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A Writing Challenge

Updated on January 5, 2019
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Linda enjoys searching for fascinating travel destinations, seeking relaxation and fun, and (of course) eating great food.


Two Years Ago

I issued a creative writing challenge to my friends on Hub Pages. The responses received were each unique and thoughtful (just as I knew they would be). You, my friends, never let me down.

The chilly weather that prompted me to my personal thoughts of Autumn is here once again. In those two-plus years I have become acquainted with even more of you on HP, and so I am re-issuing this article, hoping that more of you will give this "creative writing" thing a whirl.

If you know me, you will recognize that this is not my genre. I write non-fiction articles on food and food history, so sharing poetic thoughts about the seasons is definitely a step outside of my comfort zone. What about you? Are you willing to give this a try? You just might surprise yourself at what you can accomplish...if you try.

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 in 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 | 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 cyclamens that dare raise their heads, knowing that soon the flowers of summer will wither and fade, and only they 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 Linda Lum


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