Gulliver in five minutes.

June 29, 2014 § 2 Comments

Gulliver's Travels.Thursday was the last day of my summer workshop for young writers.

Starting with props as varied as a pair of old shoes, an ancient Roman oil lamp, and a whale vertebra, we had already tackled the elements of fiction with three days of structured exercises.

It was time to turn the antic mind loose with some free writing.

“See that scrap of paper in front of you on the table? Write a noun on it and pass it to the person on your right.

“You have five minutes to put down any thoughts that word triggers.”

I scrawled “hamsters” on a yellow slip of paper and passed it to Grace.

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The hoop.

June 20, 2014 § 4 Comments


She leaned out the window of her pickup truck. “Do you want our basketball goal for the library? We can’t take it with us.”

“Sure,” I said, not caring as much about a basketball goal as I did about the kids about to leave the neighborhood, two of my favorites.

But the pickup would be trailering a mound of possessions held in place with a spiderweb of bungie cords. Definitely no room for a basketball goal.

When it was dropped at the curb the goal heeled over at a strange angle. Seemed as if it was regulation height for pygmies. It stuck out into the street like the neck of a wounded giraffe. « Read the rest of this entry »

I hold these truths to be…true.

June 15, 2014 § 6 Comments

It’s Saturday. The day when I look back and sift the week for some idea that caught me blind, made me reconsider.

Something worthy of sharing with you.

Now I sit here, my clothes soaked from watering the garden with a faulty hose. Not idea-less, but with a scattering of random thoughts, none of them as pat or succinct as the verities we glue to car bumpers but here they are.

Time is like a shadow. It mirrors your actions. Rush frantically and it will jitter along with you. Slow down and time will slow. I’m told that, done right, a moment can last forever. I have yet to get it that right.

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Write some. Live some.

June 7, 2014 § 11 Comments

Cass, peeking through the knothole in the fence in the stage version of "Crossing Jordan."

Cass, peeking through the knothole in the fence in the stage version of “Crossing Jordan.”

In 1998—a lifetime ago—I began writing a book called “Crossing Jordan.”

It was my third novel, and I was still finding my feet as a writer.

I am almost always spurred to write a story by some small, random incident that would otherwise be quickly forgotten.


In this case it was a conversation with the girl next door who said her family was about to move because there were getting to be too many black people in our neighborhood.

As soon as the door closed behind her, I sat down and began to write.

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The strangers we live with.

June 1, 2014 § 5 Comments

One ordinary afternoon that should, by now be long forgotten, I was sitting with my parents, when suddenly I was looking at strangers.

Two people in their early forties, the man was quite bald, the woman wore an ambiguous smile.

It lasted just a few moments, but for that brief time I disconnected from our all-my-life history, our shared memories, the absolute familiarity of their faces, the influence of our affection for each other and saw them as they were right then.

Wondering, who are these people? scared the daylights out of me.

Dad and kids.But as the narrator of Norman Maclean’s “A River Runs Through It” observes, “It is those we live with and love and should know who elude us.”

They elude us, at least in the present, because this moment trails so many others behind it.

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