By All Appearances

I got to know my neighborhood pretty well this past summer. I resolved to run at least three times a week on the main drags and through the windy streets of my community. As a result, I could tell you where there are dips in the pavement, barky dogs, lush yards, weedy yards–all the things I came to expect every time along my path.

As my expectations grew, so did my observations around what changed from day to day. New landscaping here. A coat of fresh paint there. One morning, I couldn’t help but notice some atypical pieces of debris along Winnetka Avenue.

They were clumpy. They were grassy. They were dried up and ugly. To me, by all appearances, they were the foul droppings of a horse. A horse along one of the busiest side streets of the West Metro? With evidence in plain sight, I fully believed it could happen.

A few days later, my parents joined me for a walk along Winnetka. In time, we came upon my discovery, and I was quick to share my theory that a horse and rider must have somehow, for some reason, made their way down the well-traveled street’s sidewalk in recent days.

“You think that’s from a horse?” my dad interjected. “That’s just the stuff that collects in lawnmowers.”

Okay, so my imagination can run away from me, and this incident also proves that I’m not cut out for any kind of CSI work. But I’d like to think my openness to other possibilities only helps with my writing. It stirs my ideas for stories. It feeds the twists and turns that make plots and characters so fun to create.

WRITING PROMPT 1: Draw a line down the middle of a piece of paper to create two columns. Make a list of objects in the first column (e.g., a simple piece of rope), then ask yourself if those objects could be perceived as other things with grander stories (e.g., the rigging of a sailboat lost at sea). Jot your imaginings in the second column, and consider how they could be woven into your writing projects.

WRITING PROMPT 2: Recall a time when you believed something was true by all appearances, but later found out you were way off track. Write about it.


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