Writing Progress + Practice

“A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.”
Thomas Mann

Got my butt (and the rest of myself, too!) to Starbucks for writing. Mark is working from home today. Intermittent, remote meetings means he can’t necessarily get out of the house. What do I want to do? Get out of the house, of course. So I went with my college-ruled notebook and my aging MacBook Air to Starbucks where I write.

Two days at Starbucks does not a writing habit make, but it’s a start. I have to start somewhere, don’t I? For some reason, I seem to keep going back to the start, to the beginning instead of holding steady and making progress. It’s so frustrating! I started out the year with writing at the forefront of my mind, and then I let it go and refused to pick it up again. That’s how I fail. At some point, I pick myself up and begin again.

I want to get back into writing, all sorts of writing. I can work on a novel, sure. But I have also written poetry and short stories. Working on different styles of writing can cross-pollinate your creative works. I heard about a writing contest for a 1,500 word short story. By Monday. Putting it out here so maybe you can give me a kick in the pants. It’s totally doable. I have a 6K+ word short story that I could totally adapt and make it work, or I could write a new one.

When I worked at the Berklee College of Music, I took some online creative writing courses. I still have the digital and physical materials. I was thinking about going through them again, doing some of the exercises, practicing. I did review some of the work that I did. And I thought: You know, the topic is a bit silly (I wrote about cats in more than one assignment) but the strength of the work itself stood. If you asked me then, I would have been like, Yeah. So? Now, I see that my writing skills were evident. But I need the practice.

Writing Practice is just like any other kind of practice. There is nothing in the world, no activity, that does not require practice. This means doing for the sake of doing. Sure, you’ll get better – over time. And you might be able to look back and point out a specific time where your work changes and you’ve improved.

What you cannot do is look at a single moment and declare it a failure of creativity. I mean, I guess you could. You could decide ahead of time what you wanted, measure your current effort against it, and judge it a failure. I understand that in one context – the car you designed won’t run or has a poor design that causes wind drag and increased gasoline costs.

But in terms of the fine arts, that’s a terrible approach to take. How can you immerse yourself in your work if you’re busy judging and knocking yourself down? I put that question out there as if I don’t do it myself, but I do. I am both perpetrator and victim of my creative failures. I am not calling any particular thing I do a failure. I call my inability to carry forward my dreams with the same commitment that I bring when I employed by someone else.

The great thing about this life is that the earth continues to rotate, the sun comes and goes across the sky, and that I can pick up a pen or open my computer and start putting down words that spring from my consciousness that want to escape into this world for us all to see.

Here’s to continued writing progress!

Morning Writing Brain Tangents

Three pages of daily morning writing is not difficult to fill. If I am not thinking of anything in particular, I start with where I am, what I am doing, talking out my schedule, or about my kitties who are trying to get my attention.

I went through two and a half pages of this type of writing when a series of things I have scheduled for tonight flashed through my mind, followed by a flash of my father and one word: Gagutz. Gagutz (ga-goots) are squash. The actual word for Italian squash is cucuzza, but my parent’s regional Italian accent turns the hard ‘c’ sound into a soft ‘g’ sound and drops the final ‘a’.

When my parents used the word gagutz, they were really talking about the squash flowers. A regional Italian dish of my father’s is deep fried gagutz (squash flowers), which my mother made. The squash flowers were obtained from our backyard garden that my mother grew each year. Fried gagutz was one of my father’s favorite dishes.

How my mind went from thinking about what I’m doing tonight to thinking of my Dad and one of his favorite food dishes is a mental mystery. I must have been thinking about my father subconsciously when I paused to consider what I wanted to write next. I would never have predicted that.

The chasm between the conscious and subconscious parts of the brain fascinates me. Supposedly, our brains process thoughts of which we are not aware when are sleeping and when we are thinking about something else. My conscious mind had its rapid-fire dump of tonight’s tasks when my subconscious pushed my father and gagutz loudly to the surface. This mental tangent illustrates an unexpected benefit to writing daily: I am able to better understand one way that writers get their ideas.

