Tag Archives: Writing Down the Bones

Three Thing Thursday


Leave a comment

Filed under three thing thursday

We’re Back! Three Thing Thursday!


Last night I dreamed Ryan Reynolds installed the new granite countertop in my kitchen.

He knew how much I loved him so he surprised me by being an installer!

He was funny!

And super-cute!

It was a great dream. Far better than the one the night before where I dreamed my daughter was swept out to sea by a giant wave and there was nothing I do to save her and I knew she was going to die because the sea was so rough. Yes, the Ryan Reynolds dream was great.

Plus–guess what?! I wasn’t even looking for him, and I found RR on Twitter! (His wife was in photos with him, but I didn’t look at her.) It was so weird, just happening upon him on Twitter. Like I was walking along in a new neighborhood and found out where my crush lived.

The Twitter thing was all about Deadpool, and I couldn’t decide to follow him. Do I? Don’t I? Do I? Don’t I?

I know how I am.

I might take a Xanax for a migraine and wake up the next day to see that I’d tweeted 8 billion messages to him like:

I know I am old but u r cute. I write books. Do you read?


Could you be keynote at WIFYR? Pay– $300. (Only 30 minutes. I heart you.)


Do you mind flabby/chubby/balding/funny/older women? Teeth okay.

At this point I am NOT following Ryan Reynolds on Twitter. But yes, I still pause the moment he is naked with Sandra Bullock in THE PROPOSAL.

And FYI–what you have just witnessed here is exactly how I write.




If you’re anything like me, then one of your favorite fantasies is becoming an award-winning author right out of the gate. Can’t you just picture it? All the highest awards, every accolade available, all of the critics universally agreeing that your debut is the greatest ever written.

But I remember hearing Shannon Hale speak once. My favorite novel of hers was her first, The Goose Girl. Someone else in the audience felt the same, and asked her why that one didn’t win a Newbery like her later novel, Princess Academy.
She replied that she was actually glad that it didn’t win. She felt that if it had, she would have felt so much pressure to have the same success that she might never have written another novel. The moderate success and the loyal fanbase was exactly what she needed to motivate her to continue writing.
Shannon Hale went on to say that Kate DiCamillo had a great deal of difficulty writing her next novel after The Tale of Despereaux won. J.K. Rowling felt she had to write under a pen name after Harry Potter. Harper Lee didn’t write another novel for decades. Stephen King stated that he always feels a bit hurt when someone says that his best novel was The Stand….does that mean that nothing he’s done since then has been good? Is his best long gone?
So perhaps instant fame and fortune isn’t the best method. Maybe writing careers, like story arcs, need time to build to a climax. Isn’t it wonderful to think that your best is yet to come?
Oh, the lasting effects of a thoughtless comment.  As I was re-reading Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones (yes, I’m still on that path through the woods), she told about a childhood experience.  Playing her cousin’s piano in Brooklyn she was singing along with it “In the gloaming, oh my darling . . .”  Her cousin, nine years older, screamed out “Aunt Sylvia, Natalie is tone-deaf. She can’t sing.”  From then on she never sang, listened to music only on rare occasions, but learned the words to all the Broadway songs from the radio.  She never tried to imitate the melody.
My own long-lasting childhood bruise was when I was playing with a younger boy cousin.  We were only 3 and 4.  My aunt Virginia had a beautiful, knit afghan which we were using as a “dress-up” item.  I wrapped it around my tummy, and twirled and twirled.  Weldon wanted a turn, but I was bigger, older and wouldn’t give him a chance.  When he began to cry, Aunt Virginia stormed in, rather upset with me.  “Brenda, why are you always so selfish?”  She whisked him away into her bedroom, bedecked him in a long flowing skirt of many colors and a cowboy hat with a shiny brown bead that slid up a cord to secure the hat to his head.  Needless to say, I wanted a turn with those items: the afghan puddled around my feet, and had lost it’s glamour.  And I believed for many, many years that I was “always” selfish.
What lost opportunities did Natalie miss out on for enjoying music?  What guilt did I carry with me well into my adult, even mothering, years?  Be careful what you say (or what you make/let your characters say): “Children will listen,” and bear the scars.
What are your characters’ childhood scars?  Still festering?  Ingrained?  Somehow, still debilitating?  How may those scars be healed or overcome?
Carol Again:
Just found a site with Ryan Reynolds pics.
Just saying.

Leave a comment

Filed under CLW, three thing thursday

Three Thing Thursday

#1 Boy, do I have a big surprise for my students!

I can’t say more than that. I’ll let you know what happens next TH.

Plus, the person we bought this home from failed to disclose a problem with mice.

We kept them very well-fed this past winter. I found that out when we pulled out our food storage in plastic, used-to-be air-tight bags.

I keep thinking about the old Beverly Cleary book The Mouse and the Motorcycle.

It’s not helping.



I keep going back to read Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones.  She was pointing out that you should read a good poem, like “To a Skylark” by Percy Bysshe Shelley, and you should do so aloud, reading it “the way he set it up and punctuated it, what you are doing is breathing his inspired breath at the moment he wrote that poem.”  Yes, even 150 years later (though now it’s even a little more than that).  Then she said, “This is why it is good to remember: if you want to get high, don’t drink whiskey, read Shakespeare, Tennyson, Keats, Neruda, Hopkins, Millay, Whitman aloud and let your body sing.”
It brought to mind how I never tire with reading Millay: I’ve read many of her poems to various classes and audiences. They always take my breath away, but loan me hers for just those few moments! Try reading GREAT authors’ materials out loud: see if they fit your breath, your mouth, your heart, your head.  Then discover how to do the same to your readers.
#3     I love musicals. I know some people think they’re dumb, because who breaks out in song and dance in the middle of the street? But I can’t get enough.

For me, musicals are not literally about breaking out in song with a full orchestral backup. It’s a method of communicating emotion in a way higher than dialogue. When the emotion of the scene goes beyond what words can say, they allow music to reach us on a deeper level.
With novels, of course, we can’t have the page magically start singing to the reader. (Although that would be totally cool. Publishers, get to work!)
So what do we do instead?
We find rhythm in words. We work in cadences. We have short sentences. Then we follow them up with longer sentences. Then we go for broke and whip out the longest sentence we can think of, hoping that we don’t lose the reader halfway through.
We use the pronunciation in words to create a feeling of musicality. We naturally inflect higher and lower on certain syllables, and we can use that inflection to create a roller coaster of prose.
This is when training in poetry comes in handy. If you haven’t ever studied poetry or tried to write with a strict poetic structure (think of sonnets) then there’s no better time to try. A deep understanding of the music of language can really help with your ability to bring emotion to a scene.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized