Friday, April 25, 2014

Perfection in Writing and the Perfect Potato Chip

Noteworthy Writing Prompt #9
"Write about a perfectly round potato chip with a tiny bite out of it."

Do you, like me, hang on to your stories? Do you not let anyone read it until you feel it's perfect? I have stories in the deep caverns of the computer that no other eye has seen. Filed away secretly under "taxes", because no one looks there. 
Is it because I don't trust people to be kind with their comments? Is it because I don't want people to think that I'm a second rate story teller? I don't have a university degree. I haven't been to many classes for writers, because I just can't afford it. Family first... writing second. Perhaps it's a combination of all these things and more that keeps me from sharing. Perfection being at the top of my list. 

Then I read this quote by Ernest Hemingway:

Ernest wasn't perfect. I'm not perfect, and that's okay. 

Don't wait for perfection to share your stories. Yes, edit them, as well as you can. Shine them up before you share, but then let them go and see where they'll take you.

Have fun and let go!

Here's my humble attempt at poetry:

Left Behind At Dawn
A Poem by Anuschka de la Court

It lay in the darkness of pre-dawn
The wetness of morning dew clung to its salty outer body
Crispness gone
In it’s place only soggy remains
Sad at it’s imperfections
Forlorn at it’s loss of use
At night, the life of the party
Only to be forgotten and left behind at dawn

A songbird’s melody brings hope
The sunrise, a kaleidoscope of colour brings comfort
A peck
Then a bite
Ah! It was of use again
Even in it’s soggy state
It was nourishment once more… Comfort food!

A perfectly round, Lays potato chip
Now, with a tiny bite out of it
At campsite fifty-nine

Thanks to:
- Ernest Quote 

Monday, April 21, 2014

Writing and Self-Confidence - I Was Green With Envy!

Noteworthy Writing Prompt # 7
Why do you procrastinate to write?

This writing prompt I gave to myself. It didn't come from my husband, it came from me. The truth is, I needed to take a good hard look at why I don't write. I hadn't written anything in 2 weeks, but I wanted to.

Why didn't I?

I don't know about you but, this feeling goes deep within, that is, the feeling or need to share stories. Not just any stories, though, ones with passion and purpose. Ones that show our humanness, our frailties, weaknesses, stupidity, wisdom, and strengths. Stories that are entertaining, yet also make people take a moment out of their busy schedules to contemplate or mull over what's been said. 

Stories that perhaps... change a life.

"I'm not good enough." Was the answer that came back each time I asked the question. That feeble, small, nervous, scared child inside of me. 
"She writes so much better than me," she whimpers inside of me, "I'll never be as good as her." She's my nemesis, and her lack of self confidence and fear paralyzes me. Sometimes, it takes days for me to find the hero inside and other times it take weeks. Self-confidence, or lack of it, is a big problem for some writers and it may be why you aren't writing. Fear holds us back, like a fence, keeping us from living in freedom.

Please don't give up. Take some time to think about why, and then write. Don't worry about what it looks like when it first comes out.

Almost all good writing begins with terrible first efforts. You need to start somewhere. - Anne Lamott

 Just write.

This story I reluctantly share with you, because it shows some of my dark struggles with writing. I only share it, so that others, perhaps going through the same thing, may see it and then choose to write anyways. This story is why I started Noteworthy Writing Prompts, so we could all have a safe place to explore and help encourage each other to write.

We all have a unique voice. This place is to find yours.

I Was Green With Envy
By Anuschka de la Court and Alora de la Court

“Wow!” That was her first reaction. She and her husband stared at each other in amazement. She clutched three pages of a grade ten writing assignment in her cold hands. The sound of the clock ticked away the seconds as husband and wife stared at each other in silence.
“This is really good!” The high standard of writing came from their 15 year old daughter, but it could have easily have come from someone like Margaret Atwood.
“The details in this story are amazing.” Her husband had tears in his eyes and she could tell by his voice that he was trying to hold back the emotions.
“We gave her this,” he continued, “the descriptions of the forest and mountains. That’s us and our family adventures she’s describing.” He was right. This came from her memory bank. But even so, very few writers could put their memories together in such a beautiful way. Then it dawned on her. Her 15-year-old daughter was a higher calibre of writer than she was.
“All these years of wanting to be a writer,” she moped later that evening as she sat shivering on the cold leather couch, “I’ve been aspiring to write an amazing story for so many years.” She sighed, “and my daughter’s Grade 10 English assignment was better than anything I’ve ever written in all my 40 years of attempted writing.”
“He was right,” she thought back to her grade 12 teacher who rolled his eyes at her written assignment and said in no kind terms, “You write like you talk. Don’t you dear.” As if to insinuate that she was an uneducated hillbilly just writing random thoughts down in no particular order or wisdom. Her shoulders slumped and after thirty years she felt the cold fingers of disappointment reach up and grab her.  The fingers of dispiritedness that kept her from writing all these years holding her back from what she thought she was meant to do. What she was created to do. Now, after 30 some odd years, she’s decided to pick it up again, BOOM! Her daughter out writes her and those old defeating self-pity thoughts of  long ago, hung in the air around her. She should be happy for her beautiful daughter, but in its place she found herself green with envy, an ugly kind of green that comes from sinful vane thoughts and attitudes.
“This is wrong.” She tried to shake off the darkened thoughts, but instead reached for her daughter’s perfectly detailed story and read it again.

