A writer is conflicted over whether prompts suppress creativity.
|Sitting under an ancient oak tree, I awaited inspiration. A bottle of Merlot was my companion. I was not drowning sorrows, but rather trying to lighten my mood. A writing assignment was due, and my negativity toward its constraints was hindering my imagination.
I felt a wet nudge on the back of my shoulder as I heard a soothing whisper. “What’s wrong, Fair Maiden?”
Turning quickly, I found myself staring directly into the dark eyes of a doe. She didn’t scamper away, though I almost did. I scooted back; the doe inched toward me, not threateningly, just curious. Tilting her head, she patiently waited for my answer. Picking up the wine bottle, I examined how much I had drunk. Not nearly enough to be seeing talking animals.
She was an animal of beauty and silent strength. Her fur looked as fine and rich as I had always imagined Rapunzel's spun gold. The doe's long dark eyelashes would be the envy of any woman. Delicate muscles told of running and scampering throughout the forest. I decided since my hallucination had been kind enough to give me a nonthreatening animal with such poise and stature, I could have the courtesy to answer.
“I have to write a story with a choice of three different prompts, and I don’t like any of them. In fact, I don’t like prompts at all. I think they limit creativity. What I want to do is write a story about how prompts are wrong, but I'd get graded poorly. So, I was sitting under this tree waiting for an idea, until I apparently went insane, and now am talking to Bambi.”
The deer giggled. “You're not crazy, at least not that I know of.” She spoke soothingly, like a song. “It is odd that a child has trouble coming up with a story, after all imagination lives in youth.”
It was my turn to giggle. “At twenty-six-years-old, I am hardly a child,” I said. “My days of hopscotch and magical forests have long gone.”
My new friend looked confused, but simply said, “Follow me.”
We walked in silence through the woods I remembered well from my childhood. I recognized a change in my stride, adopting a confident poise of the warrior princess I had dreamed of all those years ago. Watching for ogres, I wondered if there would be any peasants at the river ahead to greet this magical doe and me. Would the seahorses and mermaids welcome me as I soaked my feet in the cool water once again? Imagine the buzz surrounding my return to visit with a creature of the wood...
We stopped at the edge of the bank, and as I touched the doe’s soft fur, I looked at our reflection in the water. I was shocked to see standing beside the deer was a pigtailed, freckled face ten-year-old girl who still believed in a world without limitations. When I moved my hand, so did the reflection. I touched the water disbelieving. The doe stood patiently, finding joy in my exploration.
It was too much to believe, but too real to discount. Skipping back to the oak tree with the doe prancing beside me, I.chose not to question, but to live in the moment. I had asked for inspiration, and had been shown myself.
I kissed the doe’s head, whispering, “Thank you, I can write my story now.” With that she disappeared into the woods, and I settled beneath the tree to write this story.