Friday, March 6, 2015

The Writer's Job

"In my opinion it is not the writer's job to solve such problems as God, pessimism, etc; his job is merely to record who, under what conditions, said or thought what about God or pessimism. The artist is not meant to be a judge of his characters and what they say; his only job is to be an impartial witness. I heard two Russians in a muddled conversation about pessimism, a conversation that solved nothing; all I am bound to do is reproduce that conversation exactly as I heard it. Drawing conclusions is up to the jury, that is, the readers. My only job is to be talented, that is, to know how to distinguish important testimony from unimportant, to place my characters in the proper light and speak their language." 
-Anton Chekhov


Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Writing the Stoies: Eileen gets the mail...

Gorgeous snow fell, headlong, self-propelled objects.  They knew they wanted to hit the ground, yet disliked the curious bumping into one another.  The flakes looked erratic and senseless.  A wind kicked up a distraction, and danced the snow like Tasmanian devils – move, move, move…  In the final three feet of descent, the crystals cascaded, indistinguishable, heaped all together at the edge of Eileen’s porch.

The blizzard finally petered out mid-morning. 

School was cancelled.  Neighborhood children had been yelling and throwing the snow from one yard to the next most of the morning.  Women bundled little ones and plunked them in the powder while they held steaming coffees and compared stories.  Bent old men and grumbling teenagers shoveled paths from their doors to the road.  Someone had thought to shovel a path for Eileen, but it was still covered with a thin layer of ice. It was not a good idea to take her hip on a walk for the mail until she could clearly see the pavement of her driveway.  Until the road had been warmed by cars of the young and brave.

Heavy snow kept her locked up like a naughty child in timeout, forgotten.  She heard all the glee and energy from inside her house and felt punished.  Eileen waved at the Zimmerman boys as they shoveled sidewalks, but they could not see her... 

Friday, February 27, 2015

Writing the Stories: Snow...

That was the last time he stopped believing.  Believing in snow. 

Snow had been in the stories she had told, but even those were hard to find anymore.  Where libraries and book stores once were stood clinics.  Dispensaries.  Wards.  Gone were books, and gone were the writers.  You could always tell those that came from the lineage of writers.  The muscles around their eyes were tight, straining to see just up ahead.  Furrowed brows and pursed lips were give-aways.  And they clustered together, talking in furtive voices.  Their hands moved like quick, small birds.  That’s how her hands moved.  Like tiny daggers, emphasizing mere words.

(Just a short "finger exercise" from yesterday's writing.)


 "There are mortal moments and minutes that seem to matter - certain hinge points in the history of each human."
                       -Neal A. Maxwell

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

A huge, foolish project...


Start a huge, foolish project, like Noah…it makes absolutely no difference what people think of you.  



Stories can be found anywhere and everywhere.  Art, music, novels, news articles, people, film, poetry, nature, and ourselves. 


Stories are how we connect with others.  Stories are how we understand our world.  Stories are how we learn about ourselves.


This is my "huge, foolish project" - writing the stories.


Each of us is a story. Each day is a story.





Tuesday, February 24, 2015

My son marked his territory...

My girls are teenagers.  My son has to spend a lot of time analyzing and strategizing conversations to be heard.  A split second and someone takes a breath between words.  He dives into a half-thought before being scolded for interrupting.  For whatever reason, there seemed to be a lapse in vigorous discussion that day.

My son took advantage. “Mom?”


“What’s a trent?”

“Sorry, bud.  What’s a what?”

“A trent.  See.  On that van in front of us?”  All my kids craned their necks to see around heads and headrests.

On the dirty rear window where it should have said “Clean Me” in thick finger-writing, it read “Trent: 92% Calc. Final!!!”

I laughed.  “That’s a boy’s name.  He got a 92% - an A – on his calculus final.  Looks like someone is proud of him, bud.”

One of the girls spoke up.  “Calculus is REALLY hard.  He did pretty well.” 

“Oh.”  The quiet drew over our van again.  Necks withdrew back into quiet shoulders.

I turned to back our van out of the school parking lot the next morning.  And I laughed at what I saw.

My son's own finger-writing. “Trent: 92% Calc. Final!!!” was now on our dirty rear window, but in a mirror-image.

He marked his territory.  He stuck a flag on island beaches.  But he didn’t claim it for himself.  He claimed it for the people of the land of Trent.

Trent – Looks like someone is indeed proud of you.  Calculus is REALLY hard.