November writing prompt: Meghan’s response and Olivia’s comments

This is Olivia, here. I am gonna come clean: I have a problem with procrastination. We talked about this writing prompt in Episode 12, and I am only posting these notes now. Sorry. This is the time of year that I can only say I hope I’ll be better in 2018. Let’s all toast to that.

Anyway, moving on to what I’m actually here to write about – here is the prompt from November:

 

As a reminder of how this works: We do what most people do with writing prompts – i.e. use them for 10-15 minutes to get warmed up. That means we don’t edit them (we write by hand, so when we type it up there may be some basic changes, but we resist the urge to do real work on it).

Otherwise, the rules are simple — note something positive, and make sure suggestions for improvement are constructive. In other words, don’t be mean.

(Note: We’d still love to hear from you if you wrote anything in November and want comments on it!)

Here’s Meghan’s response:

Ellis stood back and surveyed the room with satisfaction. It had taken years, but she had finally done it. Green tendrils hung down from above her head, swaying in a gentle breeze. The air was humid and warm with the scent of the black earth that lay in soft mounds under her feet. She took in a deep breath and smiled. 

They hadn’t believed her. That’s the way it always goes, isn’t it? You have an idea, and if it’s new, or if you’re just not the sort of person they’re used to listening to, it’s no good. Well, it isn’t up to them anyway.  

The grass had been the easiest part, of course. Just spread compost and seed and make sure to water. It was replacing the walls and ceiling that gave her trouble. Ellis didn’t want to just build a conservatory. No, that’s what they didn’t understand. This was something entirely different. 

She started with the hardwoods. She would have preferred to get right down to the fruit trees, but she needed more protection and they weren’t strong enough. So she started with oak, of course — something native would be simplest — and a few chestnuts. Then the softer things. Ivy, muscadine, other vines. Snowdrops that year of the blizzard, when she spent three nights worrying about ice.  

Violets were a late idea, but the narcissus was planned from the beginning. They wouldn’t understand that either, but Ellis would. The trickiest part had been the spring. It was only a stroke of luck she’d found a source so nearby, though it was shocking really how deep she’d had to dig. That was when she thought it might be all over, when they might lose patience and all her work would be for nothing. Well, let them try now, anyway. 

A rustle as something scampered through the undergrowth reminded her it was done now. No more worrying. Ellis patted her hair, gone white ages ago. 

She stepped in and closed the door behind her. 

 

My comments:

  • I really liked the tone and the feel of the piece. The beginning sets the atmosphere – a calm and earthy environment – so well, and her strong knowledge of some plant names help to continue this. I liked the scampering at the end.
  • Similarly, it had a really strong voice – introduced in the second paragraph. I liked you feel and understand the person talking and their emotions. A cranky old lady-dreamer, and I wanted to get to know her more.
  • (I also like the name Ellis.)
  • I thought whether this sentence could be rephrased: “They wouldn’t understand that either, but Ellis would.” It made it sound like there had been another person involved in the idea – probably because of “Ellis would” (i.e. she’d understood someone else’s idea). So that could be tweaked.
  • I also pointed out a couple of potential cliche/normal words – swaying in a breeze etc. It seemed that she used those types of phrases at the beginning, but later in the piece, it was more like she found her stronger voice.

 

If you want to send us your prompt, email us or write us on Instagram, or leave us a comment!

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