Short Story Photo Prompt: Thoughts of a Little Girl (my response to my own writing challenge!)

My Challenge

Sometimes we suffer from writer's block. Sometimes the ideas are so elusive that we need a little prompt, a little prod to get us going. It could be in the form of a picture, a phrase, taking the first letters of a word or an idiom, or merely using an object. Some set themselves parameters by using a place, an object and a style.... It all depends how you work best.

I issued the challenge of a photo to inspire other hubbers to push their boundaries a little, to go beyond their comfort zone, to try using different ideas, to use words to their best effect. I’ve had an amazing response, some upbeat, some sad, all of them remarkable and I’m grateful to everyone who’s contributed and to those who are in the process of doing so.

I was surprised that the majority of the responses were sad, spooky, dark. The standard of writing is high and the variety of interpretation astounding. However, I suppose my surprise at there being so few upbeat pieces was because I know the circumstances behind the image below.


Background

We were walking on the beach, as we often did, in Berrow, just outside Burnham-on-Sea, Somerset. My daughter stopped at the water’s edge and stood looking across the sea at the sunset. Her silhouette looked so dramatic.

As luck would have it, I had my camera with me, so I took a photo. I was so pleased with the photo that I had the urge to paint from it. It turned out a lot better than I expected! Just in case the painting was lost or damaged I decided to take a photo of it. So photo became painting became photo!

My daughter loved living there and still regards the area as home in many ways. That feeling of being ‘at home’, that bond with a special place, never dies.

It seems fitting for me to come up with my personal response to my own challenge.


A Photo Prompt

On Burnham Beach, Somerset
On Burnham Beach, Somerset | Source

Thoughts of a Little Girl

Peace or Turmoil

It’s so peaceful here. The sun lays a gentle path on my piece of sea, bathing it before bedtime.

This sun has etched its rays on my bedroom window a hundred times as it falls to hide behind the horizon, splashing its spectrum across the sky, palest yellow, feint blue, down through deep sulphurs to burnt reds, never the same but always mesmerising, beautiful.

This sea, that can hurl itself at the town’s defences, pound onto the beach, whip wild horses to gallop over its crests, toss boats as if they were driftwood, is mine; this piece of sea that leaves paintings in the sand, abstract pools of footsteps leading to the mud, foam shooshing back from the shallow lapping of sand.

These waters are treacherous nonetheless; they arrive unnoticed, silently stealing in, gate-crashing before guests are ready to leave, trapping vehicles on the sand, making islands where people are stranded, sometimes doomed. They fling spray across the prom, where children shriek and run to dodge the sting of its tail.


Marsh & Beach

Through the Dunes
Through the Dunes | Source
Driftwood on the Beach
Driftwood on the Beach | Source
Bridge across the Marsh
Bridge across the Marsh | Source
Town's Sea Defences
Town's Sea Defences | Source

Living by the Sea

We have to respect the sea, I know. It can support and it can destroy but I love it in all its forms. It is part of my home; I hear it, see it, smell it, every day. I walk across the dunes, run across the marsh bridge, fight the wind along the beach. The gusts snatch my breath before the air reaches my lungs.

I design sand-castles. I find driftwood, seaweed, shells. Driftwood has shapes - horses, snakes, portholes, toads, tables and arches. Shells and pebbles, like jewels when wet, dry to keep their true quality a secret. The dunes behind the beach have tough shrubs, spiky branches, bright berries for the buntings and blackbirds to devour.

Then I stop to look across this water. I stop to gaze under the soft light of sunset. That’s when I smile and sigh my content.

And the sky? you ask. Well, its vast, wide, cloud-skudding vault is a floating cloak, protecting me, enfolding me, tucking me in under the horizons.


What's out There?

As I stand here, all seems possible. That ray of light stretches out to the horizon. Where does it end? What would I see there? What could I do?

The sea draws me, lulls me, has been part of my life since I was born. Maybe I’m a bit wild at heart. Maybe I have some wanderlust to be satisfied. Maybe I just need to be next to this moving, enigmatic mass of nature.

I won’t go yet. I’m away from the noisy, dirty city and I’m comfortable here. I belong. I have family and friends. I have the fields, I have the sea, I have the sky. One day, when I’m bigger, I’ll go to see what’s out there. I’ll find out what’s over that horizon and maybe I’ll like it.

Each time we go away, usually not far, I think about going further. Each time we come home, I’m happy to see ‘Home Hill’; I know I’m not far from tumbling into my own bed.


Home Hill

aka 'Brent Knoll', a sign that we're nearly home
aka 'Brent Knoll', a sign that we're nearly home | Source

Home

That’s one thing I do know. I’ll always come home. I’ll come home to my stretch of coast, to my sea, to my sky, to my home hill. The sea might call me away, might tempt me to follow that wide stretch of sunlight to the horizon but that same sea will call me back to its water’s edge, to see its sunsets, to feel its breezes, to give me that comforting welcome of a favourite private place.


Home is Where the Heart Is

Where do you call home?

