Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Another Serendipity

This week's homework genre in my PLOWC (parent-lit online writing class) is creative non-fiction. Since I'm a bit behind and still working on last week's op/ed piece, I have only been rolling ideas around in my head for this week's assignment. But through our class discussion/message board, we have been sharing how we make time to write, and as I was posting a comment about writing with my classes before I retired, I remembered some freewritings I saved.

One is about my dad's black Ford and the Mr. Peanut pin that was stuck in the passenger-side visor. Perhaps that will be my focus for a memoir or vignette! If that doesn't pan out, I'm still blessed with the warm memory of my dad, his car, and Mr. Peanut.

Hope you have a serendipity kind of day!

Monday, January 29, 2007


I love the word serendipity.

It would always be the first vocabulary word I'd teach my classes. The following day I would have the students get their class folders from the basket. When everyone opened his folder, they found a coupon from me: a free homework pass, 10 bonus points, or something else fun for them. Then I waited for someone to make the connection!

Today I was thinking of posting something about Emily Dickinson and decided to get her book of poems from the desk in my room. I opened the book and discovered thirty-three dollars that I had tucked inside the cover! What joy! A visit with Emily and an unexpected gift of cash!

Saturday, January 27, 2007


"I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning to sail my ship."
Louisa May Alcott

To a landlubber, sailing looks so easy. For he believes one just gets in the boat, hoists the sails, and lets the wind do the rest. Of course, any sailor would scorn such a description! Armed with needed terms: hull, stern, keel, bow, helm, rudder, he understands the wind's goal is to capsize the boat, and his job is to keep it afloat. "It is an exciting game, in which man usually comes out ahead, but the wind gains enough victories to keep its courage up."(How to Sail)

Isn't it the same with writing? Armed with writing terms: thesis, voice, point of view, metaphor, symbolism, doesn't the writer struggle to keep her craft afloat by coaxing the words to "suit her own ideas"? Doesn't she find writing to be "an exciting game" when words billow onto the paper or swell into waves that crash against one another? Doesn't the writer who perseveres "come out ahead"? And by always sailing -- always writing -- doesn't she find a haven to help her weather life's storms?

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Favorite Quotes

"Bread and water can so easily be toast and tea." (on a Celestial Seasons tea cup)

"Don't try to teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time and annoys the pig." (I do not know the original source, but my friend Jan first quoted it to me.)

"You can take a horse to water, but you can't make him think." (Dr. Don Gray, a fine principal)

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Back to Marmee

A member of my online writing class, offered this insight after reading my first post: "When I read the passage, I saw Marmee’s corner not as a 'perfect' place but a place that is 'as usual,' which is revealed to be something that requires daily, repetitive work to keep it so."

Hmmm. . . work . . . Isn't this what I am trying to avoid? Isn't this what prompted me to approach my blog in a different way? I liked my posts at marmee's musings, but it was the work of writing those devotionals that discouraged me.

So how is it that Marmee's corner remained "as usual" when the rest of the house fell into disarray due to the Little Women's experiment? Marmee knew the value of a routine -- the "daily, repetitive work." She knew the need to keep an uncluttered space where she could address the day's tasks. It was a space where she could be Marmee: mother, wife, and advocate.

Writing the devotionals became burdensome because I was not doing the "daily, repetitive work." Writing needs to be a regular routine; otherwise I will never have the fluency I desire, and I won't grow in the craft. I must not censor my voice and deny myself permission to explore many topics and ideas. By giving myself permission to "just write," I can sweep away the clutter of self-imposed "shoulds" and "should nots" of perfectionism.

Now I understand -- Marmee's corner remained "as usual" through a labor or love. May my motivation be the same.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Marmee's Corner

I'm into the second week of an online writing class, and the experience has been rewarding and enriching as I've "e-met" writers from across the nation and abroad. This week's topic is blogging/columns, which has led me to think about my abandoned blog "marmee's musings." I had such high aspirations to post devotionals there that I could someday compile into a book. Though this is not the usual goal of blogging, the first few posts came to me so easily, I was confident, I could blaze a new blogging trail! Self-imposed pressure to produce a perfectly polished post dammed (damned) the creativity, and Marmee lost her desire to muse.

With the encouragement of Susan Ito, the leader of our parent-lit class, I've opened this new space with a new name: marmee's corner. A passage in Louisa May Alcott's Little Women provided the inspiration for this new title when, at the turn of spring, the March girls seek permission to abandon their normal work routine and instead, do whatever they wish:

"May we, Mother?" asked Meg, turning to Mrs. March, who sat sewing in what they called `Marmee's corner'.

"You may try your experiment for a week and see how you like it."

. . .Next morning, Meg did not appear till ten o'clock. Her solitary breakfast did not taste nice, and the room seemed lonely and untidy, for Jo had not filled the vases, Beth had not dusted, and Amy's books lay scattered about. Nothing was neat and pleasant but `Marmee's corner', which looked as usual. (128)

I don't know exactly what "Marmee's corner" looked like in the March home, and I don't know what my corner is going to look like either. It may not be "neat and pleasant," but instead strewn with one word, one sentence, one paragraph -- all unpolished, undusted -- but honest, as I ponder how to accessorize this write spot.