Writing Toward Home

Writing , Ideas, and Encouragement

Month: May 2016

A Reading Memory

A Reading Memory:  Binge Reading with Aunt Effie

 

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My path as a bibliophile has many stepping-stones along the way including those common to many bookworms: being given books as gifts, weekly trips to the local library, and parents who read to me. My journey does, however, have a few unique twist and turns that brought me to my current state, which is one of a ” To Be Read”  pile that will never get finished and a love of books and bookstores that knows no bounds. Here is one such instance.

 

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When I was growing up I spent a lot of summer days and nights at my grandmother’s house. Due to limited finances my family did not go on many vacation trips, so time at Granny’s was interspersed with Vacation Bible School and day camp to provide me with enough diversion to keep me from driving my mother crazy. I spent my days with my grandmother gardening, cooking and attempting to learn to sew.

 

Often my summer visits coincided with an appearance from my great-aunt Effie, one of my grandmother’s unmarried sisters. A gravelly, phlegmy cough and a shock of short white hair are the primary images I have when I think of her. To me she was ancient and an enigma: a short, wiry woman with a thin face laced with wrinkles, who dressed in a slouchy sweater and men’s slacks rolled up to the knee. Effie had no home of her own, so she became a circuit riding long-term guest, staying for a month to 6 weeks with each of her siblings in turn.

 

Effie always arrived with three brown paper grocery sacks:  one containing her clothes and toothbrush, one stuffed with cartons of KOOL cigarettes, and the third filled with paperback books. Her habit was to install herself each morning on the brown, cloth sofa in Granny’s living room, with a carton of cigarettes, a stand ashtray, a glass of Coca-Cola, and her sack of books.

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After lighting up a smoke, she would pull a book from the bag, tuck her feet underneath herself, and commence reading while the TV in the corner provided soft background noise. The only other sound in the room was the slapping of cards as my grandfather sat in his recliner smoking Salems and playing endless games of solitaire on his metal TV tray. Effie would finish a book and toss it back into the sack, rummage around and fish out another, light a fresh cigarette and off she would go into another world.

 

The summer I was eleven I abandoned Granny to her sewing, plopped myself down on the sofa and raised an eyebrow at Effie’s overflowing paper sack. She appraised me for a moment over the top of her glasses , then nudged the bag in my direction.

 

Effie’s reading tastes were narrow and consisted of two varieties of books: Harlequin romances and murder mysteries, neither of which I had encountered as my reading experiences up to this point had been curated by the elementary school librarian.

 

My reading tastes were matured and honed on that sofa over the next few summers. I discovered quickly that the romance novels were all the same story, just the names and hair color of the heroines changed from book to book. Those were not for me.

 

However, the mysteries were a revelation and a glimpse into a world my sheltered background had not permitted. My predilection for mystery fiction developed from Effie’s grocery bag library while binge reading Perry Mason mysteries by Earle Stanley Gardner.

 

My genre of choice for many years afterward was mysteries of any kind. I read rapidly through Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, and Trixie Belden as they were the mysteries available at school, though much tamer than the stories I had cut my teeth on. Later as I began buying my own books I discovered Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers and many others including my all- time favorite, P.D. James.

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As I grew older, my reading choices expanded to include a variety of genres, including fantasy, history, literary fiction, and memoir, but never romance. Some early experiences really do shape us, I suppose. And of course when I visit any bookstore, my feet naturally lead me to the mystery section hoping to discover a new favorite who has a long backlist of books I can look forward to devouring.

 

What shaped you as a reader?

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Wordplay Wednesday:

Wordplay Wednesday

 Pack a Suitcase: Playing with Portmanteaux

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One of the wonderful things about language is that it is not a static entity, but rather a dynamic and ever-changing organism. New words and expressions are created all the time.

Today for Wordplay Wednesday we are playing with portmanteaux, words that are a combination of two common words. The original usage of portmanteau  was a French word meaning  a two-sided suitcase.  Now it also means a two-sided word created by mashing words together.

The term as a word play device was coined by Lewis Carroll in Through the LookingGlass,   when  Humpty-Dumpty explains the meanings of  the words in the famous poem, “ Jabberwocky”. Here are the first few lines:

Twas brillig and

The slithy toves

Did gyre and gimble

In the waves.

All mimsy were the borogroves and the

Mome raths outgrabe.

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For instance, Humpty-Dumpty  says slithy is a combination of   “slimy “ and “ lithe”. 