  • Where you live now?
  • Wherever you are with your partner/wife/husband?
  • Where you grew up?
  • A family home?
  • With your parents?
  • With your grandparents?
See results without voting

More by this Author


Comments 35 comments

annart profile image

annart 10 months ago from SW England Author

Thanks, John, for alerting me to that site. I'll certainly have a look at it. I know parts of, or complete, stories are 'pinched' and used and I've come across a couple before but that sounds like it's big scale.

Much appreciated.

Ann


Jodah profile image

Jodah 10 months ago from Queensland Australia

Ann, please check out this forum: http://hubpages.com/community/forum/134979/another...

It mentions a website that is scalping hubs and translating them into Spanish. I followed the instructions and searched for my name Jodah on the site and it came up with ten hubs that I had commented on or been mentioned in. I saw one that you were the author of..I am not sure it was this one...but this picture you painted is there and your comments as author are also. There may be more. I suggest you do a check of your name there.


annart profile image

annart 22 months ago from SW England Author

Thanks, Jo! Good to see you today.

I'm looking forward to reading your story and I'll link it in to the original challenge hub.

Thanks for your lovely comments too.

Ann


Jo_Goldsmith11 profile image

Jo_Goldsmith11 22 months ago

Hello Ann,

Well you have definitely inspired me! So, I wanted to let you know that because this story you shared here which by the way was just beautiful, awesome and so interesting. I decided to write a version of a story using the photo you provided. :-)

The title is called "The Lake of Hope", and after reading everything you feel about home, and what it would mean to live by the sea. I just free flowed and out came the story. Your challenge did what it was intended to do! :-) Thank you . Shared and of course Up! :-)


annart profile image

annart 2 years ago from SW England Author

manatita: Definitely a nature lover and so is my little girl here (not so little now but still a nature lover!).

Thank you for your kind words; poetic prose is something I try to do.

Thanks for the visit today. Good to see you.

Ann


manatita44 profile image

manatita44 2 years ago from london

Very beautiful Ann.

A nature lover, perhaps. Not so long ago you were in Torquay? right?

Some poetic lines in your prose and nicely mixed. Much love to you.


annart profile image

annart 2 years ago from SW England Author

Well thank you, liesl5858, for such a lovely compliment! I think it's important to encourage new writers and good writers. We're all learning every day and the support here on hubpages is wonderful. Thanks for the votes too. I'll be off to read more of yours but problems with internet mean I'm finding it difficult at the moment - I will get there!

Ann


annart profile image

annart 2 years ago from SW England Author

Thank you, Mary, for your wonderful comment. I'm so glad you liked this and I appreciate the votes; a link on your hub would be great, thanks.

Ann


liesl5858 profile image

liesl5858 2 years ago from United Kingdom

Annart, I read every word and pictured where your home is. You are a very, very good and inspiring writer and you inspired me when I first started here on Hubpages. Thank you for that. Your name stand out for me as you were one of the first writers that encouraged me to write about my niche and my work. Beautiful photos as well as a well written piece, well done voted up.


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 2 years ago from New York

Not only a great answer to your challenge but a story that comes to life with your words. I love the ocean and reading your wonderful story made me feel like I was there again. The colors, the sand, the power and majesty, all there. Simply beautiful.

Voted up, awesome, beautiful, and interesting.

When I am back home on my computer and not my iPad I will add a link on my hub.


annart profile image

annart 2 years ago from SW England Author

DDE: Thank you for your kind comment.

Ann


DDE profile image

DDE 2 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

Your words are so perfectly thought of.


annart profile image

annart 2 years ago from SW England Author

Harishprasad : Thank you for your wonderful words and for the votes. I'm so glad you like this.

Ann


Harishprasad profile image

Harishprasad 2 years ago from India

Your pen is amazing and the word strokes played by you enchant the heart beyond time. To savour such fantastic & beautiful writing is akin to be blessed. Annart, I would love to return to this wonderful hub too often. Great writing. Thank you. Voted up & shared.


annart profile image

annart 2 years ago from SW England Author

Thank you for your comment. I'm glad you enjoyed this.

I'm sorry but I don't go into other links from here, other than hubpages. Thank you.


Ardhendu Dey 2 years ago

Great job, very well written. I am expecting your kind attention on my post link once

http://www.top5life.com/top-5-best-destinations-wo...


annart profile image

annart 2 years ago from SW England Author

alwaysexploring: Thank you for such a lovely comment. I'm glad you enjoyed this. The sea is a prominent feature in both our lives.

Ann


annart profile image

annart 2 years ago from SW England Author

suzettenaples: Thanks for your comment. I'm glad the challenge kick-started you into yet more writing. That makes it all the more worthwhile for me.

I can see what you mean about the colours. Sunsets can be dramatic, peaceful, sad, so different for those who see them!

Thanks for the visit.

Ann


always exploring profile image

always exploring 2 years ago from Southern Illinois

This is beautiful Ann! The picture has new meaning for me. Your love for the sea, your daughter and home. You display an eloquence in your writing. I love it....


