Tag Archives: wordpress prompts

Prompt Departure

When writing regularly I often used WordPress’s website The Daily Post and its daily prompts to provide me with ideas. I looked it up this morning (see, struggling for stuff to write about already) and discovered that, although the site is still there, it stopped providing daily prompts on May 31st last ….


It  was June 1st, 2018.

Today, so, would be different. Today he would sit in front of his computer, watch illegally downloaded shows, catch up on celebrity gossip, and stare at YouTube videos.

Ok, so not that different, he admitted to himself. He had done all of those things every day since he had started working at WordPress (during August 2014, for instance, he had watched more than five thousand ice-bucket challenges), but only, and this was important, after he had first finished his work.

Since WordPress started in May 2003 his job had been to provide the daily prompt, a seed of inspiration to bloggers long on aspiration but short on ideas. The job might not seem that taxing, the only necessary qualifications being ownership of a dictionary and the ability to open it at random, but remember that on Fridays he had to work three times as hard, providing prompts for both Saturday and Sunday, and didn’t get paid extra.

Besides, he was a professional, proud of his craft, and put a lot of thought and effort into his selections. He would play word games of his own. One month he chose only words with no letter “e” in them. One month he used only words that derived originally from French. One month he used the last word from every line in Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds (river, skies, slowly, eyes), and had had great fun reading the blogposts when he got to the word “pies”.

Because he did read all the posts, all of those that used “WordPress daily prompt” in their tags, and like a school teacher reading a classful of essays on the theme “what I did on my summer holidays” he would marvel at their sameness, but would occasionally be both astonished and gratified when, say, the word “branch” would produce a tirade about, say, the supersonic boom.

And over time the number of posts had grown.  Since nobody can think of something to write about every day, not even the owner of the blog My Cat Is My Life (there isn’t one, somewhat surprisingly), eventually all bloggers had ended up at his virtual door and he built up a huge following, of a size the bloggers themselves could only dream of.

Then he made his first mistake.

In November 2015 he used the word “panoply”, which he had already used in February 2006.

There was a time when such an error would have been ignored, but this is the digital age, when even the tiniest incongruity in a Star Wars plotline will be picked upon by people sitting in front of their computers, desperately looking for something to write feverishly about.

Which is unfortunate when your readership consists solely of people sitting in front of their computers, desperately looking for something to write feverishly about.

So the response was savage. People asked for his sacking, for a refund (of what wasn’t made clear), and, because not all bloggers know stuff, for WordPress to be thrown out of the EU. Things looked bad for him, for a while.

Well, for a day. The following morning he put up the word “moonlight”, and everyone wrote about that instead.

Because by now he was effectively subliminally controlling people, suggesting the direction in which huge numbers of them should think, and that was how, exactly one year later, he made his next mistake.

He put up the word “orange”, and accidentally rigged the US Presidential election.

He realised immediately what he’d done, of course, and the following morning he put up “red” as the Weekly Photo Challenge and “menace” as the Daily Prompt, and a bewildered Russia found itself blamed instead.

But the entire incident scared him, and indeed WordPress, and it was decided to wind the whole thing down. He carried on for another eighteen months, suggesting only anodyne words (such as, well, anodyne) and on May 31st he put up his last prompt (“retrospective”, rather fittingly, he thought), closed his office computer and door for the last time, and headed off into retirement.

Now, as he sat at his screen (“Watch the judges BUZZ TOO EARLY on Britain’s Got Talent!!!”) he found himself hoping that perhaps, one day, his story might in itself be a prompt, might provide one last idea for a story for one last blogger.

It would make a fitting farewell.





Pick A Letter

Sorry about the last week, my brain just stopped working, and I couldn’t think of a single thing to write about. I’ve been driven in desperation to WordPress’s prompts, and to one which asks us to pick a letter, any letter, and start each sentence in a post with it. Well, maybe it’ll get me going…


Begin each sentence with the same letter. Bloody hell. By the time I’d reached the second sentence I was stuck. Best if I choose some other letter, perhaps. But I can’t just give up so easily. Better writers than me probably would. Brainier ones, too. Bet Shakespeare didn’t spend his time doing this. Boswell either. Brown cows in a field would make a more exciting thing to write about than this. Bulls too. By gum, bulls and brown cows together, that would have possibilities. Butch Cassidy would have spend a lot of time around brown cows, because he was a cowboy. Brokeback Mountain – that had cowboys in it too. Bugger me if it didn’t. Balls of steel I’ll need if I decide to leave that joke in.