The next type of writing I want to add to my morning writing is a 15-minute slot for timed creative writing. In past creative courses, the goal of the timed writing exercises was to include as many sense-bound details as possible. These exercises helped flex my creative writing muscle, and I wrote richer, more interesting stories.

Step by step, I am learning to create a writing routine that will help me turn 2014 into my  year of writing and writing better. I feel good about the process of making one small change, letting myself see how it feels, and then seeing how well (or not) that it is contributing to my writing goals. In all that I have done, this is the only trick I have ever learned that has helped me not get overwhelmed and move forward. 

Week 12-Final Project-Earthquake

Earthquakes’ train

The tremor briefly ripples desiccated dirt on the road in parallel lines. Stillness follows. A starling whistles once, then again. Wind blows west and rustles the prairie grass. Chiseled men relax. They return to dig and pick apart the hardened earth with steel pickaxes. Dust clouds fills nostrils and mouths. Sweat pours down their chins. Shirts come off. Sun burns.

Look! A flock of starlings abruptly lift westward from telephone wire. Active men squeal to a halt. Rumbles tingle toes. The numbing of feet forge waves of fear straight through toughened bodies. Jelly legs and panicked voices forewarn men and beasts: Earth’s westbound train approaches. Nails and hammer drop with a thud. Weak waves of dirt flutter in reply. Hundreds of feet begin to stampede in differing directions.

The other men bustle past me. Their shoulders shove mine as they scramble to safety up the cactus-peppered landscape. I fall in line onto my hands and knee; I press my right ear to the ground. I eat dirt and listen. The deafening roar of vibrating earth intermixes with churning wheels. Not sure how far, now. Teams of horses whinny and rear. I push up and run out of the way one second before hooves crash down where I crawled. My stomach derails with shockwaves of adrenaline.

I howl in helpless pulses. Faces around me melt with fear. The inevitable groundbreaking eruption fuels fights. Fist knock hats off balding heads. The beat of the breaking earth trembles louder. How many of the men here will survive? Will I? I slap my face. Wake up, Sam! Don’t freeze up now. A straight path opens up on my left between the Mill and the General Store. Time slows. Hobos cling to the stores’ wood siding. Slate shingles fracture at their feet. The last water barrel topples. Water ejects in thick rivulets. I run, full speed ahead.

Injun arrows cross country above my head as I steam onward into their path. Undeterred, I grit my teeth and put my head down as I run. Ululations thunder out the sounds of my heart beating in my ears. Windows rattle from the increase frequencies underfoot. Cracks split panes. Men slip and fall. Animals scatter and trample. At the last possible moment, I flatten myself against the side of the General Store as the Injuns scream on by me. I watch. The sheriff crumples into a pile of flesh. Blood-soaked dirt swells.

My mental switch flips. I turn sharply on my spurs and run against the undulating flow of teeming Injuns. A tomahawk sails past my head and into the wood. Twang! Rifle shots mix with metal slicing into skin. Short screams reverberate between the stores’ walls. Bile and disgust rise in my throat. Sweat overtakes tears that leak from the corner of my eyes. I breathe in hard. And I run. Gasping, I emerge from the human tunnel and keep going. The crescendo of disintegrating buildings fuels an explosion of debris and dust behind me. Its force blasts me onto my face.

The Mill’s foundation cracks opens and yawns. Wham! Earth rips apart with the sounds of two freight trains that crash full throttle. The Mill shatters and disappears. Burning fuel sears my nose and lungs. I taste blood and dirt. My legs shiver. I collapse. I wait for the shaking and the screaming to stop. I close my eyes and come to a standstill.

When I regain awaken, my temples are pounding. I get to my feet, swaying woozily. A familiar shape lies on the ground. I limp over to the other man, kneel, and push him over on his back. I look into the face of my youngest brother, Jesse.

Jesse? Is that you? Wake up, brother. Wake up! Come on. We gotta get out of here!

I shake him somethin’ awful.
He doesn’t move.

Week 11 Assignment-Old Swimming Hole

This assignment ends Week 11 of my BerkleeMusic course called “Creative Writing: Finding Your Voice.” The criteria for the assignment are:

  1. Pick a collision from this week
  2. Pick a point of view
  3. Pick your verb tenses
  4. 300-500 words
  5. Include the title in your assignment

Other criteria that we’ve used in our assignments include: varying sentence length and varying sentence type (statement, command, conditional, questions). I included those as well.

