Wednesday, September 27, 2017

…On Poetry and Fiction (Dialogue-Only Writing Style)



            With this article, I’d like to discuss the “Dialogue-Only” writing style. Dialogue between characters can take place in a short story, novella, novel, or even poetry. It’s simply conversation between two or more characters with little or no narrative. In fiction, it can invite you to participate in the storyline; In poetry, it can take your heart on emotional journeys deeper than the words themselves.
       
            One of the first ebooks (novel) I ever attempted to write, titled "The Hand She Dealt to Me", actually ended up being a work of fiction written totally in "dialogue-only" style. I didn't realize the direction I was going in until I was half way or better, towards completion of the novel. That's when I stopped and questioned myself as to what the heck I was doing. With all the work and effort that I had already invested in this work of fiction, I decided to ride it out and continue on this path until I reached the end of my story. To my amazement, I was fully engrossed in the characters, the storyline, the twists and turns in the plot, the climax, and finally the ending. I surprised myself when I went back and read/proofread the entire novel. The reason being was that I also felt a much deeper connection to the characters - who they were, how they spoke, what they desired. I knew them. I knew them all and I knew them well. I felt their pain, joy, troubles, love, happiness, sadness, losses and triumphs. I no longer recognized if they were speaking through me or if I was speaking through them. Something different was happening here. It was a magical connection and a magical transformation between writer and characters.

       I actually felt a sense of accomplishment after using this style of writing. As a writer, I soon discovered that a “dialogue-only” writing style may possibly take a reader deeper into the minds and personalities of each character. The reader may find themselves seated inside the story, while the action and conversation happened in front of them, behind them, to the side of them, or all around them. It would be like reading a story in 3D. Much similar to reading a play, but more like watching a movie since this style offers the reader more depth, imagination and interaction.

      However, since this was a style I was not familiar with, both as a reader and as a writer, I decided to research the style to see if other authors attempted this. To my surprise, I found a bit of information out there which helped me come to terms with the fact that I had chosen a unique writing style - and was setting myself up for some serious criticism.  Through internet search, I came across the following article on “Dialogue-Only” writing style (at The Rumpus.net) by a young writer named Alexander Kalamaroff, August 9th, 2014, which was quite interesting:

“The dialogue novel is a unique creature. In it the conversations among characters are the primary or only means of narrative advancement—so the initial experience might be similar to reading a play or movie script, where we’re tasked to mentally dramatize what we’re reading. But the dialogue novel is intriguing because it is not meant for stage or screen. And compared to its compatriot, the monologue novel—which has a substantial history shaped by Dostoevsky, Nabokov, and W.G. Sebald, to name only three masters of that form—the dialogue novel is quite rare. While they can be challenging to read, dialogue-dominated narratives create amazing opportunities for philosophical inquiry, stylistic originality, and stunning creativity that are surely worth exploring.”

      ...So, in my opinion, readers either love the style or hate it. Some of my critics felt confused in keeping up with the dialogue, the characters, and who was speaking at the time. Others enjoyed it thoroughly, according to verbal and written reviews. I made it a point to use the characters' names quite frequently in order to identify the speakers so  readers could follow easily. I also made an effort to use separate paragraphs for each speaker. It seemed to flow smoothly for me.  However, I was the creator of this work of fiction. I owned it, I controlled it, I brought it to life. Of course it would run smoothly for me as I read it. So knowing that this work of fiction could somehow prove to be challenging to a reader, it's out there living amongst the many books on the Amazon market, waiting to be purchased by someone who wants to be challenged. Yes, it reads like a play, but feels like a movie. You may find yourself in the middle of the action, with a sudden urge to reach out to the characters. You will want to touch them, talk with them, laugh with them, cry with them, accompany them on their journeys; eat with them, drink with them, and whatever else tickles your fancy.

       You may be pleasantly surprised by this writing style, while enjoying a wonderful journey, with twists and turns that may place you so deep into the story that the only way out is to remain there until the very end. Ha! So if you are brave enough as a reader to be challenged by the experience, try a “dialogue-only” novel at some point. I can honestly say it’s not for everyone, but it’s definitely for someone.

