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

The Power of Spring Cleaning

I am spring cleaning. Hold on to those images of soapy buckets and floor waxers. Don’t expect the smell of ammonia and vinegar. I am cleaning my office: purging files, reorganizing my bookshelves, checking old drafts, and sorting through notes from presentations made long ago.

The office is chaos; the project has been underway for a month and with each day I descend into a new layer of paper.

My original goal was to weed out books I wouldn’t keep, passing them along to new readers. I hoped to shred outdated papers and sort out saved mementos that my children might appreciate. I imagined how grateful they’d be that I spared them this effort.

Fellow KaBooM writer Leatha Kendrick writes that such a process is like revision, a seeing again of the work of a life. To some extent that statement is true. As I’ve worked I’ve reread essays and stories and arranged them in file folders. Many of these pieces are accompanied by early drafts and feedback notes offered by writing friends. Many pieces feel finished. From this exercise I am reminded that throughout my career I’ve been blessed to receive immediate feedback on my writing. Because I led writing classes, and because I always wrote and shared my work, I seldom had to wait for a response. Writing in community gives a writer a public and the payoff of quick publication.

However as my cleaning continued, I find that I’ve looped through revision. I find myself back to a starting point, a moment of generation.

Examples. In what I hope will be a penultimate step, I have three relatively short stacks of papers on my desk. One stack includes articles I’ve saved. My idea is that I will read those materials and write from the ideas gleaned therein. I see enough new material to supply a writing life lasting a good many years.

Another stack includes drafts of pieces that don’t feel finished. They are a living presence, waiting for the breath that will bring them back into existence.

The third stack remains a mysterious hodgepodge. Nothing in life ever sorts into three neat piles does it?

Spring cleaning has been good on many levels. One, I simply can’t go on acquiring books. I need to invent some kind of protocol to help me make decisions about future acquisitions. Suggestions are welcome.

Two, my stacks and my file folders contain work abundant enough to carry me to the end of my days. I need not ever worry about a lack of material.

Spring cleaning is giving me new energy and reminding me of the wisdom of letting something take longer than you meant to allot for it.

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Claiming a Space, Making It Yours

                       “Virginia Woolf has said it: What a woman (what any writer) needs in order to write is a room of one’s own.     It is not simply a matter of space — it is a space of one’s own that is needed.”  —Pat Schneider, Writing Alone and With Others

 Google “writers on their rooms,” as I did, and you will find blog posts, TV series, photo sequences, books examining “where I write.”  Even non-writers seem fascinated by the spaces in which their favorite authors spend their creative time.  As a tourist I have visited writers’ homes — from James Thurber’s house in Columbus, Ohio, to Anna Akhmatova’s apartment in St. Petersburg, Russia, and many spaces in between.  Something in us wants to see the rooms where writers sit doing their invisible work.  As if by entering that space we could enter the artist’s process.

In The Poetics of Space, Gaston Bachelard muses, “ . . . if I were asked to name the chief benefit of the house, I should say: the house shelters daydreaming, the house protects the dreamers, the house allows one to dream in peace.”   Writers’ rooms fascinate us because they house the dreaming that is the creative process.  The contours of walls, the angle of light, even the stacks of papers and books become the shape of that dreaming.

The need to understand writing spaces became urgent for me as my husband and I consolidated our family home of thirty years with my separate writing space of more than ten years — combining two kitchens, two sets of everything, including two writing rooms from two different phases of my writing life.  In my relief at letting go of the burden of a home too large for two people and my anticipation of no longer having to maintain two households, I denied what the moves meant for me as a writer:  the dissolution of a space I had slowly claimed in which to do the creative work essential to my wellbeing. Instead of the joy and ease I had expected to feel in claiming our new space, I have felt mostly anxiety — the primal terror of “disassemblage.”

In an essay I wrote twenty years ago I described the writing room I created for myself in our family home.

 But one room of the house is mine alone, reclaimed from Barbies, Little People houses, and the spring- frame rocking horse–Shy Anne (Cheyenne)–where [our oldest daughter] sang to Sesame Street.  Sitting in the quiet of what has become my writing room, rereading Wallace Stevens’ “Idea of Order at Key West,” I understand it at the level of the body: “there never was a world for her/Except the one she sang and, singing, made.”   Here, in what was the playroom for the first six years of this house, my girls sang themselves into existence.  Those years the bodies of my children enfleshed Paradise, ordered the universe.