Pick a letter. Put it at the start of every sentence. Pretty simple? Possibly not. Perhaps I could pick a story topic that would help. Penguins could feature. Parrots too. Perched on their, well, perches. People might rather read a story about brown cows in a field. Pasture, really. Pasturised milk is what you’d get from them. Pathetic joke, I know. Prefer the one in the last paragraph? Paragraph was totally wasted there, I could have started a sentence with it.

Choose a letter and start each sentence with one. Cool. Can’t be too hard. Can it? Couldn’t I write about, say, animals? Cows, maybe. Could be brown ones. Corralled in a field. Clever, that. Cunning, even. Cowboys could also feature. Cassidy, the guy in the film. Cor, I can’t think of his first name just at the moment. Curious, isn‘t it?

Select a letter. Start each sentence with it. Sentences like this one. Sounds easy. Simple, really. See? (Silence). ‘Snot as easy as I thought, actually. Somehow ideas run out pretty quickly. Suppose I could write about animals. Sepia cows, in a field, maybe.

Tinman’s back. Terrible, isn’t it?

Sea Side Story

A WordPress prompt last weekend was “Grab the nearest book. Take the tenth word and write about it”.

WordPress often set prompts like this, not realising that most sentences have more words like “the”, “a” and “and” than they do words full of possibilities, such as “treasure”, “skullduggery” or  “Hogwarts”. The book I picked up was called “Shirley Flight – Air Hostess in Hollywood” (Shakespeare and Dickens do not feature much on the bookshelves of  the Tinhouse) and the tenth word is “she”…


She sold sea-shells. By the sea-shore. People spoke about that a lot.

Mainly because they were a bit baffled by her choice of career. If you’re going to sell sea-shells, a modest source of income in any case, then by the sea-shore, where free sea-shells are scattered all over the beach, is probably not the place to do it.

The shells she sold were sea-shore shells. I’m sure. I’m sure because it says that in the first sentence. Had she sold egg-shells, tortoise-shells or even armour-piercing shells she would probably have had a higher income, though the last of these would probably have got her arrested.

Her friend Molly Malone sold cockles and mussels. Live ones. This was a far better business idea, but unfortunately Molly died of a fever. People tried, but no-one could save her, so that was the end of that. And her.

At least it should have been, and the sea-shell seller could have taken over her business. Sadly Molly’s ghost kept the business running, and this was not a success. Shellfish can be dodgy at the best of times, so people were understandably wary of buying cockles and mussels that were more alive (alive-O) than the person selling them. Especially when that person had died of an unspecified fever.

Molly (after a bit of a disaster at a tanning salon)

Molly (after a bit of a disaster at a tanning salon) (photo via me)

So both ventures failed. Molly moved into a castle and into the haunting business, terrifying the residents with her plaintive cries while impressing them with her massive cleavage. The girl who sold the sea-shells moved to Africa, where she now tries to sell sea-shells at a camel-stop in the Sahara desert. If you hold one of the shells up to your ear you can hear the sea, which is bloody annoying when you haven’t had a drink for four days.

Some people just aren’t cut out for business.

Indigo Wart Leaf

WordPress’s Daily Prompt for today is “Scribble down the first ten words that come to mind. Pick three of them. There’s your post title. Now write!” I wrote down the words, decided to use the third, seventh and tenth, and the above is what I ended up with…


Jeb Culpepper III was a man with a vision.

He lived in Virginia, in the town of Old Smoky (in winter it was all covered in snow). Every homesteader in the town was growing tobacco, growing wealthy on the ill-health of others, and Jeb’s vision was to do that right along with them.

