Welcome to the September 15th, 2015 edition of the NWW Photo Prompt!
The New West Writers Photo Prompt is a twice-monthly challenge for writers of all genres. It’s easy to participate — and we encourage everyone to do so. Just spend a moment with the image above and write whatever comes to mind. A couple of lines, or a couple thousand words. Prose, non-fiction, poetry, even a six word story, if you like.
There are no winners (we’re all writers sharing our words) and no rules. Well, one — be respectful with your words.
You can announce your post with a link in a comment below, or if you link to this page from your post, we’ll publish the trackback link in the comment section of this page. Add an “nww photo prompt” tag to your post and we’ll also provide a link to your response in the next challenge. This post outlines these few simple steps.
To get you going, one of our writing group’s members will have the first go at the prompt. Base your post on theirs or go a completely different way.
In the beginning
I traveled to alien places
Where I learned a lot
About the world
Until I realized
I was the alien
And then I began to learn
What’s not me
About the photograph:
In 1998 I bicycled 6,000 kilometers across China. In many ways, China is arguably the most alien place I’ve travelled to.
At least, that’s what I thought, until I reached Xinjiang province, AKA, The Uyghur Autonomous Region.
You probably didn’t realize that the country’s population isn’t entirely Chinese. A sizeable proportion consists of what the Chinese government politely refers to as “minority nationalities”.
Xinjiang is, by far, the country’s largest province. And though it is, especially by Chinese standards, very sparsely populated, the majority population is Muslim, predominantly the Uyghur people.
This photograph was taken along a market street in Kashgar, far-western Xinjiang, just a hop-skip-and-a-steep-climb up to Pakistan over the Karakorum Highway. There’s a butcher on the right, a vegetable stand next to it, and a street food vendor standing at his smokey barbecue, likely serving lamb kebabs.
Here are the posts written in response to the September 1st NWW Photo Prompt:
Watching out the portal as we accelerated toward the speed of light, everything — every thing — began to stretch, elongate. Nearby objects, the Earth, the moon, were first. From round, to oblong, to ovular, to a long rope, to a thread, extending on and on and on and on into the infinite. And as we travelled, I am told, every star and every planet we passed was added to the array of lines which spread wider and wider apart as they approached, but lead of into an infinite unknown.
This post is a response to the NWW Photo Prompt, Dimples.
You see, I like Beethoven. I like to hear the bow of the violin cut into the string. I like to follow the phrase of the violin as it goes on and on, like a deep-rooted orgasm squeezed out into a rope of sound. I like to go out at night in a cosmopolitan city and sit in a dark auditorium watching dancers fly into each other’s arms.
~ Wallace Shawn The Fever
It’s interesting that over the years I’ve transposed the violin in this passage from Wallace Shawn’s play, The Fever to the cello. You see, I prefer the cello.
I prefer the deeper tone, the way — especially when it’s amplified, in an arena — the vibration of the string moves through my chest. It’s like a low AUM resonating beneath my sternum when sung from the diaphragm. It connects me to something. Something very deep. Something exquisitely beautiful.
Though, not so much the Beethoven. I prefer my music more modern, more contemporary, some beautiful piece of music even Beethoven could never have dreamed of.
Still… None of this deflects from what Shawn is really getting at with this passage. Its context is privilege. And the question it asks is a complex one: how did I come to deserve to have such beauty in my life, when so many in the world — the vast majority of its 7 billion souls, in fact — live in a poverty so abject and profound, it is beyond my ability to comprehend? How dare I have all this beauty? How can I expect to attend any concert of my desire when so many toil in sweatshops to make the concert t-shirt I bought for just $26? (And complained about the exorbitant cost!) None of those workers could afford that price, let alone the admission to a concert.
I may prefer the cello. But simply knowing of its existence, having the ability to attend a live music event in a multi-million dollar facility with tens of thousands of others so privileged as I… I am humbled, and chastened.
“Property is theft,” the anarchist Pierre-Joseph Proudhoun infamously said with tart insight. Shawn observes in The Fever, so too beauty is theft.
Welcome to the NWW Photo Prompt where twice a month we offer a photographic writing prompt. We publish our writing challenge on the 1st and 15th days of each month, but you can respond to any prompt, any time you like.
Participation is simple. Just:
Check out our photo; write something awesome and post it to your blog.
Display the photograph somewhere in your post.
Use “NWW Photo Prompt” in your post title, AND/OR
Add a link to our post offering the prompt you’re responding to.
Add “nww photo prompt” to your tag list, so we can find your post.
(optional) Announce your response as a comment on the NWW Photo Prompt post.
So long as you use the “nww photo prompt” tag, or post a link to your submission in a comment, we’ll add a link to your post on our next photo prompt.
Tell a story about what’s happening in the photograph
Find something in the photograph to tell a story about
Write a poem about the mood or emotion you get from the photograph
What’s the first word that comes to mind looking at the photo? Start there!
What’s the backstory?
What happens next?
Who took the photo, and why?
Continue the story we posted for the prompt.
Or change its ending!
Your written piece can be as short or long as you like, a couple lines or a couple thousand words, even a six word story. Write in any form, in any genre. Poetry, haiku, flash fiction, longreads, non-fiction, memoir… anything!
This post is a response to Ermilia Blog’s weekly Picture it & Write! challenge. The blog mistresses provide an image (this week’s is to the right). You write a very short story or poem using the image as a prompt.
OK, so this is not a very short story. In fact, it’s become a #longreads, over 1,500 words. Ooops! But, sometimes, you just gotta go with the flow of the words. ;)
Oh, and I’ve set the Workshop category, so please, critique away in your ruthlessly gentle ways! :)