Writing prompt – empty

Bird feeder_Photo by Judy Darley

This bird feeder has been hanging empty from a local tree for more than a year. It feels a bit like a ‘cost of living crisis’ metaphor, or maybe just a reminder that we need to be resourceful to provide for ourselves in difficult times.

Of course, the creatures who come here and are disappointed may not be birds at all. What other hungry mouths might it attract? How could they respond to the emptiness?

Can you use this as the prompt for a dark fairytale or satirical story?

If you write or create something prompted by this idea, please let me know by emailing judydarley (at) iCloud.com. I’d love to know the creative direction you choose.

Writing prompt – path

Arnos Vale fog. Photo by Judy Darley

Sometimes the bravest thing we can do at this time of year is set off without knowing where we’re going to end up. Even on sunny days there may be obstacles ahead.

The fog at the end of this path reminds me that we can never truly be certain where our steps will lead. The best we can do is pick a direction, imagine a destination, and go forwards. There may be some re-routes or detours along the way, and perhaps even a few hazards, but one thing is sure, we’ll get to somewhere and maybe have some adventures along the way.

Can you use this as the foundation of a story or other creative work?

If you write or create something prompted by this idea, please send it to me in an email to judydarley (at) iCloud.com for possible publication on SkyLightRain.com.

Be inspired at London Literature Festival 2022

Greta Thunberg cr Kim Jakobsen To. Black and white portrait of activist Greta ThunbergFollowing a year’s hiatus, London Literature Festival hosted by the Southbank Centre is returning from 20th to 30th October 2021, with a literary programme headlined by Greta Thunberg in a world exclusive launch of The Climate Book.

Greta Thunberg’s The Climate Book features crucial climate voices including Kate Raworth, Naomi Klein and Margaret Atwood. The event, in collaboration with Penguin Live at the Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall, will be live streamed for free around the world.

Science journalist, author and broadcaster Gaia Vince reframes the climate crisis and demonstrates how migration could be the answer in an event around her new book Nomad Century. In a special live recording, BBC Radio 4’s Open Book explores how the urgency of our natural environment has shaped our fictional landscapes. Writers Jessie Greengrass and Daisy Hildyard discuss the imminent emergencies of everyday life as they launch their respective new books. The Southbank Centre’s National Poetry Library – situated in the Royal Festival Hall – hosts Earthbound Press for an evening of contemporary poetry featuring twelve critically-acclaimed poets, including Iain Sinclair, Nisha Ramayya and Eley Williams.

There’s also a free family programme celebrating the natural world and the environment, with talks and readings highlighting upcoming children’s authors.

Other highlights include events with literary greats Malorie Blackman, Abdulrazak Gurnah, Karl Ove Knausgård and George Saunders, plus well-known names Minnie Driver, Graham Norton, Rob Delaney, Jon Snow, among others.

New and emerging voices will be recognised by the prize for under-represented writers in the Creative Future Writers’ Awards Showcase 2022 on 22nd October, hosted by novelist Dorothy Koomson and poet Joelle Taylor.

On 23rd October, London Literature Festival partners with Creative Future for Writers’ Day – a day packed with talks for writers, publishers and literary professionals sharing hints, tips and initiatives.

Plus, just three days after the 2022 Booker Prize Winner is announced, they’ll join the Festival for their very first public event on 20th October.

For the full programme, visit www.southbankcentre.co.uk.

All image supplied by the Southbank Centre.

Brooklyn Book Festival celebrates literature city-wide

Brooklyn. Photo by Miltiadis Fragkidis on UnsplashBrooklyn Book Festival (BKBF) returns with a hybrid offering in 2022, with online and real world events to choose between from 25th September to 3rd October.

The Brooklyn Book Festival was launched in 2006 as a one-day event to address the need for a free, major literary event that embraced the diverse constituencies of New York City. It has since grown to include city-wide Bookend events, its flagship Festival Day with 300 authors and a Literary Marketplace with 250 independent and major publishers, and the BKBF Children’s Day that celebrates childhood reading. The Festival’s credo is “hip, smart and diverse”.

There are three elements to the festival. Throughout the Festival week, literary-themed Bookend events bring poetry, film, performances and more to all five New York City boroughs – the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens and Staten Island.

On 25th September, Virtual Festival Day welcomes authors and audiences from around the world to enjoy compelling author conversations.

On 1st October, Children’s Day celebrates childhood reading with workshops, performances, readings from popular and emerging authors, and more.

They say: “The mission of the Brooklyn Book Festival is to celebrate published literature and nurture a literary cultural community through programming that cultivates and connects readers of diverse ages and backgrounds with local, national and international authors, publishers and booksellers.”

They add: “The Brooklyn Book Festival is New York City’s largest free literary festival and connects readers with local, national and international authors and publishers.”

Authors taking part include Elif Batuman, Angeline Boulley, Joyce Carol Oates, Paisley Currah, Hernan Diaz, David Duchovny, Jennifer Egan, Kate Gavino, Keith Gessen, Ayana Gray, Mohsin Hamid, Heather Havrilesky, Sheila Heti, Marlon James, Margo Jefferson, Mariame Kaba, Meiko Kawakami, Ryan La Sala, Yiyun Lee, E. Lockart, Casey McQuiston, Ottessa Moshfegh, Meghan O’Rourke, Jess Ruliffson, Salman Rushdie, Esmeralda Santiago, Namwali Serpell, Nadia Shammus, Warsan Shire, Vladimir Sorokin, James Spooner, Ryann Stevenson, Emma Straub, Gengoroh Tagame, Olúfẹ́mi O. Táíwò, Linda Villarosa and Jacqueline Woodson. Find the full line up here.