The problem was his land. His neighbours – the Winstons, the Marlboros and the Luckystrikes – all produced bumper annual harvests. His land, though, was an old Indian burial ground and therefore rumoured to be haunted, and while he did have a healthy annual crop of nettles, dandelions, briars and pond-scum, which was odd because he didn’t have a pond, only one type of tobacco leaf grew there. It was darker and more bitter than those grown by his neighbours. All attempts to market it as chewing tobacco failed because it tasted like crushed stoat.

One day he tried using it as snuff, and produced a sneeze that blew him backwards. Into his nettles.

The following morning, as if his problems weren’t bad enough, he looked in his shaving mirror and noticed – well, it was hard not to – that the wart that he had always had on the end of his nose (his mother had been a witch, just because the witch-hunts were a farce didn’t mean that there weren’t any) had turned blue. He cried out in horror, went back to bed and buried his disfigured face in his pillow.

The following morning the wart was gone.

He wondered about this, then a possible reason struck him. Hardly daring to hope, he went into town to the saloon and asked Old Warty McCoy to try some of his tobacco. Warty, whose name was simply short for ‘Stalwart’ (his siblings were Prudence, Temperance, Patience and Cynicism) told him to get stuffed, and directed him instead to Joshua “Pizza-face” Smith. After a few shots of whisky Joshua agreed to try the snuff, and his sneeze left the spittoon looking like a colander.

The next day Joshua looked like one of the guys from Avatar. The following day he arrived into the bar wartless and astonishingly handsome.

Indigo Wart Leaf was born.

Soon it was impossible to walk the streets of Old Smoky without meeting people with blue faces or blue hands. Others had no signs of blueness, but looked so happy that you just knew that they were using the leaf, and that it didn’t do to ponder too long on where their warts might be.

It was like living with the Smurfs.

Rivals tried to copy it, of course, but with little success. Gold Flake gave you dandruff on top of your warts. Gauloises made your warts smell of garlic. John Player Blue didn’t cure your warts, it just made you sad about having them.

Jeb eventually sold his land for millions of dollars and married one of the many girls who seemed to live upstairs in the saloon. The pharmaceutical company that bought the land sold the product in liquid form which could be applied to a wart like nail-varnish. They changed the name to St John’s Wart, and Indigo Leaf Wart vanished forever.

Well, at least until the Geldofs used the name for one of their daughters.

A Week Of WordPress, Day 7

WordPress want me to write about the topic I normally blog about as if I were a music critic. What I mostly blog about is me…


Tinman’s opera Worth Doing Badly is a piece written in many movements. In other words he writes on the bus both to and from work.

It opens with a long solo of maybe six months, during which he performs unaccompanied. Over time he is joined by a small but wonderful chorus, from all over the world.

He makes extensive use of the organ, that organ being his heart, as during the oft repeated theme “mio busto metallica, repetione?” (“I have a pacemaker, have I mentioned that before?”). The percussion section is much to the fore here, as he keeps banging on and on about it.

The piece has many bold sections, never more so than during the aria “mi multi bradpittzi” (“I am a Stud Muffin”). The brass section is particularly evident here, mostly in his neck, and in the blowing of his own trumpet.

The part played throughout by the wind section cannot be underestimated.

The strings hold the whole thing together, though only barely.  Some parts are “allegro”, meaning that he wrote them in a hurry. Most of the work is falsetto.

He keeps away from the very lowest part of the range. For example in this very piece here he has resisted the urge to use the word “flute”.

My enjoyment of the piece would have been improved by greater use of the Harp. Or possibly the Guinness. Any drink I could have got my hands on really.

I think that Tinman should attempt a ballet next.

If you want to see a load of balls, then he is definitely your man.

A Week Of WordPress, Day 6

WordPress want me to go to a favourite blog and write a companion piece to its penultimate post. Since I don’t want to risk upsetting any of my blogmates (they write sadly about the death of their cat, I add a frivolous piece about cat heaven), I took the penultimate post on WordPress’s Freshly Pressed section this morning. They described the post as  “What happens after you earn tenure? One professor explains” and without reading it, in case I made fun of it in any way, I simply wrote to the description…


It had taken many years, a lot of theses (by which I mean more than one thesis, not the use of the word “these” several  times), tons of research and the heavy use of Wikipedia, but finally the board of Lake Snowdrop University, Idaho, had offered me a permanent position. It was like passing some sort of initiation, though without the hazing and being dumped naked on Interstate 53 (though that did in fact happen, but only because of a misunderstanding with a girl with some really protective brothers).

