Writing101 – Death to Adverbs

Writing101 – Death to Adverbs

This assignment was to write a piece inspired by something I saw in a public place –  without using adverbs.

“What a beautiful family,” I thought, as I glanced at the man, woman and child seated at the next table.

The longer I sat at the table, looking at the menu, enjoying the ambience of springtime outdoor dining, the more I didn’t like what I saw.

The red-rimmed eyes of the woman were tell-tale. The rigid posture of the child was unnatural. All the while, the man was too casual, too jovial in comparison. “Sure, I’ll have another,” he says to the waiter, as he holds the beer bottle in the air. The woman’s eyes and face get redder. The child cowers closer to her mother. The woman reaches for something on the table but the man tries to snatch it away only to knock it on the floor – a ring of keys.

The waiter returns with an apology – there will be no more beer for him tonight. “We can, however, call a cab if your companion can’t drive you home,” he says.

Grumbling, the man slings the keys at the woman and stumbles toward the door leaving her to gather up the child and pay the bill. She scurries after him with the child in tow, her head bowed, shamed – fear showing in every line of her body.

In the pit of my stomach, I fear what awaits them at home and say a prayer for the woman and the child.

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Writing101 – Give and Take

Writing101 – Give and Take

She’s younger.
He’s older.

She’s erudite.
He’s down to earth.

She’s taller.
He’s shorter.

She clutters.
He cleans up.

She’s a talker.
He’s the strong, silent type.

She’s a vegan.
He’s an omnivore.

Opposites attract, right?
Or, is it about balance?

Writing101 – Character Building

Writing101 – Character Building

Her booth at the Craft Fair was just catty-corner behind the booth I was visiting. When I first glimpsed her, I thought, “My word, we have a visitor from another time here today!” A time that never was, indeed.

She wore a corset on the outside of her gown. A gown much too adorned for modern times and much too short for the Victorian times, which the fabric, cut and adornments otherwise suggested. Her headpiece was a cross between ladies’ and men’s wear (like a mini-top hat) with a bit of netting (tulle perhaps?) attached as a headband and terminating in a poofy train at the back rather than the veil one might expect. The best part of the costume-that-wasn’t-a-costume were the lovely Victorian-esque boot-shoes! Her clothes indeed blended the best of the modern day and the Victorian age with ease and apparent comfort.

steampunk

Besides her eye-catching apparel, this woman possessed an air of kindness and a sparkle of intelligence and self-confidence I haven’t encountered in a lot of women recently. The aura of gentleness mingled with the edgy exuberance of her public persona made me curious as to her backstory and what it must be like to occupy a place in her inner circle. Her eyes twinkled when she smiled and the flush in her cheeks was an inner glow, not from a bottle. She was a woman of a certain age, a person who has experienced life and lived to tell about it – but who was too clever to drop names.

She easily could have stepped from a time machine directly into our midst at that Craft Fair on that sunny Saturday. Her mission? To observe free enterprise at the community level? To track crafting traditions through generations? Did she come from a timeline where craftsmanship has been lost? Was she sent to recover something or someone? We may never know…do time travelers ever visit the same timeline twice?

Writing 101 – A Letter Found – A Message Lost

Writing 101 – A Letter Found – A Message Lost

This assignment designates I have found a random letter along a path with a moving message making me wish I could return it to its proper owner. Tell the story briefly.

As I walk along the path, my mind a million miles away, I almost miss the greenish blue paper peeking from beneath the leaves covering the path. Of course, I pick it up, open it and read it once, twice, a third time.

She loves him – deeply – shamelessly – forever. She loves herself more. She has to leave to save herself. There’s no more to say. My heart breaks in an all-too-familiar place.

I look for the address – the dampness of the forest floor has washed it away. Whoever ‘he’ is – he’ll never know how she really felt. Then, again, if she had to write it down, he was never going to know it anyway.

Writing 101 – Innocence Lost, Part 1

Writing 101 – Innocence Lost, Part 1

Our assignment for today is to write the first installment of a three-part series about something we lost. Yes, what I lost was my innocence but it’s not that innocence of which I speak at this time.

In the 1990’s, I lost the innocence many of us possess concerning our health in that we take it for granted. Oh, we’ll always be healthy, and we’ll always be able to do what we want to do whenever we want to do it – at least until we’re old and decrepit. Well, not so much when one has the misfortune to be one of the millions who live with a chronic illness.

The first bout of the condition laid me low for over three years, much of which I was bed-ridden. With the help of some great doctors, family and friends, I was able to rehabilitate myself to the point I was able to return to work part-time and eventually full-time. I did so with a different attitude about work-life balance than I had before and with an understanding that this return to normalcy had to be on my terms.

One of the most valuable lessons I learned through this experience was to value those people who stay in your life during the difficult times. There will be those who pay only lip service to being supportive, and there will be those who dig in there up to their elbows to help you. The latter of those two groups of people are the ones to value and keep around. I learned that having a few people who really care about you is far more important than having throngs of people who barely care.

