Monday, May 29, 2006

Writing Prompts

Wednesday, May 17, 2006:

As a budding wordsmith who switched gears midstream and a conditioned loner, writers groups and writing community efforts were unheard of and as such are still new to me. Since discovering the writing world, I’ve joined, left, phased out and been ejected from several writing groups. I’ll never forget my first group; I think it was called critical writers, or something like that. I submitted what I thought was a brilliant piece of literature—an edited phone conversation entitled "proper phone etiquette" I felt it was a perfect example of the "show don't tell" rule that I kept encountering everywhere I turned.

Well let me tell you, I found out several things after that submission:
  1. There was a rule about adult material (the conversation highlighted the phone sex epidemic I’d encountered while trying to transition from the “online meeting” to the phone then face-to-face routine of the online dating arena.
  2. The main character was implausible. (Ummm … since I was the main character with an alias and things did go down as I stated … did that then mean I was UNBELIEVABLE?)
  3. Some of the more sympathetic critters in the group took the time to explain to me that since I’d dropped them into the conversation midstream, they had no basis for aligning themselves with either character and as such, the great intent did nothing but annoy and/or ring untrue. Okay, now that I understood.
  4. End result—I departed from that group with my tail tucked between my legs, so to speak, and realized that this writing thing just might not be as easy as I thought it was going to be, but that was alright—struggle I understood quite well.

I joined other groups and terms like daily prompts or writing prompts popped up (which I thought were silly). Why write something if I’ve no purpose for writing it? I know, I know—what can I say, I was green behind the ears, or is that wet around the gills? LOL.

Okay, so we can all agree that writing prompts are necessary, we may not like them but as with anything, practice makes, if not perfect—good. Some do daily prompts some do weekly—whatever the case, they are done.

***

Yesterday as I was leaving work, I was already ensconced in the passenger seat of a co-worker’s car, the seatbelt already fastened, when I realized that I’d left my degreasing fluid. One voice in my head said, "Ah leave it, it’s been there for two weeks, what’s another day?"

Then the other voice in my head said, "You said you were taking it home today, just go get it."

I asked my co-worker if she’d mind waiting and at her acquiescence jogged back into the building. As I passed the HR waiting area, my eyes lit upon some leftover sandwiches from a training session that I’d been invited to pack up and take home.

I continued around the corner and down the hall to my desk. I grabbed said degreaser and returned the way I came. As I came to the waiting area, one voice in my head said, “Why not grab a few sandwiches for your mom?”

Then the other voice in my head said, "She won’t eat those sandwiches, she’s watching her cholesterol."

Then I said to myself, heck, I’ll take a few for me, those tuna fish sandwiches were the bomb!

Aware that my co-worker was still waiting, I quickly found a chinette saucer, grabbed three of the prettily cubed tooth picked sandwiches, wrapped them in cellophane and darted out of the building.

***

Seated midway point on the bus, my head was reeling with sleep, but aware that sitting in an empty bus with my head lolling to one side as I drooled or snored would not be cute. So I mentally pried my eyelids open and tried to appear alert. Then one voice in my head said, “You’ve your Bible with you; why not continue listening to the tape you began a week ago?"

"Nah."

"Then why not read The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People?"

"Nah."

Then the other voice said, "You’ve got sandwiches, why not eat one?"

"On the bus?"

"The driver likes you, he won’t care."

So with one eye on the driver and the other on the bag in my lap, I retrieved one of the sandwiches and began chewing.

Three quarters of the sandwich was gone when my peripheral vision caught a moving shadow outside my window. I turned my head fully to identify the shadow. It turned out to be a strapping black man. He wore a black shirt and black pants and appeared to be in his thirties. He was searching through the garbage bin right outside my window.

I knocked on the window to draw his attention, but he didn’t seem to hear me. To look at him, he didn’t appear to be the typical embodiment of a homeless person. There was no shopping cart full of belongings, no frayed sneakers with protruding toes—I wasn’t close enough to smell him so I knew not if the stench factor applied. He walked on past my window and out of sight. His being lost to my vision, served to galvanize me into action because I grabbed my purse, left my other bag on the bus and ran past the driver stating, "I’ll be right back" and bolted off the bus.

Upon racing off the bus, I stopped short—no jogging was necessary, he was right there; he’d just moved over a bit to phone booth and was in the middle of investigating a soda can under the phone when I timidly said to him, "Hello, are you hungry—I have some tuna fish sandwiches."

He looked at me and said, "Yes ma’am thanks."

I said, “You’re welcome” and wished to myself that I’d also had a bottle of water.

I didn’t know his story, or how he’d come to the point of searching through the garbage for a meal, but just from observing him—it appeared to have been awhile because he’d lost the furtive “is anyone looking at me” demeanor one would associate with someone searching through the garbage. His attitude wasn’t defeated—per se, just matter of fact.

I wished I could do more—and I did: I prayed for him silently as I walked away and realized had I not heeded the voice urging me to stop and pick up those sandwiches, I’d have been unprepared for the encounter and left with a coulda shoulda feeling.

As I practice improving my writing with writing prompts, so I practice improving my service by heeding God prompts.

Have you practiced heeding a God prompt lately?

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