I love quotes: brief lines stating a truth uttered by someone and preserved in print and memory. Most of them are only a sentence or two. Their brevity is part of their appeal. For me, a quote is like a cubby-hole door to a whole world of thought.
Of course I collect quotes. At one point I taped them to my refrigerator. (Yes, this was ages ago, before Post It notes.) I never thought much about using my fridge as a bulletin board until I found a neighbor girl standing in my kitchen reading the lines I’d taped there. It’s good to get ideas/truths/quotes out where people can appreciate them — even if it’s only on the door to a refrigerator. Now, of course, I have this blog, so I’m going to go back to posting quotes and maybe even short poems or bits of poems, and sometimes I’ll add my personal take on them. Here’s one now.
This morning, as fumbled through my kitchen half-asleep, ousted from bed much earlier than I wanted to be, the first line of an Emily Dickinson poem floated through my mind: I started early, took my dog… The cadence of the words held me spell-bound as I considered how those brief lines set the mood, created a visual scene, and hinted at a deliberate destination. As a writer of fiction, I was swept away. I could see a woman, lost in thought, with her dog trotting beside her, heading for a specific destination.
What she’s going off to do or experience is the subject of scholarly debate. I don’t intend to wade into those waters –the poem has her walking into a metaphoric sea — I’ll end my musings on the shore. Those few lines have given me enough to think about. I hope they’ll have you thinking too, about the power of carefully chosen words.
Thick snow-dots danced in the crisp air as I walked to the mailbox this morning. After sitting indoors all winter, walking the quarter-mile drive is a start toward getting in shape for gardening. It didn’t seem like there was any wind until I turned to walk back to the house. The cold hit me and I pulled up my hood wishing I’d worn my winter jacket.
April is the cruelest month. Yesterday’s temp was in the high sixties. Today, below freezing. The daffodils don’t seem to mind the wild fluctuations between spring and winter. They’re braving the cold, pushing their greenery skyward. I’ll take that as a sign of hope — no, a sign of faith that the sun will grow warmer and spring will be here to stay.
Emily Dickinson caught this morning’s feeling years and years ago:
Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings the tune without the words
And never stops at all.
I’m early. I know. But the temps are in the fifties and even my fall jacket is much too warm. Yesterday Culvers put out their patio furniture and today Mom and I sat on it while we sipped hot coffee and savored cold vanilla custard. The sun was bright, the wind was more of a breeze ruffling our hair and everyone who passed us as we sat there smiled as if to say ‘look at that! It’s warm enough to sit outside.’
Next week we may get a blast of snow, or hail, or slushy rain — for right now though, it feels like spring. While poking around on quotegarden.com I found this poem by Lilja Rogers that captures spring very well.
First a howling blizzard woke us,
Then the rain came down to soak us,
And now before the eye can focus —
Over the years, and there have been a good number of them, I’ve made many, many New Years Resolutions. Very few of them stuck, mainly because they were in my head instead of out where where I could see them. That’s right: I didn’t hang a note on the refrigerator with a magnet, or write a message on a Post It note and stick it to my computer. I just kept my resolutions in my head, where they got lost among the floating debris from half-baked ideas. Last year I got wise to what was happening and wrote my resolutions in my weekly planner in the form of a check list, then went on to add those positive actions to each day’s ‘do list’. That worked, so I’m staying with last year’s resolutions (even though the ‘salad for lunch’ and ‘exercise every day’ didn’t really drop my weight.) This year, though, I’ve adopted a motto:
In other words, look for reasons to smile, smirk, giggle, and laugh out loud. No, I won’t be watching reruns of I Love Lucy, The Beverly Hillbillies, or Petticoat Junction. (Although an occasional Hee Haw is definitely going to happen.) Nope. I’m going to find humor the hard way – by looking at everyday events. If what’s happening around me doesn’t provide smirks, giggles, or belly laughs, at least I can smile at the people around me and do my best to get them to smile back.
Go ahead and grin at my foolishness. It’ll make you feel good.
May all your New Year Resolutions be easy ones and your motto –if you choose to adopt one — lead to fun.
Robert Burns said it well: The best laid plans of mice and men err oft and go astray. (He didn’t actually say it like that, but the Scottish version has so many apostrophes that I prefer this corruption.)
My goal of posting once a month fell off the tracks in October. So did my drive to find an agent for my women’s novel. Discovering the manuscript was too short put a large crimp in my plans. I’ve been expanding scenes and adding new ones. I still have a lot of writing to do before I hit the magic 80,000 + recommended word length. Ah, the scenes to be written. The description to add. The dialogue that will take the place of summary. Fun. Fun. Fun.
Wish me luck!
September always feels like the time for new beginnings. Probably because of going to school as a student, teaching, and watching my kids head to school in the fall. I’m sure the stacks of notebooks and pencils in stores inviting words written by freshly sharpened pencils has something to do with the feeling, too. So, I’m pleased and delighted that I was able to step into September with a fresh accomplishment behind me and a time of change in front of me. To be more specific: the women’s novel I’ve been working on is ready for marketing. Tuesday, September 1, I queried an agency.
Elizabeth George, in her book WRITE AWAY says,
Remember this. Not everyone can write a novel. In fact, very few people can do it. But you might be one of them. There’s only one way to find out.
Well, I found out. Now I’m crossing my fingers and saying prayers that my characters and their dilemmas will appeal to an agent, an editor, and a publisher, and reach the women I hoped would read about them.
Oh my. I seem to be tearing myself apart by stretching my mind in too many directions at the same time. 1. There’s the novel ~ new ways to tweek it pop up on a regular basis. 2. There’s my picture book writing addiction ~ a new idea leaked onto paper during a sleepless night, making four picture book ms waiting for revision. 3. There’s the agent search. Agggh! The world has millions of people in it. Thankfully not all of them are literary agents, but there sure are a lot to consider. All this and regular life, too. Oh, I should include (4.) the lovely four line stanza that got yanked from an accepted poem and is calling for a few other lovely four line stanzas to go with it. Sigh. I’m going in too many directions—
I’m sure the feeling is universal. This quote from Gelett Burgess (artist, art critic, poet, author and humorist per Wikipedia) offers comfort:
If you stop and think about it, you’ll realize that three out of four persons do not know exactly what they’re doing a large part of the time.
It’s good to know I’m not the only person driving myself crazy.