Writing prompt – folly

Solomon's Temple, Buxton by Judy Darley

I have a fondness for Victorian follies. Imagine having so much money that nothing pleases you more than to spend it on a building no one can live, work or create in? Well, possibly you could do all three, but with gaping windows and nothing to prevent gale winds whistling through, Solomon’s Temple on Grin Low Hill in Buxton would not be the ideal spot to focus on anything other than the outstanding views.

I also love the fact that this Grade II-listed, 20ft-high edifice is so blatant about it purposelessness that it’s actually defined as a folly. While some claim it was named afterSolomon’s Temple in Jerusalem, others say it replaced the ruins of a tower built by Solomon Mycock, a local farmer and landowner, and is named for him.

Other intriguing details include the fact that it sits atop of Bronze Age barrow, where several skeletons were unearthed when it was built in 1894.

When I visited, the interior was puddled with cow dung. A winding staircase leads up to the tower’s viewing platform.

Imagine being the person who commissioned this folly. What prompted their need for this hillside statement? Who did they want to impress?

Who designed it? What criteria were they attempting to meet?

Any why build it on top of a Bronze Age burial chamber?

So many directions you could rattle off in from this curious construction!

If you write or create something inspired by water, please send an email to judydarley (at) icloud.com to let me know. With your permission, I might publish it on SkyLightRain.com.

Writing prompt – mirror

Chew Magna Lake_By Judy Darley. Blue sky, white clouds and reflections in lake water.The beauty of Chew Magna Lake in Somerset is enhanced by the clouds in the sky above and reflected rather gloriously on the reservoir’s lightly rippled surface.

It’s common to see curious shapes such as cats, elephants and dragons in clouds. Imagine if that was taken a step further, and the reflections showed something more or other than what’s seen above.

Can you turn this into a diptych of a tale that tells both what there is and what could be or has been? What could this perceived view reveal about the characters who see it?

If you write or create something inspired by water, please send an email to judydarley (at) icloud.com to let me know. With your permission, I might publish it on SkyLightRain.com.

The Commonwealth Foundation seeks tales of healthy communities

Crowd on Welsh Back Bristol. Photo by Judy Darley

adda, the online magazine of the Commonwealth Foundation. is inviting writers to submit creative works of non-fiction, short fiction, short graphic fiction and poetry on the theme of healthy communities.

They ask: “What does health mean to us as individuals and as societies? How does the climate crisis impact our health? What is the relationship between health access for all and justice? How do we imagine a world with health and care at its centre? What if we never got ill? Or if we were all doctors?”

This is a fantastic writing prompt. What issues can you highlight or invent through your words?

They are interested in works that speak creatively to questions around the idea of healthy communities, which might include creative reflections on physical and mental well-being, disability justice, sexual and reproductive rights, LGBTQIA+ healthcare, the art and practice of indigenous medicine, among others.

The deadline for submissions is 4th October 2022 at 23:59 in your time zone. 

To have your work considered, you must be a Commonwealth citizen aged 18 or over.  

Submission guidelines 

Entries should follow the following guidelines:

. Creative non-fiction: 2000-5000 words 

. Short fiction: 2000-5000 words

. Short graphic fiction: finished work of 15-20 pages or potential panels of illustrations (and a rationale) which can be fully developed within a month 

. Poetry: up to 2 poems (50 lines in total).  

Entries must be original and submitted in English, although other languages can form part of the work for context.

Only one submission per writer will be considered. If you plan to submit a fiction piece to the 2023 Commonwealth Short Story Prize, you can send the same work, provided you inform them in the form.  

Previously published work, whether in print or online, in whole or in part, will not be considered. 

Up to 30 pieces will be selected by a team of readers and editors and will be published on  adda  between February and May 2023. Writers whose work is accepted for publications will be paid a  fee.

Find full details of how to submit your work here. 

Got an event, challenge, competition or call for submissions you’d like to draw attention to? Send an email to judydarley(at)iCloud(dot)com.

Writing prompt – beneath

Giant fish Bristol Harbouside_By Judy DarleyOn a sunny day strolling around Bristol Harbour, I spotted a school of vast fish shoaling and feasting on some water foliage. The gull bobbing on the surface seems to have no concerns about what could brush against their feet at any moment, or even try a nibble.

It made me think about how little we’re aware of what happens beneath our feet, or of the threats that lurk, occasionally in plain sight. Often we underestimate the things that could cause harm. Imagine if one fish in the photo above were to choose to sample ‘gull surprise’, and the carnage that could trigger! Would the gull flap into action and flee to safety? What if they realised too slowly what was happening and found themselves unable to escape?

Can you turn this idea into a tale with a feisty, defiant protagonist at its heart?

If you write or create something inspired by water, please send an email to judydarley (at) icloud.com to let me know. With your permission, I might publish it on SkyLightRain.com.

Writing prompt – unseasonal

Winter hat_Victoria Park_August_by Judy Darley

On a sunny August day as I strolled in shorts and vest, I saw this winter’s hat propped on a fallen tree in the park.

It boggled my imagination. Who was so cold in our heatwave that they walked out wearing a woolly hat? I’ve heard of snow in July, but this seems extreme!

With our weather patterns growing more erratic, might we need to start carrying not only umbrellas and sunglasses on every outing, but also thermals and ski-boots?

Was it someone’s equivalent of a beloved blanky?

Or is this festive bobble-hat dropped by someone missing a place where Christmas lasts all year?

Let your imagination run free!

If you write or create something inspired by water, please send an email to judydarley (at) icloud.com to let me know. With your permission, I might publish it on SkyLightRain.com.

Review and interview – The Stairs Are a Snowcapped Mountain

Stretching Out_JudyDarley

I’m delighted by Sarah Tinsley’s lovely review of my Reflex Press collection The Stairs Are a Snowcapped Mountain and thought-provoking accompanying interview. Thanks Sarah!

Sarah, who is a brilliant author herself, writes:

“I’m absolutely thrilled to be welcoming Judy Darley back to the blog. Last year I featured her collection Sky, Light, Rain, a themed collection that contained beautiful stories and gorgeous writing. This time, we’re talking about The Stairs Are A Snowcapped Mountain, a collection of stories that similarly revolves around the natural world and relationships, but feels a little darker at the edges.

One thing I love about Darley’s writing is the style. There are the odd turns of phrase that just lift the whole story off the page, like ‘mushroom-hued water’ from Tidal Suck and ‘Crumbs drop between us like pollen. Like rain.’ from Wild Times. (…) The way she captures the essence of these lives in sometimes very short pieces is truly astounding. Do take the time to read it, you won’t regret it.”

Sarah asked me some really interesting questions, which gave me the chance to mention some favourite characters and stories, including Hera in Self-Defence Against Yesterday, Pippa in Tunnelled, Zel in Stealing from Windowsills, and the River in Why Rivers Run to the Sea. We also talked about Stretching Out, about a grandfather’s influence on his granddaughter’s love of nature, and one of my favourite stories to read aloud.

Read the full review and interview here.

Find out more about The Stairs Are a Snowcapped Mountain and purchase here.