Right in Front of Your Nose

When my oldest daughter was in 6th grade, I taught creative writing to her class. This was my volunteer project for the school year. One day, I asked the students to spend some time outdoors over the next couple of days choosing objects they could compare to something else, creating metaphors or similes, and then use one of these in a writing project. I fully intended to do the exercise along with them…but somehow, it didn’t happen. With half an hour to go before the class was to start, I found myself in a school study room staring back and forth between a blank, white wall, and a blank, white sheet of paper, trying to come up with a metaphor-laden poem.

And I did – by just looking at what was right in front of my nose. The poem was later published in Cicada for Teens (under my then-pen name, B. Jeppersen Neff), and they paid me real money for it. Here it is:


My paper was
       a field
of trackless snow.
It told no story
       of fox chasing rabbits
       or of birds
          pecking desolately
for scant winter food.
       but I wrote and
          spring burst through and
             my field is a cornucopia
              filled with color
                  and wild intrigue.


For all you writers out there, and anyone else who would like to play: each Tuesday from here on, in addition to anything else I might post for that day, I’ll provide a writing prompt. I’ve spent many years reading books on writing, and have a mini-library of them. Some of  those are prompt books. And, my writer friends have exposed me to some of the prompts they use to trick their brains into creativity. Some of the blogs out there in the blogosphere have exposed me to still more. And I have a few of my own ideas….

You can use the prompts to write in any form you prefer – fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction –  and any genre. Post the products of your efforts to your blog, or if you don’t have a blog, to a note on your Facebook page. Then provide the link in a comment here. I’d like to see everyone commit to reading AT LEAST the link in the comment before theirs – and if you’re the first, read the link in the LAST comment posted. At least. If you don’t have a comment to make on that piece of writing, read on until you’ve read one that “resonates” with you, and on which you can write a comment. This way, everyone at least gets a reading, and many people get written comments.

A modified form of the golden rule applies here: MOST of us aren’t masochistic, and would not want others to be cruel to us, so be kind. And this is not a “you’ve gotta be cruel to be kind” situation, believe me. Sweet and sour together works (if the sour is mixed in gently), but writers’ hearts are broken very easily, so if you can’t say NOTHIN’ nice, don’t say anything at all. Please. And yes, I realize that this paragraph contains an incredible mix of pop-culture references.

Further, since this is a “kindness rules” sort of game, you don’t have to be a “Writer,” capital W, to play. Even if you normally just consider yourself a “reader,” please contribute your own writing as you see fit, read responses to the prompts, and comment on  those.

I’ll post my response to the prompt by Friday, also. And if there are a lot of responses to this prompt, I’ll read at least a random sample and like you, comment on any that resonate with me.


You’ve already had some foreshadowing of your prompt for today:

Close your eyes. Spin around so that you’re facing the opposite direction from your computer. Open your eyes. What’s right in front of your nose?

Create a metaphor/simile based on what you see. Create a poem or piece of prose around this.

Because this is a very busy week for me – my sister and her little ones are coming to visit tomorrow through Saturday, and I want to spend my time with them, not on the  computer – the poem above is my “response” for this week. I know, I’m cheating. I’ll start being original with my responses next week!