I, Professor Henry Walton Jones, Indiana to my friends, Junior to my Dad, that eejit in the hat to my students, was in as Professor of Archaeology. I went into the staff room that first morning, eager to mix with the finest academic minds in the state.

Or Not. The Professor of Media Studies was watching TV, which might have classified as work in his case had he not been watching Sesame Street. The Professor of Creative Creationism was drinking, although it was nine in the morning. Professor of Marine Psychology was asleep, or quite possibly dead.

“Ah, Jones,” said the Professor of Vital Statistics, “welcome. Here’s the key to your office, it’s on the fifth floor of the East Wing.”

I headed out of the door and up towards my room. As I started up the stairs I looked up in astonishment.

A giant round boulder was rolling down towards me.

I hurled myself to one side, crashing through a door. And found myself in the college football team’s cheerleaders’ changing room.

I fled in a hail of screams and hurled underwear, and continued my trip upstairs. Five yards further on I stood on a particular step, then ducked as a hail of poisoned darts shot from the wall. One of them plucked a bra from my hat and pinned it to a skull resting against the far wall, obviously that of a predecessor who had not been as lucky.

When I reached the next flight of steps the floor suddenly slid to one side. I coiled my whip around an overhead beam, and dangled from it above a pit full of snakes.

I hate snakes.

I managed to swing to safety. I climbed the last few flights of stairs, fought off a group of Nazis who had appeared from some reason, wrestled a mummy (her son had wanted my job), and tripped (by tripping on) a secret lever, causing a ray of light to shine into the corridor that horribly melted the head of the Head of Ancient Studies, who had apparently set all of the traps, as he had felt that my position would make his redundant.

As I approached my office a brick wall had sliding down to seal it shut, but I slid under it just before it closed. The room wasn’t big enough to swing a whip in, it was old and musty, and I hadn’t a clue how I was going to get out, but I smiled happily to myself.

In my time I had found the Lost Ark, The Temple of Doom and the Crystal Skull, but now I had tenure.

It’s the Holy Grail of Academia.

A Week Of WordPress, Day 5

WordPress ask us to “Craft a scene in which you meet an opposite version of yourself”….


I was sitting in a coffee shop, working on my blog, when a voice said “Are you writing a story?”

“No, I’m crafting a scene,” I said, a little proudly. “WordPress says so.”

“Your name’s Tinman, isn’t it?”

I looked up then, and felt somehow that I was looking at myself. I’m not sure how I felt that, I’m short, with brown hair and brown eyes, whereas the other person was tall, with blonde hair and sapphire-blue eyes.

And she was a girl.

We were both gorgeous, so we did at least have something in common.

“How did you know my name?” I asked.

“I sensed you as soon as I came in here,” she said. “You’re a regangleppod.”

I frowned. “Have you just insulted me in Welsh?” I asked.

“Look, let me explain,” she said. She sat down opposite me, then looked deep into my eyes. It felt oddly familiar, yet disturbing, as if we were soulmates but she had just punched me in the soul.

“It feels like looking into a mirror, doesn’t it?” she said. “And in a way it is, because just as a mirror shows everything backwards, you are the exact opposite of me. Apart from us both being gorgeous, of course, I don’t understand how that happened.”

She had a habit of flicking her hair back as she talked. I never do that, though it’s mainly because I don’t have enough hair.

“You know how they say that everyone has a doppelganger?” she continued, “Someone on the planet who is exactly the same as them? Well, everyone also has a regangleppod, someone their exact opposite. You and I are unkindred spirits, and I don’t mean that unkindly.”

“How do you know all of this stuff?” I said.

“I’m a Professor of String-Theory Physics at Trinity College,” she said.

“String Theory?” I said.

“Yes, it means that we’re all connected by a metaphysical piece of string,” she said.

