Day 365 – The Answering of Questions Prompt

A year ago I started this prompt blog after being challenged by my friend, the writer Valerie Laws. I had no idea of the journey that she had set me on and the things that I would learn en route. One of my favourite prompts I researched, looks at Japanese pillow books. They were a way for women at the Imperial Court of Japan to become respected by society and are wonderful historic documentaries, showing the musings, gossip and observations of the court at that time.

I started this project on the 1st July, last year with the prompt “The Questioning Mind”. The idea was inspired by my 8 year old son, having had a morning with him asking a lot of question  that mostly started with the word “Why?” It made me think of the associations between writing and questions. A questioning mind is very important to a writer. Novels and film scripts, as well as poems often start with a simple premise, such as “What could be the ultimate outcome of the US law of Double Jeopardy?”

Questions’ reason for existence are to achieve answers, without questions there would be no answers and likewise. There are websites set up that attempt to answer any question you might ask.

Writing Tasks
1 Write down a series of potential answers on to pieces of scarp paper, scrunch them up and place in a container. Aim for between 30-50.(20 minutes).
2 Then pick one randomly out of the container and write down 3 potential questions for the answer. Free write.(15-20 minutes).
3 Pick three random answers from the container and try to thinks of links. Free write. (15-20 minutes).
4 Pick an answer and then Google and free write.(15-20 minutes).

Happy Writing!

Thank you to everyone that has viewed this site, all the comments and likes and all the written responses. Thanks to Valerie Laws for the challenge. Pamphlets and stories and poems have been written in response to it. I have enjoyed my year and hope you have too!

Day 364 – The Iceman and Other Real-Life Superheroes Prompt

My penultimate prompt was given to me by 9 year old son. “Mummy you must do something about real-life superheroes.” He is really into Marvel, so I should have anticipated  this, having been to many films with this theme. I am enjoying the X-Men saga in particular. The Twilight films seem to have an element of this too, the vampire characters having particular strengths like mind control and causing extreme pain, just by looking at someone.

Albert, my son told me, I should particularly look up Iceman, a man who doesn’t seem to react to sitting for prolonged periods of time, bare fleshed on ice.

Of course the culture that supports people being extreme, maybe creating a modern day freak show, which I question.

There is also the vigilante type superhero, as portrayed in Kickass, somebody who pretends to be a superhero and fights crime. I am not sure I can ever advocate people going onto the streets and doing this, it might cause more problems, than it solves.

Writing  Tasks
You realise that you have developed a superhero power, you try to reject it. Free write.(15-20 minutes).

You have a superhero power and have been offered your own YouTube channel. Free write.(15-20 minutes).

Write a poem about the superhero power that you aspire to.(15-20 minutes).

Happy Writing!

Day 363 – Optography- The Last Image Captured Prompt

In the late 19th and early 20th century there was a widely held opinion, that the last image that somebody had viewed before they died was held in the retina and that in murder cases,the victim would retain the image of their attacker.

Optography was used as evidence, or in attempts to trace assailants in a few notable cases. It is believed that the process was used on Mary Jane Kelly, in an attempt to capture Jack the Ripper. In 1924 optography was submitted as evidence in the case of  Fritz Angerstein, who had been charged with killing 8 members of his family and household staff. Optograms were taken from two of his victims including the gardener who was killed with an axe. Professor Doehne of the University of Cologne obtained photographic evidence of Angerstein and the axe used in the crime, which were used to convict the murderer.

Wilhelm Kühne in 1878 managed to extract the image bellow from the retina of a rabbit, that was facing a window when it died.

Dead Men’s Eyes: A History of Optography

In 1975 Evangelos Alexandridis replicated Kühne’s findings, retrieving images from the retinas of rabbits.original (1)
Writing Tasks
In the future we have worked out a way of developing images on the retina. Free write.(15-20 minutes).

Write a poem about images on the eye.(15-20 minutes).

Happy writing!

Day 362 – The Princess Caraboo and Other Impostors Prompt

Impostors are people who impersonate other people, sometimes by means of a disguise, maybe for monetary gain or social status, often for police work or espionage.

In 1817 a cobbler found an apparently lost looking girl dressed in an attire from somewhere in Southern Asia, who could only communicate in an eligible language. She was put in a poor house and identified a pineapple with the french word ananas. She  claimed to be Princess Caraboo, from the island of Javasu, an island in the Indian Ocean. She said she had been captured by pirates and had somehow made her escape in the Bristol Chanel. She managed to fool a lot of people and made profit from her lies, being eventually recognised as a servant girl from Devon.

