Word Song







Mary Oliver

Hello, sun in my face.

Hello, you who make the morning

and spread it over the fields

and into the faces of the tulips

and the nodding morning glories,

and into the windows of, even, the

miserable and the crotchety —

best preacher that ever was,

dear star, that just happens

to be where you are in the universe

to keep us from ever-darkness,

to ease us with warm touching,

to hold us in the great hands of light —

good morning, good morning, good morning.

Watch, now, how I start the day

in happiness, in kindness.


I love Mary Oliver’s poetry, especially this poem.  To me, the words sing the unfolding of a new day.   Beautiful!

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This is where I am right now.  THE REVISION CAVE.


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Monday’s Musings

“If I keep a green bough in my heart, then the singing bird will come.”

I love this old Chinese proverb.  I think I will leave it at that.

Redbird and Snow1

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Writing Down the Details

I’m a detail person. Definitely. I love keying in on things around me. It makes me happy when I do this, but sometimes I have to remind myself to slow down and do it.

For writers, paying attention to details is crucial. Details bring story to life.

To help me in preparing my grad lecture this past summer at VCFA, I used a wonderful book called Word Painting by Rebecca McClanahan. Regarding details, she says, “Sweat the Small Stuff.  Without the small stuff, no large stuff can follow.” She goes on to say when we give careful attention to the things of the story, our reader will be fully engaged. When a reader is fully engaged, he not only takes in the information intellectually, but he responds to it emotionally as well.

So how can we reach the reader like this using details?

First, think in terms of specificity.  Consider all the parts when constructing details about a person, place, or thing – what Checkhov calls the “little particulars.”  McClanahan uses a tangerine as an example:  it consists of rind, juice, seeds, fruit, pulp, grainy membranes, stem, blossoms, and leaves. Any of these things could be a powerful detail given the right placement in the right story. Take care in naming, also. Is the name you give your detail correct and precise, and does it resonate within your story?

Second, think in terms of relativity. That is, think about those things associated with whatever (or whomever) you’re describing. For instance, if you’re offering details about a tree in your story’s forest, think about not only its parts, but its function.  A tree provides a home for forest creatures, casts shadows of protection, holds together the earth beneath it.

And last, think about what the object is NOT, what McClanahan calls the “backdoor technique.”  About this she says, “Describing details through negation opens up physical spaces otherwise closed to characters, narrators, and readers.”  Description-by-negation.  How interesting to think of constructing details in terms of what you don’t see, hear, or feel.

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The Good Stuff

Pardon me, but I need to rant a little.  About the news.

Why does everything have to be so nauseatingly sensationalized?  Dirty, horrific, outrageous, terrifying, shocking?

When I signed on to my email server today, which shall not be named here, the following headliners appeared, and these are just a few, mind you:

Executive Suspected of Murdering His Wife

Star Reveals Hollywood Horror Story

Amish Girl Accused of Bizarre Act

Intersection Called Corridor of Sin

Harmless Prank Went Horribly Wrong

What Mom Buys for Son is Killing Him

Man Claims Creature Stalked Him

Monster Said to Live in This Lake

And here are a few more, from random popular news sources:

Doctors Intentionally Concealed Decapitation of Baby During Delivery

Bumble Bee Tuna Plant Worker Cooked in Steamer Identified

Man Stabs Grandmother 111 Times, Slits Her Belly, Removes her Organs

I didn’t have to search for these type stories.  They’re everywhere.  The news is saturated with them.

What is going on?  Are we not a people of intellectual integrity?  Do the news powers that be have to report on every vile, despicable act?  Is this what we want to read as news?  Oh, please.

Where’s the uplifting news?  The stories that make us appreciate, smile, relish the infinite positive possibilities?  Where’s the good stuff?

Give me the good stuff.


Every day may not be good, but there’s something good in every day.  ~Author Unknown

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News…Sort Of

I hope to get back to blogging on a regular basis soon.  Until then, I leave you with this thought:

Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing. ~ Ben Franklin

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The Past and the Present

I visited a 130 year-old, four-story courthouse today.  It has been restored completely, down to the paint color on the walls.  During the restoration phase, a tunnel was discovered that connected the courthouse to a bank.  It’s no longer there, but I thought this was very interesting information.  The building is a grand old place and helped me get a visual for my wip which also involves an old courthouse in a small town.

Here’s a picture of the main courtroom on the second floor.

The picture doesn’t do justice to the scope of this amazing room.  Here’s another picture that shows the original balcony.

I loved exploring this incredible building.  I peeked into heavy steel vaults with hand-painted doors, climbed amazing winding staircases, and examined original hardwood flooring from the year 1885.  I stood and closed my eyes and breathed in the smell and now I’m home and ready to transfer into my story some of what I learned and felt in this charming place.

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Seeing Story

I went to an estate sale with a friend today.  Here is a sampling of what the house looked like:

I felt a jolt when I walked into this house, like I had taken a giant step back in time.  And like I always do when I attend things like this, I wondered about the people who had once lived there.  I wondered about the stories each room held.  The small framed pictures on the wall, the tiny knickknacks spread around.  Who had placed them there?  Who had touched them last?  Story can rise from the tiniest images if we pay attention.

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So I’m thinking about dreams today.  We all have them.   We all pursue them.  Some are fulfilled.  Some remain, and we hold them close, feel their beating fluttering desire to be realized.  The word Yearning comes to mind.

So here’s my thought for today, for everyone who seeks to tell their story, no matter the artistic path:  Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly.  ~Langston Hughes

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I will be working with the wonderful Martine Leavitt this semester at VCFA!   Very excited!!

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