      You decide - Here is a sample of that writing style from my first ebook; a novel titled “The Hand She Dealt to Me”:

      Oh Carla.  I didn’t mention a word of this to Steven or Julia last night.  Mike was over for dinner also, so I tried to forget about Amira the Fortune Teller and just be myself.  I had a really hard time doing that last night.  Steven thought I wasn’t feeling well.  I convinced him I was just a bit tired; that I did lots of walking during the day.  But I was haunted by her.  It all started yesterday while I was sitting on a park bench.  She approached me out of nowhere and asked me where I got my cappuccino, because she noticed the cup said “CafĂ© Bianca”.  She asked to sit down to chat, and I said sure.  She seemed pleasant enough.  I didn’t want to be rude.  She had a very heavy accent.   She’s from the Middle East, Lebanon I recall her saying, but she was living in Pennsylvania for many years with her parents.  She later married a gentleman she met in Pennsylvania, who was also from Lebanon.  Anyway, after her parents died, she and her husband divorced, “American-style” as she put it.  I got a chuckle out of that.  I found it amusing since she’s a foreigner.  It’s so funny how foreigners look at the “American” way of life.   They even have a name for everything we do here, good or bad  – “American-style”.   I don’t know if she was serious or just being sarcastic, but it was kind of funny to hear, especially with her accent.   Anyway, her husband went back to Lebanon.   She also told me she was very sad because she learned she couldn’t have children.  I felt so bad to hear that, because the pain on her face really got to me.  Anyway, I guess at that point she fulfilled her desire to come to New York and start a business.    She gave me her card and invited me to her shop.   I noticed on the card that this shop she was talking about was called “Amira’s Mystic Fortunes”.  I then realized she was a Fortune Teller.  Of all the people to run into.  Anyway, she claimed she was pretty new to the area and that I was one of the few people she had a chance to sit and chat with.   I was really taken aback by this.  It felt weird, like she purposely singled me out.  She looked me straight in the eye and said she sees I have some family issues going on and that I have an aura around me that shows I’m very concerned about my life.   She wants me to go see her.  She wants to give me a free tarot reading.  She wants to help me.   I told her that I don’t believe in that stuff.  I’m Catholic.  What’s even more ironic is that she told me that she’s Catholic too.  I thought she was Muslim, coming from the Middle East and all.  But she said there are many Catholics in Lebanon.  So we chatted a bit more about our families, then  - all of a sudden - Gary appeared out of nowhere.  So I used him as an excuse to get up and get away from her.  But wouldn’t you know it, as I walked home later on, I ran smack into her shop.  She was sitting outside.  I tried to avoid her, but she called out to me.  She truly wants me to visit her shop for a free reading.   She said she has some gifts for me.  A good luck crystal, some scented candles.  It’s like she is drawing me to her… Oh yes please, I’ll have two eggs over well and turkey bacon on the side.  Whole wheat toast, no butter.   Thanks. 

      I’ll have my eggs scrambled with rye toast and Canadian bacon, thank you… Okay, so Lia - just avoid her shop.  Throw out the card.  What’s the big deal?  I don’t understand why this is upsetting you so much that you couldn’t wait to tell me.  You don’t have any serious problems in your family other than the normal everyday issues we all deal with.  Everybody has family issues.  Come on now.  She’s not telling you anything out of the ordinary.   Steven is doing well at the pharmacy.  Julia is pursuing an acting career.  She has a really nice boyfriend.  You and Steven get along so well.  What is the problem here?  If anything, I would think you have a pretty good life Lia.  Forget about this “aura” she sees around you.  This is what these people do.  They get you to question yourself and your family so that you turn to them for guidance, while they take your money.  You know this Lia.  I don’t have to explain this.  You’ll see, that shop will close up in a few months and all of this will mean nothing.  That’s always what happens sweetie.  These fortune tellers move on and set up shop in some other place – after they’ve taken your money and practically your soul. 

      I know Carla.  I realize all of that.  Don’t you think I’ve gone over this in my head.  I was up all night playing this over and over, like a tape recorder.  

      Don’t you see Lia.  She already has you in her grip.  She kept you up all night with this!  It disrupted your sleep already?  That’s a problem waiting to happen.
     
