Saturday, December 24, 2016

A Poem for the Season

Only recently was I introduced to author and poet Elizabeth Madox Roberts (1881-1941). Although she lived before my time, I feel a kinship to her--native of neighboring state Kentucky and writer of historical fiction. Her titles are now on my to-read list. 

In the meantime, in this season of special times and special observances, I share one of her poems. Merry Christmas!

Christmas Morning

If Bethlehem were here today,
Or this were very long ago,
There wouldn't be a winter time
Nor any cold or snow.

I'd run out through the garden gate,
And down along the pasture walk;
And off beside the cattle barns
I'd hear a kind of gentle talk.

I'd move the heavy iron chain
And pull away the wooden pin;
I'd push the door a little bit
And tiptoe very softly in.

The pigeons and the yellow hens
And all the cows would stand away;
Their eyes would open wide to see
A lady in the manger hay,
If this were very long ago
And Bethlehem were here today.

And Mother held my hand and smiled--
I mean the lady would--and she
Would take the woolly blankets off
Her little boy so I could see.

His shut-up eyes would be asleep,
And he would look just like our John,
And he would be all crumpled too,
And have a pinkish color on.

I'd watch his breath go in and out.
His little clothes would all be white.
I'd slip my finger in his hand
To feel how he could hold it tight.

And she would smile and say, "Take care,"
The mother, Mary, would, "Take care;"
And I would kiss his little hand
And touch his hair.

While Mary put the blankets back,
The gentle talk would soon begin.
And when I'd tiptoe softly out
I'd meet the wise men going in.
                                                                            --Elizabeth Madox Roberts (1881-1941)

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Emerging Stories and What It Takes

"A good story, just like a good sentence, does more than one job at once. That's what literature is: a story that does more than tell a story, that manages to reflect in some way the multilayered texture of life itself." --Karen Thompson Walker

The picture turned out to be more than I first thought it might be. I was coming home from a walk and paused by the creek at the small bridge near my house. Leaves floating on the water's surface caught my eye. I pulled out my phone and took a couple of snaps with the phone's camera. Only later when scrolling through those snaps did I note the reflection of the tree in the water. A little tweaking--and a polaroid frame thanks to Picmonkey--and the final product, above, emerged. I like Karen Thompson Walker's definition of literature and a good story. A good story, like a good sentence, she says, does more than one job at once.  Maybe the same can be said of a photo. All those layers and texture, discovering more than what was first expected. A reflection, a mood, and story all wrapped up in an image. It's fun to play around with that's for sure.

November past left me with a similar feeling. The time was filled with lots of life's layers and textures: Thanksgiving, family, shared stories--and that thing called NaNoWriMo that I used as a goal setter and prompt. Glad to say, as busy as the month was, that there were some breakthroughs and increased word count in my WIP--and unexpected surprises and discoveries along the way, those layers and textures we're talking about. Hard work is still ahead, but it was a very good month for seeing a clearer image emerge. All it took was a little more commitment :-)

How about you, are you seeing breakthroughs in your writing? Added layers to a story, more texture, unexpected discoveries? Struggling with a slowdown--or seeing a pickup? Any words of advice for making headway next year as this year draws to a close?