“Writing a good story is like painting a picture — the writer starts with a basic sketch and as she writes adds the color.”
Note from Kate:
I saw this poem this morning after I read my email. My email notice sounded sexist and I seriously was planning on ‘Unfollowing’ the author. Instead, I was blown away by the sensitivity shown by Luke Atkins. The author informed us that he wrote it at 4 am. Just wanted to give him a round of applause for poetry every woman feels and lives.
Venus. A limbless, lifeless lump of antiquity. A marble slab of meticulous, conscientious sexual tension. A photo opportunity—devoid of meaningful human exchange. No change or range. An estrange…
Everyone — let me qualify this — a lot of folks around the world have their eyes glued to the Olympics. I’m one of them. When I was a young kid (don’t laugh!) forty years ago, we only received 3 to 4 TV stations at our home. We had a TV antenna on the roof of our house and when the summer thunderstorms rolled through, our reception was gone.
I always prayed it was during some Olympic event I didn’t really care about. I won’t say which ones, so I don’t offend anyone. But the ones I refused to miss were the gymnastics, running, diving and swimming competitions.
I watched Mark Spitz win all of his gold medals, Nadia Comaneci score a perfect “10”, and Greg Louganis hitting his head on the diving board. I even watched Caitlyn Jenner (then, Bruce) win the 1976 Decathlon. And don’t even get me started with the Winter Games. I wore my hair in a Dorothy Hamill cut — along with a gazillion other teens — for years!
Over the years, we’ve been witness to triumph and sadness. I remember the horror of the 1972 games in Munich. Eleven Israeli athletes were taken hostage and murdered by a terrorist group. Those athletes were honored for the first time at the Rio Olympics. And in 1996 at the Atlanta Games, a bombing in the Centennial Olympic Park as part of a terror attack affected sporting events and their security measures until this day. Two people lost their lives and 111 people were wounded in this brutal attack.
Even with those terrible tragedies, the Olympic spirit continues. Athletes around the world train with a goal of being good enough to go to the Olympics and represent their countries. Some of them will remain in our hearts and minds for years to come because their spirit and commitment are a testament to the human race and our innate human instinct to become more than we are and more than we can imagine.
So I’d like to say “Thank you” to athletes like Usain Bolt, Michael Phelps, and all of the other athletes for giving me not just summer entertainment but inspiration every four years for the past 5 decades of my life. Now I need to go watch the Olympics.
‘If you live to write, you write to live’. I’ve heard that quote somewhere. No, everywhere. It and the quote — ‘The pen is mightier than the sword’ effectively speak to those of us who were ‘bitten by the writing bug’. (I know, I know, I’m the Queen of Hackneyed Expressions tonight).
So, I dutifully packed my laptop and lugged it to Puerto Rico with me. My youngest son was getting married and we would be meeting his fiancee’s family for the first time. I pictured myself sitting on the deck looking at the ocean or the sunset while typing away. Carefully dragging my laptop to the beach… You get the picture, right?
Oh, it happened. Once. I wrote a 500-word short story for a writing prompt. The topic was “Lakebed” and despite my usually light treatment of subjects for my short stories, this one was dark. Perhaps my change of mood was the result of being in Puerto Rico and pre-wedding anxiety. That would be a resounding negative.
For me, Puerto Rico was all about warm breezes, floating in a pool, and watching the moon sink into the ocean each night as the stars overhead rotated across the dark sky. It was the sound of the waves slamming up on the rocks at the foot of the forty-foot cliff our villa was built upon. The island will remind me of drinking wine as I reminisced with my best friend about our youth and the escapades which will remain a secret between the two of us. Puerto Rico is the laughter floating in the air while we sat at a beachside restaurant inserted the name of our main entree into our conversations because it sounded funny. “Holy Mofungo, Batman!” will never sound funnier than it did that night. Okay, I lied. I think it still sounds funny, but I’m kind of a nerd.
I guess what I’m trying to say is — Puerto Rico was helping me write my next sentences, paragraphs, chapters and books. It is the source of my memories of the single teardrop on my son’s face while he watched his bride walk down the aisle under strings of lights illuminating their faces as the shadows of the coming night deepened.
Although I didn’t put many words on paper during those twelve days, I did create lasting impressions I will carry for the remainder of my days. The creative spark for our ideas can be found in many places and in many activities including floating in a pool watching white clouds in a beautiful blue Puerto Rican sky.
If you talk about writing with anyone, at some point you will hear the quote — “Write what you know.” — Mark Twain’s famous words. So does this mean if you are a truck driver you should only write about driving trucks.
No, I don’t believe Twain meant it literally. I will be sitting at home with my laptop waiting for an idea to pop into my consciousness. A scene from a day, a week or months ago will come to mind. A funny story about a friend can suddenly have an influence on how my character will act in a certain situation.
Our pasts and our futures can be the impetus for a story. I mentioned my canine muse in the blog, The Best of Intentions. My furry companion and his antics will more than likely show up in several of my future writings. In Exodus, the protagonist’s yellow lab is an amalgamation of my buddy and some of the dogs I’ve met over the years.
During my walks, I will suddenly have the solution for a plot line which wasn’t working. I can hear dialog between characters. When I get home I will grab my notebook and scribble the thoughts on the page hoping I didn’t forget anything. I have even been known to get up out of bed during the night to jot down a scene.
Obsessive? Probably, but it’s so much fun when the stories unfold. The real work happens after the ideas are written. Then it is up to the writer to mold those snippets of life’s inspirations into an entertaining story.