     But Carla, you had to see her.  She is strikingly beautiful.  She had this strong presence about her.  An unusual and very strange magnetism.    You just had to be there.  You can feel it just being in her presence.  There is something about her I can’t explain.  You just had to be there.  She had long auburn hair, tied back with a gold silk scarf.  The scarf had sparkling rhinestones throughout.  It was gorgeous.  Her eyes were big and bright and so alive.  They were golden brown  like a  lioness,  outlined by very dark lashes.  They were mesmerizing.  They were piercing.    She was just absolutely gorgeous.   She had an olive complexion and she wore a subdued berry color lipstick.  She was about five feet four inches, medium build.  Other than that, she wore very little makeup.  In her ears were these very large gold hoop earrings with an intricate design in them; and she had half her arm adorned with colorful bracelets that jingled every time she moved.  You know how gypsies dress?  Well that’s how she looked, if that gives you a better idea.  I think all fortune tellers dress like that, so I think you get the picture.  Anyway, she had on an ankle length dress which had every color of the rainbow in it; brightly woven into vertical stripes that shimmered a bit. Very pretty.  Her boots were black with these really pointy toes.  Her shawl was a dark red and it was tied in the front with a big knot near her upper chest.  She just had this air about her.  I loved listening to her speak, with that very pronounced Middle Eastern accent.  She was just very persistent with me, but pleasant.  It seemed as if she could make a statement by just looking at you without exchanging words.  She had a special power that could draw you in, lure you in.  You really had to see her in person Carla.  Even her perfume filled the air.  It was like nothing I ever smelled before.  It was a mix of herbs and flowers, with a hint of fruit.  There was a bit of cucumber in the mix.  A very strange aroma.

     Lia. Stop it! You sound hypnotized by this woman.  How much time did you spend with her that you can describe her in such detail? You studied her to perfection.  From her head to her toes.  You’re not going to see her are you?  Give me that card.  I’m going to get rid of it.  This is nonsense sweetie.  You know what I really think?  You quit your job at the library too soon, not long after Steven opened up Roma Pharmacy.  I think you need to fill your day with more constructive things.  Now I’m happy for you.  Steven is doing well with the pharmacy, and that’s great.  You don’t have to work anymore. Terrific. But maybe all of this free time is not very good for your well-being. Maybe you need to get back into the workforce. Go back to the library. It’s only a few hours a day. I think it will be good for you.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

"Tricks" and "Treats" on Halloween Night (Spillwords Press: Halloween 2017 Submission)

                                  
The wind howled, the pelting rain charged at my windows, and the swaying trees danced in the darkness beneath the full moon. If this was any other night, it would have been okay. Tonight, however, it was Halloween and I was alone in the house. The lights flickered, the floors creaked, and ghostly shadows crawled up and down the walls of my living room, eyeing me from the ceiling.  My house suddenly transformed itself into an eerie dwelling for all creatures of the night. They slipped in through my windows, through my skylight, under doors and through my mind. They settled in, took control, and moved about as invited guests. To me they were unwanted intruders and I was their hostage.

As they continued to roam like gloomy silhouettes, brushing past the mirrors in the room, I snuck into the kitchen and made myself a cup of tea. Thankfully, they didn’t follow me. While they made themselves at home in my living room, I sipped my tea. I sipped away time in the kitchen, minute by minute, with every swallow. There was something about tea that always calmed me down. Especially when I drank it from one of Mom’s dainty vintage teacups, adorned with hand-painted roses. -  Ugh! The dainty little teacup did not work in my favor this evening. Even that precious teacup seemed quite out of place in a house that reflected the unnatural overtures of a freakish Halloween night.

I heard my big old Grandfather clock, as it chimed at fifteen-minute intervals. That familiar sound comforted me. It gave me strength. I walked back into my living room amongst the unwanted intruders, and stared right at them. I was fearful – but this was my home. I glared at them as their shadows swept past my couch. Yes, I sat down anyway and continued to sip cold tea; but my mind played tricks on me. I heard footsteps above me, coming from the bedrooms. Some were loud, others soft. They stopped, then started up again. I even heard ghoulish whispering with hints of laughter. Impossible! The man of the house, my significant other, was working late; and the kids were at a Halloween Party. No one was home but me. I sat there frozen in time and space. Was my house haunted? Absolutely not! I lived here with my family for many years and there was never an issue or a supernatural occurrence! Ever!  - I must be insane!

