Inside the soul of a writer

Primal Landscape

I had never heard of this term before hearing it in my writing class last week. I’m not even sure it applies to me as I spent my childhood in several different places. First, though, let’s get the definition out-of-the-way. The term “primal landscape” was first coined by Don Gayton from British Columbia, Canada a few years ago. It means “the landscape a person most identifies with.” The translation of that is essentially where a person was born and raised. The article I read also talked about how this land becomes known, familiar, and comforting. I would also say it could be upsetting and painful if a person’s upbringing was not the best. As might be imagined, this term was first coined as a geographical term, but there are other uses for it as I learned in writing class.

The writing class I’m taking is a class on setting and description which should be  important to anyone interested in the craft of writing. To set a novel someplace is to tell the reader where the action is taking place. A very important thing, I would think, so a primal landscape can be an important place to tell a story. My teacher assigned us the beginning of a story written in our primal landscape or the place where we had spent the most time up to the age of twenty-one. I immediately realized I didn’t have one of those landscapes in my background. My husband does though. He spent all of his growing-up years in one place. He could easily write a story in his primal landscape if he wanted.

But, the assignment was mine. I thought about all of the places I had lived. Virginia, Washington D. C., Florida, South Carolina, Ohio, and California. Then, I went back to South Carolina for college and eventually met my husband. We married and had our children there. The story could have been set in any of those places, or it could have been set where my grandparents lived as that was a place I frequently visited as a child. I picked a place and wrote the story. It was a deeply personal story so I won’t be posting it here. Let’s just say I learned the true meaning of what a primal landscape could do for my writing.

The term wouldn’t let me go though, and it made me wonder where my primal landscape actually was. I remembered what had happened two months ago, and it came to me. South Carolina. I had lived there for six years as a child, and I had returned for college. I settled there when I married, and both of my children were born there. In fact, two months ago, which was where this memory had come from, I traveled back there for the funeral of someone who has been important to me since college. So, I had the chance to travel backward in time.

I drove from the state I lived in to South Carolina on a Friday. I thought about my friend whose husband had died. They had been my adopted parents in college, and the whole family meant and still means a lot to me. When I arrived at the city, I could see there were some things that hadn’t changed. The intersection of interstates which locals call “Malfunction Junction” was the same as it had been when I was a child. The landscape itself seemed to have aged very little since the last time I had been there seven years earlier. There was one new thing I noticed though as I made my way to my girlfriend’s house. I saw a roundabout. Hadn’t seen one of those things since I lived in Michigan. (I’ve moved around a lot in my adult life too.)

Anyway, I made my way to my girlfriend’s house, and we spent time catching up that evening. The next morning she asked me what I wanted to do before the funeral. I asked if we could drive around so I could take pictures. We got in the car and off we went. Our first stop was the church where I had gotten married. It wasn’t even the same church anymore. The building was shared by another church and a school. But, it was still the same place. I had visions of coming out as a new bride and heading out on my honeymoon. There were so many people there celebrating our marriage with us. Family, friends, and co-workers. I took pictures, and we got back in the car. She asked where I wanted to go next. I told her to go to a certain elementary school where I had gone for fourth and fifth grade. We arrived, and the building still looked the same. I had a vision of my younger self taking her bike from the bike rack and crossing the street with a crossing guard. It was the same route I told my girlfriend to take. I wanted to see the house where I had lived from fourth through ninth grades. A few minutes later, I was staring at it. I took pictures and remembered. Remembered running up and down the street. Remembered where I had first learned to love writing. Remembered some of the most formative years of my life. It was a good memory, and looking back, I now know where my primal landscape is. It’s on a little street in South Carolina.

We finished our tour and headed back to my girlfriend’s house so we could get ready for the funeral. I had come back for a sad occasion, but somehow, I had found another piece of who I was. As I face this next phase of my life with an empty nest, it was good for me to find my roots and know the place which had poured the most into me.

Have a great day, everyone!

Advertisements

Imagination

Yesterday, I was listening to my writing teacher as she talked about the three kinds of research writers need to do–functional, to find facts; inspirational, to uncover and discover which opens the desire to write; and imaginative, to think about and plan the story they want to write. She guided us through several exercises of imagining ourselves in different settings. While I’ve always thought of myself as having a good imagination, I appreciated the fullness of the exercise. Being able to flesh out my writing with more details and complexity will make my story a better story, and that’s a good thing.

