KaBooM WritersKaBooM Writers

Welcome to the online presence of KaBooM, a writing group that has sustained the creative lives of a diverse group of women for over a decade. We hope that getting to know us will inspire you, too!Welcome to the online presence of KaBooM, a writing group that has sustained the creative lives of a diverse group of women for over a decade. We hope that getting to know us will inspire you, too!

Welcome to the online presence of KaBooM, a writing group that has sustained the creative lives of a diverse group of women for over a decade. We hope that getting to know us will inspire you, too!


The KaBooM Writers Notebook: Our Blog

Kayaking and Writing

Now begins an extended metaphor. Yesterday I went on a 12 mile kayaking trip, where I stopped at the halfway point for lunch at the canoe shop. I left my kayak on the rocky landing point in the only spot available, which is the protocol. Other kayakers who conclude their trip must bring the boats up the hill and return them.  I was enjoying my lunch on a deck above the launch and keeping an eye on my kayak as there was much traffic below.  At one point a young couple barged into my kayak. The woman was clearly miffed by the obstacle in her way and roughly knocked into my boat, which sent my paddle into the river.  Her companion retrieved it and kindly moved my kayak higher on the beach.  I was glad I had not called down to the woman because the problem was solved.

Next came a young family of four in a red raft. The father and the children scrambled out and went up the steps. The mother, who was very large, had a hard time getting out of the raft. She had to crawl from it to the slope. There she held onto my kayak for support and managed to crawl and lean on it until she called to her husband to come and assist her.

I saw that the young woman who annoyed me actually was the agent for moving my kayak up the hill so that it was the exact support the next woman needed it in her own ascent.  If I had interfered,  likely my kayak would not have been in the right spot to be of aid.

This scene made me think about the often a mysterious and slippery path to publication.  Having a story or poem published, or a book accepted, is not a given. Even if a writer does all the proscribed tasks, reads all the good books, earns an MFA, submits first to small magazines and then more prestigious ones, queries agents, attends conferences, does the hard hard work of revision, patiently sends out finished poems and waits for chunks of a year for that small slip of paper saying no or a two line letter saying Yes! . . . even if a writer does all those things, there is no guarantee of publication and a career that grows in an organic or logical way. Some writers find early success and grow up in print, with mixed results. Others toil many years before finding the right publication, the right agent,and  the right editor.  The interactions of the women and the kayak suggests that there is a path that one doesn’t control.  Sometimes the “I” and the normal impulse (“That’s my kayak, leave it alone!”) is not the most knowing of how things should go.  Again, I come back to understandding that doing the writing is what I can control.  What happens when it floats off into the world is not.

Comments (0) — Categorized under: Lynn Pruett

Why I Still Write

I had an unsettling phone conversation with a family member recently after a literary reading.  I had told him about the event, saying that I thought the 25 or so attendees was a pretty good turn-out. He said, “I don’t know why anyone bothers writing any more. Libraries are dying. Bookstores are going out of business left and right, and print is already dead. Even Kindle has a tiny population. No one care what anyone else thinks anymore. So why do you bother?”

It  annoyed me to consider that maybe he was right. This is a conversation I hear all too often. Even my former colleagues in media are going to online magazines and social media sites for their “messaging.” A blast here, a blast there. Then, I can never seem to find whatever it is they have written. It is too ephemeral.  And for the long haul,  I can’t seem to wrap my mind around the idea of getting a hot cup of cocoa and curling up with a computer screen at night, or taking a blanket out into the shade of my yard and reading random tweets on my i-phone.

If books and magazines are no longer relevant to modern cultulre, is there any reason to write?

For me, there still is.  Of course, whether we use Facebook, Twitter, a blog, a journal, a manuscript, or face to face conversation, we still frame our thoughts through language. Words are how we come to understand each other—the basis of communication.  More importantly, however, I suggest that writing is how we communicate with ourselves.

I like what American journalist and news broadcaster Edward P. Morgan said about the importance of books. “A book is the only place in which you can examine a fragile thought without breaking it, or explore an explosive idea without fear it will go off in your face. It is one of the few havens remaining where a man’s mind can get both provocation and privacy.”  That a broadcast journalist emphasized the importance of the book carries a lot of weight for me.

Writing for print is not a waste of time. It allows one to contemplate and frame an idea, to develop it from multiple perspectives, to cultivate meaning as well as to cultivate an audience. We can rehearse a message, revise, and sculpt it until it says what we want it to say—and, surprisingly, it will sometimes say what WE most need to hear.  Novelist E.M. Forester has been oft quoted as saying, “How do I know what I think until I see what I say?”