My imagination ran wild tonight. I rolled myself up in a ball on my couch, and decided to stay that way until someone came home. As long as those footsteps remained above me, I’d be okay. If they started coming down the stairs, I’d be ready to run the heck out of here. I listened and listened until they finally stopped. However, the ghoulish whispering with hints of laughter continued…then the footsteps started over again!  I gazed toward the stairs in the direction of the bedrooms as the footsteps subsided. Curiosity got me to stand at the foot of the stairs as I listened some more, while fear grabbed my hand and escorted me back to my couch. Oh my God, I was truly alone in this huge house. I didn’t even have the television to keep me company. It was out because of the rain. I had nothing and I had no one to save me from myself tonight…After several more minutes of this self-inflicted torture – the doorbell rang. I jumped for joy knowing someone else was out there, even though I was frightened by who it might be. I was willing to take my chances.

I peeked through the blinds and saw a group of anxious children dressed in their best costumes. They yelled out, “Trick or Treat! Trick or Treat!” – I was so relieved. So I put on my purple witch’s hat, grabbed my over-sized plastic orange pumpkin that overflowed with all sorts of Halloween candy and, with a great big smile, opened my door and dropped fistfuls of candy into each one of their bags. The little ghost thanked me, the happy princess jumped with glee, and the two shy skeletons ran off with their goodies towards the adult waiting at the corner. In a matter of seconds, they were all gone and I was alone once more. I apprehensively walked back into the “house of horrors”, ducked past phantom shadows, and took my seat on the couch again. I hugged my favorite throw pillow, and waited for my family to come home. All was quiet though the shadows still lurked around, climbed up my walls, and brushed past the mirrors. I was numb, and I felt intoxicated by the night. I blinked hard in hopes that the shadows would disappear when I opened my eyes.  They hadn’t. They were still there! However, “Divine Intervention” came to my rescue.  I magically dozed off while Halloween continued to breathe and thrive all around me; but I was safe in the arms of slumber.

…I felt someone gently tap at my knee. I opened my eyes – and there stood my kids and their father, with platters of cupcakes, cookies, candies, chips, pretzels and soda. They wore floppy black hats that sparkled with orange glitter, as tiny white plastic spiders sat in cobwebs across the brims. I wasn’t sure if I was dreaming or if this was real. They all laughed hard, while I sat there in shock. I asked, “What’s going on? Why are you home so early?” What I soon learned was that they had never left the house. They were upstairs playing Halloween tricks on me, while preparing trays of goodies so we could celebrate this beautifully, terrifying night together – and that’s just what we did.


I must admit I was quite upset since they let me go on for hours feeling spooked, while they were upstairs having a grand ol’ time watching me.  Despite their little “tricks”, however, it was quite a “treat”.  I accepted their sweet, silly antics as the spine-tingling perfection it proved to be, on this spectacular Halloween night.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

An Excerpt From My Next Writing Project (Currently an "Untitled" Novel)

                                http://spillwords.com/author/phyllispcolucci/

This is an excerpt from my newest writing project, currently untitled…yet a work in progress: 

