Marisa de los Santos’ writing in “Belong to Me” is absolutely gorgeous–lush even. And the story is compelling, though you’ve probably read similar stories before. At times the telling is a tad overwrought, but ultimately I cared about the characters, wanted them to work things out and was pleased with the strong characterizations. While the book tends toward the literary, it’s also an entertaining story that moves at a decent pace. In the end it’s a thoroughly enjoyable read that I hated to see come to an end. And yes, Piper started as my least favorite character and by the end she was the one I would most like to spend time with. I can often tell that what I’m reading affects how I’m writing. Which is okay as long as I don’t let it change my voice or overall style. “Belong to Me” helped me step my descriptions and emotions up a notch. Now all I have to do is hold onto that as I move on to other books that are perhaps not quite so beautifully written . . .
Not only is this a really fun thing to do with words, it’s incredibly useful when writing a novel. To use Wordle, go to www.wordle.net and paste a chunk of text into the empty box. Wordle will create a word cloud with the words used most often appearing largest. When I pasted the synopsis for “The Lotus Leaf Effect” into Wordle, I ended up with a cloud that had the main character–Ella–in huge letters with other primary characters a bit smaller. Other BIG words are “water,” “family” and “walking.” Just as it should be. I put the entire text of my manuscript into Wordle a couple of edits ago and discovered that the word, “just” was huge. I use “just” waaaay too often. It was a great tool for finding my writing “tics” and then editing them out. Find you a chunk of text and play with Wordle–it’s a blast!
QUAKER LADIES I once read something about how the meek would inherit the earth and it must be true—only look. Every child knows the bright names of Daisy and Buttercup sunning themselves in mountain meadows. Black-eyed Susan winks and waves. But here, in grown over tracks, on top of cold, windy mountains where color is afraid to show, you’ll find these. Bluets the book says under a picture of almost nothing. Bluets for bare tinged petals cupping a soft yellow center like a pat of butter—like light. Now leave the book and ask just folks. They’ll say Quaker Ladies and I prefer the peaceful point of that. Nature sows blankets, foamy and soft. You’ll want to sink down in how sweet and simple they are— like something that already knows how the world will turn out.
Monday writing update: Week of August 23: 10 pages + one freelance article three pages long It’s kind of nice to mix a little journalistic writing in with the purely creative. Reminds me to work through a logical sequence, to structure my writing around key points and to be aware of the flow–beginning, middle, end. Creative writing can sometimes take off in odd directions that really aren’t going to help me get where I need to go. I try to catch those early so I don’t have to toss too much. It’s always a little discouraging for me to have to delete those hard-won pages.
On page 2 of my copy of Longfellow’s Poems, copyrighted 1883 and presented to Carlotta Ratts on Christmas 1886, is the poem “A Psalm of Life.” I love to “adopt” used books. And if they are particularly beautiful books that have been around for more than 100 years, all the better! Longfellow’s Poems, Household Edition has a faded rose and burgundy cover with the title in a gold box. There is also a butterfly on a thistle centerd on the cover in a gold medallion. Art Nouveau daises fill the background. It’s a lovely thing, this book. And it has lovely things printed in it. “A Psalm of Life” reminds me that waiting is no excuse for not being “up and doing,” in the meantime. I hope Carlotta enjoyed this book half as much as I do. A PSALM OF LIFE WHAT THE HEART OF THE YOUNG MAN SAID TO THE PSALMIST TELL me not, in mournful numbers, Life is but an empty dream ! — For the soul is dead that slumbers, And things are not what they seem. Life is real ! Life is earnest! And the grave is not its goal ; Dust thou art, to dust returnest, Was not spoken […]
So, I’m afraid of heights. What I consider a healthy, normal fear. And I agreed to do a freelance article about Navitat–an organization that sends people flying through the treetops on a zipline. I was down for it, too, until I saw the photos of the 1200 line that’s 200 feet in the air. Why did I agree to this? Oh, […]
I was closing the bathroom window this morning when a great blue heron swooped down, flew past the window and came to stand in our backyard. What are the chances that a heron would be landing outside my window just as I was closing it? Miraculous things happen all the time . . . what are you missing out on? Ezekial 12:2 – 2 “Son of man, you are living among a rebellious people. They have eyes to see but do not see and ears to hear but do not hear, for they are a rebellious people.”