And beyond that Paradise, this angled space above the garage has become my retreat:  to three favorite chairs, two desks, and half a dozen bookcases filled with poetry, volumes on craft, essays, science, and theology—my  room.   What is distilled here is an inner landscape, a different kind of garden, and one which it has taken me years to claim.  Beyond Edna’s pigeon house and the insanity of Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s Yellow Wallpaper, I have brought Lessing’s “Room 19” home.  My place of solitude.  To not create this place, I finally understood, was death, a drowning in other people’s needs, a suffocation.  Here writing continues like the heartbeat in the center of the chest, life within a life.  My home.  [“No Place Like Home,” The American Voice, No. 49, Summer, 1999]

Of course, my old spaces, dismantled in the course of moving, are not recreate-able in this very different room.  Everything from the compass to the floor plan make it impossible. I can’t quite find myself in this room I have chosen, and I’ve given up my old writing rooms, which makes me angry as well as anxious.  Above all I’m impatient to get on with work long interrupted by this dual move which has dragged out now for five months.

Tonight, reading and preparing to write, I glanced up and for the first time felt my new writing space taking shape:  the space seemed to gather itself around my ratty peach recliner (reclaimed from that first writing space) and the desk moved from my writing studio, set at  90º  to a scarred work table inherited from my grandparents’ business, and the bookcases along the walls and the lamps I have gathered over years.

Yes, there are boxes to be unpacked and things to be sorted, put away, let go of, but I am making (again), in my intuitive, slow and inexact way, Woolf’s “room of one’s own.”  Inimitable.  Suiting only myself.  A dreaming space.

 

 

Mo’ne Davis will share her story: “I hope it encourages people to take a chance and play the sports they want to play and not just the ones people expect them to play”

Mo'ne Davis (photo: Eric Risberg/Associated Press)

Mo’ne Davis (photo: Eric Risberg/Associated Press)

Few pieces of news could make my Monday like the announcement that come March, we can expect a memoir from teenage athlete Mo’ne Davis, she of Sports Illustrated cover last summer (and the accompanying article by Albert Chen), and the “I Throw Like a Girl” Spike Lee video for Chevrolet.  And to hear that for this writing project she is said to be teaming up with author Hilary Beard, whose previous collaborations include “Promises Kept: Raising Black Boys to Succeed in School and in Life,” is even better news, as it suggests that in her newfound fame and media scrutiny, she is good hands, and will be supported and mentored by wise elders.

http://static.squarespace.com/static/52687ed6e4b0b1f7d808ece3/t/52715587e4b023f89fe8977b/1383159175582/_CLC0156.jpg

Author Hilary Beard

To observe that Mo’ne Davis seems wise beyond her years is a cliche, yet one I return to when I read in the HarperCollins announcement of the memoir when Mo’ne says: “I’m just a girl that likes to play sports and I’m excited to share my story with everyone” … “I hope it encourages people to take a chance and play the sports they want to play and not just the ones people expect them to play.”

For weeks before today’s announcement, I’ve been trying to summarize what the example of this dignified, grounded young woman does for my spirit: how it lifts and inspires me beyond all rational explanation. Perhaps it’s partly that she exemplifies the gains made by female athletes since Title IX of the Civil Rights Act was passed over 40 years ago, which are astounding and worth recalling for ourselves. Now that the world that is possible for women and girls feels completely different from the one I grew up in, the gains we have made are worth remembering. 

For example, I’ve also been watching the PBS series Makers that documents, in oral histories, the women who have pioneered in so many professional fields. Watching these stories with my teenaged son serves as a salutary corrective to the impulse to take for granted the gains earned by these women. When my son heard Sallie Krawcheck reveal that photocopies of male penises were landing in her desk every morning, his shocked look reminds me: yes, we have traveled far. But we NEED to tell these stories, so that the gains are never minimized. (Educators: you can use the free discussion guides and lesson plans for this series at the website found at http://www.pbs.org/makers/discussion-guides/. )

Historian Gerda Lerner

Historian Gerda Lerner

Years ago I read something called “Lerner’s Law” referring to the pioneering work of historian Gerda Lerner. The “law” went something like: in the case of women who are pioneering in a field where women were not welcome, the fact that they know of one other single woman who achieved a similar feat made it exponentially more likely that they would be able to accomplish their goal. As I undertook research for this post, I could not find that comment: if you are reading this and are able to supply an attribution, I would be most grateful if you could let me know in a comment below. The nearest quotation I could find came from her book The Creation of Feminist Consciousness: From Middle Ages to 1870 (pub. 1993):