…The mass was quick, and the family priest was kind. He talked about the Marty he knew. The Marty who showed up at mass quite frequently with his family; daughter Lisa and wife Sara. Joe listened as the priest spoke about Marty, the loving father and husband.  Joe respected Marty through the words of the priest, and continued to show support to the grieving “sisterhood”.  Before the mass ended, the priest offered his condolences to Sara first, then to Lisa, and then to Marty’s sister Susan. He left Joe for last. Susan heard the priest whisper to Joe, “Take care of this family.” Joe nodded and shook the priest’s hand. He understood what his duty was as Sara’s new husband.  He had been taking care of them all along since Sara and Marty divorced some time ago...They all got into Joe’s car and followed the hearse to the crematory.
     The ride to the crematory was a short one. No one spoke in the car, not even Joe. Joe just kept his eyes on the hearse in front of him and followed it slowly. This was the final step in laying Marty to rest. This was the real goodbye.  The Funeral Director came over to the car and asked if anyone wanted to actually be present at the cremation. The entire “sisterhood” nodded in the affirmative, as they wiped away tears with a handful of crumpled tissues. All three exited the car, as Joe followed behind. The Funeral Director warned that this may not be an easy thing to witness and gave the ladies a chance to respectfully back out. Instead, they joined hands and followed the Funeral Director inside the crematory. Joe continued to follow behind to show his support.
     …They were seated in a plain room with a glass wall, in which they witnessed the cremation.  It was not a simple or a short process. It took a bit of time, and it was as unpleasant to witness, as the Funeral Director warned.  It seemed as if the “sisterhood” was temporarily being held in a torture chamber. Only they were there by choice and not by force. They were the ones being tortured as they sat through the cremation process. Although they did not see much since the door was closed after the casket was placed inside the crematory and the process started, the noise from the cremation chamber along with their imaginations was blood-curdling and seemed much louder than expected. It sounded like jet engines. Marty, thankfully, was home free and clear. He saw and heard nothing. His anguished soul moved on. It was now time for the “sisterhood” to move on, as well.

     The Funeral Director escorted all four of them back to Joe’s car, and assured Lisa that he would contact her as soon as her father’s ashes were placed in the urn of her choosing.  He promised her that all will be handled properly and that she is not to worry. He shook everyone’s hands and once again offered his condolences. They got into the car, and Joe took them out for a late lunch at a nearby diner where they ate lightly, mourned heavily, and prayed for peaceful healing.

…On Poetry and Fiction : A Poem dedicated to “The Music Man”

                               http://spillwords.com/author/phyllispcolucci/
Poetry and Fiction are wonderful ways to tell a story, convey a message, put your feelings into words, or memorialize someone or something. As a writer, take advantage of both options and speak your mind, tell great stories, and let the world know what’s on your mind. You’ll be amazed at how many people out there are listening as you talk, talk and talk some more – So speak from your heart, through your Poetry and Fiction, and entertain others with your words.
            
            Let me tell you a story about a man I once knew back in the 1980’s. He was an Elementary School teacher, and a musician as well. A very passionate man, who cared deeply for his students and always carried a song within his heart. He gave his students the gift of music, as they played in a school orchestra under his teaching and his direction. They too learned to carry a song within their hearts, and perhaps today they are still doing that. Perhaps today they are sharing their music and talent with an entire universe. If so, I’m sure they recall with fondness, their dedicated teacher who created this “magic” in their world…He is the one and only “Music Man”. So let me tell the story further through this short poem below.
        
            THE MUSIC MAN

He stands erect, his hands unfold
     He holds them in the air
And with a sigh, he proudly smiles
     While the children up and stare

They prepare to play a song with ease
     His wish is their command
They raise their violins up high
     Responding to his hand

The melodies begin to fill
     the dark and silent halls
With harmonies that vibrate
     against the white-washed walls

This mix of “dulcet symphony”
     reveals the wonder of his plan - -
     (to give the children power)
           of the “Music Man”


Saturday, August 19, 2017

...FOOD FOR THOUGHT IN TODAY's AMERICA (Just My Opinion)

http://spillwords.com/author/phyllispcolucci/

https://www.amazon.com/Phyllis-P.-Colucci/e/B00VMU8B44

To whomever is reading this post, Good Day. I'm a Republican, Conservative Right - (and sometimes I fall somewhere in the middle). I believe in the First Amendment for All - and I believe in respect for All. Once violence is thrown into the mix, someone's rights have just been violated. I am not a racist and in no way do I agree with or support White Supremacist Groups, or any "hate" groups that exist today. They have no place in a free America.

Whether you are Liberal Left or Conservative Right, we must never forget we are all Americans. When we were attacked on 9/11, we became one. Now the country is so divided that we've let hatred dictate who we are. 

CHARLOTTESVILLE - Wanting to destroy Confederate Statues and Monuments is actually destroying our American history. We must never forget the good, the bad and the ugly. Keeping these statues/monuments just tells our story to future generations - and to the world. A story of struggle, power and victory. Something we should be proud of, as Americans. Generations past, to include most of our ancestors, have struggled for survival and freedom. We've come a long way. Maybe there is more work to do in some instances, but we move on and continue the story. We don't destroy the past. We don't destroy property, statues, monuments, etc. We let them live in the eyes of everyone who sees them, so they may know the truth about America.