She did warn us though that it would be hard to stay in one setting for a full three minutes without our minds wandering. She was right. I constantly had to battle thoughts of what I needed to be doing, what was happening later on that day, and what was happening where I was. I found that I couldn’t keep my mind in the particular setting for very long. In fact, I had to try the exercise several times before I manage the particulars of it. I found it illuminating. Imagining myself in a particular setting could add more detail to my writing. I just needed to master the technique.

I listened to the rest of the lectures before arriving at the assignment for this module. My teacher wanted us to set a story in one of three particular areas and write the first pages of it. I looked at the three choices, and though I had personally been in each setting, nothing came to me. I couldn’t think of anything that would be a good beginning for a story so I decided to let it sit overnight. It turned out to be a good thing because when I woke up, it came to me. I could write a fictional memoir of one of the most traumatic times I had ever been in a hospital setting. I could bring awareness to a disease that’s rarely talked about, and it might end up being something I would want to finish. So, hospital setting it is. One more thing before I start my story. I do believe a story can be written without an author having personal experience with a setting. This is where functional research comes in so detail and context can be added to make the setting more layered. Now, without further adieu, here is the story I wrote for writing class.

An Invisible Illness

Kristen took the cup of coffee from her mother-in-law. “Thanks, Linda.” She blew on the top to cool it off and took a sip. ‘Ugh, typical hospital coffee,’ she thought to herself placing it on the table next to her. Linda had tried. She could see where creamer and sugar had been mixed in, but it still tasted awful. She settled back in her seat wishing that the bright, blinking lights could be turned down or off. “So, how long has he been in there?”

Of course, her father-in-law answered. “Fifteen minutes.” He tapped his watch. “It’s been fifteen minutes since you came out here. I’m keeping track.”

The calm that had enveloped her after the surgeon had prayed with her and Daniel threatened to evaporate. She took a deep breath. “Thanks, Bill.” The surgery Daniel was having wasn’t supposed to be complicated. ‘Just temporary,’ he had said, ‘and hopefully, it can be reversed in a few months.’ She took another breath trying to corral her thoughts. A colostomy shouldn’t be that bad, right? And if the medicine worked, they could put everything back together in three months. Then, Daniel would be healthy, and they could get back to living.

Another fifteen minutes passed. Then, thirty. They had been joined by the pastor, deacon, and women’s ministry leader of hers and Daniel’s church and her best friend, Bonnie, who leaned over and whispered to her, “Why do they all look like sourpusses? Aren’t church people supposed to be nice?”

Kristin covered her mouth so no one would hear her giggle. Bonnie could always make her laugh. She was right though. They all looked like sourpusses. She closed her eyes trying to fend off the raging headache that was threatening to come out. Bill’s voice roused her. “The surgery is taking longer than he told us. Shouldn’t the nurse come out here and give us an update?” He glanced around and then back at his watch, his movements competing with the bright, blinking lights.

As if almost on cue, the intercom sounded. “Mrs. Miller, we have an update for you. Mrs. Miller, there’s an update.”

Kristin rose and walked to the desk noticing that Linda had pulled Bill back down to his seat. She knew Linda had told him she was entitled to the information first, and she was grateful. Mother-in-laws didn’t come any better than Linda. She took the phone from the smiling nurse and said, “This is Mrs. Miller.” It seemed like the voice on the other end talked forever. Her eyes and mouth widened in shock. “Thank you for your update, ma’am.”

She handed the phone back to the nurse and walked slowly back to her group. Bill noticed her shocked look first. “What’s wrong, Kristin? Is Daniel ok?”

“They think he will be, Bill.” Kristin took a breath so she could get the info out. “But, he’s going to be in surgery for another seven-eight hours. His colon and rectum both need to come out, and they will be creating a permanent ileostomy. It’s all damaged beyond repair.” She sat in the chair like a balloon had deflated.

It seemed like everyone started talking at once and wanting further information. Finally, the pastor was able to get a word in edgewise. “I’m sorry, Kristin. I hope everything goes well, but,” he motioned to the other two from the church, “we will need to leave. We have other visits to make.”

