Tag Archives: writing

Telling Stories, Part II

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Last night, we have a summer storm—wind, heavy rain, sharp lightning, thunder that rumbled for minutes. And it lasted for nearly two hours. I confess, I am not one who particularly enjoys storms, meteorological or otherwise.  And last night, I stayed awake throughout the whole storm from 2:45 a.m. until nearly 6:00 a.m.  I roamed the house from window to window to see if I could see what the wind was doing to the trees that surrounded the house; I even turned on a local TV station to see if the weather crew were covering the storm.  I will probably be doing something similar this afternoon, if the forecasters are correct in predicting another band of severe storm coming our way.

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And yet. . .

This morning, there is sunshine.  There is a freshness to the air that will be gone in the summer heat and humidity.  We will be grateful for the air conditioning, and some of us will be wondering how we did without it when we were children.  Though I grew up in a modern home with the conveniences of dishwasher, in-house washer and (gasp) dryer, baseboard heating, we did not have central air conditioning.  Only when my grandfather moved in with us did we have get any kind of AC—and that was a window unit to put in his bedroom.  It wasn’t too much longer when Mama and Daddy bought one for the family room.  I was married when they finally put in central heating and air.  To write this makes my childhood seem almost primitive, but then I didn’t think so. 

This morning, there is sunshine.  My husband is out cutting the grass around the house and probably later around the ponds as the weather permits.  I took out the camera to see this freshly washed world.

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Honeysuckle, blackberries beginning to ripen, daylilies, vinca, daisies, Rose of Sharon—in bloom, leftover drops of rain in the petals.  Leaves torn from the trees scattered over the front yard. . . .

Remnants of the storm and the beauty that remains afterward.

Had I walked longer and farther around the pond, I would certainly have found more beauty, but for the moment, this was enough—enough to remind me of other stories: sipping the nectar from honeysuckle blossoms with my brother, sister, and cousins at Grandma Wessinger’s house during that week we spent with her and picking blackberries in the pasture behind the house and the blackberry pies that Mama would bake (with the gritty seeds of those wild berries). The rose of Sharon tree with its scars on the trunk from the fire eight years ago, still blooming, still standing, though transplanted, resilient and strong. Daylilies from Aunt Miriam, Granny.

These all have stories.

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Picture may be worth a thousand words, but sometimes, for me the picture gives me the thousand words to tell the story.

Words and Wednesdays

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I’ve had an “itch” to write recently—well, more than recently. I’ve been writing since I was in high school. I remember giving my high school English teacher a short story I had written. She liked it. My college English profs told me that I thought—and wrote—well. One even asked me in front of the class how I had learned to write. I was between my junior and senior year in high school taking a second-year college level British lit course from Beowulf to the beginning of the nineteenth century, using the ubiquitous Norton Anthology of British Literature, Volume 1, with the famous portrait of Queen Elizabeth I on the cover.

I don’t know when I fell in love with words, with reading. Mama says it was from birth. She read to me and to my sister all the time, often falling asleep herself before I did. She grew desperate and tried everything to read me to sleep: the “begats” from the Bible, dictionary definitions, and even encyclopedias. I would wake her to “finish the story.” The love of words has never worn off.

I am in a writer’s group on Facebook, and one of our regular rhythms is Wednesday Words That Work. I think about the words that work. I am not a good memorizer, but I remember things that I have read and heard that resonate with me:  Tennyson’s short poem “The Eagle,” “He clasps the crag with crooked hands. . . . “; the scene at the end of Keats’s “The Eve of St. Agnes” when the lovers slip through the quiet halls of the castle as if in a dream; the “unquiet slumbers” of Cathy and Heathcliff at the end of Wuthering Heights; even the opening lines of Pride and Prejudice and the reminder that every young lady needs a husband (not much has changed in the last two hundred years!) I could probably go on for a long time remembering the words that worked for me.

The words that work for me are those that I visualize. As a teacher, I have taken all kinds of learning styles inventories, and the results are remarkably similar: I am a visual learner. It is not surprising, then, that I am also drawn to photography and other visual arts. Pictures may be worth a thousand words, but a phrase or two of well-chosen words can inspire a thousand pictures as well. While I devour Regency romances by the dozens (finishing one this afternoon, probably), I will forget about these novels quite quickly. The novels and books I remember are the ones that use words to create vivid pictures and scenes as I read.

As I write, I think about the poetry, too, that has been inspired by art. (There is a fancy name for that kind of literature): Browning’s “My Last Duchess” ( which may or may not have been inspired by real people or real paintings—with Browning, who knows?); “Musee des Beaux Arts,” and quite a few others.

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Pictures, words, images.  Stay tuned for more about an online course I am writing.

In the meantime, please enjoy this new-to-me blog, Words and Images by Cynthia which combines words and images. I have gotten lost in Cynthia’s writing and photography. I found her through another interesting and inspiring website, The Creativity Portal.

Beginnings

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Today is the first Monday in July. It’s the first day of a new work week. It’s another day to begin again.

Liz Lamoreux is offering a free (yes, free) read-along for her book Inner Excavation: Explore Your Self through Photography, Poetry, and Mixed Media. I have had the book for a couple or three years, and I followed along the first time that Liz offered the free read-along. But sometimes, I have trouble finishing what I begin. Today, I am not only a “begin-ner,” but I am setting my intention to become a finisher as well.

My first “excavation” is in my living room. Truly, I do need to have an archeological dig in this room. Who knows what I will find! This morning, I started with my sofa, and here is what I found:

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I’m finishing a “reader’s wrap” made from the Unforgettable line of Red Heart yarns. I am in love with the softness, not only of the colors but of the texture of the yarn.

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There are my “art” supplies—pens and colored pencils that I keep in a wooden box that once held either Cuties or Halos (mandarin oranges). I am an office-supply junkie as well as an art supply junkie.

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I will be using a top-bound spiral sketchbook as my journal for this go-round of Inner Excavations. And I am not going to be afraid to mark up my copy of the book. I’ve already begun coloring over words and phrases that jump out at me.

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I don’t remember how old I was when I first learned to play the piano. My mother was my first teacher, and then Mrs. Wessinger taught me from the time I was in fifth or sixth grade until I graduated from high school. I thought I was going to be a concert pianist when I went to college, but that was not to be the case. However, I took piano lessons from one of the college instructors until I did my student teaching during my last semester on campus. And after nearly forty years, I am resuming those lessons with an instructor at the same college where I studies those many years ago. These lessons are feeding my soul.

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I love sea shells, the colors, the textures, the coolness of them in my hand. However, I don’t get to the coast often enough to collect them myself. So, I resorted to buying some from a local craft store. I keep a jar full of these shells on my piano.

I begin. . . .

     Here

     Now

A journey

                A pilgrimage

                                         A quest

I BEGIN

to answer a call, THE CALL

     The Invitation

I begin a voyage of discovery, of questing

I begin to know me.