Collision Title: Old Swimming Hole -> Temptation -> Jewels in an Unlocked Case
Point of View: First Person
Tenses: Present, Future

Week 11 Assignment

The turquoise waters of the old swimming hole tempt me with their alluring glitter. I thrill from the age-old desire to grab forbidden treasures and make a quick escape. Nervousness floods my mouth. My lips tremble. I lick my sweaty upper lip. I slowly look around. First, left; then, right. I see no one. I hear only rippling waters, tweeting sparrows, and reeds hushing each other as the wind sneaks by. With no alarms raised, I pull off my tank top and toss it on the ground besides me. I forcefully breathe in the emerald marsh air. Ah!, I sigh aloud. I pause to listen, but no one answers.

I go over the plan again in my mind: I will lunge my left leg backwards, ready both fists by my side, bounce three times, and take off. I will race down the weathered diving plank as if the police were in pursuit. My imaginary pursuers will reach for me too late as I spring off the edge of the board and into topaz waters. The plank’s thrumming will drown out the coppers’ anguished cries. The anticipation dries my mouth with the taste of mineral salts. Will this work? A red-tailed hawk scolds me: Stop wasting time. Silver fear infuses my nostrils. I rub my shoulders hard to psyche myself up with bravery.

My ears perk up at the pale sounds of far away laughter. Now: do it now, I mentally yell. Adrenaline floods my limbs. I sloppily throw my left leg back, makes fists, and bounce twice. I sprint down the plank at full speed. At the last moment, I launch. As I descend from the high arc, I hold my knees tightly and close my eyes. I slam through the pearl surface. Water roars into my ear canals and penetrates my mouth. I open up completely, kick my legs, and spin until dizzy. I come up with arms outstretched, gasping for air. Approaching laughter is my final warning. If I don’t get out now, I’ll be seen.

I scrabble haltingly out of the pool of liquid jewels. Each falling droplet leaves a semiprecious trail of temporary clues. I roughly yank my tank top back over my head and down onto my torso. I smell hot August sun drying the last aquamarine memories from my skin. Alum, the fool’s gold of the swimming hole, tarts my tongue. I tiptoe into the tourmaline thicket down a rarely used footpath. I periodically turn back to look for the swimming hole. When I no longer see it, I breathe a sigh of relief. I keep walking. I do not stop or look back. My sandals crunch sticks pleasingly. I whistle victory at my easy escape.

Week 11-Day 5-Old Swimming Hole

Old Swimming Hole -> Temptation -> Diamonds in an Unlocked Jewelry Case
The water sparkles invitingly. You reach out tentatively to touch the icy reflection. A million bright lights cut out in angles on the horizon. You squint and blink, pain cutting your eyeballs ever so lightly. Noises! Behind you! You swivel as a thief in rubber-soled shoes, freezing in place. Your eyes scan the scenery for any movement. Only the sound of rippling water greets you. Slowly you reposition yourself and slip your toes in. Pause. No alarms. You put both feet in. Water shimmers around your ankles. No other customers around to dive in. No lifeguard to protect the old swimming hole from intruders. You dive in, the thrill of the chase buoys and propels you. You’re in now. The point of no return. You’re in deep. You rise up for air, gasping. No one’s around to hear you rooting around the place. Yes! You backflip under water. You breaststroke quickly to shore. The place is all yours! No finger prints. You can turn over each piece in the case. Shells, rocks, seaweed, an old boot. It feels good to be bad! No one can catch you now. You fill your heart full of these shiny memories that glitter. Temptation. Fascination. Admiration. You scrabbled out of the pond of liquid jewels, each one dropping off you in a million tiny pieces. You dry off. Water on your skin disappears. Watery fool’s gold. You escape the shop without being seen. No video surveillance to catch your raid. Just dark foot-shaped shadows on the dirt.