Dark clouds hang from the sky. Smudges and smears of an array of greys fill them in as if coloured in with pencil by a toddler. Strong gusts of wind whip my hair across my face, stinging my cheeks. I can tell just by the scent carried through the wind that it’s about to rain.
“I’ll never get out of here,” I say to myself, “I’m lost.”
Tall mountains stand proud on either side of me, coated with a thick layer of trees and underbrush. I can feel the eyes of the forest on my back, watching my every move curiously and attentively. I think to myself, “How did a simple jog in the forest go so wrong?”
A shock jolts through me as a cold raindrop lands on my neck and glides painfully slow down my back. I break into a run, “Find shelter… I have to find shelter.” I jump over a fallen tree, struggling through thin, cold branches and leaves that seem to be reaching, pulling at me, weighing me down until I break, falling to my damp, cold, bug infested grave. My face is pressed into the dirt. I see my body behind me, twisted in a very unnatural position. I’m panting, out of breath. It’s as if I’m on the outside, glancing back at my tangle of limbs.
“Get up!” my brain screams. My body yells back, “I’m thirsty!” There’s a dull ache in my right ankle as well. I could just lay here, embraced by the cool grasp of the ferns and leaves, but my brain wins the argument as another raindrop hits my forehead. I pull myself to my feet, untangling myself and shaking off the dirt from my running clothes and sneakers. I glace up just in time to see the last of the suns rays sliding down the mountain on my left. It will be dark soon.
Learning my lesson, I start off in a speed walk rather then a panicked run. The clouds are catching up and I’m running out of daylight, but somehow, I almost feel at peace. I look up and a blue jay takes off from the top of a tree, leaving its branches swaying as if dancing to the rhythm and melody of the forest. It flies over my head and I catch a glimpse of golden sunrays dancing and flitting on his back, playing in the colours of his feathers.
“Beautiful!” My heartaches with sudden joy and for a second I forget I’m lost and probably miles away from home, and I just stand, amazed by the view that the blindfold of panic had hidden from me.
I look up once again to an image I would never be able to erase from my memory. The dark pencil smudges have been chased away by ribbons of pinks, purples, amber's and gold’s, swirling in the sky and wrapping around the tops of the trees. I realize I have sunk to my knees in amazement and I quickly pull myself up, feeling the chill of the two damp patches that run from my knees to the top of my spine. Suddenly, bright colours exploding from the sky disrupt my peace. Fireworks.
I find my way to an urban amusement park, guided by the eruptions and explosions and while I walk along the road to home, I look back with the image of the sunset in my mind, and the blue jay, only to be greeted by a dark night sky, the stars covered by a dark blanket of clouds, it was over.
I walked the rest of the way home in a daze with the memory of the forest in my heart.

She found herself clutching her daughter’s assignment against her heart. In the quiet loneliness of the evening, she was crying, not because she was jealous, that horrible feeling was only a fleeting moment in time, but because she was overflowing with love and pride that her baby did this. The green was gone; in its place was a beautiful rainbow of emotions.
“This was a gift,” she sniffed, “a gift that God gave to her.” She knew, that as a Mom and a teacher, she had to help harness this gift and guide her daughter to be what she was created to be.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Distraction and Writing

Noteworthy Writing Prompt #6
"I have your next writing prompt." He said beaming. It seemed as if he was having as much fun handing out these prompts as I was finding stories to go with them. Then he took the REDBIRD strike anywhere matches, lit a match and blew it out in front of me. Then he grinned and walked away, leaving me behind in the puff of smoke to reflect upon what kind of creative story I could come up with this time. 
It was challenging. It took me a while, because all I could come up with were small scenes of everyday people in ordinary life. Not one story, but many came to mind. Because each of our lives is a light... a story... 
I couldn't choose just one, and I couldn't figure out how they all fit together. I was distracted by my own stories as well, the ones I was living out as a working Mom and it was hard to find some time to sit down and write. It took a few days... But, I decided to keep all the short stories together to make a bigger story. Enjoy!



