Well, I feel compelled to offer another one of Terry Valley’s terrific photos for today’s “Half and Half” challenge. I could never match a shot like this, so I’m glad he lets me share his work.
Terry Valley had such a great time reading all of your stories from the last writing challenge based on his graphic art that he has sent me another picture – the result of further graphic art work by him. But he wants me to make it clear that he did not actually draw this picture. Rather, he took portions of other works and put them together to create this composite picture. One of his favorite artists is Gustave Dore, whose work is now in public domain in the U. S., and the main characters in this picture come from Dore’s work.
Terry also shared his original intent for the picture and explained what it means to him, but I have posted that well below the picture itself. That way, any of you who want to try your hand at responding to the writing challenge can be free to process what the picture inspires in you and write your story before you read Terry’s purpose and meaning behind it. Or – feel free to read his explanation first.
If you’d like to accept the challenge and write a story, just post it on your blog, come over here, and post your link in the “Comments” section below.
Word Limit is 100-500 words.
No time limit: Write when you feel inspired.
Take your liberty with ideas, but please remember this is a “G” rated blog, so all stories must adhere to that rating. I hope we have a lot of response, and I’m eager to read all the stories. Also, I guess I’d better try to write one as well.
Here’s Terry’s artwork:
Terry’s Explanation of What the Picture Means to Him:
“The picture is meant to portray the seriousness of our existence. We are not our own, despite the human pride that says otherwise. We belong to God who created us. If we do not realize this in this life, it will become terrifyingly clear to us at death. The scene shows a human being after his death at the portal to his eternal destiny, represented by a gate set in the unbounded vastness of eternity.
He is on his knees, hands raised in desperate terror, pleading with the giant spiritual being before him who guards the gate to eternity and is pointing at the formerly complacent human being who now realizes – too late –that his complacency has doomed him to eternal fire – which is perilously close and licks all around him and the Angel of the Gate, the Death Angel.
To make the man’s grief and predicament all the worse, in the far distance, behind him, can be seen a single bright star, which represents the glorious and joyous destiny that could have been his. The star is behind him, as is his life on earth; he turned his back on the glorious future that could have been his, if he had not wasted his life on himself instead of living for the One — Jesus — who created him for Himself.
This is the moment of moments in his entire life, the one, last moment that decides his destiny for all eternity. But in truth, that destiny was decided long before, while he was still alive on earth. Now it is too late. Judgment has been set – and it cannot be changed.
That may sound like a lot to see in a single picture, but that is why it was created and what I hope it portrays and communicates.”
This week I sent Terry Valley, the artist who created “The Green Planet,” the link our stories based on his artwork. He was thrilled with them and, since he also writes, he was inspired by our stories to write one of his own. I’ve included his personal letter in this post because he expresses his sincere thanks to everyone who took the time to create a story from his picture. So here is his letter, followed by his own story.
“Thank you so much for alerting me to your writing challenge. I read every one of the entries and enjoyed every one of them. I was also floored by the creativity of each one. WOW! Our infinite God has created an endless variety of unique individuals that reflect his own infinite resources and aspects of personality. I was so impressed by the stories and the individuals. They all sound like people you would like to meet in person. Failing that, what a wonderful opportunity blogs present for getting to know all the variety of people.
“You know, I had forgotten that I even sent you that picture. I am so glad you alerted me to how you were using it and the writing challenge. It is very satisfying and thrilling to see such good use made of it and how the picture inspired people to be creative themselves. Here is some background about my own process in creating the picture (although it was done some time ago, during my drawing phase, so my memory is not the sharpest on details.)
“I had only vague ideas of what I wanted to create; making a planet was one of the main ones. I love drawing planets; the opportunities for wide-open creativity are many, since you are not restricted to what is known about this planet on which we live.
“But I also am fascinated by mushrooms, so it was only natural to join the two, planets and mushrooms, together. I had seen a photograph or drawing (can’t remember which) of a mushroom group like the blue ones in my picture, and they were so haunting with their semi-transparencies,
like they were part of two worlds or in between two dimensions or worlds, that it seemed only natural to set them in such a space picture of other worlds.
“Then there was the matter of the disintegration of the planet. That wasn’t planned, as I recall; it came about because of an error in drawing the rings. I used a mechanical program to help me do that but had trouble matching the angles etc. to the planet. I noticed that the outer edge on one side was flaring away and did not match the ring angles on the other side of the planet. What to do? Well, what if the planet was disintegrating? That would explain the discrepancy. Voila!