Since Lewis’ time portmanteaux have become a way of expressing an idea that conveys more meaning using fewer words. It is also a fun way to play around with words, which of course, I am all about.

Here are some classic ones: 

spoon+fork= spork,

breakfast+ lunch= brunch,

smoke+fog=smog.

In recent years, many portmanteau words have been created in the areas of media, entertainment and advertising. Think  “televangelist”, “Brangelina” and “croissandwich”. I’m sure you can think of many more that have found their way into every day usage.

So, let’s create some new ones. Here’s how:

~Think of some of your favorite words and expressions.

~Write them down and start playing around combining the first part of one word with the last part of another.

~Combine common letters or omit some.

~Does your new word have a  pleasing sound and form?

~Does it convey the meaning  better than the two words separately?

If so, you have a portmanteau.  Begin using it in conversation whenever it fits. Who knows, perhaps your word will become part of the ever-changing English language.

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It takes a bit of patience and ingenuity to construct a portmanteau that sounds right and needs little explanation.  My paper was covered with words and scribbles before I came up with a few:

Wonderful+terrific= wonderific   

 I think playing with words is wonderific.

Writer+illustrator= writastrator   

I want to use my words and my art to be a writastrator.

Furry+cuddly= furdly                        

My dog is furdly.

Snooze+conversation= snoozversation     

I cannot handle another snoozversation with that woman.

I would love to hear what you come up with!

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Pack your writer’s suitcase with some new words and have a writing adventure.

              

Wordplay Writing: Carmelita Ballerina

Wordplay Writing: Carmelita Ballerina

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For Wordplay Wednesday this week I described how to use word tickets to inspire writing.  I collected my words by looking through my Lexicon, some notecards from recent reading, I added some color words, plus I looked around my studio and added a few more. I ended up with 30 words, which I wrote on sticky notes and then dealt out into 3 columns of 10 words each.

 

My first row across revealed  “ aquamarine”  “ decadence”  “chicken”, which immediately got my storytelling juices flowing. I kept reading the words across and by the time I finished I had  a character to write about: Carmelita the Dancing Chicken.   She was inspired by  a picture I have hanging in my studio that I created in an art class last year, plus a page in my mixed media art journal.   Both pictures are of outrageously flamboyant chickens who are prancing across the pages.  I had never thought about writing about them before, but the act of dealing out the word tickets triggered the idea. Besides, I love chickens!

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I could have chosen a to write a personal essay about the art classes in which the chickens were created, but I was in the mood for some imaginative whimsy, so Carmelita came to life.  This is definitely an example of words having fun!

Here is her story:

 

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Carmelita  had been different from the moment she hatched from her egg. Instead of being a fluffy yellow chick , she was covered in aquamarine down. She was the talk of the barnyard when she emerged from the chicken coop on her first venture outside. “She looks like an Easter egg!” exclaimed the farmer’s wife.  At first Carmelita was embarrassed  and shy about being different.  She lingered in the coop or spent her time outside close by her mother, Mabel, or attempting to hide in the middle of a crowd of her siblings and cousins. She stayed away from the fence around the chicken yard because all of the children who came to gawk at her tried to grab her if she got too close. 

Mabel assured Carmelita that her bright blue coloring was only temporary since all chicks lose the colorful down before attaining  adult feathers. Since  they were Brahma chickens, they would have bright, white feathers with beautiful black edges. 

But, her mama was wrong about that. Carmelita’s  feathers came in hot pink with sparkling silver at the tips that twinkled and glittered in the sunlight. With her dazzling plumage came a new-found confidence. Carmelita decided she liked being unusual. She no longer attempted to hide behind the other chickens. She was also not content to merely amble around the barnyard and pick for seed like everyone else.  Instead, she chose to leap in joyful zigzags  shaking her shimmering tail feathers in a flagrant dance.

Her siblings were embarrassed by her silliness and the other farm animals became irritated with her antics. “ She’s such a show-off!” they grumbled.  The other young hens ignored her and soon began talking of motherhood and nesting. Carmelita was not interested in laying eggs and tending chicks. She wanted adventure and fun. 

Still it was lonely in the barnyard with no one to talk to so Carmelita began to wander far from her coop and explore. One evening she headed toward the farmhouse where music was coming from an open window. 

She hopped up on the windowsill and saw a box filled with small humans dancing to the sound of the music. Carmelita was thrilled and began her own impromptu dance, bobbing her head and shuffling her feathery feet. 

She closed her eyes and let the rhythm and notes carry away in her own private dance. She imagined she was in the magic box and the cheers and applause were for her.