[T]he fact that women were denied knowledge of the existence of Women’s History decisively and negatively affected their intellectual development as a group. Women who did not know that others like them had made intellectual contributions to knowledge and to creative thought were overwhelmed by the sense of their own inferiority or, conversely, the sense of the dangers of their daring to be different….Every thinking woman had to argue with the ‘great man’ in her head, instead of being strengthened and encouraged by her foremothers. 

photos: AP images

Pioneering marthon runner Katherine Switzer does battle as the first woman to run in the Boston Marathon. Photos: AP images

So whether or not Mo’ne fully appreciates the historical precedents that brought her where she is today (and what teen can grasp on whose shoulders she stands?), I find myself calling to mind the intersections of  essential gains won by pioneers who’ve received some recognition as such: what was won for all of us by Katherine Switzer, the first woman to run in the Boston Marathon. She registered for the race using her initials, so that until she showed up to run, no one expected a woman (above is a series of photos documenting Katherine’s participation being discovered by Jock Semple, race official, his moving in to intercept her, then his being bounced himself by her boyfriend, Jack Miller). The recent #Likeagirl campaign reminds me that there are some strong voices reclaiming athletic abilities for women. They are welcome!

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Standing-On-My-Sisters-Shoulders/55438180809

The heroines of the Standing on My Sisters’ Shoulders documentary

But there are other pioneers I see even less recognized. For Mo’ne Davis inherits a legacy from Civil Rights foremothers in a way different than I do. The film “Standing On My Sisters’ Shoulders” reminds me of stories we are far too quick to forget, if we ever knew them at all. The film exists because

most of us have never heard of Fannie Lou Hamer, Annie Devine, Unita Blackwell, Mae Bertha Carter, or Victoria Gray Adams. But without the efforts of these women, the Civil Rights movement in Mississippi would not have been possible. In a state where lynching of black males was the highest in the nation, a unique opportunity for women emerged to become activists in the movement. This is their story of commitment, bravery and leadership in the face of a hostile and violent segregated society. In the name of freedom and equal rights, these women bravely faced great adversity and risked their physical safety, their jobs, and even their lives.

The accompanying book, “Pieces From The Past:  Heroic Women In Civil Rights” (edited by Joan H. Sadoff; co-Edited by Dr. Robert L. Sadoff and Linda Needleman) allows the women profiled in the film to continue telling their stories in more depth.

So: on a day I celebrate Mo’ne Davis, here’s to honoring all our foremothers, their divinely strong shoulders, and the incalculable benefits we enjoy even on the days we forget them.

  

What Will You Harvest?

images

Harvest

It comes down to this:

twilight, on a ridge in Kentucky,

vines twirl about a grid of twine;

leaves, dry, tobacco-colored,

shield indigo globes.

 

dogs and children run the rows,

the low sun a diamond point in each eye.

 

right hand cuts bunches free;

they drop into bins,

the fatness of summer cushions their fall.

left hand plucks fruit to taste:

the sweetness of a cloudless day,

hints of alfalfa and cedar.

 

these are ancient motions

like kneading bread dough or

smoothing curly hair

 

at row’s end, the work turns, repeats itself,

the moon rises,

the earth spins,

light drops.

 

Several weeks ago we went to a friend’s vineyard in a neighboring county and picked Norton grapes, the grapes often grown in Central Kentucky. Participating in this harvest is a rite—an invitation to pause at the end of growing season—as vines wither and last fruits become evident, whether they are bunches of grapes or clusters of pumpkin, squash, or tomatoes.

Common sense tells us that in order to harvest one must first sow. But sometimes we’re in a position to harvest even when we didn’t do the hard work of planting. I had nothing to do with this crop of grapes other than showing up to spend some hours clipping stems and tossing bunches into bins, where they landed noiselessly thanks to their plumpness. Likely I will later drink wine made from these grapes.

I experienced a different kind of harvest, an opportunity for thanksgiving and reflection, and in this case I am led to see that the ordinary and the fabulous are not that far apart. The harvest shows where the one bumps against the other.

This autumn, what will you harvest?

 

Photo credit: rvanews.com

 

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Handling Poetry

Poetry anthology illustration

Years ago when I worked for a boss who distributed poems at staff meetings, I started the habit of sticking my favorites into a loose-leaf binder. That binder became my own camera-ready anthology: poems at my fingertips to be shared with classes and recombined into packets for specific teaching purposes.