By Anuschka de la Court

Strike. Flare. Flame. A match is lit.

A newborn baby cries.


Her 10-month-old son slept restlessly in her arms. Every now and then a hand would come up out of the blanket and touch her face. He was beautiful, this miracle of life, and he was her son. A gift. She just held on and stared in wonder.


“Princesses don’t wear underwear!” His two-year-old daughter yelled at him then raced down the hall naked.

“Oh, yes they do!” they were already late for church. His wife was with the baby and it was his job to get the princess ready for church. He was having a tough time, but he couldn’t give in, he was the pastor. His wife and the deacons would not be too pleased with him if he brought a naked girl to church.

“A lesson in modesty for her,” he sighed to himself, “and a lesson in grace for me.”


“I don’t want to pick up her poop.” She yelled at her sister as they were leaving to go walk the dog, “It’s your turn. I did it the last time!”

“No, you didn’t! I did.” Came the firm retort. “Rock, paper, scissors?” The door slammed behind them, then muffled bickering as they argued down the street.


“Cancer.” He closed his eyes as he sat in the darkness of his living room. He felt defeated. The tumor had conquered and won over his wife’s fierce spirit. Now, she was gone. His partner, his love was gone.


“Here’s ten dollars.” She tried to keep her voice calm as she handed these two ladies the last bit of money in her wallet, “so you can continue your conversation at Timmy’s without the distraction of the speaker we all came here to listen to.” She was furious at the ladies disrespect, not only to the teacher, but also for her fellow students. All night these two were on their IPhone's and holding a loud personal conversation at the back of the room while the teacher spoke about distractions keeping us from genuine, heartfelt and sincere relationships in our lives. It was what they most needed to hear; it was what she needed to hear, but she was too distracted by anger right now.


 “I hate you!” she heard her daughter say. Even in the fog of the alcoholic stupor she recognized the words. It made her feel even worse.

“I can’t do anything right.” She cried out and stumbled into the kitchen. She poured out another glass of wine, of which half fell into a puddle on the floor. Loneliness overwhelmed her.

“Nobody loves me,” all she wanted was to not feel anything. She took a long sip from her glass. She longed for the darkness to overtake her, and pull her into oblivion.

“They won’t miss me anyway.”


“I love you Mom.” She kissed her 84-year-old mother’s cold cheek. She was pale and frail looking; so different from a few months ago. Strong, witty, compassionate and full of life; this woman lived life to the fullest. Sure, troubles came and went in her lifetime, but she stood above them. Never letting the darkness get the best of her. She was grateful for each day God allowed her to live on this planet and she gave love each to everyone who crossed her path. Now, her eyes were sunken in, her cheeks were pale, and she had lost so much weight that she was just skin and bones underneath the covers. Life was leaving.

“I want to be just like you, Mom. I love you.” were the last words her Mom heard before her beautiful flame went out.


Burnt out match. Smoke rises.

Our lives are just brief moments in time, snippets of life, flashes of light, some matchsticks longer than others. We are all but temporary flames and we are all extinguished within a heartbeat on this time line into eternity. Distractions make our flames flicker, and our light burns not as brightly as it should. You control your own response to the distractions.

How bright will your flame get before it burns out?


Thanks to:
- Rene for his prompts and encouragements

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

What is Creative Writing?

A grocery list is not creative writing. A receipt for a double double at Timmy's is not creative writing. A toe tag at the morgue is not creative writing. Your tax return?
Well... it shouldn't be creative writing. However, a novel, short story, script (for a play or film), or a poem can all be considered creative writing.
It's your choice. For any of these prompts. Try out a few different types of writing. Maybe, use the same prompt and write a short story and a poem with the same prompt, whatever moves you. Just have fun and get those creative juices flowing!

I received a short story from fellow novice writer, Janice Eaton, for our 2nd noteworthy prompt. I love the way she captured the naivete feelings of this sock as it traveled through life's uncertainties and adventures.

