Orion’s Belt

I wrote this in response to a NaPoWriMo (National Poetry Writing Month) daily prompt and, being a narrator more than a poet, I have always thought it would make a good scene in a story. The actual challenge we were given was to make the everyday seem poetic and keep the poetic language grounded. I like the contrast between poetic and everyday.

I look up and try to think of the mightiest word
to describe the multitude of stars in the firmament
Heaven’s own navigation lights for lost sailors to find their way home
I know I always feel safe seeing Orion’s Belt in the night sky,
still in line: Alnitak, Alnilam, Mintaka
I smile wryly at my own thoughts and shiver a bit
It will be colder tomorrow
Snow will fall soon

Zol H., 2016

WordPress Daily Prompts: Atmospheric

Writer’s block illustrated

“A dubious writer struggles to come up with a storyline, but finds that his imagination gets out of hand.” That’s the introduction to the six-minute short film “Writer’s Block” by Robby Spark.

A writer finds inspiration everywhere, right? That’s what our guy in the film hopes for. From his café table, he sees a car with a “Pirate Pizza” sign on the door and on he goes with a story about two pirates dueling on the beach. Day and night and day and night and… until he hits the Delete button. Then he is inspired by a couple in love a few tables away and starts afresh with two lovers gazing at each other and enjoying a meal underneath the starry sky. Suddenly they are attacked by ninjas. Delete. In the end, all the characters, the dueling pirates, the couple in love, the ninjas plus a dozen others, end up on the same beach and the chaos is complete.

If you ever wondered how it looks like inside the head of a writer who tries to come up with a storyline, this is it.

WordPress Daily Prompts: Dubious, Bewildered

3 a.m. and the lights are still on

If you noticed the lights in the top windows of an otherwise dark house at 3 a.m. this morning, you might have been looking at a writer’s cave where R, standing outside his childhood home, decides it’s revenge time, all on page 187. On the next page, agitated and with a black look in his eyes, he crosses the point-of-no-return line. The End.

At night, when the objective world has slunk back into its cavern and left dreamers to their own, there come inspirations and capabilities impossible at any less magical and quiet hour.
— H.P. Lovecraft

WordPress Daily Prompts: Black

A giant leap: Cracking the reading code

Do you remember the moment when you cracked the reading code? I do.

I was five when I finally figured out what the words in the books said. I remember how frustrated I had been because I knew all the letters but I couldn’t combine them into words.

One day I made an extra effort and read each letter in a story slowly, pronouncing them and trying to put them together: a-a-a l-l-l… Then, all the sudden, the door flung open, letters formed into words, words formed into stories. You know how it is when the fog lifts and you suddenly see the vast landscape around you, or when you draw back the curtains in the morning to have a first look over a new city you arrived at only the night before… that’s how it felt, looking back.

It was a life-changing moment. I became literate from one second to the next, literally. One instant I was just an ordinary earthly child, the next an explorer in a new world that opened up before me. I know exactly what Neil Armstrong must have felt the moment he put his foot on the lunar surface. A giant leap. Nothing less.

Not that I reflected on it at the time. I did not cheer, I did not even bother to tell anyone about my new-found skills. I just felt a silent satisfaction and thought, “Finally. About time.”

The first thing I read was a Donald Duck magazine. I lay flat on my back.

The sheer joy of reading! Every child has the right to experience that sensation.
— Zol H.


Imagine all the things you as a writer can do with eggs in your story. You can have the protagonist eat them for breakfast with bacon and sausages together with two Bloody Marys at a hotel in Brighton where he is attending a middle manager conference and didn’t quite manage himself the night before.

You can have a husband bring breakfast to his ill wife in bed, eggs with sunny side up the way she likes it. He can be a genuinely caring retired husband — or not, as you will let the readers know when you reveal the extra ingredients in the eggs a few pages later.

You can have a mom make pancakes to cheer up a young broken heart, a gesture they will recall years later.

Or, have an egg crack open and let the bystanders go Aww as they watch a baby dragon peep out, spewing a little fire. Of course, it might lose its cuteness and become a killer on page 92.

Personally, I would like to write a short story about an egg that won’t hatch because the inhabitant is afraid to leave his comfort zone. But hatch he must.

WordPress Daily Prompts: Egg

Immortality by proxy

For today’s prompt, proxy, I found this quote by J. Michael Straczynski:

“Like everyone else, I am going to die. But the words — the words live on for as long as there are readers to see them, audiences to hear them. It is immortality by proxy. It is not really a bad deal, all things considered.”
— J. Michael Straczynski

Not a bad deal. Not bad at all.

WordPress Daily Prompts: Proxy

A man and his cat and early winter mornings

White snow, a couple of footprints and Peter the Cat neighbor can be inspirational for a writer.

footprints_in_the_snowCAPTION: Two sets of footprints in the snow. One belongs to a man. The other, to his right, is from light cat paws. The man and his cat walk side by side the short hill up from the house. Halfway up, the cat prints stop and the man turns to the cat. Maybe he says, No, you cannot come with me, not today either. The cat turns right and disappears into the garden. The man keeps walking. His right foot seems heavier than the left one. He turns for a moment to see if the cat is still there. Then they both go, each to their day.

An every morning ritual depicted in the fresh snow on the ground.

You cannot live with a paw in each world.
— Erin Hunter, “Into the Wild”

WordPress Daily Prompts: Neighbors

It’s simmering up there

There’s a story coming, I can feel it. It’s not yet ready to be served, but it keeps simmering in my head, like a good pasta sauce. It will take the time it takes, there’s no rush. The details are not yet clear, but the story seems to involve an elderly defiant-looking man with a cane sitting outside waiting, and a woman approaching him — a little hesitantly. He wears a hat and a black suit with wide legs. She, too, has a hat and is dressed in a coat, a handbag in her hand. The scene doesn’t look very modern, it can be the 1950’s for all I know. It can be the first scene or the last. Or maybe it’s the pre-story for a story that leads up to today.

Why does she hesitate? What’s behind his defiant appearance? What will be the first words they exchange?

I’ll let it simmer for a while.

A story must simmer in its own juice for months or even years before it’s ready to serve.
— Edna Ferber

WordPress Daily Prompts: Simmer

5 a.m.? I don’t think so.

You know those people who get up at 5 a.m. to write for an hour or so? I’m not one of them.

Tried once. Big mistake.

I prefer the midnight hours. As the world slows down and goes quiet, my creative gate is opened wide and I enter.

What hath night to do with sleep?
— John Milton, “Comus”

WordPress Daily Prompts: Prefer