NOTE:  The Liberal Left has taken the First Amendment to a new level. Destroying property is not "peaceful protesting". The White Supremacists and any and all other hate groups like BLM and the ANTIFA are no different than violent fascists, with an ideology that serves only them and robs all others of their freedoms. The rhetoric of the "Resistance" encourages this violence. This misguided Socialist Agenda is "Communistic" in nature, and anti-American. Their goals are to rewrite US history, destroy the past, change our way of life (socially, economically and politically), with little regard for those who disagree with them - and rebuild America from the ground up, as they see fit. At this point we will no longer be a free society. Many of our Local, State and Government leaders seem to agree with this way of thinking. They are pandering to those who want to destroy America. Why? Are they afraid of the Left, Antifa, BLM, hate groups - or have they gone completely mad. It seems they don't even realize what's happening in America, and how their pandering and decision-making will set America back. These behaviors are no different than those of White Supremacists (Naziism) and other hate groups. The leaders who support this agenda have now become part of the problem that will destroy America.

PRESIDENT TRUMP - Our sitting President has been accused of all sorts of horrible things (bigotry, racism, demagoguery), and so on and so on. He is not respected and is being stopped by the Left in every which way -  by politicians (Democrats and Republicans alike), by the MSM, Hollywood Left (Entertainment Industry), Educators and College Administrators. - Even parents are encouraging their children to advance the Left's agenda, which puts them in very dangerous situations. 

Our sitting President, Mr. Donald Trump, has been voted in by the people. The Liberal Left has no respect for the voting process or the rights of the voters who have put him in office. They will continue their efforts to undermine him until they can push him out of office. I was not a fan of President Barack Obama, and I did not vote for him. Was I disappointed when he was voted in for a second term? Absolutely. But I respected the democratic way, the voting process and the President's position, and knew that I would have a chance to vote again the next time around. That is freedom!

--------------------------------------------------------------------
NOW TO BE REAL HERE, ON A FEW ISSUES:

Donald Trump: 

1- Let's Build the Wall 
Why? - To keep out illegal Mexican immigrants because they are breaking the law by entering our country illegally; many of them have committed deadly and vicious crimes in our country and to our people. - IS ANYTHING WRONG WITH OUR PRESIDENT WANTING TO PROTECT AMERICA AND ITS PEOPLE?? Think of your own families, children, grandchildren. Wake up!

Liberal Left Interpretation: 

Trump hates all Mexicans and all immigrants. (No, He is talking about ILLEGALS and CRIMINALS entering our country and doing us harm.)
--------------------------------------------------------------------

Donald Trump:

2- Muslim Ban/Syrian Refugees
Why? - To protect Americans from Radical Islamic Terrorists coming from Muslim countries who will ride into the US on the coattails of Syrian refugees. Until they can be properly vetted, this makes good sense. - ANYTHING WRONG WITH WANTING TO PROTECT AMERICA AND ITS PEOPLE??

Liberal Left Interpretation: 

Trump hates all Muslims and doesn't care about the innocent Syrian refugees, to include women and children. (No. He is trying to protect our country from Radical Islamic Terrorists)...look at what's happening all over Europe. Come on now. No one in their right mind can say that our President is wrong about this. Start thinking of America. Start thinking of your families. Remember 9/11????

--------------------------------------------------------------------

Donald Trump:

3- Charlottesville
Trump called both groups out, to include the Liberal Left and the White Supremacists. He denounced White Supremacists, hate groups, KKK, Nazis. No matter which way you slice it, both groups were at fault. They broke the law with their agenda and with their behavior - and a young girl was killed in the process. 

Liberal Left Interpretation: 

Trump is a racist and supports White Supremacist groups and Naziism. Then when he denounces these hate groups, it wasn't quick enough for the Liberal Left. When he calls both groups out for bad behavior, the Left crucifies him. 