Noteworthy Prompt #2
"Write about one sock," my husband snickered, then added with a gleam in his eyes, "in the voice of the sock."
A Sock is Born
by Janice Eaton 

I remember the day I was born. There were many of us. Our nurses made sure we were paired up so as we wouldn't be lonely. I loved my partner. We were released after ensuring we passed the inspections and told we were going to a place that would ensure we were handed off to great caregivers. I was nervous but my partner soothed me and wrapped me up and put this cover over me, all along telling me I would be okay.
We arrived at some place where there were all kinds of species like me, but I felt unique. I was glad my partner was there. All us one kind stuck together and were in awe of the beauty around us. There were many things that came and caressed us and stroked us. Some were taken, where I do not know. I was told that these were our potential new caregivers and they were called people. People came in all sizes and shapes and that we were awaiting for the people who would allow us to sooth their feet in the way that they needed.
I was beginning to understand. I could only imagine our wonderful home once we were spoken for. There were times when the darkness came over and no people came. I questioned a lot but my partner said that we need to rest as the people need to as well. I wonder where my partner got all their strength.
Then the next morning, when all the lights came back on and people came by to stoke and feel us again, a people thing chose us. I was all excited and wanted to ask a million and one questions about what our new purpose was. My partner stated that it was time to do our work, the work that we had been born to do, to give comfort and support. I asked if I needed to know anything and my partner stated not to worry as the people would be our guide.
We arrived at our new home and were placed in our new resting place. There were others, but they were older and had their stories to tell of adventures while out doing duties. Some of them were worn out ans stated that they were tired and would hope we could carry on. I was puzzled but fell asleep while being wrapped by my partner.
The next day we were plucked from our resting place, I think they called it a drawer, and put on the people's feet. It felt good; it was like this was meant to be. We were going out, my partner said, and not to worry because shoes were going to protect us. They were out shields out in the elements. Shoes felt great, I couldn't have felt safer. Upon returning, I felt tired and sweaty. My partner and I were placed back together and thrown in something they called a basket. I asked what we were doing there. My partner stated that it was time to have our bath. When it was our turn, we would be separated and washed, dries, then put back together and placed in our resting place.
I like being a sock, no worries. I can't wait to be older and tell the new ones of their adventures to come.

To read more sock stories:

Thanks to:
- Janice Eaton for her "Sock is Born" story. 
- - for the image of the sock

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Toenail Clippings and Sea Urchins

Response for Noteworthy Writing Prompt # 3
"Someone stepping on someone else toenail clippings"

This one was a pretty gross prompt but, Natasja Panchuk was able to turn it into a beautifully detailed  dream scape story.

It's been a real treat for Rene and I to read the wonderful stories coming back from these prompts. It's good to know you're having fun with them as much as I am. 

If you would like to share yours, please contact me below in the comments or email your story to

Thank-you Natasja for sharing!

I awoke to grey sunlight falling through my window, landing softly on the white blankets that kept in the warmth. Reluctant as I was to leave my soft nest, I threw over the blankets and touched my feet to the cold hardwood beneath me. The pale grey walls made no contrast to the peace of the late morning and as I shuffled towards the bedroom door to reach out for the brass knob centimeters from grasping the cold metal, sudden pain punctured the sole of my foot. For one suspending second, I was still. The rush of my blood ceased and my train of thought came to a halt. I was flawlessly still with nothing more to move me but the soft light reflecting off the dust particles in space.

As my breath was stolen from me, so was my sense of reality. My eyes burned. Starfish crawled up the desk, while eels slid between my ankles and the twinge beneath my foot turned out to be a tiny sea urchin.

The light faded and when I looked out my window it was not faded grass or uniform houses that greeted me, but seaweed that snaked up from barnacle infested rocks and silvery fish to which I did not know the names. In that single moment, when the ocean flowers appealed to my eyes and when the water filled my lungs did I understand; waking up is more than a cup of coffee, but a whole experience that you can never take back. I gazed wonderingly at the ripples of sun coming down from the surface. It reflected off the grainy sand and across my skin, absorbed in my bones and consumed in my flesh.

I pulled in the water and pushed it out. As the pain in my foot dulled, my eyelids started to droop. When I opened them again, I was relishing in not the sea water but the dull sunlight that filtered through my window and washed gently across my room. Oxygen once again flowed through my body, and when I lifted my foot there was nothing there but a single, yellowed toenail clipping.


To read more stories from this prompt:

Thank-you to Natasja Panchuk for her Toenail Clipping story and Rene for the unique prompts and encouragements.