“I see,” I said, “and you and I are one of those knots that you can’t undo without breaking a fingernail.”

“Exactly. And to answer your question, I knew that you’d be called Tinman, because my name is Namnit.”

“Er, that’s not a girl’s name you hear very often.”

“It means ‘brightest blossom on the flower of true enlightenment’ in Sanskrit,” she said. “And Tinman’s an odd name for a guy,” she said, “unless your parents were obsessed with Judy Garland.”

“No, I have it because I have a pacemaker in my chest,” I said.

“Well, I have fake boobs,” she said, “so perhaps we’re not quite as different as we thought.”

I stared at her. “A professor with fake boobs?”

She blushed. “I am still a woman,” she said. “And it’s so hard to get guys interested in you when your IQ is so much higher than theirs that they’d need snookers even to get it close.”

“I see your problem,” I said.

“And what do you work at?” she said, then clapped one hand to her mouth. “Oh, I’m terribly sorry, I shouldn’t have asked that. It obviously has to be something really mundane and unimportant.”

“I’m a firefighter,” I said defiantly.

She raised one eyebrow.

“Ok, I work in an office,” I mumbled.

We both smiled. “Do you know, it really has been nice to meet you, Tinman.”

“And you,” I said, holding out my hand.

“Oh, we can’t touch,” she said. “It would be like the sun touching a black hole. It would destroy the galaxy.”

“Oh,” I said. “Then there’s no point using my ’opposites attract’ chat-up line, I suppose.”

She smiled again, and stood up. “It would be safest if we left separately,” she said.

I watched her as she walked towards the door. She had fabulous legs with an astonishingly pert bum swaying gently above them.

“I know what you’re doing,” she said, without turning around, “and you should stop it. Since we’re basically each other in reverse, it’s like looking out of your own arse.”

A Week Of WordPress, Day 4

WordPress’s prompt is called Freaky Friday, and says “Who would you like to have spend a day as you and what do you hope they’d learn from the experience?”


It was cold in the office that morning, colder than the heart of my ex-wife at my alimony hearing. The door opened and a guy walked in. I could tell just from looking at him that he was the sort of guy who was used to giving orders, by his expensive tie, his tailored suit, his shoes so shiny I could see up his trouser legs.

“Tinman?” he said.

“You’re lookin’ at him,” I said.

“I know,” he said. “You’ve been working here for seven years.”

That was probably another reason why I knew he was used to giving orders. It seems he was my boss.

At least he was today. I went to bed last night as just an ordinary private dick, and woke up this morning, as a blues singer would say, to find that I was someone else. Apparently it’s something called Freaky Friday, you get to be another person for a day. I’d been this Tinman guy for half the morning now, and I seemed to have a job more boring than a Jennifer Aniston movie, a mug that said “you don’t have to be crazy to work here – it’s just co-incidence that I am” and a desk drawer full of paper-clips instead of scotch.

It seems that I was still a dick.

“You gotta job for me?” I said.

“I need a report done,” he said.

I was a bit worried by this. My reports tend to be about cheating husbands, pilfering House-staff or people who claimed insurance because they were dead, while they were actually lap-dancing in Poland, or sometimes pole-dancing in Lapland. I didn’t think he’d be interested in any of these.

There was a second desk in the room. I nodded towards it.

“Couldn’t he do it?” I asked.

“Joe’s off,” he said. “Swimming with dolphins.”

That was enough. If people who messed with this guy ended up swimming with the fishes, then messing was not gonna be coming from me.

“You’ll have your report by lunchtime,” I said. “What’s it about?”

“I need to know the total expenses for the last quarter,” he said.

I brightened up quicker than a light-bulb in a, well, light-socket. If there’s one thing a private detective knows how to build a report about, it’s expenses.

I spent the morning putting down random figures for phone calls, for gas, for pills to cure gas. I put in flights to Dubrovnik, Dunedin and Dublin, even though  we were in Dublin. I put in for meals for each employee, sometimes eleven in one day. I put in a bill for hiring a private detective (the real me) to vet new employees, and for a vet to vet the fish for the aquarium in the lobby. Finally I put in two hundred quid for the cost of printing the report (I actually just photocopied it) and left it on the boss’s desk.