Martin Guerre disappeared from his comfortably off farming household in  Artigat in the Pyrenees, after being accused of stealing grain from his father, leaving his wife and son behind. Three years later he returned, all seemed well until people realised he was an impostor who had convinced Guerre’s whole family that he was Martin. The impostor had styled himself convincingly on the farmer and his wife Bertrande was totally sure it was her husband. Guerre’s mother and step-father were not so sure and eventually convinced Bertrande to notify the authorities. Then found out he was indeed an impostor, named, Arnaud du Tilh.

Image is taken from the film the Princess of Caraboo.
Writing Tasks
After being absent for three years your partner returns, you start to suspect that they might not be who they say they are.(15-20 minutes).

You are a spy and have been asked to become an impostor.(15-20 minutes).

Write a poem about being worried you are an impostor. minutes).

Happy Writing!

Day 361 – The Churning of the Ocean of Milk Prompt

In Hindu mythology the ocean of milk is churned by demi-gods and demons, who used the mountain Mandara as the rod and the serpent as a cord. Herbs were added, Lord Vishnu helped as the task was so difficult.

The first product of the churning produced a deadly poison((halahala), which only Shiva could swallow, after he swallow his neck turns blue. Other things that emerged from the ocean of milk included, Kamadhenu(the wish fulfilling cow), Kaustubhamani(a rare diamond) and Kalpavriksha(wish fulfilling tree).

Finally, after a lot of churning  Dhanvantar arrived, young and powerful.”As he emerged, he was holding a conch, leeches, healing herbs, a chakra (one of the divine weapons of Lord Vishnu’s), and the long sought pot of ambrosia, for which he is also called Sudha Pani (“carrying nectar”). The asuras, greedy after all things, realized right away that the container was full of nectar and snatched it from him.”

“At the time of the churning, Lord Vishnu foretold that Lord Dhanvantari would appear again in the world to teach men the science of Ayurveda. And so he did, after Lord Indra, seeing humanity so afflicted by pain and disease, pleaded with Lord Dhanvantari to descend into the material world and teach Ayurveda to the human race.”

Ayurveda is still practised today.

Writing Tasks
You find a wish fulfilling cow. Free write(15-20 minutes).

You reach a body of water and grab a stick and churn it and something appears. Free write.(15-20 minutes).

Let someone massage you gently on the shoulders. Then free write.(15-20 minutes).

Write a poem about churning the ocean of milk.(15-20 minutes).

Happy Writing!

Day 360 – Beware of Imitations – The Wasabi Prompt

Wasabi is a plant that has become, in non Japanese culture synonymous with the taste of Japan.However outside Japan it is very hard to cultivate and what we think of as wasabi, is actually usually dyed horseradish.

Like watercress, wasabi likes to grow near riverbeds, but is part of the brassicaceae family, like cabbages and mustard. Like mustard it has a pungent taste attacking the nostrils, rather than the tongue. It’s cultivation is very difficult, although is starting to be cultivated outside of Japan, because of it’s crop price.

Another reason why you are unlikely to get real wasabi, is because the root loses it’s flavour, 15 minutes after grating it. So tends to be grated fresh for you in restaurants.

Horseradish: A Chemical Explosion in Your Mouth

Writing Tasks
You are living in a time when all food is falsely advertised. Free write.(15-20 minutes).

Take a spoonful of something that is hot on the tongue like chilli and free write. Then eat enough mustard or horseradish to get the nose burn. Free write.(20-25 minutes).

Write a poem where you use wasabi as an analogy for something else.(15-20 minutes).

Happy Writing!

Day 359 – The Blood Type and Personality Prompt

In Japanese culture, blood groups are very important. Many people believe what blood group you are denotes your personality and people play games trying to guess what you are and might even pick a husband/wife according to it. People may even get discriminated against because of their blood group.

“It sometimes manifests itself as prejudice and discrimination, and it seems this is so common, the Japanese now have a term for it – bura-hara, meaning blood-type harassment. There are reports of discrimination against type B and AB groups leading to children being bullied, the ending of happy relationships, and loss of job opportunities.”

Personality types according to blood type.

A Calm and methodical and tends to keep feelings hidden.