Kristin schooled her features like she didn’t care. “Of course, Dr. Wilson.” She got up and shook his hand and the others. “Thank you all for coming.” The group left, and all she could think was that she didn’t have to maintain a church face anymore. She sat back down. “Anyone else want to take off?”

Linda shook her head. “Of course not, honey. We’re gonna stay…”

Bill interrupted her holding up his phone. “I just looked up what you said on this new-fangled phone. Daniel might be dying…” He stretched out the last syllable before rapidly speaking every possible thing that could happen.

Linda and Bill started arguing about his hypochondria and about appropriate things to say in the hospital. It was maddening to Kristin though she was familiar with Bill’s quirks. Finally, she had enough. “He almost died, you fucking moron.” Her volume increased with her anger and frustration. “He coded on the table, and they had to restart his heart. Hopefully, it won’t happen again, but right now, I need you to go away!”

Her in-laws and Bonnie stood with their mouths agape having never seen her that angry. Linda grabbed Bill’s arm and drug him away despite his protests. “You didn’t need to say that to her. And she’s right. You are a fucking moron.” She called over her shoulder to Kristin and Bonnie. “We’ll bring lunch back for you girls.”

Once they entered the elevator, Kristin sat back down feeling the tension ebb out of her. Were people always this stupid in hospitals? Bonnie joined her. “Better?”

Kristin shook her head. “I might have killed him if he had stayed.”

“What happened? Did Daniel really code?”

“Yes.” Kristin nodded grimly. “His Crohn’s has progressed further than the doctors thought. His colon and rectum are beyond repair. If they hadn’t opened him up today…” She left the thought unspoken.

“But, they did,” said Bonnie, “and they’re gonna fix it. Daniel’s gonna be there for you and your girls.”

“I hope so.”

“I know so.” Bonnie took her hands in hers. “You’ve taught me so much about Crohn’s Disease. I didn’t even know it existed until I met you and Daniel.”

“Yeah, it’s an invisible illness, all right. No one knows a lot about it unless they know someone with it or have it themselves.” She felt someone tap her shoulder and turned to see an older woman. “Can I help you, ma’am?”

The woman had short brown hair and welcoming brown eyes. “Hi, my name’s Stacy. My husband’s having a brain tumor taken out. She shook their hands. “I couldn’t help but overhear. Your husband has Crohn’s Disease?” At Kristin’s nod, she continued, “I try to learn something new every time we come to the hospital. Keeps my mind off of… Anyway, tell me about it. What’s Crohn’s Disease?

Kristin’s eyes teared up as she motioned for Stacy to join them. No one had ever been interested before. As she launched into her explanation, she smiled at Bonnie and her new friend. Maybe things would be okay after all.

Seven Years – The Good and the Bad

A lot has changed in the last seven years. My children are grown now. One will be done with college in May, and the other has just started college. They have navigated the beginnings of adulthood well, and I couldn’t be more proud. But, there should be something else now, someone else now. There should be a child running after his or her big brothers. She should be in the first grade starting this journey of an education and learning about life. There’s not though. It wasn’t meant to be.

One year after my miscarriage, I was able to write about my loss here. (https://writewhatyouknowdotorg.wordpress.com/2012/10/04/reflections-on-the-beginning-of-fall/) I was able to reflect on my loss and talk about all the good that had happened in my life since it had happened. I was able to say I was okay and thought I was moving on.

The grieving process though has been different every year. There have been years I have been overwhelmed with sadness on this day, and there have been years I’ve been reminded of how close Jesus was to me on that day though I hadn’t come back to faith yet. There have also been years when I’ve felt a combination of both sets of feelings. Sadness and peace. I haven’t quite been able to explain it, but I’m pretty sure it’s related to what has changed in my heart–the presence of God in my heart and my life.

I said in the first paragraph a lot had changed in the last seven years. There have been deaths, and there have been births. I’ve become friends with a precious little girl who has the same name my daughter would have had. There have been job changes and hospital stays. I’ve learned and grown from essentially living life, and it’s been good for me.