Unlocked diamonds in a jewelry case are an old swimming hole 
The pool of glitter temps you. You squint, looking from the corner of your eye. Looking at the shimmer head on? Daggers of pain hit your cornea. Laugher peals out of the swimming hole, temping you to take a dip in its forbidden treasure. Other kids splash and play. They flaunt their watery wealth on their necks. Heads emerge from the black velvety depths. Sun radiates their pearly necks laced with water droplets. The peer pressure bears down on you. You join your partners in crime, digging into the fresh-water case. Joy. Freedom. No parents are around. No lifeguards. Just you, the others, and your wet playground. Water games enrich your day. The unrecorded activities whet your confidence that you will all pull  off the swimming hole heist. Your swimming suit pockets fill with abundance, seep out, then refill. Each fill brings a bigger cache of memories. Adult footsteps crack on sticks. Oh, no. You scramble unevenly to escape your summery den. Hurry! You wave to the others.  Arms and legs brush off the proof of your crime. Towels soak up the blame. Squeals reveal your location. Caught! Your parents see you quickly trying to hide your tracks. Stop! Your father stares. Your mother crosses arms. Feet tap impatience. Come! You hang your head in shame. I’m guilty! Guilty as charged! You lift your head defiantly. Your ear is turned. Ouch! You are dragged away. Your escaped partners watch  from behind bushes as you are dragged away to your punishment: No dinner!

Week 11-Day 4-Western Movie

In this penultimate week to my BerkleeMusic course called, ‘Creative Writing: Finding Your Voice’, we are continuing our work with metaphor. We are given an object (Western Movie); we are charged with picking a linking quality (Adventurous) and a comparison object (Team of Arctic Explorers). We are asked to write for 10 minutes about our topic (Western Movie) but using words from our other object (Team of Arctic Explorers) to describe it. Finally, we are asked to flip it around and describe the comparison object (Team of  Arctic Explorers) with words that you might use to describe the given object (Western Movie).

My challenge has been that I slip confusingly back and forth from one to the other. Or I find the given object (Western Movie) uninspiring.  I read some about Western and Western Movie history, pondered on the qualities associated with Western Movies, and chose one.  It bothers me that they seem to sound similar. I was hoping for something more interesting. Oh, well.  Here’s another link in the chain to building better writing skills!

Western Movie -> Adventurous -> Team of Arctic Explorers
The group decided on their basecamp: Ashtonville, Texas. Two mountain ranges of deserted storefronts formed a central, barren corridor. The harsh landscape warned them from further entry. Winds whistled around solitary cacti in cloud bursts, burn-freezing the inside of the cowboys’ ears with icy fury. The men shouted to each other, signaling with their gloved hands where to drive the the stakes of their spurs. The men took out their pickaxes and started to chip away at the desert sands. They sweated inside their Texas uniforms, bandana’s wrapped around their faces to keep out the dust flying into their skin.  With their backs straining under a dark, ominous sky, the cowboys raised their tents. Standing in a single line, the men passed their tent supplies from one to the next.  When their covered wagon was unpacked, the men retreated to their canvas cave in the middle of their Nowheresville. Mark struggled to zip up the door. The others nailed down the edge of the canvas sides that met the dirt where it was not already held down by their supplies. The men sat around in a circle on their sleeping bags, each one silently unwrapping his protective uniform off his wiry, Texan frame. A small leather waterbag was passed around; each man took the smallest sip possible. A coyote howled. Dust balls hit the side of the tent. The men listened.

Team of Arctic Explorers is a Western movie
The men hustled their animals, their tent, and their supplies down the narrow trail between the two Arctic mountain ranges. The band of five brothers roped themselves together in a straight line. The wilderness called around them. Howls. Cries. A scream cut off. The brothers stopped, swore loyalty to one another, and continued on. The eldest, John, led the way. Nothing would stop them. The sheriff promised the research team a reward: bring home the thief. Get paid. Watch as they hang ’em high! Riches. Feeding their families. Telegrams by covered wagons led by Huskies back East. Warm thoughts of money spurred them on. Gold coin. A hot bath. A hot meal, better than these survival granola-flax-peanut butter snack bars. Roar! A bear stood in their way. On the other side, a frozen lake with an opening. The men huddled under their hats and broke away with shots in the air. Pumped! Full of internal fire, hunger, and need, the men circled around the bear. ROAR! The white bear got down on all fours, ready to pounce. From all directions, the men fired down on the white bear. Red covered white in drips and streaks. Hearts raced. John stepped slowly toward the bear, poking it with the end of his rifle. Dead. They removed their hats, held them over their hearts, and thanked God for their good fortune. The men heaved the bear onto the portable cot, and dragged it back to their basecamp. Yes!

