Creative Prompt, 11.2.22
It was 7:30am, the train was leaving 15th street
Hi everyone —
Jerry Garcia had pie crust stuck in his beard, somebody choked on a jellyfish, and a man burned his face on a telephone call from hell — the responses to the last prompt, ‘Dinner with the Dead,' can be found here.
Speaking of dropping acid on Halloween, yesterday I shared a tip on how to carry the good vibes from one writing session to the next — you can check that out here:
Last note before the prompt — we have a Creativity Night on the books for Friday, 12/9, in Brooklyn. If you’re in the area, hope you’ll grab a ticket. This past Friday’s event was a blast.
As always, the prompt is entirely open to your interpretation — you can follow it as closely or as loosely as you want, using your creative medium of choice.
Scroll down for the prompt…
I suggest waiting until you’re ready to create — the less time to overthink it, the better…
It’s just below here, time to head into Airplane Mode…
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Questions? Comments? Feel free to drop me a line.
Until next time,
I missed the connection somewhere between birth and age 35. I was supposed to become a writer but that would’ve required all the trains to run on time and one of those trains was running late and the conductor was inebriated and the conductor was me.
You see, I was supposed to meet a professor of literature or writing or something or other and he or she was going to change my life. Things were going to click in that one lecture and I was going to follow him or her to office hours and begin talking and then he or she would invite me out for a beer and my intellectual and creative journey would have begun. We’d have stumbled out of the bar together, me off to my dorm, him or her to their beautiful off-campus house with family and dog.
Things went the other way, though. The connection was missed. I skipped that lecture and got stoned instead. I put writing off for another decade and by then it was too late, I had a different career. Writing could be a hobby but that was the ceiling.
Break the ceiling they say, but the ceiling is reinforced with alloy steel, and last time I tried to break it I ended up with a broken hand and a broken spirit and a perfectly intact ceiling. Things may have meant to be one way but now they were meant to be this way and this way was a different way because of that missed connection.
How many hours have I spent mashing at these keys without landing on a word that anybody might want to read? Too many hours, more hours than I’d be willing to spend waiting for a train that would never come, a train to the promiseland, where letters spill into words spill into pages and chapters, a train requiring a special ticket that I had no access to.
I’ve spent some time researching other ways to break through the ceiling. There are certain advanced degrees that might help and then there are the dark arts and then I could always burn through tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars and run myself into the ground trying to break through the ceiling that’s reinforced with steel that separates me from the trendy literary party on the lower east side.
Or I could break through this old writer's desk, the same one I've sat at for five years trying to find something to say that somebody might want to read while doing a job that I don’t want to do while I consider buying an axe and chopping the desk into firewood and building a fire to send my dreams up in smoke.
My desk is an offering, the least I have to offer, for a slothful life of nonwriting that I’ve led for too many years.
The desk burns and these words burn a hole through my screen and suddenly the keys are hot and there’s a smell of smoke in my building. The fire alarm has gone off and it’s time to evacuate, leave this document behind, rather, delete it, burn it, and start again tomorrow.
The sound of the train pulling out of the station as Jo reached the bottom of the litter covered staircase was the last straw. All week nothing seemed to be going right at work and she knew being late for her boss's presentation would mean another meeting with her VP on the importance of executive presence. She felt a tear starting to form in her left eye and took a deep breath in through her teeth as if it would reel that tear right back in.
She put her backpack on - both straps this time - and raced up back up the staircase. There were no yellow taxis on the street but a man with a Lyft sign shining in his mirror said he was free for a ride. Jo didn't have time to think - she jumped in the back seat and gave the man the address to her office. In the years she's lived in NYC she's been to so many shady late night parties and had questionable one-night stands she thought how bad could this be.
"My sister Mary works right by here too. Well I call her my sister, but really she's my cousin, but we grew up together - ya know?"
Jo mumbled something that sounded between "oh cool" and "no way" in response. She wasn't very interested in small talk and her brain was going back and forth between calculating the minutes until she would be considered late and what excuses she could give.
Between thoughts she looked up and realized they've gone 2 blocks past her office. She opened her mouth to speak up and caught the driver's eyes in the rear view mirror. She decided to say nothing as the car rolled to a stop at the red light. Jo grabbed her backpack and bolted out the rear passenger door, not bothering to close it behind her.
"If I hurry I can still make it" was all that was on her mind, not registering the danger she just escaped along with her fare.
"Uber for Mike?" a new passenger asked the driver. "Yup!" he said, with no apps open.
They drove on.