However, over the last several months, I’ve become convinced I needed to keep my bad feelings stuffed inside, and if I even thought of expressing them, bad things would happen. I’ve thought I had to do this because reflecting my bad feelings would mean I wasn’t reflecting the joy of the faith I’ve come to profess. Essentially, I wasn’t being real.

It’s something I’ve been thinking about, praying about, and trying to get a handle on. How do Christians have real joy and peace while considering such emotions as sadness, anger, and depression? Do we pretend when we’re not at home? Do we put up shields? I would think since God gave us all these emotions, we should use all of them, or we would just be robots, right?

Through my prayers and talks with God, I was reassured that it was okay to be real in my life. God is there when I shake with sadness, and He’s there when I jump with joy. He wants us to be real and to care only about what He thinks not about what others think. And if I needed more proof, I could go back to the first post I ever published on this blog in 2012. I leave it here for you and me to consider as we think about how to integrate all of the parts of our lives–the sadness and the happiness–into our writing.

Until next time, be real!

Inside a Writer’s Soul

Words….words on a page with no feelings or emotions behind them.  Is that what catches your eye when you read something? Or is it the words that have feeling and emotions that catch your eye? I have been writing stories for the last two and a half years and have been told that the best way to reach a person through words is to write what you know.  This is my plan for this blog. Why are we afraid to tell people what we really feel? To let them see inside our hearts? I think it’s because we’re afraid–afraid of rejection, afraid that what we’re writing isn’t popular, afraid of being real. For my first post for this blog, I want to share an experience that was very real to me and one that still resonates deep within my soul.

Almost eight months ago, my family and I had lived in our new town for just about a month. Unemployment had been our watchword for almost a year, but we were now beginning to get back on our feet with my husband’s new job. What I had not told anyone though was the extreme pain I had been in. We had held off on getting health insurance because of the expense, and I was hoping against hope that what I was experiencing was just normal monthly woman’s pain. It was not to be. By the middle of the day, I was bleeding heavily and barely able to get out of the bed because of the pain. My husband was worried and looked up my symptoms on the Internet, and we determined that it was highly probable I was having a miscarriage. It was on the side though of being something a doctor couldn’t do anything about, and we decided it would be better for me to just stay at home and wait things out. Thirty minutes later, I had a strong urge to push and barely made it to the bathroom before something came out. It was very, very small, but was still recognizable as a baby. A baby….I had lost a baby. Tears began pouring down my face.  I managed to get to the bed, and at that point, began my physical recovery.

The mental recovery though is something I would not wish on anyone.  My husband and children were amazing. I can’t tell you the number of laundry loads and meals that were taken care of without my having to worry about it over the next few weeks. The people we had met were pretty good too. I was especially grateful for the home school mom who took my kids for the afternoon a few days later so I could rest, for the manager who let my husband work from home the afternoon I had the miscarriage and for my four special girlfriends who I have a Facebook group with. But, the one thing that was hard was feeling like I couldn’t talk about it—feeling like I couldn’t talk about my pain and anguish— that people just expected me to move on.  There are health issues that are talked about; dare I say that are ‘fashionable’ to talk about.  I’m thinking of such things as breast cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. When a woman says she has lost a baby though, people don’t know what to say or they say something that wounds her further.  Why? Why is this loss not talked about? Wait, I can’t say it’s not talked about. There are people who are doing wonderful work with miscarriage, stillbirth, and infant loss support–on the Internet and in real life. It’s hard though, not being able to talk about a loss especially a loss that was early like mine was because people don’t consider it to be real. But it was real to me.

It might be a mistake to be real, but I won’t know unless I try. I’m reminded of a quote I saw on Facebook on a photo. “If you don’t make mistakes, you’re doing it wrong. If you don’t correct those mistakes, you’re doing it really wrong. If you can’t accept that you’re mistaken, you’re not doing it at all.”  (credited to I fucking love science’s photo that was posted on May 26, 2012)

Until next time, be real!

 

Respect the Creative

Today is the very first day I have ever seen my reasons for writing written in a book. I almost cried. Finally, there was someone who got it. Someone who knew why. I don’t have many people in my life I can talk to about this. And, out of those, most of them are either creatives themselves or married to one. The others don’t get it. So, today, I thought I would write about respecting the creatives in our lives even if we don’t understand them.

