Monthly Archives: October 2010


I had a haiku hiccup Friday. I was sitting outside; it was morning; I was in pajamas and drinking tea. Wind was high; fall is here–my favorite time of year in Houston. I was attempting to give myself daydream time, nothing specific, just mind rambles, which I think I don’t do often enough. It’s part of an experiment I’m doing around enhancing creativity in a gentle way. (Another part of the experiment is artist’s dates.) As I sat there, I saw a monarch butterfly sail in quietly and land on the green of my jasmine. The monarch didn’t move, not even her wings, once she landed. My mind rambled: she looks like a sailboat, is she tired, sailboats tack, is she dying. And the next thing I knew I had that wonderful urge to write a haiku; only my garden and its small dramas seem to inspire me. So here are my attempts:

off-course a monarch

settles wearily too close—

wind chimes call—dying……………………..


a winter monarch

sails into the yard—off course—

it’s come home to die…………….

Can you make it better? I bet you can. I didn’t play much with sails or tacking nor the monarch’s color nor rest……..but what fun! My haiku hiccup. I need them more often, but I have to be in a receptive, relaxed state; i.e., I must create the opportunity for such states. What feeds your writing soul? Find something and do it often!



Silly quarrel this weekend.  Hurtful things said. How imperfect human love is, crushed by depression, thrown off track by random moods, despairing before the imagined unknown, changed into a monster by addiction, swayed by suspicious suggestion. How imperfect we are with our little internal dramas, half of which never occur, but we do like playing the movie of ourselves over and over. So I sat on my front porch and cried. And then I gathered myself up and went on, and later my loved one said, I’m sorry, and that was all it took for my heart to let go the tight bands that had fastened around it. How silly this matter of life is. What puny creatures we humans are. Petty and self-absorbed. And lovely, too, all of it–and us–imperfectly  lovely.

What’s your imperfect life?

PS….For fun, I made each link a poem from Writers’ Almanac.

just words

I’m surrounded by word tools as I go through the copyedited manuscript of the next book. I have a dictionary, a thesaurus, a synonym finder, and a new old treasure called “The Comprehensive Word Guide,” based on the interlocking and overlapping of meaning, or so it says. I discovered a copy while I was in Taos in the library of the Wurlitzer Foundation and ordered one for myself. As I read myself again (yawn, growl, mutter, mutter), I have to often stop and search for better words, either at the copyeditor’s suggestion or at my own. What richness there is in these books, particularly the word guide. My character can “say” or she can affirm, deliver, give voice, utter, admit, announce, avouch, avow, bawl, counter, insinuate….there are some 124 choices, and then this old, tattered word guide carries any word even further, taking definitions to intricate levels. When I hit thesaurus on the computer, I have choices, but not with this depth. Maybe I just don’t know what to hit…..

But right now, I’m surrounded by the richness of the English language the old-fashioned way, and it’s so vast and beautiful….pleasing, attractive, bonny, comely, ethereal, gorgeous, lovely, ravishing….

Does the computer offer this richness? What program? I question….inquire, grill, interrogate, pry, pump, query……


A big, fat old manuscript sits on my dining room table. It’s the copyedited version of the novel that is coming out this June. I have to read myself one more time! This when I’m trying to begin to discern any strands of the misty cobweb that is the beginning of a novel, the gossamer nothing that is beginning, the story that isn’t there, the idea that can’t quite be grasped. What a fool I am, I always think when I’m beginning a novel (and when I’m deep in it) to think I can do this. I guess it’s because once the story starts to live, it’s hard to imagine it any other way. But until it breaths on its own, I have to have such trust, such faith, such sheer bullheadedness. It was easier when I was younger, the bullheadedness, I mean. The faith and trust are the work of my grey hairs. As English novelist Iris Murdock once said, “Every novel is the wreck of a perfect idea.”