Sign up for their newsletter to discover information on highlights as it becomes available.

Find full details here: brooklynbookfestival.org.

Photo of Brooklyn Bridge by Miltiadis Fragkidis on Unsplash.

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 – pair

Pink doors. Photo by Judy Darley

I sometimes stroll down a street where two pink doors shine out, resplendent. I find their coordination intriguing – two separate homes, two front doors, the exact shade of strawberry milkshake pink.

Do a pair of siblings live in these two homes and share a passion for pink?

Did one person paint their door and offer up their leftovers? Was their neighbour’s door so shabby, it brought down the cheeriness of their pink, so they suggested a touch of gloss?

Is this the evidence of unrequited love? Or of a marriage where they need to, and can afford to, keep their distance on occasion?

Did a guerrilla house decorator daub both doors on the same moonlit night?

Is this secretly one home with two doors? If you were to venture in, might you find an adjoining inner door?

What answer to this synchronicity of pink can you dream up and turn into a tale?

If you write or create something prompted by this idea, please send it to me in an email to judydarley (at) iCloud.com for possible publication on SkyLightRain.com.

Writing prompt – tents

Flash Festival Festival camp. Photo by Judy Darley. Shows tents among trees.I photographed these lovely tents sprouting amid trees at the Flash Fiction Festival, like a colourful crop of gigantic mushrooms. Each one sheltered a writer or two who emerged in daylight hours to chatter, attend writing workshops and imagine.

I’ve seen camps like this at music festivals slept in by revellers, at city parks occupied by people without homes, and on telly lived in by refugees. There are countless directions this prompt could take you in, from the lighthearted to the heartbreaking.

Alternatively, imagine someone coming downstairs and looking out of their kitchen window to discover a tent and interloper a la Alan Bennett’s Lady in the the Van.

Focus on one particular character and draw out the story they have to tell.

If you write or create something prompted by this idea, please send it to me in an email to judydarley (at) iCloud.com for possible publication on SkyLightRain.com.

Writing prompt – echoes

Belfast Docks_SoundYard sculpture_Judy DarleyThis sculpture is titled SoundYard and sits on Belfast docks. When you step beneath its metal tubes, motion detectors kick a mechanism into life and small cogs begin to turn, recreating the metallic sounds of the vibrant shipyards that once thrived here.

It’s an ingenious way to summon an impression of history.

Just as Marcel Proust employed the sense of taste (his famous ‘little crumb of madeleine’) to plunge into memory, can you choose a sense to evoke a moment from your own or an imagined past that will transport readers to that time?

If you write or create something prompted by this idea, please send it to me in an email to judydarley (at) iCloud.com for possible publication on SkyLightRain.com.

Writing prompt – suspense

Aeroplane wing by Judy Darley

As awful as I know the emissions are for our planet, I’ve always loved the magic of flight – something about the suspension between home and destination, land and air, and in this case day and night, hold me in their thrall.

Can you write a work of fiction prompted by that sense of between-ness? How can you make it central to your plot or character? How could it inform the tension and outcome of your tale?

You could even choose to focus on the suspension between safety and calamity. What might drive someone to leave a place? What hopes and fears might they carry with them?

If you write or create something prompted by this idea, please send it to me in an email to judydarley (at) iCloud.com for possible publication on SkyLightRain.com.

Writing prompt – folklore

Giant's Causeway by Judy Darley

I recently had the pleasure of visiting Northern Ireland and took a trip to the Giant’s Causeway. This beautiful, natural basalt sculpture is steeped in folklore about a giant named Finn MacCool, who wanted to conquer Scotland, so built a route across, only to flee home when he discovered the giants there were far bigger than himself.

When the Scottish giant came to confront Finn MacCool, Finn was taking a nap, luckily for him. His quick-thinking wife covered him with a blanket and told the Scots giant it was Finn’s baby snoozing there. The Scots giant took one look, imagined the man who could sire such a vast baby, and ran home (presumably to Staffa Rock), destroying the causeway as he scarpered.

My home city of Bristol in southwest England has a gorge apparently scooped out by a left-handed giant. I love the thought that our land is riddled with tales of giants.

Can you write a myth of your own to explain an exceptional local feature or landmark? If you need to, invent the landmark too!

If you write or create something prompted by this idea, please send it to me in an email to judydarley (at) iCloud.com for possible publication on SkyLightRain.com.

Writing prompt – envoy

Little Amal_The Man Inside_Judy Darley

Last week, Bristol enjoyed a visit from Little Amal, the 3.5 metre tall puppet of a Syrian refugee child who is walking across Europe as an envoy raising awareness of the refugee crisis.

Since July 2021 the moving sculpture made by Handspring Puppet Company has travelled over 8,000km, crossing Turkey, Greece, Italy, France, Switzerland, Germany, Belgium, the UK, the Netherlands, Poland and Ukraine to focus attention on the urgent needs of young refugees.

In typical Bristol fashion, Little Amal’s visit gained the buzz of a party, with drummers, dancers and horde of hundreds joining Little Amal on her journey from Bristol Old Vic to the harbour where she boarded a boat.

There are so many directions you could take this writing prompt in, from the story of an actual refugee child, to a tale of the puppeteer inside Little Amal. With one of countless mobile phones in shot, you could even focus on the role social media has to play in spreading the word.

If you write or create something prompted by this idea, please send it to me in an email to judydarley (at) iCloud.com for possible publication on SkyLightRain.com.