B Optimistic and gregarious and playful but don’t tend to chase dreams.

AB Creative, complicated, book worms and have unique ideas.

O Cautious, dream of getting rich but are quite steady, devoted but with a strong desire to monopolise.

Writing Tasks
You are a recruiter at a big firm, who advocate the blood group personality test and they have asked you to employ accordingly. Free write.(15-20 minutes).

You have fallen in love with somebody who is not of the right blood group. Free write.(15-20 minutes).

Write a poem about your blood group personality, or if you don’t know what blood group you are, write a poem about trying to guess.(15-20 minutes).

Happy Writing!

Day 358 – Mother Shipton and her Forgotten Prophecies

Ursula Southeil, otherwise known as Mother Shipton ( 1488 -1561) was a woman who was a contemporary of Nostradamus, who like him also foretold world events. However unlike him, who was seen as learned, was regarded as a witch and may have foretold her own death. Also as she was not taken to be a great intellect her prophecies have not recorded, but maybe as her tale was passed down, her words may have been embellished.

Her predictions included submarines, planes cars, wars and The Great Fire of London. Samuel Pepys wrote about a conversation that he overheard, of the Royal Family discussing Mother Shipton’s predictions, in the context of the fire.

Some of her prophecies appear as poems:

And now a word, in uncouth rhyme
Of what shall be in future time

Then upside down the world shall be
And gold found at the root of tree
All England’s sons that plough the land
Shall oft be seen with Book in hand
The poor shall now great wisdom know
Great houses stand in farflung vale
All covered o’er with snow and hail

A carriage without horse will go
Disaster fill the world with woe.
In London, Primrose Hill shall be
In centre hold a Bishop’s See

Around the world men’s thoughts will fly
Quick as the twinkling of an eye.
And water shall great wonders do
How strange. And yet it shall come true.

Through towering hills proud men shall ride
No horse or ass move by his side.
Beneath the water, men shall walk
Shall ride, shall sleep, shall even talk.
And in the air men shall be seen
In white and black and even green

A great man then, shall come and go
For prophecy declares it so.

In water, iron, then shall float
As easy as a wooden boat
Gold shall be seen in stream and stone
In land that is yet unknown.

And England shall admit a Jew
You think this strange, but it is true
The Jew that once was held in scorn
Shall of a Christian then be born.

A house of glass shall come to pass
In England. But Alas, alas
A war will follow with the work
Where dwells the Pagan and the Turk

These states will lock in fiercest strife
And seek to take each others life.
When North shall thus divide the south
And Eagle build in Lions mouth
Then tax and blood and cruel war
Shall come to every humble door.

Three times shall lovely sunny France
Be led to play a bloody dance
Before the people shall be free
Three tyrant rulers shall she see.

Three rulers in succession be
Each springs from different dynasty.
Then when the fiercest strife is done
England and France shall be as one.

The British olive shall next then twine
In marriage with a german vine.
Men walk beneath and over streams
Fulfilled shall be their wondrous dreams.

For in those wondrous far off days
The women shall adopt a craze
To dress like men, and trousers wear
And to cut off their locks of hair
They’ll ride astride with brazen brow
As witches do on broomstick now.

And roaring monsters with man atop
Does seem to eat the verdant crop
And men shall fly as birds do now
And give away the horse and plough.

There’ll be a sign for all to see
Be sure that it will certain be.
Then love shall die and marriage cease
And nations wane as babes decrease

And wives shall fondle cats and dogs
And men live much the same as hogs.

In nineteen hundred and twenty six
Build houses light of straw and sticks.
For then shall mighty wars be planned
And fire and sword shall sweep the land.

When pictures seem alive with movements free
When boats like fishes swim beneath the sea,
When men like birds shall scour the sky
Then half the world, deep drenched in blood shall die.

For those who live the century through
In fear and trembling this shall do.
Flee to the mountains and the dens
To bog and forest and wild fens.

For storms will rage and oceans roar
When Gabriel stands on sea and shore
And as he blows his wondrous horn
Old worlds die and new be born.

A fiery dragon will cross the sky
Six times before this earth shall die
Mankind will tremble and frightened be
for the sixth heralds in this prophecy.

For seven days and seven nights
Man will watch this awesome sight.
The tides will rise beyond their ken
To bite away the shores and then
The mountains will begin to roar
And earthquakes split the plain to shore.

