I have a little program called “Writer's Cafe.” Among its tools for wannabe writers is one called simply “Prompt.” It spits out a writing prompt and let's you set a timer and write for however long based on that prompt. I try to do the prompt at least 15 minutes every day, especially if I can't think of anything else to write. The prompts are sometimes silly or too difficult, but they're always just a short phrase or single word. I was cruising the web today and found some ancient website devoted to writing (apparently not updated since 1995) which also had a writing prompt.
Writing prompt for today: Everyone knows the saying, “Tomorrow may never come,” but rarely do we take that thought seriously. What would you do if you seriously believed that tomorrow may not come?
That question is an interesting one, both philosophically and in practical terms, but honestly the first thing that popped into my head was reading the rest of the Far Side cartoons on my desktop calendar. I mean, if tomorrow isn't going to come, when else will I get to read them? Forget all this delayed gratification stuff.
Of course, I'd want to go visit Halcy. I want to do that anyway though, so I may just be using this exercise as an excuse. I would go home from work early, that's for sure. But again, I want to do that every day . . .
Believe it or not, I had a lot more to write when the writing prompt was simply, “purple.” I can't help but wonder why that was. Maybe it was the freedom, the sheer lack of limits. I mean “purple” could be anything. If you want to be mysterious, it could be the color of a shoe seen under a restroom stall door. If you want a tear-jerker, it could be the color of the shirt a missing child was wearing the last time he was seen. It could be the color of the dress a character's grandmother was buried in or of the special dress Peggy Sue bought for the prom. You could have a character whose name was Lavender or one who had a fondness for eating grapes. The possibilities are so endless that after the first fifteen minutes, I was tempted to reset the timer and start again.
But all this “what would you do if you won the lottery” or “if the world was ending tomorrow . . . “; that I can not do. Maybe it's too personal. I heard somewhere that the difference between nonfiction and fiction is that nonfiction is meant to relay the facts while fiction, really good fiction anyway, tells the truth.
Or maybe I really would read the Far Side cartoons and call it a day. I really don't want to know what I would do if I knew it was the last day of my life. I'm hoping that day won't come for a very long time and by the time it does I'll be old and tired enough to be wondering what took it so long.