Sometimes, on a windy Sunday morning in New Hampshire, where the loons are calling from across the lake outside, your sister brings up the value of having constraints placed on your creative process.
When facing the infinite possibilities of "blue-sky brainstorming," we can easily become overwhelmed and succumb to decision paralysis.
When our options are limited, however, we tend to become wildly resourceful.
Having constraints (rules, guidelines, a brand, a budget) can paradoxically make decisions easier, because it narrows down the field of play and forces us to use our imaginations.
In other words:
Sometimes, to unleash our creativity, we need to think inside the box.
So, for this Sunday Story, I've accepted the challenge of adhering to certain creative constraints:
Write a story of 200 single-syllable words about a woman who must make a terrible decision.
Although these are "arbitrary" rules, I had fun trying to think of one-syllable alternatives to words like "remember" and "surface." In a way, it was a kind of freedom.
Here, for your amusement, is what came of it:
Her bare hands grip the rail, stiff; blood gone. The ties of her coat flap in the brisk wind, like small white flags.
A tear drips down her cheek, which is pink from the cold. Her soft eyes see all things past; things lost to time and fate. Though her spine is tall, her head droops with the weight of her thoughts, like a tree in deep snow.
She jumps when a man puts his hands, swathed in black gloves, on the rail next to hers. The shock of him makes her cough: a harsh, wet sound. As she stuffs her hands out of sight, he notes the dark red that flecks the pure white of her sleeve.
They don’t speak, but gaze at the gray swirls, the white foam, the break of the waves off the pier. She is in a trance, lulled by the sharp cry of the gulls, the dull roar of the sea.
Then a black bird dives, and her eyes grow small and hard.
“Do it, then,” she says.
Her voice does not crack. She does not want be asked if she’s sure.