The Black Box Assignment

The Black Box Assignment

I recently attended a Creative Writing conference at MTSU. This was the fifth year for me to attend; something I look forward to each Fall. This year’s theme was The Writing Life, because “being a writer is a full life experience.” The table centerpiece was a tree of inspiration, both inspirational quotes and writing prompts designed to encourage the creativity of writing.


I’m still trying to digest everything I took in today, and decide what I’m going to do with it. One session I attended, which was called Writing Outside Your Comfort Zone, stands out in my mind. During the session we were asked to visualize something in the room or in our homes, and then to use 10 different adjectives to describe what we had chosen. The leader, an accomplished writer and poet, didn’t tell us what we’d be doing with it until after we’d selected both the object and the adjectives. Then she told us to write a poem using all 10 of the adjectives, and that the poem had to be about a loved one.

No problem, right?

Of course, it’s challenging enough to write under the pressure of time; especially an unrealistic time frame positioned in the middle of an already short session, and surrounded by a group of strangers. But for me the pressure added to the excitement of accomplishing something on the spot, rather than spending a lot of time rethinking and second guessing everything.

We set off to just writing.

I think that was the point. Getting out of our comfort zone starting first with not doing things the way we always have; not using the same words and phrases and other habitual behavior that we can easily get caught up in.

But had I known where she was going when she asked us to select an item, I’m certain I would have chosen something else. Yet, as I sat and just allowed myself to write, free flowing thoughts, using the prompts I already had listed, it felt good being creatively forced to utilize words and descriptions I would likely have never incorporated into a poem. At least not this type of poem.

When the time was up…I had created something. It wasn’t the best something, but it my something.

My writing. My creation.

To be honest, it wasn’t until I got to the end that I realized where my mind, and those prompts had taken me. And as I read back over it, both a smile and a tear appeared, as emotions I wasn’t expecting took over.

I don’t know why I raised my hand in agreement to read mine out loud. But that was another hurdle I was okay with having jumped over in this process.

I’m sure I’ll be tweaking it more over the days, while it’s still at the forefront of my mind. But for now, it is what it is.

And I’m okay with that.

The Black Box

A large black box.

That’s what they see.

Flat. Electric.

Just sitting there.

Until the power comes on.

Then it comes to life.

Informing.  Confronting.  Engaging.

It talks. It tells. It asks questions;

some questions you’d rather not hear.

It steals. Yes it steals, time.

Teasing you for the moment,

and in the next moment, hours have passed.

For me, it’s comforting; a connection.

Plopping down on the soft cushions,

watching the old shows you used to know.

The music; a theme song.

The characters we laughed at together.


Sometimes sad.

Because of you.

Because of time.

No longer sharing what was once our time;


Your time, alone.

Forever gone.

fullsizeoutput_4292Here I am with author Kamilah Aisha Moon, holding one of her book of poetry, Starshine & Clay.