This is insanity. We finally get a President who is for America and is not afraid to show it, or act upon it, yet the Liberal Left is out to stop him. To destroy him. Why? Because Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders did not get in? Because Donald Trump was not their choice? Not a good enough reason. Come together and stop this nonsense. Let this man do his job. Remember, America First! We should all want that. We're Americans, right?

Monday, July 24, 2017

…On Poetry and Fiction –“The Treasure Chest” (A Dream and a Memory)

                                          http://spillwords.com/author/phyllispcolucci/

            I had a dream last night. I found an old wooden treasure chest up in the attic of my deceased Grandmother’s house. In reality, that house was torn down some years ago when developers started erecting tall apartment complexes in our Brooklyn neighborhood. Yet, as dreams would have it, that house was alive and well. The treasure chest was old, dusty and crying out for someone to open it. The wood was rotted and smelled with decay. The musty odor danced around the entire attic until it stopped - and THEN, it hovered over me like a blanket of evil that held the secrets of time and grew stronger with age.
            
            Yet there was something special about it. Although eerie in nature, it had a mysterious quality that I couldn’t explain; all I knew and all I felt was that it could calm the spirit and entice the heart with its strange appeal.  It was frightening, it was terrorizing, it was unnerving, it was intriguing – but most of all, it was magical as its power took hold of me with a compelling grip I had never felt before. I just had to open it. This treasure chest was inviting me to do so, and I felt an uncontrollable urge to oblige. So I lifted the top of it with all my might and pushed it up and back, as far as it would go.  The echoes of the rusting and squeaking metal hinges rang in my ears. I sneezed and coughed as the dust from the chest entered my nose and mouth relentlessly. Yet, I persevered, because I knew that treasure chest held something extremely important that I needed to see. I felt that Grandmother knew it too. I was drawn to her attic like a magnet. Something or someone wanted me there. I soon realized it was all good, not evil; and through wicked darkness I found “my” light.
            
            To my wonderment, as I looked into the old wooden treasure chest, I could see all the way down to the bottom. It was like looking through the transparent waters of a limpid lake. I found no jewels, I found no silver, I found no gold. What I found was inexplicable. The inside of the chest looked bright, bedazzling and new.  It sparkled like calm waters kissed by rays of sunshine.  I wanted to run my fingers through it as if it were actually a tiny crystal-clear lake in a chest. I wanted to see the ripples in its waters. So I did just that. I thought I was hallucinating. As I continuously ran my fingers through an empty treasure chest, ripples of words the colors of the rainbow started jumping up at me like miniature dancing ballerinas.  They were dainty, soft, gentle and graceful. They were different sizes and different shapes. They were different heights, different lengths, different widths and all unique. They pranced about in unison. They turned and swayed and whispered melodiously. The choreography of words was performed to perfection. The faint sounds of sweet song became a treasure like no other. I was simply awestruck.

            As the dance came to an abrupt halt, I soon discovered the reason I was drawn to my Grandmother’s attic. My eyes remained fixed upon those enchanting words, and my ears quite attentive to their subtle harmony.  At this magic moment, they spelled out a message for me. The message read, “Open this treasure chest when you are lost. We will dance and sing for you, and inspire you to write once more.”  Then I woke up.

Little did I know, this was the answer to my writer’s block. It was all in the treasure chest of my dreams, locked away in the memory of Grandmother’s attic. So I sat at my laptop, with an espresso by my side – and a lemon peel and a shot of anisette to go along with it – and began to write my next novel. Ripples of words the colors of the rainbow started jumping up at me like miniature dancing ballerinas, and I typed away as my novel unfolded before my eyes with ease.  I could feel the rhythm of my poetry tapping at my heartstrings. I had a sense that this could be one beautiful masterpiece, with a poem or two upon its wings; specially choreographed through a “dream” and a “memory”. 
  