In the next installment, I’ll talk about what I learned when the condition reared its ugly head again after 14 years. See you then.

Writing 101 – Songs in My Life

Writing 101 – Songs in My Life

This assignment is two-fold: it’s about the three most important songs in my life but it’s also about committing to a writing practice. That’s a timeframe every day to write, whether it’s ten minutes or an hour or whatever – make that commitment. Big ones!

Let’s start with the music since it’s the title of this piece. Let’s start by saying I am not a musical person. As my mother would say (and often did), I couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket if my life depended on it! Given that little tidbit of insight, you can well imagine that my appreciation and enjoyment of music may not be on the same level as someone who can sing or play an instrument. I very rarely remember the names of songs or the people who perform them. I may recognize a song when I hear it but not by title or artist. So, asking for three favorite songs of my lifetime doesn’t do much for me because I can call up song titles but usually can’t attach any meaning to them.

Having said all of that, let’s think about some songs that have had some impact of some kind, good bad or indifferent – so I’m not so sure they’re important in that they haven’t changed the course of my life in any way. I’ve been married a few times so I’ve heard The Wedding March by Mendelssohn a few times in my life although the jury is still out as to what the end result will be in the long run. How Great Thou Art by Carl Gustav was my mother’s favorite hymn and was played at her funeral – I still can’t hear it without getting a lump in my throat. Celebration by Kool and the Gang (I had to look all of that up!) never fails to make me smile from ear to ear. So there you have three songs that come to mind out of the myriad of music through my fifty something years of listening. I wouldn’t say they’re the most important songs of my life but they are three songs that came to mind when confronted with this assignment so they obviously have some sort of meaning – I think there may be a therapy session or three in there somewhere but that’s for another day of writing.

Now, for the second part of this assignment: to make a commitment to a writing practice. I have almost completed my first installment of that commitment, which is to write at least 15 minutes daily even if that’s simply a session of free-writing. These sessions may or may not be published on the blog, but they will happen either on the computer or in a notebook.

Thanks for joining me today – feel free to grab your computer, or a notebook and pen, and get ready to ride shotgun for the rest of the journey through Writing 101!

Writing 101 – A Room With a View

Writing 101 – A Room With a View

One does not merely walk into this room, one has the sense of arriving upon entering this room.

The door is massive yet swings aside with just a touch. The gentle curves at the edges of the walls create a seemingly endless horizon where the light simply fades away. The shelves are packed with volumes old and new; musty, dusty but never misused or abused. The smells of well-oiled wood, leather bindings and ancient paper blend in mysterious, languid waves. The lamplight gives off a warm and loving glow like a lover’s embrace beckoning you in deeper. The desk is cluttered enough to show work in progress, yet clear enough to show a sense of order.

Yes, yes! This is the place to stay cuddled up for hours with a favorite tome to read to the end and beyond or a pen and paper to write the next masterpiece waiting to publish to the world. Oh! But that world beckons me back much too soon…

Writing101 – Unlock the Mind

Writing101 – Unlock the Mind

Our first assignment for this course is to ‘free write’ for 20 minutes – about anything – anything at all.

So, of course, this is the time that I have nothing going through my mind! Me – the one of the racing thoughts keeping me up all night, distracting me all day – now I have nothing to say.

Wait! There’s a thought – it’s April! My favorite month of the year is April. Yes, it’s my birthday month but that’s not the only reason it’s my favorite month. Yes, I like birthdays because the alternative (not having a birthday) really sucks! This year’s birthday was really special to me because I came close to not making it to this one.

Besides all that, April has the prettiest name of any month. When I was a child, and even into early adulthood, I often dreamed of changing my legal name to ‘April.’ It has such a lyrical, fantastical sound to it – is that a word? Fantastical? Anyway, it’s a pretty name that churns up all kinds of amazing images in my mind of worlds and characters that could be, should be and may be somewhere, sometime…

April is also the month when Spring truly seems to arrive although logically I know that scientifically Spring arrives in March. April is when Spring ‘springs’ in the form of so many blooms and the nurseries are full of gardening potential. I love to roam the aisles looking for the next masterpiece lying in wait just hoping to be chosen for my garden. Well, at least I used to do that…these days with the health issues, I only dream of roaming the aisles like I used to. On a good day, I can manage a few minutes but nothing like the hours of years gone by. I miss those times but know that things change and I have to make the adjustments to save my sanity and that of those around me.

April is the month of young love, just check out all the nests of baby birds and litters of kitties and puppies and skunks and who knows what else in the wild! Love is in the air! Isn’t there something about springtime in Paris too? April is simply a magical time and forever reigns as my favorite month of the year so I don’t just celebrate on my birthday, I make every attempt to celebrate the month every day of the month – to enjoy it in all its glory.

April showers also bring May flowers but that’s a conversation for another day.