Pre-Podcast Live Writing Sprints – September, 2021

All Writing Sprints Written Prior to The Christian Indie Writers’ Podcast and authored by J. R. Nichols. Click Here To Read A Random Post!

Author’s Note: I am not going to edit these, just copy/paste from my working document onto this page. -J.R. Nichols

9.24.21 Today’s Prompt: Autumn Leaves

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“There won’t be any changing of the leaves for me this year,” I sighed, scooping the last of the feta cheese from the bowl and piling it on top of the corn chip I held. I popped it into my mouth and crunched down hard.

“It won’t stay this hot forever,” he said with a shrug, not even looking up from his phone. “It’s supposed to get down to seventy five tonight.”

“Ohh, a cold front.” I rolled my eyes. I didn’t even bother to wait for all the food to be swallowed before responding, probably one of the first things that I had long ago stopped bothering to do. Good behavior is so not worth it if unnoticed and unappreciated. “Seventy five is shorts and t-shirt weather where were from, in case you’d forgotten.”

There was no response to this, not even a smirk. After a heartbeat, though, he showed me his screen and some exploding star graphic. “Finally beat that level.”

“Awesome!” I mustered a cheer for him then went back to sulking about the hot and humid weather I’d have to endure for my birthday. I scolded myself. Wouldn’t there be a ton of people back home eager to trade places with me, to not have the breath of old man winter on their backs as they hastened to scrape the dead leaves off the ground before the weather got too cold, dreary, and disgusting to make such a chore enjoyable?

I swatted away a mosquito and thought, “they can have it.”

I hated living in this swamp. I hated showering because I felt I never really dried off afterward. I hated the rain because it only doused me, and did nothing to bring refreshment to the air, as it had done back home.

Back home.

I’d been miserable about the weather there, too, if I were honest.

Maybe I’m just a miserable person, in general, I thought.

I shrugged. Who cared. No one noticed what kind of a person I was, anymore. I said the right things. I did the right things. There was nobody to ask me what I felt about anything. There were people who said, “how are you,” but they wanted a perfunctory “fine,” or my usual, “awesome!” they didn’t really want to know.

“I won’t have any fall colors this year,” I muttered to myself later, as I washed the last of the feta crumbs down the drain and flicked on the garbage disposal. “But if I have my way, I’ll get up north to see some again, someday.”

That’s all I am going to write for today. 

9.17.21Today’s Prompt: Wild Horses

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I thought about wild horses the first time I cracked open my journal. The teacher had called the process of getting it all down on paper “caging the monkey mind,” but I never really resonated with monkeys. Monkeys were stooped and flung poop. Wild horses, running free, that was how I preferred to think of the unfettered thoughts in my brain.

“I’ll corral them,” I thought, “Between the beautiful binding of this book.”

The leatherbound volume made a satisfying creak the first time I opened it. I’ll never forget that sound. So much promise, so much potential.

I didn’t have much to write about back then. So much seemed insignificant. It took me a few false starts to really get the nack of this habit. So many entries start, “sorry, it’s been a while since I updated this.”

Eventually, however, I caught my stride. It happened after one particularly stressful campout—the mean girls I met there iced me out and made me feel alone. We had a trail ride on that particular campout. My horse was named snickers and he was the most well-behaved horse I’d ever ridden on such a ride. I wanted to draw snickers, and decided the place to do so was my long-abandoned journal.

I drew snickers and as I sketched him out, considered the actions of the bullies I’d encountered.
I decided to corral those thoughts, those feelings, within the boundaries of the leather volume.

What better place to voice the things I only now considered “the best retorts ever” to their snarky comments? What better place to let my imagination run wild with thoughts of the suffering I secretly wished upon those girls. What better place to repent for those feelings?

My journal became something altogether different to me after that campout. 

It became a place where wild horses ran free.

I still have time but I feel this is kind of finished. 

9.10.21 Today’s Prompt: “We made a top 10 list!”

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“It’s hardly a compliment,” Suzie said with a huff.

“Of course it is. Mom, what do you think?”

I sighed and set down the book I’d been trying to read. “What do I think about what?”

“We made a top ten list,” Johnny said, his obvious enthusiasm as telegraphed by his worming eyebrows made me smile. 

“Well, that does sound like something to celebrate,” I concluded, and picked my book back up.

“Mom,” Suzie made the word a multi-syllabic whine. “You don’t even know what kind of top ten list it is.”

“Any publicity is better than no publicity at all,” Johnny rejoined. I raised a brow.

“That might be true,” I closed the book and set it down with a decided finality, glancing at the clock. I had to get everyone out the door in ten minutes, there would be no time for reading after all.

