challenge n. 1. A call to engage in a contest or fight.
2. A demand for an explanation: a calling into question.
3. A sentry's call for identification.
4. The quality of requiring full use of one's abilities, energy, or resources: a career that offers a challenge.
5. A claim that a vote is invalid or that a voter is unqualified.
6. Law. A formal objection, esp. to the qualifications of a juror or jury.
and a few of the verb meanings:
2. To take exception to: dispute; challenged the statements.
7. To summon to action, effort or use: stimulate: a problem that challenges the imagination.
2. To begin barking upon picking up the scent, as hunting dogs.
So, what is it my dear readers, my dear writers?
The Friday Challenge for me is almost always number 7 of the transitive verbs - to summon to action, effort or use - to stimulate.
And maybe a bit of the last one - I want you one and all to begin barking upon picking up the scent of your quarry. Well, perhaps not barking as that might alarm the loved ones but speaking your truth - writing the words that declare you are on the right track.
Today's challenge is to find a place you're stuck - a passage, a plot point, or just to get going at all and do a free-fall. If you, like me, are in the middle of a revision that doesn't matter - there is some place in your manuscript where the words don't flow - they plod.
Exercise: Find a piece of your writing that you feel stuck about - a scene, a page, a chapter. Find one image in it that works for you. There must be something even if it is something like 'she turned her head at the sound of his voice' that you think captures what you're trying to do. Now take that statement and free-fall with it. Let every image ignite another - put your editor firmly behind you, waiting his or her turn, and let the words flow. Do not, for an instant, worry about whether it makes sense. Remember what it was like to run down a hill on a dirt road in the summer when your feet where going faster than you thought you could sustain. But you did! Or if you wiped out it was in a sort of bliss. Like that. I'll do one here just to give you an idea.
The colours were the turquoise of the Caribbean and the metallic blue of old tricycles, the hot pink of cherry popsicles with silver running through it all like a frozen stream. The noise was hushed and reverent and then voices gathering to sing the anthems, the ceremonial songs of war and victory or loss. Then it changed as the drummers entered and began and the dancers made their way to the arena – the sacred place and you could hear their breaths and their feet moving fast and soft on the ground. I could see my father sitting with Nancy on one of the chairs that ringed the arena – not a dancer’s chair though Nancy had told he’d have been dancing if it wasn’t for his injury. Nancy would’ve too but she said she was tired and wanted to watch. I could see my Dad’s face all soft and worn but pleased and I saw Nancy reach up and touch his cheek. Then I saw Teesa, all splendid in her ancient sticklike way moving towards me in her regalia of impossible amethyst and shimmering beads. She held a feathered fan in her bony strong hand and she held out a small pouch in her other. She gave it to me and motioned to where my father sat. I was confused but as usual did her bidding. That crazy old witch could make a crow sing like a lark if that was her desire. I walked around the dancers towards Dad and when I got there he looked up at me as I handed him the small leather bag. When I turned to walk back he was staring at me with a most peculiar air about him.
“What?” I whispered.
“That was my grandmother’s regalia.” He said looking at me intently.
I felt suddenly shy and that perhaps I’d messed up in some major way.
“She would be so proud of you. She was the one who chose Teesa.”
And he smiled at me.