inside their heads. What were they thinking about this strange Australian taking their photo?
- Write about some imaginary tragedy they might have recently experienced.
One of the benefits of travelling is meeting interesting people. This is true wherever you go, but I have found it especially so when travelling to exotic and beguiling places like Morocco. On our visit to the village of Sefrou near Fes we met this 85 year old blacksmith, still happily working away at repairing farmers’ tools. He was very happy with his life’s work and, despite his age, intended to continue with his important trade.
Write a fictional story about this man and the life he may have lived. Imagine the changes he may have seen in his lifetime, and what has remained the same. Perhaps include some heartaches, disappointments and also the joys of his life. Your main character doesn’t have to be a blacksmith, nor does he have to live in Morocco. Over to you.