Then a shadow fell across her face and she jerked her eyes open and gave a squawk. She was beak to nose with Annie, the farmer’s young daughter. Carmelita flapped her wings and attempted to leap off the windowsill, but  Annie reached out and scooped her up and hauled her into the living room.

The girl set Carmelita down on the floor and whispered, “ I saw you dancing to the music. Now you can get a closer look. Don’t worry I won’t hurt you. You’re safe here.”

Carmelita was fascinated with television. Annie explained that the dancers  they were watching were in a dance contest. People who loved to dance could go on the show and  compete for prize money. “ I like to dance, too.” Annie confided. She twirled around the room on her toes with her arms held gracefully out from her body.

Carmelita copied the moves, her clawed toes pointed and her pink and silver wings forming a fluttering oval as she spun across the floor. She stopped and looked at Annie with her head turned to the side. Carmelita gave a shrug and then pointed with her beak toward the TV.

Annie gave a shriek of delight, “ Oh, wow, you are really good! Yes, you should try out for the show.”

Carmelita pointed at Annie and then made a sweeping gesture with her wings. 

Annie pointed at herself . “You want both of us to go on the show?” 

Carmelita nodded and did a little hop step.

“ Brilliant!” said Annie. “ Let’s do it!”

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Several weeks later Carmelita and Annie found themselves headed to New York City for their turn in the spotlight.  The producers of “ Are You a Dancer?” had loved their audition tape and the idea of a chicken dancing a ballet. 

For their big dance number, Annie dressed in a pink and silver feathered costume to match Carmelita who simply wore a tiny jeweled tiara on her head. They performed a lovely dance and were instantly the newest celebrity sensation. They appeared on all of the talk shows and enjoyed an extended stay in the big city. Both of them became fascinated with high fashion and were seen all over sporting the latest styles.

While they came in second in the finale of the dance show, Annie and Carmelita went on to become famous in the world of  clothing design, calling themselves the Fowlshanistas.  In fact when you see some of the really outrageous clothing designs in the New York magazines, you can be sure they were designed by Annie and Carmelita.

 

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Wordplay Wednesday: Word Tickets

Wordplay Wednesday :   Word Tickets

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Last week  Wordplay Wednesday  was about making word collages to  stimulate some creative work.  This week I am presenting another activity for those whose learning style tends toward the tactile/kinesthetic. We are going to make word tickets which we will then use to stimulate ideas for writing .

You will need some index cards, sticky notes, or even an actual roll of tickets which you can purchase at an office supply store. You could also use an old deck of cards and write  words on the back.

 You are going to do some word collecting. There are a couple of ways to find words for your tickets:

~ If you are keeping a Lexicon ( word book)  as suggested in a previous Wordplay Wednesday post, you can rummage around in it to find some words you already love.

~ You can spend some time randomly browsing a thesaurus or dictionary  to find interesting words.

~ You can collect words from your reading. Whenever I read a book, I try to keep a collection of 3×5 cards nearby so I can jot down words, phrase or quotes I want to remember.  The words end up in my Lexicon and the phrases and quotes go into my idea files. ( more about those in a future post).

~ Brainstorm words you like or simply take stock of your surroundings and write down what you see.

Put one word on each card until you have about 20. Now flip through your words. What kinds do you have? Nouns? Adjectives? Verbs?  Now take about 10 cards and write some color words, a few interesting nouns or verbs, to add where there might be a deficit.

Now the fun begins:

1. Shuffle your words..

2. Lay them out in rows of three until you are out of cards.

3.  Read the lines aloud. Does a poem, image, or story idea emerge?

If so, write it down. Play around with it. Write for 5 minutes.  

If your writing has energy, keep going.  Once you begin to run out of steam, repeat steps 1-3.

Read aloud again. Write down whatever the words make you think of. Perhaps they trigger a memory or suggest a character or event. Write for 5 minutes or until you reach a stopping point.

.Keep your word tickets and continue to add to them from time to time. You can keep them in a shoebox ,wrap a rubber band around them, or toss them in a plastic sandwich bag. Repeat this activity whenever you need a burst of inspiration.

Here are my words. I will post on Friday what  I wrote from playing with word tickets.

                       

Flop

Deciduous

Flagrant

Revolution

Canary

Craggy

Zig-zag

Tiara

Playground

Danced

Thunderous

Mystery

Leaping

Chicken

Wisteria

Pondered

Joyfully

Sailing

Ambled

Slink

Aquamarine

Hot pink

Goldenrod

Orchid

Silvery

Tangerine

Serrated

Dinosaur

Wrinkled

Have fun! Use word tickets to take yourself on a writing adventure!