Always remember that your next “masterpiece”, be it fiction or poetry, may be hidden within your dreams and amongst your greatest memories. All you need to do is pay attention to the message.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

…On Poetry and Fiction – “The Dictionary, Thesaurus and Google are Your New Best Friends”

                Whether writing Poetry or writing Fiction, have you ever entered the phase of your writing where you were just stumped, puzzled, confused, baffled, disheartened and unable to move on? Did you ever feel that your writing was just not up to par? Were you ever at a point where you looked at what you had written and it just seemed worthless, simplistic and insignificant? Of course you had.  You actually sat there and stared at your computer screen, feeling terribly embarrassed that someone may one day read this garbage you just wrote. You had great ideas in your head, but some of those words you had chosen to express those ideas in your poetry or fiction, just did not convey the message you desired; just did not create the images you desired; just did not arouse the emotions you desired. We’ve all been there, done that, and felt like failures.

So now what do you do? You get up and take a break and dwell in self-pity. You look into a mirror in your home, and begin to wonder who you really are. Are you a writer? You certainly don’t feel like one. Yet writing is your passion, your greatest love; and yes, this IS who you really are.  You look back into the mirror and notice yourself blushing from thoughts of humiliation, thoughts of self-consciousness, thoughts of self-doubt; questioning your own worth and your own creativity. The person staring back at you is not someone you like or admire right now. That image of YOU lacks self-esteem, exudes sadness, and has lost the glow in its eyes. That image of you seems weak; it seems broken. -  No! No! No! Can’t have that now! Those are simply images of how you see yourself at this particular moment in time, as you struggle to create…Those images are not who you are! Those images are not real! – So, what now? – You must look away with determination and a renewed strength. You must get back up again and become whole. You must do what is near and dear to your heart. You must write beautiful poetry and create marvelous fiction. Yet still, you feel a part of your soul has been ripped out of you and you are unsure as to how to start over again.  You are frozen in time with no direction ahead of you. You are lost and alone without a friend in the world. You struggle to move forward, but you are drowning in quicksand. You are stuck in your own mind.

Well - have no fear, dear writer. I know those feelings all too well. I’ve seen those images in my own mirror many times. However, I’ve also discovered that there were three very special and loyal friends at my disposal, who would be more than happy to help if I called upon them. So may I introduce you to them? One is the “omnipotent” Dictionary, that will provide you with any word you need, listed in alphabetical order, ready to save you with a quick jump into your poetry and/or fiction. This friend will provide the meanings to any word you choose, and show you the correct form and pronunciation of every word you select. Now is that a great friend, or what?  

Well, there is more to come. Your second special and loyal friend is the “unfailing” Thesaurus, that will provide you with a wide selection of magical words, allowing you to choose the ones that best suit your needs, emotions and creative mind at the time of your writing. Thesaurus will pick up where you leave off, so that only the most perfect words will become your most perfect poetry and your most perfect fiction. Isn’t that a magnificent friend to also have on your side? Feel better? - Okay then…Well, we now have your third special and loyal friend here that will take you on journeys which have no bounds. Journeys where you can research any information you need to know about, any information you need to learn about, or any information you need to verify in order to write your poetry and tell your stories with clarity and realism.  That third precious friend is “informative” Google.  I know you’ve spent lots of quality time with this friend. I have, and it’s been well worth it.

So now, I’d say you are on your way to writing the most harmonious poetry and the most unique fiction at every attempt. You will continue to create beauty from this day forward; beauty that you will share with the world with great pride, not painful embarrassment. Treasure these three friendships, for they will never let you down. Keep them by your side at all times. Be sure they are only a “reference” book away or, better still, a click away on your computer. Feel free to download the “omnipotent” Dictionary  and “unfailing” Thesaurus apps to your phone. “Informative” Google is already there. Remember, they will never leave your side if you never leave their side. Carry them with you. They want a “literary” relationship with you that will continue to flourish. They will forever guide you, assist you and enhance you as you write, write, and write some more.  

Be brave now. Go take a look in that mirror again. I guarantee the person staring back at you has been made whole again.  That person is confident, strong, creative, happy, smiling and one you will forever admire and respect, once again. That person is YOU -  a successful writer, who now has the most valuable and treasured support from three very special friends.   

A few parting words…REMEMBER THIS:

If your poetry is meant to take your readers to emotional depths, you must be sure your words are perfectly chosen in order to match the theme of your poem and the passion in your soul.



If your fiction is meant to take your readers on fabulous journeys, you must be sure your information is accurate, factual, honest and true, so your fiction is believable and your characters real.