“The planet is disintegrating; that is why the rings mismatch on opposite sides of the planets. Why let a mistake, if it could be called that rather than a creative happenstance, ruin an otherwise good idea? Rather, turn it into an opportunity for greater creativity. In fact, that is what I did. Then I thought, OK, the place is falling apart; how can other parts of the picture emphasize that fact and make it more interesting?
“In that regard, your story is one example of how your creativity was sparked by someone else’s (in this case, mine). You see, you said that the person on the rope was descending. When I was making the picture, to me, that person was ascending, going up to join the other person on top of the mushroom. Funny how two people see exactly the opposite thing in the same picture. Hmm. Maybe like evolutionists and creationists looking at the world — or a hundred other examples.
“Anyway, it wasn’t just you. When I read all those stories, I was amazed at all the things that the authors found or at least got ideas for some aspect of their story that I had never even considered. I was just drawing a picture that grew and changed in my mind, just like they were constructing a picture-story in theirs. I am a writer as well as an artist, so I know how both work. They are similar in that regard.
“Speaking of writing, I guess maybe I should try my own hand at a story for the picture. I haven’t written fiction in a long time. I have been concentrating instead on spiritual blogs in a Christian community of bloggers. Maybe it’s time to refresh my spirit in this other avenue again.
“A final comment about the picture. Originally, I entitled it “LOOK!”. I had none of the broader perspectives that your writing challenge authors came up. I was simpler in approach, but am so buoyed up by reading their stories and the broader and deeper and funnier approaches they took. Thank you so much and thank you to all who took the time to create their own contributions to this effort.
“As sort of promised (or warned), here is my contribution for your green planet writing challenge. — Terry”
“Look!” cried Larry, the lookout, from atop the giant, translucent, eerily blue mushroom. “Lookit-it!”
“What?” shouted Marston back to him, hanging for dear life by a slender thread beneath the same giant, translucent, eerily blue mushroom. (Marston, by the way, was his last name, not his first or middle–not that that made any difference just then, since his main concern at the moment was how to untangle the line and clip on his belt that prevented him from any further movement up or down the rope and thus preventing him from escaping the bombardment of the killer meteoroids.)
He knew he shouldn’t have bought their mushroom climbing supplies online; you just never know what you’re getting from those fly-by-night outfits.
He tried to untwist the tangled mess with his fingers, but it was no use; the thick gloves of his space suit were no match for the tight knot that had developed as he hung there suspended in space, who knew how far from the nearest civilization? “How had he ever come to such a perilous situation in the first place?” he thought.
Then, as he wondered why another tiny meteoroid was growing larger and larger, it suddenly hit him: He didn’t have the slightest idea! He knew only that ever since he had been a boy, growing up on the flat plains of North Dakota, he had wanted to be a spaceman, discovering and exploring new worlds. Now here he was, dangling from a rope from a giant, translucent, eerily blue mushroom, being threatened by a meteor shower that pummeled his body, his life hanging in the balance — and his partner in space exploration was yelling out to him to “lookit-it”.
“I’m lookiting!” he replied caustically from the midst of the acid fumes that were attacking his space suit.
Why are you still down there?” Larry asked. “Why don’t you come up here and look at this?” he shouted.
“You don’t have to shout, you know,” Marston responded. “I can hear you just fine through the radio.”
“Oh, right,” shouted Larry. “Sorry, forgot. What are you doing down there anyway?” he shouted.
“Oh, just hanging around,” muttered Marston, as the acid fumes continued to eat away at his space suit and the rope continued to fray, threatening to plunge him down to his death on the poisonous semi-giant, translucent, red mushrooms below, while there was no letup in the bombardment of the killer meteoroids. “How did I ever get into such a predicament,” he thought. Then he remembered that he had already asked himself that question. Maybe he should not be so concerned with the past and move on with his life. He was all for that –but just now there was a huge knot preventing him from moving anywhere.
Just then, the Nebulizer Emergency Replacement Device (NERD for short) kicked in and transported both of them to another dimension, where Larry found himself atop a giant, translucent, eerily blue marshmallow, calling out to his traveling companion below, “LOOK!”