Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints – Into the Inferno


The Gates of Hell, Rodin, Stanford University

This week I was at a conference at a local university.  In between the plenary sessions, break-out discussions, and appallingly health conscious breakfasts and lunches, there were chunks of time set aside for networking and “continuing to discuss the material covered with other attendees.”

Naturally I chose to slip out, despite the ongoing rain, and use some of that time to explore the university’s nearby Rodin sculpture garden.  What can I say?  You can lead an introvert to people, but you can’t make her talk.  Or something like that.

I’m a big fan of Rodin’s work and was even lucky enough to see a number of his pieces in the Musée Rodin in Paris several years ago.  Looking the Gates of Hell yesterday, I couldn’t help but think of all the stories it contains and what a monument to persistence it is (he worked on it, on and off, for 37 years).

Next time I get discouraged with the progress on my WIP, I’m going to remember that persistence and be glad that I haven’t quite hit the 37-year mark with my current characters.

I have the day off work today, so I’m planning to make some good progress on my story.  I think a big cup of coffee and a round of Random Word Improv will be just the thing to wake up my creativity.

Care to join me?

Whether you’re trapped in a business meeting, indulging in your inner-news-junkie, flexing your creativity, or just enjoying the sound of the raindrops on the rooftop, a few minutes of Random Word Improv are a great way to have a little fun and get some words on the page.  I have some extra incentive to meet my writing goals today – Kristan Higgins will be at a local bookstore later this evening and I’m planning to go if I meet my word count.  Feel free to choose your own writing motivation.


For any of you new to Random Word Improv, here’s how we play:

  1. Pick as many words from the list as you want
  2. Write the first line(s) of a story (or a whole mini-story) incorporating your words
  3. Post your results in the comments section.

All right, let’s get started. Here are today’s randomly selected Gates of Hell inspired words– can’t wait to see what stories you find hidden in the list.

judgment           flame           beautiful       shade

river                   think             eternal          kiss

circle                 darkness      reward          meditation

descend            devil              sinner           hound

Are you ready?  Go!

*whistling aimlessly while you are off being creative*

Back already?  Can’t wait to read what you’ve come up with.

Happy writing to all.

5 thoughts on “Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints – Into the Inferno

  1. Oh, Elizabeth, you’re going to Kristin Higgins? I thought maybe I would, but I *just* finished the WME project, and it’s five o’clock, and traffic will be terrible, plus no dinner, so I decided not to, because she’s coming to our chapter meeting tomorrow and I’m definitely going to that. But it would have been a BLAST to see you at the bookstore reading!

    Okay, now I’m inspired to sprint…

    • Kay – sorry you didn’t get the chance to attend. It was fun. I just found out tonight that she will be at Saturday’s chapter meeting; It was too late to register when I found out, but I’m hoping there is still room for drops ins. If there is, I will see you there. In the meantime, I just started reading her new book.

  2. OK, got one! It’s a little long, but here we go:

    Something was wrong with her judgment, Verbenia thought, when she tried to bake on a rainy day. The sugar just didn’t work right when the humidity was too high.

    She adjusted the flame under her pot and glanced out the window at the river, beautiful in its eternal descent to the sea. Her reward today, had she finished her ambitious project, would have been to sit on its bank with a cup of tea and some of the fruits of her labors while she meditated on the perils of alimentary hubris. But she hadn’t finished, and darkness was descending. Maybe tomorrow.

    The sugar in the pot was cooking nicely now, coming up to a boil, and she would just have to take her chances that it would neither turn too soft nor form crystals once she was working it. As the thin syrup boiled furiously, she kept an eye on the candy thermometer. It would be a sin to ruin it at this point.

    Time! She yanked the thermometer out of the pot just as her hound, Gateau, who’d been lounging at her feet hoping for a miracle of spillage, lunged to his feet and barked, signaling the doorbell. Who the devil could that be?

    Gateau lumbered out of the kitchen, bumping into her portable island, jostling her work area, and—no, no, no! The parchment-coated flat pan, into which she’d expected to pour her sugar syrup, which would, humidity allowing, instantly form threads that would garnish her next creation—no, no, no! On the floor! Parchment sliding under the stove! No, no, no!

    “Get in here!” Verbenia shrieked at the front door. “Help! Fire! Help!”

    The door crashed open and footsteps charged into the kitchen. “What?” The UPS man shouted. “Who? Where?”

    “Pick up that pan!” Verbenia cried as she waved her pot of rapidly cooling sugar syrup. “Get the parchment! There! On top! Yes! Hold it!” The UPS man had valiantly followed orders, understanding at a glance the emergency. Verbenia was well-known on his delivery route. She did a lot of baking and ordered a lot of supplies. And bestowed many of her more fanciful efforts on the delivery team. Sometimes with coffee to go.

    “Will everything be all right?” he asked, holding the flat pan still as Verbenia gently poured the syrup onto it.

    “We shall see,” she said simply. “It looks a shade too light, but it is too soon to tell.”

    The UPS man retrieved the package he’d dropped on the front steps when Verbenia had called for help and stood with the little electronic gizmo for her signature in the circle of light from her kitchen pendant fixture.

    “Thank you for your help,” she said, scrawling her name with a flourish. “You have saved from disaster my cake that is to be the entry for the Greater Oak Trilling Dessert Bakeoff. Come tomorrow for the judging and have a slice.” And then she stood on her toes and gently kissed the UPS man on the cheek.

    He didn’t notice until he got back to the distribution center that she’d left on the chest pocket of his new brown shirt a light dusting of sugar crystals in the shape of her hand.

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