And flooding waters, rushing in
Will flood the lands with such a din
That mankind cowers in muddy fen
And snarls about his fellow men.

He bares his teeth and fights and kills
And secrets food in secret hills
And ugly in his fear, he lies
To kill marauders, thieves and spies.

Man flees in terror from the floods
And kills, and rapes and lies in blood
And spilling blood by mankinds’ hands
Will stain and bitter many lands

And when the dragon’s tail is gone,
Man forgets, and smiles, and carries on
To apply himself – too late, too late
For mankind has earned deserved fate.

His masked smile – his false grandeur,
Will serve the Gods their anger stir.
And they will send the Dragon back
To light the sky – his tail will crack
Upon the earth and rend the earth
And man shall flee, King, Lord, and serf.

But slowly they are routed out
To seek diminishing water spout
And men will die of thirst before
The oceans rise to mount the shore.

And lands will crack and rend anew
You think it strange. It will come true.

And in some far off distant land
Some men – oh such a tiny band
Will have to leave their solid mount
And span the earth, those few to count,
Who survives this (unreadable) and then
Begin the human race again.

But not on land already there
But on ocean beds, stark, dry and bare
Not every soul on Earth will die
As the Dragons tail goes sweeping by.

Not every land on earth will sink
But these will wallow in stench and stink
Of rotting bodies of beast and man
Of vegetation crisped on land.

But the land that rises from the sea
Will be dry and clean and soft and free
Of mankinds’ dirt and therefore be
The source of man’s new dynasty.

And those that live will ever fear
The dragons tail for many year
But time erases memory
You think it strange. But it will be.

And before the race is built anew
A silver serpent comes to view
And spew out men of like unknown
To mingle with the earth now grown
Cold from its heat and these men can
Enlighten the minds of future man.

To intermingle and show them how
To live and love and thus endow
The children with the second sight.
A natural thing so that they might
Grow graceful, humble and when they do
The Golden Age will start anew.

The dragon’s tail is but a sign
For mankind’s fall and man’s decline.
And before this prophecy is done
I shall be burned at the stake, at one
My body singed and my soul set free
You think I utter blasphemy
You’re wrong. These things have come to me
This prophecy will come to be.

Writing Tasks
Take an aspect of the above poem and free write. (15-20 minutes).

Write a poem in the form of a prophecy.(15-20 minutes). 

Happy Writing!


Day 357 -The Earworm Prompt

Two days ago I made the mistake of listening to ELO’s Mr Blue Sky and now I can’t get it out of my head. Earworms Earworms are tunes that stick. Research shows that songs get triggered by association and that if you were having a stressful time when you first hear that song it is more likely to remain.

My main question now, is how can I stop the song going round and round? Scientist have found that the best way is to follow these 5 steps.

1 Identify the song

2 Find a complete version of the song.

3 Totally immerse yourself in the song. Give it all your attention, if you get distracted at this point, warning if might permanently imprint on you.

4 Engage in a mental task like doing a Sudoka. Again totally concentrate on the task.

5 Select another song that you like and that is “catchy” and play over and over again.

Writing Tasks
Listen to the song you are most likely to get hooked on and then free write. Or if you have a song going round in your head already, free write.(15-20 minutes).

Write a list of 10 songs and write 3 things they remind you of.(15-20 minutes).

Earworms are actually real worms. Free write.(15-20 minutes).

Write a poem about a song that is stuck in your head.(15-20 minutes).

Happy Writing!


Day 356 – The Brought Back to Life Prompt

If you have no heartbeat, no brain activity and are 10C, you are dead aren’t you? Not according to Dr Rhee of the university of Arizona. With a radical technique he has brought animals back to life. He drains all the blood, fixes the injury then cools it to more than 20c bellow the normal temperature. The blood is then pumped back through the veins and the body is warmed up. According to Rhee there is an immediate effect, the skin appears pink and at 30C, the heart starts beating again.http://www.

Scientists are preparing to undergo research into restarting brain dead patient’s central nervous systems, by using a combination of procedures, including injecting brain stems and a mixture of peptides, “as well as deploying lasers and nerve stimulation techniques which have been shown to bring patients out of comas.”

Writing Tasks
You have been brought back to life, it’s not the same as before. Free write.(15-20 minutes).

There is a new class of people. Those who should be dead. Free write.(15-20 minutes).

Write a poem about the concept of resurrection.(15-20 minutes).

Happy Writing!