"Two wrongs may not make a right but a thousand wrongs make a writer.”

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Writers On Writing

As we close the door on 2019 with high hopes for the new decade, I thought I'd share some of my favorite quotes from poets and writers, from Mary Oliver to Elmore Leonard. Good luck with your writing and Happy New Year!

“Imagination is better than a sharp instrument. To pay attention, this is our endless and proper work.”
 -Mary Oliver

  "Why say very beautiful? Beautiful is enough," said James Joyce, hardly a miser when it came to words.

"A  writer must take infinite pains-if he writes only one great story in his life, that is better than writing a hundred bad ones-and that finally the pains the writer takes must be his own."
 - John Gardner

"You never have to change anything you got up in the middle of the night to write."
  -Saul Bellow

“The most regretful people on earth are those who felt the call to creative work, who felt their own creative power restive and uprising, and gave to it neither power nor time.”
― Mary Oliver

"If you’re doing your job, the reader feels what you felt. You don’t have to tell the reader how to feel. No one likes to be told how to feel about something. And if you doubt that, just go ahead. Try and tell someone how to feel."
 -    author unknown
     As Elmore Leonard said, "the reader  either knows what the guy's thinking or doesn't care."

"Good fiction creates empathy. A novel takes you somewhere and asks you to look through the eyes of another person, to live another life."
  - Barbara Kingsolver

 "The true novelist is the one who doesn't quit, though the rigors of novel-writing generally bring no profit except to the spirit. For those who are  authentically called to the profession, spiritual profits are enough."
   -John Gardner

And, finally, the one that haunts me in the dead of night when sleep eludes me:

"What do you plan to do with your one, wild precious life?"
   -Mary Oliver

Sunday, December 29, 2019

For The Small People

fly for me.
brown pelican
of the gulf coast pelicans,
(you were once a postcard pelican)
preen once more for me.
BP CEO sail your yacht
on a pristine sea.
For me.

This post is in response to the challenge on Imaginary Garden with Real Toads to raise our voices for climate justice.

On April 20, 2010 the Deepwater Horizon Oil spill occurred in the Gulf of Mexico. The spill continued for nearly five months until it was finally sealed on Sept 10, 2010.  It is estimated that 4.9 million barrels of oil spilled off the coast of Louisiana, threatening fisheries, wildlife, and beaches along the coastline, including sensitive nesting areas for the brown pelican.

Satellite image of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico

When the company's CEO took a day off to go sailing during the height of the disaster, he reportedly referred to those fishermen and others whose livelihood depended on the waters of the Gulf as "Small People".

According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, we may not know the full effect of the spill on animals-both big and small-for years to come.

BP is a case study on how much ignoring corporate social responsibility can cost, from both a financial and environmental standpoint. The story of the Zebra Finch relayed to us on The Garden, is a case study for fighting back, and the words of climate activist, Joanna Macy, who has devoted her life to working for climate justice, inspire us all to speak up and take action, however small, as small as the mother Zebra Finch who sings to her unborn chick in the egg, preparing it for life in a changing world.

Amazingly, scientists have observed that chicks sung to in this way emerge smaller than usual, thus better able to withstand a warming environment. In the words of Sherry Blue Sky at the garden, I too see hope in the "young rainbow warriors" arising across the world to fight for the future of planet Earth.

Thank you for reading what I've posted as rain pelts my window on this late December day in wet, soggy out-of-sorts Michigan,

Monday, December 23, 2019

Up To No Good

The Runner

A figure clothed in black
from masked face
to gloved hands
   (snug fit textile)
and cleated boots,
darts by my window.
He would be suspect—
          up to no good
but for the wind chill factor
the snow on the ground.
As is,
he only invokes admiration
as I heat my soup on the stove.

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Advent Ghosts - The Widow's Solstice

She fumbled with the bottle in the dark and swallowed the pills with a gulp from the tap. The shadows of solstice were just that. And shadows couldn’t hurt, couldn’t walk, stab, or slither. Spineless and inert, couldn’t smash a spider. 

The house creaked, but what old house doesn’t? Beams adjusting to the weight of a thousand feet. But shadows don’t weigh a blink, can’t strike a match, can't block the moon. She grabbed her husband's coat and ran for the back door as moonlight glinted off the blade entering the front, glinted off the keys left hanging on a hook.

This short "ghost story" is for Advent Ghosts hosted by Loren Eaten at I Saw Lightning Fall.  You will find more 100-word (no more, no less) stories there.

Happy Winter Solstice!!

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Patty's Spaghetti

I started this blog many many moons ago at this time of year, hunting season, frost in the air and homemade spaghetti sauce simmering in the pot. I carried it down the road to my parent's house (arms wrapped around the pot for warmth) with gunshots echoing in the woods, but light of foot and heart, to coin a tired phrase.

There is no house down the road anymore, at least not one for me. Hunting season has come and gone. Patty's Spaghetti recipe is tucked away in a book, along with others cut out of the newspaper with handwritten notes: Look Yvonne, sounds good, no?

Tis the losing season, I've often thought, as dark closes in, tighter and tighter, this year especially, though we string lights and put candles in windows. Hopefully we turn the corner soon to a brighter future and less toxic news. Doesn't everyone just want to return to normal?

I hadn't meant for this to turn political but the politics of the day have pitted friend against friend, brother against sister, neighbor against neighbor until it feels like there is no us anymore.

Patty would not approve of the new lapse in decorum, the lack of civility in our national discourse. Hatred is a contagion for which there is no vaccination, but we still have free and fair elections and a new year ahead.

On that uplifting note, we will soon reach winter solstice and celebrate the return of the sun. Oh, and that recipe? Trust me, it is a good one.