I think he might shut the company down if he actually believes how expensive the report says it is to run.

As I left at lunchtime I walked out past the receptionist. She was a real doll. She had more curves than a Yankees pitcher in a game against the Red Sox, legs the length of the Lord Of The Rings box-set and a great pair of baps, which she was going to eat for her lunch.

“Hi, gorgeous,” I said.

“Get stuffed, Tinman,” she replied.

I got through an afternoon as dull as a sunny day in Tipperary, went to Tinman’s local on the way home, and drank something called Guinness. It doesn’t just beat scotch, it swings it round its head, throws it onto the ground and jumps on it. I’m never going to drink anything else.

And what did I learn from it all? Well, if you want to walk a mile in somebody’s shoes, try to make sure you both have the same size feet.

When I wake up tomorrow I’ll be back in my own life. I’ll be lied to by dames, beaten up by crooks, shot at by mistake.

I can’t wait.

A Week Of WordPress, Day 3

Last night’s WordPress prompt was “You receive a call from an unexpected person. Who is it, and what is the conversation about? Go!”…


It was mid-afternoon in Ireland when my mobile rang. “Hello?” I said.

“Good morning, Jim,” said an American voice.

“Er, I’m not Jim,” I said.

“Not Jim Phelps?” said the voice.

“No,” I said.

“Of course not, Jim, obviously you can’t reveal your identity over the phone,” said the voice. “Anyway, the man you are looking at is Doctor Vaclav Baros.”

“I’m actually looking in the hall mirror,” I said, “so the man that I’m looking at is me.”

“Are you not looking at the photograph in the file?”

“No,” I said patiently, “because you’re talking to the wrong person.”

“Ok,” he said, “let’s pretend that. Anyway, the man you are not looking at is Doctor Vaclav Baros. He is a micro-scientist who is currently working in a large factory in Czechoslovakia. We are afraid that he might be developing a nuclear programme there. Your mission, Jim, should you decide to accept it, is to go to Czechoslovakia, kidnap Doctor Baros, and bring him to the US where he will work for us.”

“There’s no such country as Czechoslovakia anymore,” I said.

“You mean their nuclear programme has met with disaster?” said the voice.

“No, I mean they’ve split -”

“- the atom?”

“Shut up and listen,” I said. “They’ve split into two separate countries – the Czech Republic and Slovakia.”

“Well, that is good news,” said the voice. “It’s a real pain in the arse having to type “Czechoslovakia” over and over again in your reports. When did this happen?”

“After the Berlin Wall came down,” I said.

“The Berlin Wall is gone?” he said. “Did you blow it up?”

“No.” I said.

“Of course, you have to disavow any knowledge of your actions,” said the voice.

“How come you don’t know any of this?” I said. “Don’t you have a diplomatic department?”

“Chinese walls,” said the voice. “None of our departments talk to each other. That’s why it’s called secret intelligence.”

“Have you even Googled this guy?” I said. “Because I just have, while I‘ve been talking to you. His Facebook page says he’s a micro-brewer, which makes more sense. The Czechs don’t produce bombs, they produce beer.”

“And women javelin-throwers the size of pandas,” he said.

“Not any more,” I said.

“Oh.” He sounded oddly disappointed. “Well, we still want Doctor Baros to come here.”

“He’s not a nuclear scientist,” I said.

“No, but he’s a brewer,” said the voice, “and our beer is shite. So, your mission, Jim, should you -”

“You seriously still want to go ahead with this?” I said. “You want me to fly to Prague -”

“Why Prague?” said the voice.

“It’s the capital of the Czech Republic,” I said patiently.

“Not Helsinki?” said the voice.

“Finland,” I said. “Anyway, you want me to fly to Prague, take the train to the town of Narnia (mean, I know, but he was asking for it) where the factory is, drive past security wearing a mask that looks exactly like Baros’s face, walk through the car-park and have no-one notice that I’ve apprnetly shrunk by about six inches, climb the outside of a really tall building hanging on by my toes and kitchen gloves, cut a hole in a window with a laser that I’d have to hold in my nostril, cross a floor dangling from a contraption like a baby-bouncer, knock out a man bigger than me, carry him somehow back down the outside of the building, presumably by holding him by the collar between my teeth, put him into the passenger seat, drive back out past security hoping that they won’t notice that there are now two identical men in the car, then smuggle him onto a plane in a case the size of a handbag, since that’s the largest luggage Ryanair will let you bring on these days.”

