How I answer the damn prompts

When I was doing this post, I thought to myself, should I really be doing what the prompt says? As a writer who is merely answering prompts, I feel too inhibited to abide by them letter by letter, word by word. Besides, this blog “puts a horrid twist on WordPress prompts”. It doesn’t answer them literally. By taking in the ideas of the prompt, I build into my work it’s re-imagining.

So my blog doesn’t answer the prompts, yes. But by adding into the pingback list of the Daily Post, I seem to worry about what the audience are doing  (it’s not a problem as I might imply, but it’s something worth thinking about). When you look into that list of fresh posts, are you expecting the most creative response ever? Is this a contest of wit? Of creativity? No one can deny it’s a hunt for attention, but what drives that hunt for attention, and how it matters into what a person posts I cannot tell.

After all, the posts are customized to respond to two audiences: the personal bloggers, which is composed of an large lot, and the artists, who are pretty substantial too. To explain this, let me use as an example this challenging prompt from today’s Dailies:

Daily Prompt: I Was Here

You are the first astronaut to arrive on a new, uncharted planet. Write the note that you leave to those who come after you.

Photographers, artists, poets: show us CARTE BLANCHE.

If you have been looking into that nifty ebook the WordPress team provided, you would have noticed that many, if not all of the prompts being shared here are already stored in that book. However, the ebook only showcases the first section of the prompt, one that is catered to personal bloggers. This section is such because it acts as a directive: write something about what I tell you. And if you do so, what appears is what is asked: a note, or anything related to that. But that aspect I had a hard time dealing with. I wanted to write a story about that note. I wanted people to leave. But the why’s I find difficult to handle: is it a horror story of monsters unimaginable? is it an escape from the hunters in space (a sense of escape from the astronaut’s reality)? is it of protection of a secret? a sense of enlightenment no adventurer deserved?

And every time I tackled this science fiction dimension I found myself burdened by my lack of knowledge about its conventions. I feel like regurgitating Ray Bradbury’s Mars stories and it felt disgusting (no, not regurgitating Bradbury, but the fact that I am about to churn out something I know is unoriginal). I even tried plagiarizing the Last Message of God to His Creation from Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Series (I am not going to say which part or what it is even). But it didn’t work.

Which leaves us to the next section, the one addressed to photographers, artists, poets. This seems to be the anticipated thematic take on the subject. I understand this for the photographers and artists, but not for the poets, for me even as a poet. Carte Blanche, blank card. A new slate at life? One that needs to be written, be filled with something new? I am not comfortable with these thematic takes either; their ambiguities do not challenge me. I might as well write Carte Orange for all I care.

I wanted to tell a story this time. And so I chose the note. I wanted to write “Bruce was here,” a machismo crisis take on sexual explorations, but I was cut short with the back story. In the end, I took on Ray Bradbury as a platform for a new life. This post: “Moving out, moving in.” There wasn’t even a note. (It was supposed to be “Leave” on the door, but I let the story move on its own).

With all of this irrelevant segues into my frustrations, this is what I want to say. The directive of a prompt is not to answer it literally but simply to encourage you to become productive for your blog. Hell, if you find yourself stuck on meeting the conditions, don’t meet them. Gain inspiration from it to write something different. Anything, really. Anything that challenges you to become a better writer.

But it sucks for the reader if they found themselves on your blog hoping to find a quirky answer to the prompt. But the hell for them, that is your answer. There is no strict measure to how are we to approach this, no one is going to correct us, no authority is gauging us. The reader’s expectations isn’t exactly authority. While it can be addressed, it shouldn’t be followed to the letter.

All that matters is that for us writers is this: we are here together, trying to learn to love the passion of creative productivity. That’s all there is to it.

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