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 2 years ago from Taos, NM

Beautiful essay on the beach and the painting. I love how you describe the sea, so ferocious, yet at time so calm. The photos of it are beautiful. For me, it was the colors you chose for your painting that made my story a bit sad. Those colors for me bring on a sad feeling for the little girl and hence my story. But, the painting is beautiful and it is good to know the background - the little girl is your own daughter. Thanks for the challenge - I needed that to kick start my writing of another short story.


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 2 years ago from Taos, NM

Beautiful essay on the beach and the painting. I love how you describe the sea, so ferocious, yet at time so calm. The photos of it are beautiful. For me, it was the colors you chose for your painting that made my story a bit sad. Those colors for me bring on a sad feeling for the little girl and hence my story. But, the painting is beautiful and it is good to know the background - the little girl is your own daughter. Thanks for the challenge - I needed that to kick start my writing of another short story.


annart profile image

annart 2 years ago from SW England Author

Thanks, John. You made me smile!

I loved issuing this challenge and I just couldn't resist doing this. I hope I haven't biased anyone else's future contribution because it's all in the interpretation of what one sees.

Great to see you today!

Ann


annart profile image

annart 2 years ago from SW England Author

Thank you, Jo. I'm glad you liked it. 'Stunning' is a lovely word! I'm so pleased with that, I'll be smiling all day!! You're too kind.

Hope you have a great weekend.

Ann


Jodah profile image

Jodah 2 years ago from Queensland Australia

Hi Ann, you met your own challenge perfectly :) Seriously this was a delightful story and a pleasure to read. Much more uplifting then most of the responses, but then you had an insight that the rest of us didn't .. you took the photo and painted the picture, and took the photo of the painting... :) Voted up.


tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 2 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K

Ann, stunning writing, I can now see the painting with new eyes. Thank you for this.


annart profile image

annart 2 years ago from SW England Author

Thank you, Audrey, for your lovely comment. Good to see you here. There are some other upbeat responses and all contributions, dark and light, were superb. I just wanted to write my own, mainly for my 'little' girl (who's now 30+!).

Thanks again; I appreciate your visit.

Ann


annart profile image

annart 2 years ago from SW England Author

Frank: I love the words 'literature ride'. Thanks for your great comment and for your continuing support; much appreciated.

Ann


annart profile image

annart 2 years ago from SW England Author

Thanks R.Q! Glad you enjoyed the story and the photos. We spent many a day on the beach like that and she still likes to go there, now with her own children. Life comes full circle!

Hope you have a great weekend!

Ann


annart profile image

annart 2 years ago from SW England Author

Thank you, Faith, for your warm comments. The sea has always been close to my heart, as it is for my daughter it seems. I was brought up near the sea in Sussex and many of our family were in the navy so I suppose it's in the blood.

Thanks for sharing your own experiences. I'm grateful for the votes too; you are a loyal supporter and kind friend.

Ann


annart profile image

annart 2 years ago from SW England Author

Yes, bill, it's such a simple thing but makes a huge difference. If writers were only aware of that they'd be much more successful.

Thank you. You've no idea how good that makes me feel, the words 'quality writer' are the best compliment I could have. We should all craft our words well but it's so satisfying to be told that it's working!

I'm grateful to you for your continued support, bill.

Have a wonderful weekend with your lovely Bev!

Ann


brakel2 profile image

brakel2 2 years ago from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Your story is filled with descriptive words so that the reader can picture what you describe. It is not a dark story like the others. The sea is your delight. and you show your love for home and water. The character warms the heart. Great job. Blessings. Audrey


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 2 years ago from Shelton

so annart this is where the challenge began.. it fathered so many great entries.. and this one also fits the ( bill ) photo... love the literature ride it has taken me on...bless you


Romeos Quill profile image

Romeos Quill 2 years ago from Lincolnshire, England

A great take on your personal response to your own challenge Ann; it makes for a satisfying roundup now we truly know your own inspiration behind the painting of your daughter and the environs in which you were all enjoying on that notable day at Burnham Beach.

Thank you for some great photos too.

Best Wishes to you;

R.Q.


Faith Reaper profile image

Faith Reaper 2 years ago from southern USA

Such beautifully written words here, dear Ann, to describe that calm and beauty when you are there at your home. Your photo/painting/photo reminds me, too, of a sweet time when I was young and just married. My husband was in the Air Force and he was stationed down in Tampa Bay, Florida, and I would often go to the beach alone while he was off on a TDY. I just loved it. The sounds of the waves, seagulls, smells, sand, salty breeze and brilliant colors of the heavens reflecting on the water. It was a beautiful time to allow peace to envelope me on that shore.

Thank you for sharing your true story behind your photo/painting/photo.

Up ++++ tweeting, pinning and sharing


billybuc profile image

billybuc 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

You are such a good writer; a pleasure to read.

I picked up a mystery by a local writer the other day at the supermarket. There was a little display of her new book, so I picked it up and started reading the first page. Ann, eight of the first twelve sentences began with the word "she." I tried so hard to be understanding, but my goodness, where is the variety? Where is the effort? She was self-published, which at least gave me some feeling of relief that an actual publisher didn't allow that, but where was the editing?

Anyway, that's a long way to travel to tell you that you are a quality writer and it is a pure pleasure to read your well-crafted words.

bill

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