As life filled, the binder filled, filled to overflowing. When I retired, I crammed it in a box and carried it home to worry about another day.

That other day arrived this winter. Record snowfalls, cold, and ice canceled meetings, closed gyms, and kept me close to home.

Organizing the binder looked like a doable project: order a few poems by author’s last name and recycle extra copies.

Easy.

As I entered Day Three of the project, I was reminded that few tasks of this kind end up being straightforward. I first deviated from the path of start-to-finish when I found myself tallying which poet had written the greatest number of poems I prized. (Mary Oliver, Sharon Olds, Jane Kenyon, and Wislawa Szymborska were the winners.)

Next I made a pencil notation on any poems whose source I could recall, creating a provenance of poetry appreciation.

The individual poems soon came to life for me. Their physical appearances are so dissimilar. Some poems came by way of book release announcement, straight from a local letterpress, printed on high quality paper. Others are photocopies (some few perhaps photocopies of ancient purple dittos). Some poems are printed on paper with festive borders or in seasonal typefaces so hard to read that the giver translated the poem on the flip side in plain old Times New Roman. A very few are handcopied. Even the poems printed on turquoise cardstock have their advantages. Too dark to read, in the binder they are easy to spot.

And of course, I read and reread. I saw that themes converged (themes of joy and loss, reminders to value a closely-named present, seasonal markings), I remembered when I first heard a particular poem read aloud, I appreciated anew poems written by friends and students, amateurs and professionals, and that poem-distributing boss, who taught so many of us to love language on a page with wide margins.

Most importantly, the exercise reminded me that I have written poetry. There, among the I’s, are copies of my work. I remember the genesis of each creation, I relive the struggle to make each poem the best possible, I replay the rare occasions when I took a poem out in public and shared it with an audience. I find images and lines that please me still: a poem about choosing a china pattern written as a toast for my daughter’s wedding, a simile in which I compare another of my efforts to a tomato with blossom-end rot.

Handling words in this way strikes me as a useful prelude to writing (emphasis on “hand”) as opposed to reading, which permits an extra layer of separation from the text.

Nonetheless, I must bring this project to a stop, stop this wonderfully fertile “composting” as one friend calls it and go back to nurturing my own frail seedling words that have languished in the chill of this unseasonable winter.

Or in the words of a villanelle I forgot I wrote back in 1976:

Winter is sometimes fine for talking,

shoring against crack of spring.

Then comes a feeling in the blood for acting.

 

To pay attention… our proper work

“To pay attention, this is our endless and proper work.”  —Mary Oliver

One morning this week when the day was still cool I had the windows open.  Hearing a slight, skittery, fluttery sound, I moved into a room with a window not too far off the ground.  Outside the window was a flower bed that holds a patch of purple coneflowers, now dry and gone to seed.  I’d been meaning to pull them up; they had long since become unsightly.

What I saw through the screen, though, made me pause at the threshold.  On the heads of the brown, dried coneflower heads were a clutch of finch, feeding on the seeds.  I crept closer, moving slowly and as quietly as I could.  One was definitely a finch—it had that characteristic yellow color and the markings even I, no birder, recognize.  Most of the gathered fowl, though, were a soft grey.  When are finch grey, I asked myself.  Someone else in the house moved behind me and most of the small birds lifted off in a quick, nervous jump of feather and anxiety.  One closest to the window, however, stayed longer.  Looked over its shoulder, right at me, it seemed.  So soft, so warmly grey.

The wonder that is online searching turned up this photo of a mature finch and a fledgling, precisely like the ones I’d just seen outside the window.  These are even perched on a cone flower (though one in considerably better shape than mine).

Thanks to the Stokes birding blog: bit.ly/1amN23O

I consider this sight outside my window a very tiny treasure, one that might have been missed in the usual bustle of a busy day.  While my own writer’s notebook hasn’t yet produced a pearl from this beginning, at the Writer’s Almanac,  there is a fine poem by Billy Collins title “Aimless Love”: its opening stanza is clearly born of moments of observation similar to my own.

This morning as I walked along the lakeshore,
I fell in love with a wren
and later in the day with a mouse
the cat had dropped under the dining room table.

Billy Collins “Aimless Love”

 

Your assignment, should you choose to take it:

Today, give yourself a moment to notice small stirring and sights that—were you to rush—you might otherwise miss.  Bonus points: record them in your writer’s notebook.