First, let me share the quote that touched me to my core. From Jennifer Probst in Write Naked, “Writing helps you find the lost pieces of yourself—those pieces that were misplaced, forgotten, or squashed long, long ago. Through words, we may carve a new path for ourselves or recapture the power to own who we are.” “Recapture the power to own who we are.” I think this is what I’ve been missing as I’ve started on this path of the next phase of my life. I am a creative, and that means I’m different. I think differently, react differently, and look for ideas and things I can translate into words. I always have a story idea rolling around in my head, and I want to talk about things that matter. Trying to fit into a mold I was not meant for is tiring, frustrating, and not what God means for me to do as I live my life.

So, how do I live like this and still live the life God wants me to live among the rest of the world? To answer this question, I think I first need to appropriate a term that the younger generation is using. I need to “find my tribe.” I remember the first time I heard it used. It was a couple of years ago when my older son had first left for college. During my life, I’ve heard it said that people gravitate to the people who are most like them. It’s certainly been true for my son who is in the nerd/geek social club and who now has a girlfriend with similar interests. That doesn’t mean he hasn’t tried different things. (Jamboree 2018 being a prime example) It just means that he has people he feels comfortable with in sharing the deep things of his life. He has “found his tribe.” While I have a tribe of online friends who are creatives, I think I need to do a better job of finding them in real life. People who won’t roll their eyes or tune me out when I want to talk about the important things in my life.

What about the rest of the world who aren’t creatives? How do I deal with them and have relationships without denying myself or going nuts with the banality of the world? The facetious answer would be to buy my own island and limit the people who I let come onto it. My husband and I have talked about this as a lottery goal when we’ve gotten tired of the world’s nonsense. But, that’s dreaming and not realistic, and we both know it. Back to my question. I think it’s important to realize not every relationship in my life will be a soul nourishing one. There will be conversations that mean little, and people who won’t support me or my goals no matter how much I’d like them to. There will be people who just don’t care despite the one or two things we do have in common.

I entitled this post “Respect the Creative” and promised I would give ideas on respecting the creative people in your lives. This is where those ideas are. 🙂  If you have a creative person in your live and sense them starting to drift away, ask them about their work. Ask them what they’re writing, composing, painting, crocheting, knitting…the list goes on. They want to talk about their work, but they want to be listened to as well. Pretending is something they can see through right away.

If their work is for sale, buy it or share it with someone you know would like it. Not only does it help a creative person eat, they know someone else appreciates their work and that they are leaving a legacy behind.

Finally, creative people need to know they’re loved and cherished by the people in their lives. They’re different, and they know they’re different, but they still need to know they’re loved and cared about. That is one need we all have in common.

Have a great day, everyone!

 

A Short Story

When I first started writing, I had trouble writing a story with a specific word count. I’d want to keep making the action move forward or describing the world I’d developed or putting more description and development into my characters. In other words, I would meander through my writing. 🙂 Now, that’s fine for the first draft of a novel or a short story. But then, I would need to enter the editing process, and I wasn’t sure of the best way to do that. So today, I thought I would describe the process I’ve been learning in my class about how to write a short story and about making word count. Then, I’ll post the story I wrote for my class for your reading enjoyment.

The first thing I learned was to make each word count whether it was a noun, verb, adjective, adverb, or any other part of speech. If one word could say what I wanted it to write better than two or three, it was all the better for my writing. The trouble I ran into was which words to use so I put a lot of thought into it while I was writing the first draft of my story and while I was editing it. It was a good process for me to learn–to make my story truly say what I wanted it to say and to make it “lean and mean” as some of my author friends would say.

The second thing I learned wasn’t necessarily from my class, or maybe it was something mentioned, but something I had already decided to try. I decided to write my short story about a moment in time. If the moment wasn’t a long-lasting moment, then it would be more likely I would hit the word count I needed to hit. It was interesting theory. I started writing, and the moment in my head started appearing on paper. I used the best words I could think of for each part fully describing the moment, but trying to be economical with them as well.

