A Writing Challenge

My height doesn't define my skill set. To be a great quarterback, you have to have great leadership, great attention to detail and a relentless competitive nature - and I try to bring that on a daily basis.

— Russell Wilson (or perhaps Yoda?)

Before We Begin

Within these two quotations are the sum of my existence.

  1. Yes, I am short in stature, but
  2. perhaps because of that, I am also very competitive by nature. Not competing with others, but against myself. Human nature makes each of us our own most harsh critics, and in the words of Shakespeare, “aye, there’s the rub.”

I strive to be the best I can be in all that I do. When I cook, I believe I can rival the best of the Iron Chefs. I would like to think that my garden could (and should) be featured in Better Homes and Gardens. My quilting is precise—all of the stitches are applied by hand—small, straight, and equidistant. And, I love to write.

I love language. My mother-tongue is English, perhaps one of the more difficult languages to learn because it has no strict rules. (So many of the words that are deemed “English” are actually borrowed and/or bastardized from other tongues.) I love the process of finding, of all the many possibilities, the absolute choice word to describe a thought or sensory perception. I love how authors can paint a picture with their words.

For example, when you read these words by Charles Dickens, can you not see Mr. Scrooge?

"Oh! but he was a tight-fisted hand at the grindstone, Scrooge! a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous old sinner! Hard and sharp as a flint, from which no steel had ever struck out generous fire; secret and self-contained, and solitary as an oyster." - Charles Dickens, "A Christmas Carol"

There have been numerous writing challenges on Hubs pages, but recently, not so many. I am feeling that it is time for me to jump into the deep end of the pool, put on my big-girl boots, ride high in the saddle (….ok, are those enough metaphors?) and present a Writing Challenge to my Hub friends.

You don’t have to participate. Do it…don’t do it….your choice!

In the words of my friend billybuc “What I do believe in, and what I think we can never get enough of as writers, are exercises that force us out of our comfort zones so that we can grow in our craft, and that’s why I’m adding another challenge to the growing number. I want you to continue to grow.”

So I hope you will jump into the deep end of the pool with me and take on this challenge.

The Challenge

Your prompt is this photograph of a country road. Perhaps you have walked this path many times; do the colors, sights, and sounds of the autumn woods bring you peace and contentment? Or, is this a place you have never been before; what lies beyond the bend in the road?

I think that’s all you’ll need to get started. Let your imagination take you down the path, and start writing.

Here's My Story

Let me just do a few paragraphs for inspiration, and then I’ll get out of your way. I don’t think I will attain the magic number of 1,250 words on this article, but I will do what is right for me.

“The crickets felt it was their duty to warn everybody that summertime cannot last for ever. Even on the most beautiful days in the whole year - the days when summer is changing into autumn - the crickets spread the rumour of sadness and change.”

― E.B. White, Charlotte's Web

Cyclamen
Cyclamen | Source

There is a melancholy that accompanies autumn; not a profound weeping or heart-wrenching anguish. It is something more delicate and finespun, like a deep sigh of resignation, of accepting loss. For some, the colors of autumn are a reward, a resplendent triumph over the stifling heat of summer. But, not for me.

The sky blazes with bronze oak leaves and shimmering red vine maples. Gentle pink and white cyclamens awaken from their slumber on the nature trails and the forest floors. Formal landscapes and garden shops boast with asters and chrysanthemums. But on my path, it is the cyclamen that dare raise their heads, knowing that soon the flowers of summer will wither and fade, and only the cyclamens will remain.

In the morning, the familiar dew on the grass has been replaced by a light mist that shrouds our existence. Morning sunlight has a softer, hazy glow; the afternoon sun is still warm, but much lower in the sky.

Autumn is not one distinct aroma, but an interweave of many scents that tell me the next season is approaching. Apples are ripe on the trees. Low-hanging fruit has already been snatched by hungry deer; they leave half-eaten fruit on the lawn. Fading foliage wilts and falls to the ground. A slightly sour, but not unpleasant aroma comes from the leaves composting and returning back to the soil.

All of these sensory touches possess a subtle beauty, but my heart does not gladden as it does in April; for all their splendor, these sights and sounds point to a world that is dying. How is it that as leaves perish, they experience a re-birth, the Phoenix rising from the embers? This is not triumph—it is decay, a winding-down towards death.

And that is the melancholy, the subtext. This last burst of glory occurs only because the end is not far; the end comes to all living things, including you and me. In the colors of autumn we see our own mortality, and a beauty mixed with sadness that is never far away.

The Rules

The rules are that “there are no rules.” You can write a short story, a poem, or try your hand at free-flow verse. Write whatever you feel like writing. Let the picture be your own personal Muse.

The Reward

Fame? Fortune? No, but you will get practice at writing and improving your craft. And you’ll get my respect and thanks!

Bill, Vespa, Flourish, Audrey, Venkatachari, I look forward to hearing from you.

© 2015 Carb Diva

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28 comments

Jodah profile image

Jodah 18 months ago from Queensland Australia

My pleasure Carb Diva. Thanks for the challenge.


Carb Diva profile image

Carb Diva 18 months ago Author

Jodah, all of the responses I have read to my challenge have been wonderful, imaginative, inspiring. But this one, though short, was the one that moved me to tears.

I am so glad that you did not respond to this challenge until the time was right. You found the perfect words. You have touched me, and all I can say is "thank you" from the bottom of my heart.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 18 months ago from Queensland Australia

Hi Carb Diva. I have finally completed my response to the challenge. it is called "When Autumn Comes Around Each Year."

http://hubpages.com/literature/When-Autumn-Comes-A...