“I’m just saying,” Johnny continued, animatedly chomping into his buttered toast. “We’ve been noticed by someone. This is a giant leap in the direction of internet fame and imminent fortune.”

“We’ve been noticed by the wrong people,” Suzie whined back.

“Susie, can you please tone it down with the whining?” I massaged my forehead. “And can you please eat your breakfast? I don’t know how you manage to make it all the way to lunch period when you take off out of here without any fuel in your belly.”

“She feeds off the sugary kisses of Timmy McRea, that’s how.” Johnny scoffed rolling his eyes and making a disgusting gesture with his tongue.

“That’s gross! I do not!” Susie practically shreiked. “Mom, he knows I don’t kiss boys. Why is he always so stupid?”

“You said the “s” word!” Johnny jeered.

“For the love of all things holy will you kids please stop this fighting?” I stood and took my plate to the sink. “Johnny, clear up your dish and bring it over here.”

The boy obeyed. When I had him corralled and was pretty certain Susie couldn’t hear, I asked him, “why do you do that to your sister – that stuff about kissing. You know she’s very awkward about the subject of having a boyfriend in the first place.”

Johnny’s shoulders went up and touched the shaggy edges of his overdue-for-a-cut hair. “I don’t know why I do it. It’s kind of fun to upset her sometimes, maybe?”

“Is it possible you’re a little jealous?” I asked, and my son’s head dipped, giving me the only answer I needed. I put my hands on my knees.

“Hey, son,” I took to fingers and tilted his chin up so that his eyes met mine. 

“Your sister’s trying to figure it all out, just like you are.”

“I know.”

“So why don’t you go over there and tell her you’re sorry.”

“Okay.” He gave me a little grin and an even littler hug before he hop-skipped over to the table and tackled his sister in an enormous embrace.

“I am so sorry, Susie. I love you so much!”

“Ow!” Susie yelled. “What are you doing? You’re hurting me!”

I sucked in a breath and prayed silently, but before I could get to “amen,” the prayer was answered.

“I’m not trying to hurt you, Susie. I promise. Here.” I watched as my little man retrieved his sister’s bookbag from the mudroom and held it out to her like a mideval page presenting arms to his good sir.

“Here. Let’s go get in the car before Mom starts freaking out. I’ll even clean your plate up for you.”

“Okay,” Susie said. She still seemed sulky as she rose and scuffed her way to the car, but the fight had obviously gone out of her. I knew by the time she’d popped in her earbuds and sank into the backseat, she would be back to her relatively normal self.

The boy scampered to where I still stood near the sink and gave me a wink. 

“We’re gonna get through this, together, eh, Mom?” He grinned up at me.

“Yeah,” I said, giving the shaggy hair a tousle. “I think you’re right.”

The boy left the plate for me to deal with, of course,


9.3.21 Today’s Prompt: Use the following five words in your story: expenditure, asylum, dominant, identification, professional.

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I used to think it would be great to be put into an asylum. It was the pressure of performing that did it to me. I was a high achiever in school, you see, and had a bright future ahead of me.

It was a tremendous burden to bear, all that “genius.” A girl who was prone to daydreaming and flights of fancy had no desire to put her nose to the grindstone and achieve a single thing. How I remember those years of anxiety and stress as I tried to imagine where or how to apply all my intelligence and potential.

It never came together for me, somehow, professionally. I did find some successes but they were short lived. I finally found an equilibrium. I found a job to pay my bills and enough vices to occupy me when I was not at work. The vices filled the hole that was reserved for the spouse I knew would someday come.
I laid aside those vices just in time for him to arrive, my prince charming to take me away to a castle on a cloud.

There is where my three sweet babies were born, nurtured from my own breast for their first sweet and precious months of life. I loved them. Still do. They are my flesh and my blood and my heart and my soul. They are the promise I was given, the fufilment of all my potential.

They are what makes my life worth living. Their triumphs and failures are mine to experience as I walk alongside them through this life.
I am glad I did not waste my potential on years of service to a faceless corporation. I am glad I invested in flesh and in bone.

But now the children are grown and it is time to dust off the things I once put aside. Not the vices, for I have outgrown those, you see. What can I fill the hole left inside where the echoes of “mother” ring hollow?

I now wish for the asylum of peace and serenity, not the asylum of nurses and scheduled medicines and prescribed exercise routines. I suppose that someday the hollow hole of mother will be filled in with the call of “grandma.”

Until then, I sit and ruminate on all of my wasted potential.

That’s all I have in me today, folks.