If ever I need a writing prompt, I only have to dip into one of the many boxes that I’ve labelled, ‘loft’ for my house move this week. Sifting through the bits ‘n’ bobs I’ve accumulated over the years has jolted lots of memories which have ‘short story begging to be written’ all over them.
I reminisced when I came across my collection of all-time favourite records (it was just lucky that I don’t have a record player anymore or there would’ve been no packing done that day) and immediately I was transported back to the 80’s and the drama of my teenage years.
In amongst more stuff going from one loft to another was the old camera my gran gave me when I admired it. My gran died six years ago last Thursday and I still think about her all the time. She gave so much and asked for nothing in return.
Her wise words have stuck with me and phrases like,“Whit’s fur ye’ll no go by ye!” was one of her favourites. Aged 17, she gave me and my pal Gillian a parting piece of advice when we left to meet up with two boys from Hull on our holiday in Filey.
“Now remember girls, keep yer haun o’er yer ha’penny”.
But much as I love all the sentimental stuff I’ve gathered, I knew I needed to downsize. The theory was better than the reality and although I tried to be ruthless, I admit that I’ve not managed to get rid of things with a story attached to them. The whole process reminded me of a website I came across recently called, The Burning House. The concept is simple, what would you save if your house was on fire? It’s a conflict between what’s practical, valuable and sentimental. What you would take reflects your interests, background and priorities. The website invites people to think of the idea as an interview condensed into one question.
The photos of the choices made by folk are fascinating as an insight into how someone defines themselves. And each photo tells a story of the person behind the random selection of objects.
I doubt that my teenage record collection and old camera would be at the top of my ‘burning house’ selection but unless I feel the flames licking my backside, they’re coming with me to my new address.
Apart from the obvious things, which unusual item would you save if your house was on fire? Have you used objects to prompt your writing? What’s the story behind your favourite thing?
2 thoughts on “Writing Prompts”
Wow, Helen! I can’t believe you have time to turn out good blogposts when you’re just about to move house. I use photos and notes more than objects as writing prompts, but your ‘what would you save in a fire?’ question is an interesting one. I would be very sad to lose my photo albums and footage of my children when they were little but everyone would say the same. In terms of an unusual object, I have a very fine large Victorian watercolour by the artist Henry Stanier which my dad rescued during a house clearance – a grand house. The owner said to chuck it because the mount was badly water damaged. It turns out to be of Philae Temple on the banks of the Nile in its original location (it was moved and rebuilt during a damming project) so it is pretty rare, and the sky is the most perfect blue. It has pride of place in my living room and when it took it to be re-mounted and framed many years ago it attracted a lot of attention in the art shop!
Thanks Isabel. Yes, it’s probably madness to try and keep blogging at such a busy time but I’d set myself a personal challenge to try and post once a week so I’d like to keep it up if it’s possible.
A very interesting answer to the ‘burning house’ question and I’m sure there must be a great story behind the painting you’ve inherited- it sounds very special.