 

Exercise: Brainstorm a List of Objects That Might Appear in a Scene

Here’s the exercise: You’re revising a scene in a novel or short story. You want to make sure you provide enough details so your reader visualizes the setting where your characters act.

A.J. Verdelle, novelist and master revisionist, suggests brainstorming a list of 15 or so objects that might appear in your setting.

During a session of “The Twenty” at Hindman [Kentucky] Settlement School, I invited college-age writers to try A.J.’s exercise. I offered a setting from my own novel-in-progress: a retirement facility “social hall.” Students generated the list shown in the above photo, and we also brainstormed objects for their settings.

Later, as I worked to revise my scene, one object suggested by a student seemed so quirky I knew I wanted to include it.

I had seen (and heard) wall clocks that chirp like a different bird at the top of each hour. In their own relentless way, they remind us of time’s passing. It seemed plausible that an elderly resident or family member would donate such a clock.  I liked this specific detail, and as I revised I made room for that clock on a cinder block wall, not far from the mounted television set.

Then I realized that the opening paragraph of the novel features a couple of cardinals pecking holes in the main character’s sugar snap peas.  Then I thought about Terry Tempest Williams’s memoir, When Women Were Birds. Sometimes, I had learned, birds are just birds—they are mentioned as details that make the created world seem whole and fully realized. Sometimes, however, birds resonate as Jungian archetype, representing the spirit among other things. That possibility is magnified in a scene set in a retirement facility.

Suddenly I had added a layer to the novel not previously present. As A.J. Verdelle says, “Almost every detail you carefully select will in itself tell a story.”

Have you tried brainstorming a list of objects that might populate your scene? Will you send me suggestions for objects that might appear in a used bookstore—an important setting in my new novel?

 

Still sneaking up on the muse ….

"sneaking suspicion" -- cat at the wall

(Photo from: http://bit.ly/CatSq1)

This Monday morning when the muse again felt so many miles away all my inspiration might as well have taken off to Mars, I finally quit banging my head and — miracle — mercy dropped in.   An entire stream of thought, from nowhere I could have seen coming.

Well.

On reflection, this development shouldn’t be surprising.  Yet an old truth, newly rediscovered, certainly feels like revelation.  Writers have long known that the muse, like happiness, tends to flee direct pursuit.  There is a part of my conscious brain that knows this.  And yet.  And yet…still and again, I need to discover this truth anew.

As I read in a post by Misty Massey years ago, the best course of action is to remember that the best bait for inspiration is to “… lure it out into the open by pretending you don’t care. Before you know it, it’s curling up at your feet.”

At one level that doesn’t make much sense, does it?  Pretending you don’t care about your creative product can feel dangerous.  And sometimes, you may be so emotionally invested in the work that you cannot see anything but frustration at what you perceive as failures.

Every now and again, though, I can get just exhausted enough to learn something new—by finally letting go of the struggle.

(Photo from: http://bit.ly/Senv6b)

 

Turns out, all ll I needed this morning was to tell myself I had no time for the project that’s recently been frustrating me,  to sort of turn my back on it, and—sneaky, padded cat feet— it crept up behind me, purring to make its presence known, in a way I’d have killed for days ago.  Between its teeth was a tasty morsel; oh, sure, stolen from something else.  But I’ve got no scruples when it comes to such treasures.  I’ll take them however they arrive.   I simply need to remember that the arrival is more likely to happen when I can turn my back on my anxious, demanding mind and instead settle quietly,  entering a gentle waiting-that-is-not-quite-doing-nothing; entering an expectant interlude, a sympathetic distraction.

It was Kafka who famously said: “You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet” (from his translated Reflections on sin, pain, hope and the true way).

Here’s to finding ways, always, to welcome the world,  and then, to finding it rolling in ecstasy at our feet.

Kindle as Revision Tool

I wasn’t sure I could learn to like a Kindle, much less love one. Sure, after a week or two, I was ready to acknowledge its well-advertised charms: the ability to load a shelf’s worth of choices onto a device that fits neatly in my purse; the capacity to share purchases with my husband’s iPad; the option of virtual ownership when one of my book groups selects a title I don’t want to make physical space for on my overcrowded shelves.

I also voiced criticisms I’d heard before: the reading experience isn’t the same. I miss not being able to flip through a book. Like many booklovers, I have a spatial recall that startles even me, although I know I’m not the only reader who experiences it. When I want to double-check a characterization or a plot point, I’ll think to myself, “I saw that mentioned on the lower left side about fifteen pages back.”

