Prompts hold a powerful energy for me in the practice of writing. Beesting. I find great inspiration when an unsolicited word sparks my imagination. Kneecap. A random challenge to begin some fruitful world building. Lozenge. Writing comes in waves and rushes. I follow threads, open multiple documents, distract myself into deletion. I start again, I begin anew. And hopefully I come back around.
A man bends down to brush an insect off his kneecap. He knocks a lozenge around his mouth, perpetuating a rhythm of clicks. Then—a sharp pain in the back of his knee, in the crux, near a ligament. Is that what that part is? He can already feel the skin rising around the poison in defense. The "bee's knees" he laments, brushing the crushed carcass from the back of his leg, smirking as a tear leaves his eye.
The skin makes a familiar ring, triggers a distant memory. He's in a car with his mother and she's holding ice on a sting. He can't remember the last time he let her hold him as he did then, he's lost so much by not accepting her warm embrace the way he needed to when he was young. All the skin he has atop his cells and bones has hardened. Certainly. Certainly it has. His sweat is salty and still cracks the surface, but it's been a long time since anything's gotten in. And now this bee has left its mark and these full tears have nothing to do with insects.
I don't know what will happen to the stung man. I only know a few random words got me started. This is not how all my writing begins, but I tend to start a lot of pieces from a loose assembly of words, or from an image. I began my piece in this journal years ago, with a man's father, the size of a button-hole, moving into his head after death. I believe the prompt involved a brush stroke. I left it, I came back. I circled around it. I had my characters circle around it. Grief is something we circle, there's no landing place or finite center, just a very long plane ride above it, and most of the ride, if you have come to an agreement with grief, you are calm. Yet, there's no way around the fits and spurts of anxiety and suffering that comes with it. There's all this need for release. You can make your peace with death, but you'd never choose to board the plane.
I write for two hours every day. When I burrow into an uninterrupted state, and succeed in ignoring the infinite distractions at my fingertips, the practice of it makes me better for it. Seems obvious. But the locked in time plus repetition is what produces. Reading, of course, helps too. I know that when I am reading I want to write more. I know that when I'm writing I want to read more. Words beget words. You'll never get through them all, and thus you'll never run out. I find a great deal of comfort in that.