What Do You See?

Published July 1, 2013 by rochellewisoff

It’s been over a year since the beginning of my captivity by Friday Fictioneers. From the first I was hooked on the challenge of writing a complete story in one hundred words or less. Sometimes they came effortlessly. Other times I’d agonize for a day or so. And some photos presented bigger challenges than others.

As I recall the following photo posted by Friday Fictioneers originator, Madison Woods, put some people off. At first glance at this photo of grapevine ooze I also thought of sitting out that week. The thought passed after a minute or two.

WILD LIFEUltimately, this is the story I wrote:


Half naked Himba people in Nambia, a sweaty camera crew and millions of TV viewers witnessed our marriage vows.

I willingly followed Trevor up the Himalayas, drank sun-scorched canteen water instead of Cabernet and swatted mosquitos in the Amazon.

In Nepal he slipped on something and narrowly escaped being trampled by a choleric elephant.

“I’m done,” he whispered later. “Let’s go home.”

“You are my home.”

Back in the states, safe from cheetah attacks and hippo stampedes, Trevor’s mangled body lies on a cold steel table. The driver, texting on her cell phone, never saw him cross the street.


Do you see the glancing reference to the prompt? Hint: “In Nepal…”

Looks like something a person could slip in, doesn’t it? Perhaps one of the elephants left his load in the middle of the road. 😉

Another story that garnered a few questions (and a bit of controversy) was one of my favorites from the following photo.

Copyright-Scott L. Vannatter


            Like the anguished images that flashed across our television, Friday, November 22, 1963 will ever be etched into my memory in black and white.

Walter Cronkite wept on camera.

The nation mourned.

Dazed, Mom sorted Christmas ornaments at the kitchen table and mumbled empty phrases. Dad dropped to his knees, laid his head in her lap and sobbed.

“He was my hero!” I screamed.

My eleven-year-old world spun out and I kicked at the two faceless uniforms.

Their vacuous condolences pelted me like the bullets that killed my big brother in Vietnam.


            I’ll never forgive Mr. Kennedy.


“How on earth did you arrive at that story?” asked one of my fellow FF’rs.

My process went something like this:

The kitchen in the picture is quite dated. Looked like 1960’s to me.

What happened during that era? Kennedy assassination. How did this affect my protagonist? That part took a fair amount of research which is something I love, almost as much as the writing itself.

If you look closely, there is a passing reference to the Christmas ornaments on the table. (Sorry, Kitty, didn’t find you particularly interesting. 😉 )


A prime example of stepping outside the box,  inspired by the same photo, is from Doug MacIlroy.  http://ironwoodwind.wordpress.com/2012/12/21/cathouse-kitchen/ 

Or this one, also from Doug. http://ironwoodwind.wordpress.com/2012/08/24/echoes-of-love/


Included in my intro to Friday Fictioneers is a quote from Henry David Thoreau. It’s my motto. I hope it will inspire others. 

“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.”

43 comments on “What Do You See?

  • Dear Rochelle,

    I look at the prompt, step outside of the box, seal it up and FedEX it to the other side of the globe, then settle in where I am and let my imagination run free.

    Thoreau nailed it and you are wise to post that quote every week.( I wish more people would take it to heart. But that’s just me.)

    Thanks for linking to two of my stories.




    • Dear Doug,

      Indeed, your writing caught my eye very early in the game. You’ve been my role model ever since.

      Thanks for commenting and allowing me to share your stellar work.




  • I remember that ooze hesitation! So glad you decided to put your distaste aside and step outside the box 🙂 The rest is history after that. The cat photo prompted one of my own favorite stories. The Fictioneers have been responsible for so much great fun and stretching of my writerly self in all sorts of ways. This was a great post, Rochelle. Thanks!


  • One thing a learned from my days at uni many years ago is that like Thoreau said, language is what we all use, and we come at it from different contexts and experiences. Therefore one person’s response to your work is always valid considering how they connect with the language or in your case the image you present each week.
    Hence the wonderful variety of responses you receive each week makes FF such a vibrant exercise. I wish I’d heard about it a year ago.


    • Dear Summerstommy,

      Besides the 100 word challenge, the diversity of this group is what fascinates me. I’m happy you enjoy it. The important thing is that you’re with us now. 😉




  • Rochelle,
    Friday Fictioneers has been quite an exercise in trying to think outside the box, or at least outside the norm of what is in the picture. Thank you leading the charge every week and choosing the pictures. I can understand you feeling held captive by it. Do you think you will step down at some point? I hope not, although I would understand.
    (It’s funny: when I first saw that you had posted a little thrill of fear went through me and I thought, ‘what day is it today?’ You’ve trained us well. 🙂 )


  • Thank you Rochelle for this interesting peek into your process, especially the parts about researching and navigating the photo! Although my blog is practically all poetry, I always try to make time for FF. I have learned to fine-tune my writing, insisting on exactly 100 words. I have also had fun and made friends reading other entries. Thanks so much for providing us all with ways to expand. Peace 🙂


  • I’ve just read “The Final Declaration” prompt story for the first time, and I found myself sobbing with the eleven year old.

    One of the things I love about Friday Fictioneers; it makes you laugh and it makes you cry. It’s rare- if ever-that you just go, “Oh yeah, that was okay.” Something I really look forward to each week is what name Russell will think up for Rochelle 😀


  • I remember both those stories. The pic from Madison was my first one, too, I believe. I know it was very early.
    The second one I provided. It was a Christmas pic from my sister’s home.
    Wonderful reads,


      • Dear Lynda,

        Happy to inspire.

        Some prompts are tougher than others. And honestly, I don’t usually have a story when I choose a prompt. And then I ask myself, “Who’s the idiot who chose this one?” Therein lies the challenge. 😉

        Yes, I welcome new photos. I have queue built up but am always open to more.




  • Thanks for this little glimpse into history. I remember enjoying both those stories first time round too. Funny how you say that cat photo prompted controvery – in my case, so much so I had to take my response to it down.
    I admire the distance you leap from the prompt – I only wish I had your imagination!


    • Dear Jen,

      I’m intrigued as to what your original comment was. Indeed, you were the FF’r who asked me how I arrived at that story. 😉

      There was some consternation among some that I’d stepped on the hoof of a sacred cow.

      Thank you for your comments.




  • I think the diversity of response is a great testament to your quote. We hardly ever see the photo the same way. There may be similar slants, but no two stories are the same.


  • This is kind of like a TV show. Created by Madison Woods, produced by Rochelle Wisoff-fields and written by a host of people who are actually starting to gain some real momentum as writers. Here’s to the next year and a prompt that gets 100 responses!

    As The Great One, Jackie Gleason, said, “Maestro, a little travelin’ music. And A-WAY we GO!”


  • Its amazing how you come up with the story idea with pic 1. Both stories are interesting. Second story shows you are very observant person. This is the key I think. Your FF is captivating. God bless you.


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