Did I hit my word count? No, I didn’t, and that brings me to the next thing I learned. I learned about editing and how it was supposed to work. When I finished the first draft of my piece, it was about ninety words more than I needed. I had been careful about my word usage, but my story wasn’t where it needed to be. This was where the editing came in. I was able to go back through my story and find more words I didn’t need or find a better way to state something with fewer words. I found I understood the process better after going through it this time for some reason. My story felt stronger, and I felt like it conveyed what I wanted it to say. I know this knowledge will help me as I begin to edit longer pieces and as I submit my work for possible publication.

Here is my story, “Belonging”, for your reading pleasure. Enjoy!

Crash! Clank! Melissa hung her head in shame. This was the second time this week her lunch had ended up on the floor. The cafeteria workers ran to clean up the mess, and she was sure she heard the Spanish word for clumsy in there. She replied in kind. “No soy terpe. Alguien me empujo.” A torrent of Spanish came from the worker.

After taking the sandwich thrust at her by the manager, she turned to go to her table. She gazed at the crowd. There was no indication of who had pushed her, but two of the cheerleader brats were hiding their faces behind their hands. Emily saw her staring and raised her hand in salute. “Enjoy your sandwich, geek girl!”

Knowing that Emily had failed their Spanish test earlier, Melissa yelled, “te odio, perra!” She walked away from the crowd. After sitting down at a table in the corner, Melissa gave rein to her churning thoughts. ‘I hate this place. I wish we had never left Peru.’ Her parents had been teachers at the international school in Lima, and she had loved her life. She had been accepted there. But now they were back in the United States, and she had to go to this stupid school.

“Excuse me, young lady.” Melissa looked up to see one of the janitors sweeping near her table. “I like your hair.”

“You do?” She cradled the magenta ends of her hair. “It’s inspired by Gamora on Guardians of the Galaxy. She’s so kick-ass.” She gazed at the long table with the cheerleaders and football players. “And she wouldn’t let Emily push her around either.”

The janitor followed her gaze. “Don’t worry about her. She’s gonna get what’s coming.” He stuck out his hand. “Name’s Oscar. What’s yours?”

“Melissa.” She shook his hand. It was nice to feel comfortable with someone. “What do you mean?”

“Watch.”

Melissa saw the cheerleading coach walk up to the long table. The coach spoke to Emily. “Due to your score on the Spanish test today, you are on probation. Gotta get those grades up, Emily.”

Emily screeched. “You can’t do that, Coach!” She tossed her hair. “I’m a cheerleader.”

The coach spoke again. “Yes, I can. You need to listen. Cheerleading isn’t everything.”

“But it is!” She burst into tears as the coach walked off.”

Melissa grinned. “You were right, Oscar. She did get what was coming.”

“Keep watching,” said Oscar.

At the table, the football captain was speaking. “You have to move.”

“Why?” asked Emily.

“You made the rule. Only cheerleaders and football players can sit at this table.” He gestured to another table. “Move along.”

Melissa wasn’t able to contain her laughter. “Best day yet at this school.” She looked back at Oscar who had a slight disapproving look on his face. “Sorry.”

“I need to get back to work,” said Oscar. “Let me tell you something. You are worth ten of those girls, even with your magenta hair. And…you’re gonna find your tribe. In fact, I think you and Natasha would get along just fine.” He motioned to the door where a red-haired girl had come in. “Ask her to eat with you.”

Melissa recognized the girl from her math class. “I will, Oscar. Thanks.” She turned back, and he had disappeared. “Huh? That was weird.” She watched Natasha go through the line and motioned her over to the table. As they both sat down to eat, Melissa realized she might have a chance to belong in her new school after all. She looked up. “Thank you, Oscar.”

 

Style

This week I’ve started a creative writing class through Wesleyan University called The Craft of Style. It’s part of a set of writing courses for people who are planning to participate in NaNoWriMo in November. In case you don’t know what this means, the abbreviation stands for National Novel Writing Month where those of us who are of the writing persuasion try to complete the first draft of a 50,000 word novel during the month. Anyway, back to my course. I thought for the next few weeks I would write about what I’m learning and provide excerpts from my writing assignments so I can accomplish some “practicing in public” time.

First up is style. Scribophile.com defines style like this. “Style is like a fingerprint, no two are alike. A function of diction, syntax, and voice, style tends to emerge from how you write rather than from a concerted effort to control it.” This is where I’ve always confused style with some of the other elements of writing. How can style be taught? Isn’t style just our own way of writing?

