Monday, March 7, 2011
A pear tree drapes herself in white lace,
Blushing behind clouds as she slips on her garter,
Preparing to renew vows to Spring.
A hard mint winter is finished
She trembling in breeze, gown billowing,
Cloud curtain parting, morning sizzling.
Colored birds fire up their instruments,
Singing fluted emotional melodies,
Let the bride be the envy of nature
Let the bride dance and be desired.
And she waltzes in wind, scattering fragrance and lace,
Luring all to her fiesta,
Earth sighing, breathing and remembering,
The yearly celebration.
And Spring, giddy as ever, sprinkles guests with flower cake
And rich vanilla ice cream promises,
Of more to come.
But he saves the best for her,
Ringing lavender tulips beneath her skirt
A wedding band of promise,
Which melts cold winter limbs,
Now written in white.
Thursday, November 4, 2010
A good fire is stunning. I’ve been known to burn leaves just to see flames lick the sky. In my opinion, there's nothing finer than sitting around a campfire on a crisp evening, hearing conversations and laughter of family and friends. Or inside, when windows are iced, fireplace roaring, wood snapping and crackling. It warms bones and hearts chilled by a sometimes cold world.
Words to me are like fire. Pick the right ones, and our stories flame and mesmerize. They can illuminate a black night, or crack out the sun on an overcast day. We don’t need fancy selections. Put too many snooty words in, and all we've got is one stuck-up story. But I still believe a story told with added flare warms us.
We could say, “ As I was driving, leaves blew from the trees.” Or we could say, “As I was driving, wind high, every tree seemed to shiver, their raggedy foliage blowing away, leaving them naked in fields.” Can you picture that? It was my visual today.
Not every sentence in a story needs to be that descriptive, but throw one in occasionally and it’s like tossing a handful of dry pine needles into a dead fire.
If we extend our vocabulary, choosing words that breathe, we can make a story live. And still grasp our hearts when, we, the reader, are long finished.
Once, I walked past a campsite at dusk and spotted a man, stretched back in his recliner. I loved the visual so much I used it in Jack Rabbit Moon. Here’s what I came up with. “Under a shady oak tree, a man sat in a green recliner. I thought he was the epitome of intelligence, bringing his chair like that. Without moving, he could have the moon for dinner and stars for dessert.”
That chair, and a man I didn't know from Adam, will long live in my memory. In my opinion, he was one smart dude.
Words are everywhere. To write well, we only need to pick them up, over and over, and spin them into flame. Besides reading many fine books, by some outstanding authors, I sometimes study the Dictionary and Thesaurus. I’m not lame or boring, just a woman who has a thing for words. And a hot fire.
Monday, October 25, 2010
When winter laughs at her icy secrets,
and blows her ragged skirt,
Rose, once adorned in red velvet,
whispers, “I was a queen.”
Winter howls and her branches droop.
But blackbird arrives, festive as ever,
his shiny black cloak,
smoldering up her cold limbs.
He sings of spring; spicy orchards bursting into bloom,
and bees murmuring while sipping nectar.
He plays his flute like a gentleman.
“I know you, Rose,” he trills.
“You are lovely and delicate.
Ignore crackly old winter.”
Rose weeps at blackbirds melody,
there through sunlight and shadow,
in velvet and rags,
he adoring them equally.
As he plays for her, snow tiptoes down,
coloring him white.
Friday, October 15, 2010
I’ve never met a garden I didn’t like, although some I’ve taken to more than others. Growing up, we always had a huge vegetable patch, which we had to toil in, so on hot, sweaty days I didn’t favor that kind.
There is another variety, though, I’ve never minded working; the flowery, delicate garden. Even better are those brazen sweeps of color erupting in lonely fields, nothing but Mother Nature cradling and kissing them. They are wild and raw and turn your head affairs. If your car windows are down, you can sometimes detect the smell of cherry licorice or cloves, the air thick with scent. They shock and awe us. Rattle us awake. Like a little kid they shout, “Look at me! I made this just for you.” And we are left gaping.
I’m never more alive when I discover a field bursting with Indian paintbrush, like millions of ragged orange tubes of lipstick smearing the landscape. Or purple Popsicle bluebonnets, tinged with vanilla on top. And a dirt floor of Queen Anne’s lace, winter white fancy skirts on long, scrawny legs, dancing real slow as far as the eye can see.
Recently, in Vermont, I happened upon these amazing trees, decorating old cemeteries, limbs screaming with creamy white and pink buds. They look like lilacs, but not quite. Maybe someone will recognize this lovely thing by the picture I took.
Today I discovered a wild patch of black-eyed Susan’s, mingled with cedar, along a busy roadside, putting on a lavish butter yellow show. Tall and regal, they exploded in the sun. These tickets were all free. Joy comes in all kinds of packages, but I prefer my gifts from a Garden in the Wild.
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Ruts in the writing life happen. We grasp our way through a story, do the research, and realize it’s not the one we’re supposed to tell. At least not yet. We bump along in that rut for awhile until a new path appears, scattered with red and orange leaves, shining glass-like in the sunshine. If we’re really lucky, we figure this out before page ten, which was the case with my recent novel. The only problem was, I didn’t have another start from scratch story.
Or so I thought.
It does a writer good to peer through a new window. Visit places we’ve never been. Meet people we’ve never met. If we can’t do that, we can always explore areas in our own neck of the woods that we’ve neglected. Anything to show us the mysterious, quirky and fresh side of life.
On a recent trip to Vermont, a place I’d never visited, a shiny new story snuck in. I was sitting on the steps of our cabin at sunset, wind bristling in trees, leaves like candy wrappers, colliding with each other, swirling, twirling, and dancing, air fragrant with roots and conifers. Straight ahead an abandoned dirt road, a rusted model T Ford off to one side. To my right a red barn, skirted next to an 1800’s colonial farmhouse. Just as I looked, a woman’s black silhouette appeared and paused in the window. I could feel something beginning. It slid through the wind and landed, smiling on my lap.
Sometimes a clear moment is all it takes: a sunny day flecked with the unusual, or dusk in Vermont. The writer in us is always drawn to what’s behind the mountain and down the lonely dirt road. We excavate stones from these places and arrange them in a circle. These stones represent life: the sensual, brutal, wonder, abandonment, love, honor, awe, failure, and death of our existence. We arrange stones we collect along the way into stories that help us make sense of our world. Sometimes we, as much as our readers, just need to be entertained. And there’s the rub-a good novel can and does do both.
I fancy this ancient Chinese proverb: A bird does not sing because it has an answer-it sings because it has a song.
Dear writer,if you're struggling,look through a new window and your song will find you.
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