Clicking through a Kindle book, which negates the left/right spatial orientation, is nothing like this, nor is using the keyword search feature, which with its laborious button-pushing seems as antiquated as a card catalog compared to the computer-like quickness of my brain. Reading a book on Kindle is not a recursive experience; I’m not manipulating a three-dimensional text, not constantly flipping pages through space to recheck the epigraph and/or the dedication, to consult the index, or to linger over accompanying photos. I won’t even bring up Kindle’s way of charting your progress through a book. The percentage tally makes me feel as if I’m participating in an opinion poll. The location number method makes me feel as if I’m having an extraterrestrial experience.

However a recent discovery may redeem the Kindle. I’ll share it with you under the assumption that if I took six months to find it, you are also clueless (plus I tested the discovery on ten Kindle-using friends and none of them knew about this feature).

While searching for something else on the “Settings” screen, I noticed an email address I’d never seen before: myname@kindle.com. I read the paragraph that included this never-before-seen address and discovered that I could send documents to my Kindle in a variety of forms, including .doc or .docx. I pasted a chapter of my novel, which I’m revising, into an email and sent it to myself. Quick as a flash, I received a reply. No dice. Your email doesn’t have a document attached. This response included lots of other useful information, as well as a link to a Help screen. I tried again, this time attaching the chapter. In less than five minutes, the document showed up on my Kindle.

So good. I’ll be able to send my novel to readers. They won’t need to spend ink and paper printing it out or sit for hours reading on computer screens. And in fact, friends with agents confirm that their agents are using e-readers for exactly this purpose.

However, the real advantage to me, the writer, lies in Kindle’s usefulness as a revision tool. I read my sample chapter on Kindle—a chapter I’ve examined several times during the revision process. In one quick read, I saw six infelicities: two consecutive sentences ending on the flat note of the same prepositional phrase; several unneeded adverbs, a comma splitting a compound predicate; a monster paragraph that straddled two screens; an inconsistency in the spelling of a character’s name; the pronoun “her” repeated ten times on one page. In several cases I noticed that paragraphs had lost their indentations, making the text blobs frequent and daunting. So much for impressing a prospective agent.

How was it possible that I had missed these items? What made them apparent when I read my manuscript on Kindle?

I concluded that space between lines, or leading, matters. When the sentences containing the prepositional phrases were no longer double spaced, they drew together on the page, and I spotted them. The monster paragraph also became apparent with book-style leading. I missed the relief of a paragraph indent when I looked at the screen.

The proportion of the page also matters. The Kindle page looks like a page from a book. Its proportions, its ratio of text to margin, mimic a physical book. As I read, I noticed words differently.

I ran into a couple of problems sending a file to my Kindle, problems that were solved by asking Google. Not every paragraph was indented for example. I learned that it’s best to delete tabs and to use the paragraph indent feature (under format/paragraph or on the ruler bar at the top of the window). The same website recommends saving the document with an .html extension rather than .doc or .docx. I followed both suggestions and the resulting document showed up on Kindle formatted as I wished.

Maybe, just maybe, reading on Kindle provides more of an actual book-reading experience than I realized. When I read my manuscript on Kindle, it was formatted like a book. I noticed all the features that called attention to themselves as they slouched across the screen, reminding me that I don’t yet have a book, but a manuscript undergoing revision. Kindle’s real value may be as a revision tool that helps me see my work again.

Enjoying Daffodils in the Lake District: Updated

Today at writing group I brought in a vase of daffodils from my yard and shared the classic “I wandered lonely as a cloud” William Wordsworth poem.  Many of us know the lines from school.  It is something to read them with fresh blossoms in front of you.  Like so many things that have become cliche because of frequent exposure, it’s worthwhile to re-experience them as close as possible to what an author’s intent might have been.

Another way to re-vision a familiar piece of writing is to have a young person re-imagine it.  In that spirit, I wanted to provide a link to this video of a “daffodil rap.”Beside the Lake and Beside the Tree, a Crowd of Daffodils.

From www.golakes.co.uk/wordsworthrap

According to the tourism webpage, the rap treatment was commissioned not to “dis” Wordsworth, but instead as a celebration.  It was created in the “bicentenary year of [the poem’s original] publication to help the next generation of Lake District visitors connect with his work” (for more details you can see the tourism page that supplies some background).

Here’s to the constant re-experiencing of great writing.

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