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Word Collage Poetry

Word Collage Poetry

 

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On Wednesday, I wrote about making word collages as a another way to play with words and develop ideas for writing. It also leaves you with a fun artsy project you can keep, share, or display.

 

Word Collage is a great addition to a journal. If you keep a mixed media art journal, it is another tool to add to the mix. You can also use it to make fun personalized cards for friends or family.

 

I cut up some old Writer’s Digest and Our State magazines to create my word stash.

I went back though my pile and played around for a while, sorting and rearranging words and phrases not sure what I would end up with. That is the fun and playfulness of this activity. You discover as you go and there’s no pressure.

 

I ended up with 2 products : a haiku and a free- form poem.

 

I pasted my haiku onto a portion of a page I cut from an old art book I bought at the used bookstore. I attached my other poem to a page I made in a printing class last weekend.  Creating the poems was a fun process and one I will be sure to repeat, especially when I need fresh inspiration.

 

My poems are shown below.

Below each photo I am printing the words since they are difficult to see. The second one is especially busy with the background.

Haiku

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on your bucket list

Reach for the stars    Live the Dream

cultivate your spirit

 

Free- form poem

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HOW TO  BE A WRITER

WRITE

Writers WRITE      BE   writing

Feast on       words    language  books

BE WRITING   WRITE

WRITE     Right Now

 

I hope you enjoy word collage and have fun creating your own.

 

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Wordplay Wednesday: Word Collage

Wordplay Wednesday: Word Collage

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I am an unabashed word nerd. I love playing around with words in all kinds of ways: writing of course, but also Scrabble, anagrams, crossword puzzles, poetry, making up words and silly rhymes or songs and so on. When I can’t sleep instead of counting sheep, I choose a letter of the alphabet at random and try to think of as many words as I can that begin with that letter. Sometimes the fun of that actually keeps me awake, but usually it works after a while. Yep, I have it bad.

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One of my favorite Wordplay activities is to create collages using words cut from magazines. I love all the different colors, sizes and fonts you can find. It makes my word nerd heart go pit-a-pat when I get a new magazine and see the potential for “word harvesting.”

 

When I was around 11 or 12 I started asking my grandmother for all of her old Good Housekeeping, Redbook and McCall’s magazines when she was finished reading them. I spent many afternoons sitting in my room listening to my 75 rpm singles or LPs on my record player while I cut out words I liked and placed them in envelopes.

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Once I had a sizable collection I’d begin to pull words out and assemble them into free form-poetry, messages or imaginary stories. Sometimes I would group the words by color, or arrange them in spirals or waves and so on.  When I was finished I had a cool poster for my room. It was a great way to combine my love of words and my love of art.

 

So this week I am inviting you to play with words in a more tactile/kinesthetic way by making your own word collage. I will be doing this is well and posting my results on Friday.

 

Here’s how to get started:

 

~Grab some old magazines, catalogs or junk mail and begin tearing out pages that contain words or phrases that resonate with you due to the font, the color or the word itself. Don’t think too hard about it at this point.

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~When you have a nice selection of pages, go through and cut out the words or phrases you like. Check the backs of pages as well. You may find some great words you didn’t notice the first time.

 

~Once you have a nice collection, begin playing around with the words to see what you can create. You might come up with a poem, a funny quip, or an inspirational saying that could be a greeting card or a small poster. You might string words together into crazy sentences that give you an idea for a story. Serendipity is a great muse!

 

~ Grab a glue stick and a piece card stock or computer paper and make your collage permanent.

 

Variations:

Use certain kinds of words: Make an adjective, verb or synonym collage.

Create an art piece by arranging your words into a picture or design.

Add pictures from magazines or your own doodles or sketches to your words.

 

 

In other words, have fun with words! That’s what writing is all about, words having fun.

 

 

I will post my word collage creations on Friday.

 

Happy Wordplay Wednesday!

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Colorful Connection Fiction : Sunday on Hemlock Street 1964

Colorful Connection Writing

In Wordplay Wednesday this week, we selected  a color and brainstormed a list of related words and phrases. I chose  gray.

 

My list was full of words that lent themselves to  an atmospheric piece involving ghosts or sorrow, but I am saving that for another time. Instead I headed in a different direction. I kept getting pulled back to the word great-grandfather.

I ended up crafting a piece of short fiction based loosely on my memories of Poppa, my mother’s grandfather.