Week 11 Day 3-Cobwebs


Today’s writing asked us to take the word cobweb, pick a linking quality, find another thing that shared that quality, and then write for 10 minutes about cobwebs in words that illuminate the linking quality with nouns, adjectives, and verbs from the other shared item. Whew! That’s a confusing summary. Here’s what I did — this will make it clearer. Sort of. Sometimes I start writing things that sound better if I was writing in the other direction. That’s the thing I’m learning this week. I can tell – I’m gonna need a looooooooooot of practice.

Cobwebs -> Capture -> Armies
The threads of the cobwebs spread out from one corner of the doorway. In camouflaged, semi-invisible lines, cobwebs hide their numbers from their enemy  flies. They shimmer in the light of the desert day, blending in harmoniously with the oases that tease from a distance. The approaching fly troops mark a straight line, hoping to penetrate the interior by sheer force and numbers. The flies underestimate the threads that belie the power in their ultimate weapon of choice. The stickiness binds the flies legs and abdomens like rope lines suddenly pulled to fell the enemies’ legs. The troops subdue the body of the flies after a few minutes of struggle. The cobweb’s commanding officer drops a line down to where the enemy is being held. He wants to see for himself that the enemy is captured.  The black widow spider pulls out his hands, hold his enemy in his hands, and then pierces the fly with the knife on his machine gun and empties his poison into the fly.  A few seconds later, still and stiff as a wooden plank, the spider binds up the fly, carries him to up to the corner, and leaves him for the troops to snack on. The spider returns to his desk and waits for the call from his troops to parachute in for the final kill once again.

Armies are cobwebs
The troops last assignment: fan out in straight lines to hide their numbers; go from corner to corner and stick together so that no enemy can break through the lines; hold your positions and do not move unless ordered to do so. The men dutifully walked single file until they hit a wall. They turned direction approximately 20 degrees to the right and kept on walking. Meanwhile, the commanding officer sent a second division up towards the top of the hill. One by one, they parachuted on silk threads down until they reached the other division at a second spot along the wooden wall, through which they could not go.  Meeting up, the troops walked inwards, two by two for a brief time, then walked or flew in the opposite direction, until they met back at base camp. All through the night, they worked tirelessly to build their camp. Animals called to each other eerily. The hair on the arms and legs of the troops stood up but they kept going. Towards dawn, their camp complete, the men slept. One kept watch over their camp, on the lookout for any invaders. Finally! An alarm rang out. The men looked up — space invaders! Flies darkened the skies. Legs trembled and hearts raced. How can we tame the incoming beast? Working together the men folded in on the alien more strongly when there was struggle. The men wrapped around the alien and delivered the stunning blow to the gut. All was quiet. A breeze blew. Men wafted gently and then broke away from the camp. The site of the beast overcome sickened them. Some men regrouped, going over their plan. The commander arrived. He surveyed their capture. He pierced its armor and ate quietly, under the hungry eyes of his submission troops.

Week 9-Day 4-Mountain Stream

Mountain Stream -> Roars -> Lion

Lion: pride, hunter, golden, fur, menacing, slinky, slink, big cat, big game, cat, teeth, fangs, sharp, white, antelope, zebra, prey, shouting, stalk, kill, carnivore, reign, king, steppes, grasslands

The mountain stream tilts back its head and roars out its animalistic call to the wild. Trees shake in terror at the stream’s growling burbles. Slinking its way menacingly over cowed stones, the mountain stream prides itself on its white fanged foam. Waves hunt unsuspecting chipmunks, birds, and rabbits. The stream’s reign flows from time immemorial and into the back of the mountainside, feasting on granite prey.