In addition, I  believe the words we choose to use, ultimately, create the world we live in.  It takes time to craft a piece of good writing, and that requires a certain amount of energy, The energy that we put into writing a book blossoms to life inside the mind of the reader. The more time we take to sculpt a piece of writing,  the greater its potential impact. A book is not ephemeral. It takes a long time to make, and it is an investment of the time and energy of the writer. A book is a gift to its readers of the living spirit of its creator. Many times I have read a novel and thought to myself, “My God, I wish I’d written that.”

I can’t say that I’ve ever thought, “OMG. I wish I’d tweeted that.”

Comments (6) — Categorized under: Normandi Ellis

The Power of the Pen

I love my computer. It simplifies the physical process of writing for me. Editing is easier. How did we ever compose without cut and paste? Spell check, for all of its faults(and they are many), catches errors that the eye might overlook. The computer makes writing faster so that when I type, I can keep up with the racing thoughts that sometimes accompany creative energy. I find it easier to get my thoughts out when I’m not distracted by the feel of the pen in my hand, the drag of the ink across paper, or the shape of the letters.  As arthritis gradually eats away at my knuckles, typing is also less painful than writing by hand. Yet, even though the benefits are many, I still feel the need for hand writing. Why do I bother with hand writing anything when it’s so much more convenient to tap out a quick email and hit send?

Have you ever wondered why legal documents require a hand written signature? The answer is obvious; our signature is unique. Nobody else can sign our name the exact same way we sign it. Even talented forgers make tiny errors that enable experts to detect the difference between a real signature and a forgery. The same thing can be said for all of our hand writing. Dr. Rosemary Sassoon, the creator of the Sassoon series of typefaces, said, “Handwriting is an imprint of the self on the page.” Our handwriting is imbued with our personality in a way that a typed page can never capture.  I can look at something scribbled on the back of an old picture and know if it was written by my mother, my father, or my grandmother. I have letters from my grandmother that show the passage of time by the way her script began to waver as she aged but even wavering, it is still undeniably my grandmother’s handwriting. My father often typed his letters; as a businessman, he had ready access to a typewriter. But he always signed them in pen and ink and I still get a warm feeling when I come across an old letter with his signature at the bottom. The hand written signature connects me to my father in a visceral way that the typed pages don’t. I can see my father’s hand swooping, forming the “d” for David and final swoop on the end that crossed the “t” in Harter with the tail of the “r.” It’s unmistakably my father’s hand.

Recently,  I received a short, hand written note from a woman I have never met. This woman had seen a piece of my art work that is hanging in the public library in Harrodsburg, Ky. She was inspired to write to me to tell me how much she loved my work and she offered me some hollyhock seeds for my garden, the hollyhock being the subject of my quilted work. I was so touched by the note that I immediately called to tell her. I told her that not only did I appreciate her compliment to my work, I appreciated that she had taken the time to write.  She laughed and said, “That’s what we old women do!” I told her that it was more than that. She gave me something to save; something to read again when I’m feeling particularly discouraged about my work. I hope that writing by hand is not a dying art. I hope it’s something that we all will continue to do, not just “we old women.”  I can’t picture a stack of emails being saved with quite the same reverence as a bundle of love letters tied with blue ribbon. I hope that the hollyhocks will bloom next summer in my garden and remind me of the kindness of a stranger and the power of the pen.

 

 

 

 

A Sanctuary for the Literary Life

Our group recently took a field trip to the newly renovated Mercer County Public Library in Harrodsburg. It features the work of regional artists, and we were particularly eager to see Mary’s latest quilt of hollyhocks displayed prominently behind the main desk.

Mercer Co Library 001

To our delight we found the library both inviting and inspiring. It’s a sanctuary for exploring and enjoying the written word, in a setting steeped in local history, culture, and art. The work of local painters and artisans is on display, and the glass wall of the local history room is etched with an 18th century map of Mercer County. In the children’s area, little ones can climb on a limb or sit inside the trunk of a spreading Osage Orange tree, modeled on a long-beloved specimen in nearby Old Fort Harrod.

Mercer Co Library 020

In the entrance to the library is a beautiful and dramatic iron sculptural screen, fifteen feet tall, made by Erika Strecker and Tony Higdon. Antique farming tools make up the elements of the screen, many of which were donated for the project by local farm families.

Mercer Co Library 004

This work of art is a celebration of Mercer County, the rural landscape and culture, the labor and ingenuity of farmers. To walk into the library is to experience an affirmation of the place where it is located, as well as the value of literacy.

Mercer Co Library 014

This unique library, reflective of the people it serves, reminded me of the individuality of the connections between writers and readers. As writers, it is a privilege when people take up our work and read, allowing it to become some small part of their own story. Likewise, as readers, it is a gift to have access to a world of books that engage, challenge, and entertain us.

A setting like this one speaks of the value of books and the nourishment to be found in a literary life. Good books are hard-wrought, but they make possible the intimate communion between reader and writer—one that changes the world, one person at a time.

I’m grateful for libraries, and for the readers, writers, and librarians who make them great.