 Sunday on Hemlock Street 1964

As soon as they were released from Granny’s Sunday table, the six cousins dashed out the screen door and spilled onto the small front yard. Mark, the oldest at thirteen , carried a  long stout rope, one end of  which he tied around the oak by the side hedge. “ I’ll turn.”

Debbie was eager  to jump. She had been practicing all week at home to try to beat her older cousins. Of course being the next to the youngest meant she would have to wait. Janie and Sally never let her go first.  She flopped in the shade as the Sunday afternoon jump rope contest began.  Joe and Charlie joined her as they all chanted while Janie jumped. “ Cinderella dressed in ‘yella’ went upstairs to kiss her fella…”

  Finally it was her turn. Debbie was getting ready to jump in when she heard Mama calling her from the porch. “ Deb, come on. You need to go say ‘Hello’ to Poppa before he leaves. You can get your turn when you come back.” Mama handed her the plate of food Granny had prepared. “ Take this in and be polite.”

Debbie’s shoulders drooped as she trudged next door to her great grandfather’s house while the lively jump rope rhymes and slap, slap of the rope carried on without her. She stepped onto Poppa’s shadowy front porch and squinted while her eyes adjusted.

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Poppa was in his usual spot perched on a weathered ladder back chair next to the card table where his ongoing games of Solitaire were played.   He was leaning on his cane as he peered over the glasses perched on the end of his large, pointed nose.

Debbie eyed the cane and came a few steps closer. “ Hello, Poppa. I brought your lunch.”  She edged toward the table, set the plate down and stepped back.

“ Thank you,  Evelyn, no…Marge… no Janie…no. Aw, hell, what’s your name?”

It was the same conversation every week. Debbie replied. “I’m Debbie. I’m Anne’s daughter.”

That’s right, that’s right.” He nodded and reached out and poked her belly with the tip of his cane. “ Gotcha!” He laughed and his watery blue eyes twinkled. “ Now go find yore Mama.”

Debbie backed away. “ Bye Poppa. See you next week.” She  ran back to Granny’s yard to claim her turn in the rope.

A few minutes later as the children took a break with some lemonade under the mimosa tree, Debbie watched Poppa leave his house and head down Hemlock Street. He was wearing his Sunday best: a starched white shirt, a bow tie, gray pants held up with red suspenders, and his gray fedora. He walked with small but surprisingly quick steps, his cane tapping the sidewalk. 

As he turned the corner at the bottom of the hill Debbie wondered aloud,  “Where does Poppa go every Sunday afternoon?”

Sarah giggled. “ I think he goes to see his girlfriend!

Joe shook his head. “ He’s 90 years old. That’s too old for a girlfriend.”

Janie folded her arms and exchanged knowing glances with Mark. “ It’s not his girlfriend he goes to see. It’s his wife.” She pretended to whisper.  “His second wife.”

Debbie and the others stared at her in disbelief.

Marked shoved Janie’s shoulder. “ You weren’t supposed to tell that.” He glanced at Charlie, the youngest, who was known to be a tattle-tale.

Janie tossed her head. “Oh, why not? “

Sarah frowned “ How’d you find out?”

“Oh I heard Mother and Aunt Liz talking about it.”

Joe asked, “ Why doesn’t Poppa’s wife live with him?”

Janie sat up looking pleased and important to be  the possessor of such interesting information. “ Well, after  Grandmama G. died, Poppa was lonely so he decided to get married again. But  Granny and the Aunties would not let him bring her home because she was a hussy.”

Sarah and Joe gasped and then fell on the ground laughing.

Charlie had been poking a dead caterpillar with a small twig and had not appeared to be paying attention.  Now he looked up. “ What’s a hussy?” Debbie had been wondering the same thing.

Mark frowned and shook his head at Janie. “It’s a woman who wouldn’t make a good wife.”

Joe said, “ But Poppa has his own house and he is Granny’s and the Aunties’ dad. Why can’t he do what he wants?”

“Poppa doesn’t  want to cause trouble and neither should any of you.” Uncle John’s deep voice boomed over and behind them.

They all turned to see their usual jolly uncle frowning down at them. “ You kids should stay out of other folks’ business. Don’t you let me hear any of you talking to Poppa or anyone else about this, or there will be heck to pay. You hear? Now who wants to go for a ride to the Dairy Barn?”

The promise of a rare treat of  ice cream cones pushed Poppa and his secret wife from Debbie’s mind as the cousins  ran to the car all clamoring for a window seat.

