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Monday, April 15, 2024

A Writer's Moment: 'In childhood,' the vivid years

A Writer's Moment: 'In childhood,' the vivid years:     “I don't necessarily start with the beginning of the book. I just start with the part of the story that's m...

'In childhood,' the vivid years

 

 

“I don't necessarily start with the beginning of the book. I just start with the part of the story that's most vivid in my imagination and work forward and backward from there.” – Beverly Cleary 

 

Cleary, who was born in Oregon on April 12, 1916 lived to be nearly 105.  She created outstanding characters that had a huge impact on generations of young people who might not have had the impetus to pick up a book or listen to a story until they saw or heard something she had written.  

 

 From The Mouse and the Motorcycle to iconic “real life” characters like Beezus and Ramona to Henry Huggins and Mitch and Amy, her characters vividly deal with the fears, joys and “daily minutiae” that children everywhere experience.

 

“Kids,” she once said, “need to feel safe, be close to their families, like their teachers, and have friends to play with.   Quite often somebody will say to me, ‘What years do your books take place?’ and the only answer I can give is, ‘In childhood’.”

Saturday, April 13, 2024

A Writer's Moment: 'Laugh, Cry , Write a Poem'

A Writer's Moment: 'Laugh, Cry , Write a Poem':   “The very least you can do in your life is to figure out what you hope for. The most you can do is live inside that hope, running down ...

'Laugh, Cry , Write a Poem'

 

“The very least you can do in your life is to figure out what you hope for. The most you can do is live inside that hope, running down its hallways, touching the walls on both sides.” — Barbara Kingsolver

 

On April 8 I wrote a few words about Kingsolver’s creative writing.  She also writes poetry.   “Her poems,” one reviewer wrote, “ . . . are songs of hope and longing.”

 

“When you find yourself laughing and crying both at once, that is the time to write a poem,” Kingsolver said.   For Saturday’s Poem, here is Kingsolver’s,

                                         

           Apotheosis
There are days when I am envious of my hens:
when I hunger for a purpose as perfect and sure
as a single daily egg.


If I could only stand in the sun,
scratch the gravel and blink and wait
for the elements within me to assemble,
asking only grain I would
surrender myself to the miracle
of everyday incarnation: a day of my soul
captured in yolk and shell.


And I would have no need
for the visions that come to others
on bat’s wings, to carry them
face to face with nothingness.
The howl of the coyote in the night
would not raise my feathers, for I,
drowsy on my roost, would dream
of the replicated fruits of my life
nested safe in cartons.


And yet I am never seduced,
for I have seen what a hen knows of omnipotence:
nothing of the miracles in twelves,
only of the hand that feeds
and, daily, robs the nest.

Friday, April 12, 2024

A Writer's Moment: 'Stumbling upon cause and effect'

A Writer's Moment: 'Stumbling upon cause and effect':   Writing a story or a novel is one way of discovering sequence in experience, of stumbling upon cause and effect in the ...

'Stumbling upon cause and effect'

 

Writing a story or a novel is one way of discovering sequence in experience, of stumbling upon cause and effect in the happenings of a writer's own life.”  Eudora Welty


Welty went on the trail of such writing and self-discovery in the early 1930s diving into journalism and photojournalism to help care for her family after her father died from leukemia.  Ultimately, she became one of America’s premiere writers about the American Southern Experience and the first living author to have works published by the Library of America.  Honored just before her death in 2001 with the Medal of Freedom for her life’s work, she also won a Pulitzer Prize for her novel The Optimist’s Daughter.

 

Born in Jackson, MS on April 13, 1909 she developed a deep love of reading that was reinforced by her mother who believed that "any room in the house, at any time in the day, was there to read in, or to be read to."  

 

As a WPA employee in the mid-1930s, Welty documented daily life and the effect of WPA efforts in Mississippi through both her words and photos.  In 1971 she published one of the definitive photo books about the experience, One Time, One Place.   Many of her books and short stories are reflective of the hard times and individual hardships she observed. 

  

“All serious daring starts from within,” Welty said.  “To imagine yourself inside the life of another person . . . is what a storywriter does in every piece of work; it is his first step, and his last too, I suppose.”

Thursday, April 11, 2024

A Writer's Moment: 'Driven to communicate'

A Writer's Moment: 'Driven to communicate':   “A writer writes not because he is educated but because he is driven by the need to communicate. Behind the need to com...