Writing Prompt: Where the heart is…

I’ve decided to finally get my UK citizenship. After over a decade of calling the UK home, it feels like it’s time. However, there is nothing that is going to change the fact that I’ll always be a California girl. I’ve always been torn between my two countries. When I was in California recently, I was reminded of the beauty of the coast and the comfort of the sun on my face. People were friendly and I was surrounded by my family. However, the whole time I was also thinking of my friends in London and in Edinburgh. I wanted to share what was around me with them and I knew that if I ever went back to the US permanently, I’d be leaving behind a lifetime of friends and memories. Likewise, when I got home to Edinburgh, I immediately missed the sun and the sea, my family and the allure of a possibilities of LA. I guess the grass is always greener and as long as I love people in all of these places, I’ll always have several homes. I guess the truth is that I’ll never be completely satisfied. There will always be things and people that I love in California, England and Scotland; and as I explore the rest of the world, I’m sure I’ll add to the list.

So, where do you call home and what are the things you love about it? Write about that.

Writing Prompt: Secret Recipe

To make Albondigas Soup, you start with all of your ingredients around you on the counter. The beef, the rice, the sliced and diced vegetables and of course, your herbs and other condiments. (I like to add some diced red chillies) I was squeamish when my mother stood there mixing the minced beef, rice and eggs in a bowl, but I admired the way she was able to create perfect little meatballs by rolling the mixture in her palms. She chatted away as she worked and I listened and watched her hands.

Today, I cleaned the kitchen and set to work to create the perfect surroundings. First, I placed two vases of cut flowers on the table. One was a dozen roses of yellow tipped with bronze red. The other was a huge bundle of yellow chrysanthemums. Next, I cleared the window sill and there, I placed my new herb plants in a neat row. Parsley, coriander, basil and mint filled the kitchen with a mixture of sweet aromas from the garden.  Finally, I cleared the counter and began my work.

Once the carrots, onions, courgettes, potatoes and garlic were sliced, I set to work on the meatballs. When everything was ready, I poured everything into the boiling stock and with a pinch of salt and a handful of mint from the window garden, I placed the lid on the soup and let it to simmer.

When my mother taught me to cook, it was by trial and observation. We never wrote anything down, but relied on our sense of taste and instincts to get it right. It’s the only way I know how to cook today. I think the secret to so many things is trial and error. There is no perfect instruction manual or guide book to cooking. You can read a recipe and follow instructions, but it’s only by playing about with what’s in front of you and trying again when you screw it up that you can improve on it. The same could be said about writing (and life).

Write about trial and error, whether it’s cooking, writing, riding a bike or anything else you’ve experienced.

Writing Prompt: Sick Puppy

For the past four days I have scarcely left my room. I’ve been dropping weight and although I’m liking the way my clothes are fitting a bit better, I don’t like the general lack of energy or inspiration beyond channel surfing and petting my cat. So, when you’re feeling under the weather and a bit sorry for yourself, how do you find inspiration to write?

I find that shopping on Amazon and iTunes helps a treat. It’s not the act of buying anything, but rather the appreciation of other people’s work out there as well as reading about new things from reviews and the recommendations of others. Even when you’re feeling poorly, there is still a way to appreciate creativity. Next time you feel rough, read reviews, watch videos and listen to new music. It not only takes your mind off the sick sorry feeling you may have, it may give you something to write about when you’re back on your feet again. Chin up.

Writing Prompt: Shhh….

In an age where there is a constant stream of noise coming at you from every direction, it’s hard to find yourself sitting in total silence, away from the buzz of traffic or the TV, music or people walking by. In my own house, I have got into the habit of always having some noise in the background. The TV is almost always on. The Blackberry is at my side blinking angrily at me the minute a new text or email is in. (which is every few minutes).

I find myself sitting at the kitchen table in my mother’s house. The dogs are quiet. Everyone is still asleep. The sun is creeping up and I can tell it is going to be a beautiful day. What really strikes me is the total lack of noise. I can hear the faint twitter of birdsong in the garden and my own heart pounding in my ears, usually muffled by the constant interruption of technology.

Do you ever make time to just sit quietly and write? I confess, I rarely devote my pure attention to just the sound of my own typing. Better still, have you ever just spent some time out of your day just sitting quietly and thinking? No noise, no distractions, just the calm conversation that goes on inside your own head. It’s quite peaceful actually.

Next time you’re writing, shut everything else out. No family, no phone calls, no music no TV. Put a big “DO NOT DISTURB” sign up to the rest of the word and just write.

Here some things to write about:

1. Think of the time hen you were most peaceful. What were you doing?

2. Write a story about someone who finds themselves totally alone with no contact with any other living thing for a year. What do they do with their time?

3. Write a small scene where two children have taken a vow of silence. There’s something big at stake. What happens if one of them cracks first?

Have fun. Shhh…

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