Carb Diva profile image

Carb Diva 18 months ago Author

Ruchira - Thank you for joining the challenge. You have presented yet another interesting interpretation of the photo.


Ruchira profile image

Ruchira 18 months ago from United States


Carb Diva profile image

Carb Diva 18 months ago Author

Jodah - Don't rush the Muse. She will move you when the time is right.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 18 months ago from Queensland Australia

Hi again Carb Deva, the responses to this challenge so far have been wonderful. I sat down with your beautiful picture to try and write a response and couldn't come up with even one line. I felt drawn/compelled or something to write another hub first. I feel the subject was important and I had to address it. Now that hub is completed and published I will try to get back to this challenge and just see if my muse is with me.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 18 months ago from The Caribbean

Carb Diva, thank you for your story and for the challenge. I have answered it in "Viewpoint by Trees on a Country Road.


Carb Diva profile image

Carb Diva 18 months ago Author

Annart - I look forward to reading your contribution.


annart profile image

annart 18 months ago from SW England

Have published my response to your challenge; it's called 'Golden Days'.

Thanks for the opportunity to turn my mind to something different!

Ann


Carb Diva profile image

Carb Diva 18 months ago Author

Annart - I am so glad to hear that you are taking on the challenge. I really look forward to your contribution.


annart profile image

annart 19 months ago from SW England

I came to this page via Bill's response. I love a challenge (have set a couple myself) so I'm working on a hub for this one.

The photo is beautiful and I love Autumn (and Spring, well, all seasons really!). I have a few ideas burgeoning in my mind.

Thanks for setting us something else to think about.

Ann


Carb Diva profile image

Carb Diva 19 months ago Author

Suzie - Thank you for your very kind words. I look forward to your contribution. I know it will be wonderful.


Suzie HQ profile image

Suzie HQ 19 months ago from Dublin, Ireland

What a beautifully written piece, so glad I read my friend Bill's. Your photo is stunning and your interpretation so descriptive. Thanks for the challenge and if I can I will try and do it justice as you and Bill have.


Carb Diva profile image

Carb Diva 19 months ago Author

Ruchira - Thank you. I look forward to your contribution.


Ruchira profile image

Ruchira 19 months ago from United States

Hi Linda,

Came here after reading Bill's fantastic take on your prompt.

Going to paste in my link of my contribution soon :)

xoxo


Carb Diva profile image

Carb Diva 19 months ago Author

Homeplace Series - So glad you found me. I'm glad you liked it. I LOVE Bill's writing. This was a bit of a stretch for me--I'm mostly talking about food. But I also dabble in travel, my faith, my kitties, and occasionally (as in here) trying to spread my wings in creative writing.


Carb Diva profile image

Carb Diva 19 months ago Author

Jodah, I am happy that you found this (and me). I admire Bill so very much--his words are inspirational, absolutely golden. I look forward to your response to the challenge.


Carb Diva profile image

Carb Diva 19 months ago Author

Venkatachari - I saw your hub and posted my response there. I love what you did this this idea, and appreciate the knowledge that you provided. Thank you for your friendship and support.


Homeplace Series profile image

Homeplace Series 19 months ago from Hollister, MO

Thanks for the challenge. I too got here via Bill Holland's response. Keep them coming. What fun! ;-)


Jodah profile image

Jodah 19 months ago from Queensland Australia

Hi Carb Diva, I saw this challenge through Bill's wonderful response. Time and poor Internet connection allowing I will endeavour to write a response a well. Loved your example and the photo is beautiful.


Venkatachari M profile image

Venkatachari M 19 months ago from Hyderabad, India

I have done my attempt and just published my reply at this link:

http://hubpages.com/education/Dont-be-surprised-if...


Carb Diva profile image

Carb Diva 19 months ago Author

Flourish, I was hoping to hear from you. Looking forward to those sparks. Thank you.


Carb Diva profile image

Carb Diva 19 months ago Author

Venkatachari - I am so happy that you responded. I look forward to reading your reply to the challenge. Thank you for your kind words and support.


FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 19 months ago from USA

Your beautiful description of autumn has prompted a bit of an idea. I shall ponder and see if the spark lights a fire!


Venkatachari M profile image

Venkatachari M 19 months ago from Hyderabad, India

Oh, Carb! You included my name also in your short list of invitations to meet the challenge. I should try to respect your expectations. I will try. But may take much time to come up.

Your challenge is great and your writing style is also beautiful. You have presented it very inspiringly. Voted up and beautiful.


Carb Diva profile image

Carb Diva 19 months ago Author

Oh Bill, I wish I could say that I am sorry to add to your "to-do" list. I feel a "wee-bit" guilty, but not enough to excuse you from this challenge. Take the weekend off my friend. I look forward to seeing something from you next week.

And thank you for your kind words. (However, I'm not sure that it was the first paragraph that you liked, or the quote from Russell Wilson, LOL).


billybuc profile image

billybuc 19 months ago from Olympia, WA

The first paragraph of your story is exquisite. The rest ain't bad, either. :)

Oh Linda, do you have any idea how busy I am? LOL And you know I can't ignore a challenge, which means this is cruel and unusual punishment by you. Thanks a lot, friend.

I'll get to it next week and not a minute sooner. In fact, I'm penciling it in right now for next Wednesday.

Great challenge but then all challenges are great. :)

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