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12/10 Weekly creativity contest winner & new prompt

A warm glow — and ominous smoke — from this week’s contest entries for the prompt “fire.” Our winner is Juliet Bell, who sent in a beautiful pen-and-ink drawing from her archives. Juliet writes: “I was never happy with the tree reflection, and I can see now there are other things that need fixing, but I did like the way the fire came out.” Totally dreamy, I say. Juliet, your $10 gift certificate has been issued.



From Cathy Coley, a poem (glad this particular scenario didn’t turn out differently!):


Prometheus’s booty set loose amongst us.
Evidence: a match tip burn on my bed.
Who was in my room,
found matches,
and curious,
struck one for the hell of it
and walked away?

Apparently those invisible devils
Huh, Not Me, and I Dunno.


From Karen Winters, a scary take on fire that I hadn’t even considered:

When I was younger, growing up in Southern California, I don’t remember the wildfires becoming such an annual event, like the tornadoes of the midwest or the hurricanes of the gulf coast. Yes, there were the occasional big fires, like the one that swept through Bel-Air, or the Malibu conflagrations. But they weren’t a ‘given’ with the advent of every Santa Ana wind.

Times have changed. With so many more million people living here it only takes one or two small accidents to spark a firestorm. A welder’s spark. A bird landing awkwardly on a power wire and blowing out a transformer. A carelessly put-out cigarette. A car parked on dry grass where the catalytic converter can cause a sudden flame. And those are accidental starts, we’re not even considering the cases of arson.

When the Santa Ana winds blow in October and November, nowadays the smallest error can cause hundreds to lose their homes and even some loss of life.

I don’t see a solution to this problem. We are out of dwelling space as homes are built among chapparal hillsides. Even with a defensible space, embers fly for miles, igniting rooftops far away.

Several years ago there was a big fire in Ojai. I don’t live there, but we were driving up the coast to Santa Barbara and saw the plume soon after it had begun. I painted this in my sketchbook to remember the occasion.


From me (Miranda): My firstborn son, Russell, turned 18 last night. It was hard not to focus on the fact that I probably won’t be seeing him on his birthday again for quite a while — at least for the next four years. A happy birthday evening, but bittersweet.



This week’s prompt: “Waiting”

Use the prompt however you like — literally, or a tangential theme. All media are welcome. Please e-mail your entries to by 10:00 p.m. eastern time (GMT -5) on Tuesday, December 16. The winning entry receives a $10 gift certificate to Writers should include their submission directly in the body text of their e-mail. Visual artists and photographers should attach an image of their work as a jpeg. Enter as often as you like; multiple submissions for a single prompt are welcome. There is no limit to how many times you can win the weekly contest, either. (You do not have to be a contributor to this blog in order to enter. All are invited to participate.) All submissions are acknowledged when received; if you do not receive e-mail confirmation of receipt within 24 hours, please post a comment here. Remember, the point here is to stimulate your output, not to create a masterpiece. Keep the bar low and see what happens. Dusting off work you created previously is OK too. For more info, read the original contest blog post.

7 Comments Post a comment
  1. cathy #

    wow, juliet, the wood grain alone is as intricate as intricate can be! then i scrolled down, the pointilist bricks shading is stunning.

    karen, i can really feel your esayette and painting, smell the smoke.

    miranda, beautiful glow! i can see your wistful maternal moment here.

    i would like to let everyone know that the fact i was able to discover what i discovered in my room is pretty dumbfounding, as i have hidden the matches in my room (for candle lighting purposes only) so well, i can’t find them. the fact i was able to breathe deep, let it go, and ‘laugh’ about it is even more amazing, as i survived a fire when i was 19 which destroyed all my prior artwork and everything else i owned, in a dorm fire. the only thing left unscathed was my little book of poems, as at that time i was a ‘secret writer’. i took that as a sign and ‘became’ a writer. but i am also paranoid about house fires, and am always moving papers away from the toaster, etc, while admonishing the dangers. conversely, i was quite the pyro as a kid and love a good campfire.

    December 10, 2008
  2. Juliet #

    My new spam filter seems to have blocked creativeconstruction, so I’ve just discovered I have a gift certificate – Thank you! And thanks for the nice remarks, Cathy. That IS odd about the match appearance – sounds like a message from someone – here or in some other dimension. My brother and I were pyos as well – if it hadn’t been for our older sister who discovered us building little fires in the cellar, could well have burned down our apartment bulding.
    Karen, the colors in your sketch are wonderful – what a good eye you have!
    Miranda – LOVE that photo of Russell – one wonders what he is thinking.

    December 10, 2008
  3. congrats juliet! i echo cathy’s amazement at the details! wow!

    cathy, i’m scared to death of fire…my dh really wanted a gas stove in our house and i wish i would have never given in. it makes me very paranoid.

    karen…i have a close friend who loves out your way, in long beach, just south of la. i always worry about them! and now you! love your sketch.

    miranda, i have to say, i love your entry the best this week. that’s a magical photo given your sentiment behind it.

    December 10, 2008
  4. cathy #

    well, i think miranda’s son is thinking, ‘just take the picture already, ma, i want to eat this cake!’

    December 10, 2008
  5. Congratz Juliet, nice work! Great job everyone, great to see so many different takes on the theme.

    December 10, 2008
  6. Thanks for the compliments, all!

    Cathy, that’s awful. What a huge loss.

    December 11, 2008
  7. A post-deadline entry on the fire prompt from Pam (nice to hear from you, Pam!). Pam wrote: “I know this is late and that’s ok. I just needed to write it.”


    We were colleagues
    and shifts and changes
    came our way.

    Then he was my boss
    and he came to my office
    with his book
    in which he kept notes
    of our conversations
    locked away
    until he
    determined his plan
    for me to be fired.

    some of the secrets came out
    though he didn’t know that.

    The plan for fire
    turned to backfire.

    Fan the flame.

    December 11, 2008

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