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Writing Exercise: Picture Triggers

July 16, 2014

I have a big plastic bag of pictures, cut out of an image-bank book I found in an op-shop. I like to spread these out on a table and invite workshoppers to choose a photo, or photos, that speak to them, then write a piece based around the picture(s) in some way.

Here are my pictures from yesterday’s exercise: 


And here is the writing they inspired: 

Emma stood on the packed railway platform, still heavy-eyed despite two cups of coffee. It was Tuesday morning, which she hated even worse than Monday. On Monday, at least you felt a little bit rested, and could carry some of that weekend magic into the office with you. By Tuesday, that was all gone.
As she shouldered her way onto the train and looked in vain for a low-hanging handle  to cling to, her eye fell on a little girl, holding onto her father’s hand and wearing a long white dress, obviously on her way somewhere special. Emma felt a pang of nostalgia for her own childhood, and remembered a long-ago summer dusk when she’d danced in the park next to her house, spinning until she was dizzy, flaring the skirt of her new, white cotton sundress, with her head thrown back in wonderment at the endless depth of the sky.
The train jolted around a bend and she was thrown against the woman next to her, who gave her a dirty look. Emma felt the heat rise in her cheeks and her armpits prickle with moisture, as always happened in moments of stress. She closed her eyes and tried to imagine a soothing scene, as her therapist had advised her to do.
What came to mind was a lighthouse at sunset, a white beacon on top of a steep, rocky outcrop, surrounded by churning ocean. Emma took a deep breath and pictured herself at the top of the lighthouse, miles and miles from the nearest living soul.


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