Years later Debbie found a picture of her great-grandfather sitting in Granny’s living room surrounded by Christmas packages and family members. He was holding his cane and laughing. She wondered what happened to Poppa’s wife when he no longer made his Sunday walks down Hemlock Street.

 

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Wordplay Wednesday: Colorful Connections

Colorful Connections

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Today in Wordplay Wednesday we are returning to list-making as a way of generating ideas for writing projects. This is one of my favorite techniques for tapping into the creative child within that is waiting to be invited out to play. If you doubt that your “inner kid” is still there, try this activity and see what happens.

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~ I want you to look around your space and when something catches your eye, write down the color of that object. If that feels too random, pick your favorite color and write it down.

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~Give yourself 10 minutes to write down everything you can think of associated with that color. You cam list objects, expressions or song lyrics that contain that color, synonyms and anything else you associate with it. One word may lead to another in what appears to be a random manner. Go with it. That is your brain making its path. Anything you think of is OK.

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~Keep writing for the full 10 minutes. The first items on the list are usually easy. I have discovered some of my best ideas when I get beyond the obvious words and stretch my mind a bit.

 

~When your list is complete, read back over it. What ideas, thoughts or memories emerge? There’s a memoir, story, poem or piece of art lurking there. Go create!

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This exercise could be repeated many times using different colors. The possibilities are endless.

These color word lists would make a great addition to your lexicon ( word book). A separate section could be created with a page devoted to each color.

 

Here’s my list. I chose gray because I happen to be wearing a gray sweatshirt at the moment.

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gray grey cloud mist smoke “ smoke gets in your eyes” fog mist rain sad a gray day rain charcoal cold colorless shadows shadowy dim twilight smoky steely steel lead leaden heavy grief sadness headstone cemetery silver silvery haired grandmother beard great- grandfather graphite pencil draw sketch pewter metal metallic pebble ashes mourning dove pigeon ghost ghostly ephemeral stone sorrow depression slate mountain

 

 

There are many possibilities waiting in those words. On Friday I will post my piece based on this list.

 

 

What did you come up with?

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Who is a Writer?

Who is a writer?

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As I have stated before,  a  writer is someone who writes.  However, you may want a fuller profile of  the kind of person who decides to be a writer.  Who exactly are they?  

Today I am going to introduce  you to some writers I know.  They are from my writing groups and from the classes I teach. They span a wide range of ages and life experiences, but what they have in common is a love of stringing words together to remember, to understand, to create, and to tell the stories only they can tell.  I have changed names and a few telling details, but each profile describes  a fellow writer whom I have the privilege to know.

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Sara is a grandmother who  began telling her granddaughter bedtime stories several years ago about a magical land of pixies, fairies, and dragons. The bedtime stories have become a fully realized fantasy world. Sara’s manuscript of her tales is taking shape as a  hero’s quest that promises many hours of delight for her future readers. Sara is a writer.

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Debra is a widow who lost her husband  way too soon. She began writing as a way back from her grief, filling pages with her memories and sorrow.  Now Debra is crafting a mystery story and is enjoying creating characters and scenes from her imagination. Debra is a writer.

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Brian is a middle-aged executive employed at  a technology firm. He writes humorous anecdotes which have been published on several occasions in a well-known magazine. He also writes memoir and fiction in a descriptive style that is comforting yet compelling.  Brian is a writer.

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Elaine is 30, and works in an emotionally demanding and draining profession. She writes lush,  powerful fiction and evocative memoirs and essays. Her writing is a way to both process and escape from her work. Elaine is a writer.

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Ben, 85,  crafts memoir of growing up in Brooklyn in the 1930s and 40s. Ben writes lovingly of his family, friends and favorite places from his childhood and youth. He also writes about his experiences as a photographer and designer.  He has crafted a powerful and moving eye-witness account of the events of September 11, 2001.  He is in the process of compiling his stories into a book. Ben is a writer.

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Victor is a retired scientist and professor. He writes memoir of growing up in a small North Carolina town during the Depression and World War II. Victor has a witty, understated writing style that delights those who hear his stories. Victor is also a poet who has published a small volume of his work. Victor is now working on a biography of a fellow scientist. Victor is a writer.

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Those are just a few of my fellow writers. To quote Brenda Ueland, “They are all talented, original, and have something important to say.”  They write in many styles and genres and each brings their own purposes to the writing table.  They write because they love it and because they can’t  not  write. The desire for self-expression and understanding, not fame and fortune, compels them to put pen to paper.

So who is a writer?  A writer is someone who writes.

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