A Picture is Worth 550-some Words: Results of A Creative Prompt

I’m so excited. This Saturday is my chance to actually meet you. And your chance to come down to the Racine Arts Council to meet the creator of this week’s inspirational prompt piece, Eric R. Peterson. Eric and all the artists involved in the Vital Arts show will be here at 409 Sixth Street in just a few days on Saturday, the 28th of April between 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. discussing their work. Current and past Writers-in-Residence will also be on site from 11:00 to 1:00 to answer your questions, play with words, and meet the public. Please join us!

In the meantime and as promised, here is the fruit of my work using a section of Peterson’s Dark Drawing–the close-up of the Mickey Mouse thank you card you see here–as an inspirational prompt. If you haven’t already, please email your pieces to me at writerinresidence@racineartscouncil.org . Remember, they don’t have to be complete works–mine isn’t!–and that I look forward to hearing from more of you! Here–in italics so you know where it ends–is what Dark Drawing inspired in me so far:

I lay on my bed, tears streaming down my face. Knowing it was gross–and totally not caring–I pulled the sheet out from it’s neatly tucked hospital corner and blew my nose into it. I wiped my cheeks and pulled myself up, hugging my knees. I was sick of crying. Done. Sick of being sad about this. She wasn’t worth it anyway.

I was surprised to feel anger tightening my jaw. What was wrong with me, all over the place emotionally like this? I tried not to grit my teeth, knowing that it would really hurt later. I took a deep breath and stared out the window at the knotty oaks framing the driveway. When that didn’t help calm me, I found my eyes wandering to points closer. The intricate glass knob on my closet door. The purple Converse shoes my mother had been right about (They were too heavy for my skinny ankles; I did wear them only once). Up to my bulletin board. Thank you. Sure, Elayna. Thank you. Thanks a whole lot. I thought to myself.

I considered tearing the card off my bulletin board and ripping it to shreds, but I was afraid it would ruin the layout and color scheme of the whole collage. I’d been making it for almost as long as she and I had been friends. The notes, candy wrappers, and magazine tear-outs told the story of my entire life. And as I studied it, I realized she pretty much was my whole life. Which pissed me off even more. I jumped up from the bed, grabbed the board in both hands, lifted it off its hangar, and threw it in the hallway. Then I slammed the door as hard as I could.  

How could she do this to me? We had been friends since third grade. Now, she was my betrayer, my very own personal Judas.

“Ashley.” I heard footsteps on the stairs. “Ashley.” It was my mother. I heard her pick up the bulletin board, heard a set of plastic beads slide to the floor. Elayna had brought them home from a trip to Dallas. She was always going somewhere or other with her parents. A business trip to Atlanta. A vacation in Portland. We had always said we would go see the Cowboys together. Not so much for the game, but for the excitement of being in the–“Ashley!” Mom was standing right outside my bedroom door. I could tell from the strained edge to her voice that she was worried. I rose from the bed, shuffled to the door, and opened it just a crack. “Ashley, your phone.”  She poked it through the crack, brow furrowed. It was that look she got more often lately. The look that always signaled she was just a few days from telling me, “I’ve made an appointment for you with Dr. Morgan.” How was that supposed to help? It just brought on more guilt. And that was the last thing I needed.

Dr. Morgan is my shrink and a total waste of time and money. How is he supposed to help me? We spend most of our appointments in silence or with him asking questions I don’t have the answers to, and even if I did, I wouldn’t want to talk about them out loud. It wouldn’t…I don’t know. It wouldn’t be right somehow.

Well! That’s “time!” and the end of what the prompt inspired in me over the last little bit here. I hope you were able to finds something to inspire you in Dark Drawing as well. I think my time was extremely productive! I have a few characters, one of them with a conflict whose origins are yet unknown, even to me, as well as a whole lot of curiosity in my head about what’s going on between Ashley and Elayna.

I also don’t know if this short story–at least what I think is a short story!–will go anywhere or become anything, but even if it doesn’t that’s ok. Here’s why: in addition to bringing me characters and curiosity, this exercise has brought me excitement about sharing with you, deep curiosity about what’s next, and a few more hours of solid practice under my belt. So even if this story ends up going nowhere, the practice alone was rewarding, confidence-building–and fun!

What did you come up with based on last week’s image? Did you pick a section of Dark Drawing and come up with a few lines or a few paragraphs? Did it help you feel inspired? Do you want to share your creative stuff with me in the comments or via email to writerinresidence@racineartscouncil.org? Please do! I’d love to hear from you!


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