“Well, it’s not called Mission Impossible for nothing,” said the voice, a touch defensively.

“Why don’t you just offer him a job?” I said.

There was silence for a few seconds.

“Or,” said the voice slowly, “we could do that. Thank you, Jim, that’s an excellent plan.”

“You’re welcome,” I said. I hung up and walked back towards the TV. Then the house-phone rang. Just as I picked it up I could hear the beginnings of a soft hissing sound.

“Sorry,” said the voice. “I forgot the part where I say that your mobile will self-destruct in five seconds.”

“It would really have helped,” I said, through gritted teeth, “if you’d told me that before I put the phone into the front pocket of my trousers.”

A Week Of WordPress, Day 2

Last night’s WordPress prompt was “why do you blog?”….


“So he’s back,” said Word Press.

“Who is?” asked his underling, Tag Category.

“Tinman,” snarled Press, spitting out the name as it was a mouthful of cod-liver oil. “The guy who spent all of last year slagging all of our daily prompts has just decided that he’s going to use them for the whole week no matter, and I quote, how daft they are.”

“Wow,” said Tag. “He must have really bad Writer’s Block.”

“You can’t get Writer’s Block,” said Press, “if you’re not a writer.”

“But he writes,” said Tag.

“He blogs,” said Press. “That’s not the same thing. It’s like saying that someone who flips burgers in McDonalds is a chef.”

Word Press did not like writers. He did not like literature. His parents, who did like literature, had called all of their children after literary characters – Heathcliff, Daisy, Holden, Jo, Atticus and Tarzan. By the time he came along they were too tired to think of another one, so they had called him Word, since that is in all literature, everywhere.

His middle name, which he had never told anyone, was Pagenumber.

It was his hatred of literature that had led him to form WordPress – a outlet for the masses to fill the internet with pictures of their budgies, news that their constipation was now cured and opinions about everything, including opinions.

In the vast oceans of dross thus created, he reckoned, works by Shakespeare and Dickens would sink unnoticed beneath the virtual waves.

And of all the bloggers in all the gin-joints in all the world, his pet hatred was Tinman, with his ludicrous stories about Batman and Dracula and Goldilocks.

And now Tinman had come crawling back. Word Press smiled.

“Put up the big one,” he said.

“Oh boss, no,” said Tag. “That’s just too cruel.”

“He asked for it,” said Press. “He called yesterday’s post “A Week Of WordPress, Day 1”. He can’t refuse to take this one on, after just one day, he’d look like an idiot. Sorry, more like an idiot.”

“But they’ll all get the same prompt,” said Tag.

“Well, of course they will,” said Press. “We can hardly personalise it – we can hardly say that today’s prompt is “seriously, Tinman, why do you bother?”.

“But it’s our Doomsday Prompt,” said Tag. “The Ultimate Question.”

It was true. The prompt “why do you blog?” would destroy blogging forever, as bloggers who tried to take on the prompt would quickly realise that there was only one answer – “I don’t know”.

“Yes, and can you imagine what he’ll write?” said Word Press. “He’ll never admit the truth. He’ll come out with some shite about trying to make people laugh. He’ll talk about his blogmates. He’ll slip in some mention of his blackouts and his derealisation – let’s face it, he’d manage to mention them if he was writing a post about hedgehog-farming. But no matter what he reason he gives he’s going to have to look into the very depths of his being, and realise that he’s a talentless twit with a pointless hobby. Even if only in his own soul, he’s going to have to expose himself, like a virtual flasher.”

Tag sighed, and clicked “Publish”. The prompt went out, and Word Press swore that he could almost hear the gasp of horror that crossed the whole virtual world.

He smiled grimly to himself.

“I’d like to see him try to make a story out of this one,” he said.