The answer to that is yes…and no. Notice the definition includes “diction, syntax, and voice.” I believe that is what makes style similar to setting, and it also explains how they’re both interrelated with description. The professor is using description to teach us about style, and it’s been fascinating so far. I’ve learned about taking a piece of writing and making it more vivid by the words I’ve used. I’ve also learned that making scenes clear and vivid are the underpinnings to having a great story. I rewrote something I had written a few months as part of an assignment using what I had learned and was intrigued by how different it sounded when I read it.

I know I have a lot more to learn about style and the other elements of writing, but, for now, here is my latest piece of writing for you to peruse.

Description Assignment

Kathleen Whitaker and her daughter Olivia looked up and around in fascination, barely noticing that their limousine had driven away. There was the red and black pagoda featuring the poster of the movie Kathleen had come to review. The building appeared as traditionally Chinese as the buildings she had seen in Beijing two years ago. She could sense the history oozing out of the building and into her pores. Looking up as she walked forward and studied the building, Kathleen didn’t see the person in front of her until it was too late. Oof! Crash! It was one of the waiters carrying a tray of cocktails. Kathleen helped him steady the tray. “So sorry, sir.”

He didn’t reply and walked off. She was almost sure she could hear him saying, ‘Tourist yokels,’ under his breath. She thought of replying that she was most certainly not, but then realized she had been acting like a tourist yokel. It was time to focus. She turned to her daughter who was wearing a gown identical to hers except Olivia’s was royal blue, and hers was midnight black. “So Livy, what do you think of your old mom now?” She motioned to the crowd and historic buildings around them. “Do you like it?”

Olivia was bouncing with excitement. “Mama, this is so fancy.” Her eyes widened at the sight of the red carpet. “Do we really get to walk on it?” Her mother nodded glad to see her so excited. They followed the crowd of reporters there for the premiere into the theater. Everyone oohed and ahhed at the gift shop, the concession stand, and finally, the elegant staircase and escalator leading to the theater itself. It was all so beautiful. She could hardly believe she had been asked to come to such an elegant place. Now, to see if the movie was as good as the theater it was being shown in.

Have a great day, everyone!

Dancing Better than Myself

Sorry about the lack of an entry last week. Life was…overwhelming. Anyway, back to today. How is dancing anywhere near like writing? Bear with me. All will be made clear.

I get many of my topics for this blog from my writing inspiration book, and today was no different. The entry was about Mikhail Baryshnikov who is recognized as one of the greatest ballet dancers of the twentieth century. I learned snippets about his life in communist Russia and when he danced with the Bolshoi Ballet before defecting to the United States. One thing I was surprised by was that he was not a star dancer for the ballet. He only had secondary roles because of his height. Maybe that was his reasoning behind saying these words. “I do not try to dance better than anyone else. I only try to dance better than myself.” He knew he would need to work hard to get to where he wanted to be so he set goals for himself that reflected his primary goal. His opportunity did come, and I was reminded of the benefits of setting goals.

It’s the same way with writing. We need to set standards for our own writing and work on continually improving our craft. I found it interesting that the author of my inspiration book says this as one of my goals is also publication. “Just as Baryshnikov set out to dance for himself, you must write for yourself. Even if your vision is to have a work published, you must first write a work that’s pleasing to you and that meets the standards you have set for your own writing.” (The Writer’s Daily Companion, Amy Peters)

Dancing better than myself or writing for myself. They both remind me of something that I think can be important for any career or pastime. Having a heart for it and going back to the basics for it. When my sons, who are both in college now, chose their majors, they looked for things they were passionate about. Things they could imagine themselves doing in the long-term. I look back on the process now and can’t imagine them not having a career in either. They have a heart for what they want to do in their lives, and I know it is something that will sustain them.

Then, there’s going back to the basics. Each career has something that’s basic to the heart of it. For the dancer, it’s the ballet barre. For the veterinary technologist, it’s animals and taking care of them. For the sports manager, it’s the love of the game. And, for the writer, it’s the page. Always the page. It’s where I find my heart and where I find my words. I hope as we all set our goals and do our best to meet them, we remember the passion that first brought us to writing and keep going no matter what.

Have a great day, everyone!