Mountain Stream -> Trickles -> Hourglass sand

Hourglass sand: hourglass, sand, white, trickle, countdown, finite, infinity, test, contest, falls, falling, desk, pen, timer, timed, timing, life, regret, triste, wistful

The remaining granules of a once-burbling mountain stream trickle slowly through a narrow opening in its path. One droplet at a time, the stream’s wistfully watches its essence pass out of time. Regret and sadness tinge its blue into grey. The mountain stream cries sand. It mourns. Only the quiet hills attend its funeral.

Week 7-Day 5-Noun Collisions

Day 5 – Nouns (+My Nouns) Collisions


Friendship is a white and red polka-dotted bikini, spaghetti straps laced gently around the neck of our years laughing together in front of the television. Frills beckon around soft edges. The bottom half rounds out our one-piece vision of love, laughter, and sandy-toed afternoons.


The pride of tugboats hauls twenty ton steel aircraft carriers across the Caspian Sea in boastful puffs of diesel.


No door zips opens wider, channels flush with untouched twenty dollar bills, than trust’s wallet.


Let’s open the door open to the porch at 8am on Monday morning and let the gentle breezes glide in. Fresh air wafts up one nostril, then the next, calming and comforting one’s servers. Step into vacation’s slippers and walk muffled steps along your oak floors.


Wealth is a sidewalk that wends this way and that, from concrete slabs, to brick, to sleek sealed tar. Sneakers, high heels, and flip flops openly flaunt their income levels, without having to make a sale.


The book of treehouses draws up floor plans for pirate escapades in years past, the backyard marked for gold in a large ‘X’ in the upper right corner, a sign that says ‘No gurlz’ in dark parchment paper, and a bibliography of little boy initials carved in the bark of the tree.


Laughter’s convoy echoes long and far away. People sit up and pay attention to the Doppler of giggles that roar past out of a passing truck’s window. A line of cars follows, interrupted by smiling cheerleaders on paper flower floats, a homecoming party parade.


Money is a flute that sings its lonesome note as it walks through the town center on cobblestone streets. Children mistake it for the song of adulthood and chase after the song far after the dinner bell has rung, leaving them stranded for the wolves that must come.


The song of argument lulls you with its melody. You cannot fight the urge to swing your hips, tape your toes in a toe-step, and fall in line with the other dancers. Swept away, your body responds, your mind shuts down, and you memorize words that are not your own.


Cemetery’s cruise brings you along all the sites, from Major John’s son who died in childbirth before he ever left port, to Rev. Marks who called on every world port to repent. With two feet on just-turned dirt and head down, one can see the world in shades of green and gray.

Week 7-Day 2-Expressed Identity

I have a confession: I have not enjoyed most of the first six weeks of my creative writing course. Until now.

I watched this week’s Introductory video in which Pat Pattison explains expressed identity. When you have two nouns and you compare/contrast them in the ways below, it’s important to choose two nouns that don’t make literal sense when compared; otherwise, what you have is a description. (Paraphrase from course materials). In short, you compare the two nouns in one of these three forms, otherwise known as ‘express identity’:

x = y
the x of y
y‘s x

In today’s writing, we were given ten pairs of nouns. I read each pair in each of the three forms and decided which one I would write.  I took these pairs, created two columns, and wrote the first five attributes that I associated with that noun. Beginning with the expressed identity I chose, I wrote a paragraph. I could only get through my first five pairs this evening. The second set of five noun pairs where the same words but reordered.  I will try to catch up tomorrow. At the very least, I will do five noun pairs from tomorrow’s given selection instead.

Week 7 – Day 2 – Expressed Identity or Noun on Noun Collisions

accountant/storm cloud

an accountant is a storm cloud





April 15th






An accountant is a boring storm cloud, full of cold air and heavy rains sheeting down in needle-thin lines on your tax return of easy living. Steadily pouring over each line item, an accountant blows financials gently forward via your W-2 and 1099. The accumulation drowns your hopes for recovery from your budgeting darkness. No lessening of your April 15th forecast, gloomy for the foreseeable future.

football coach/violin

a football coach is a violin







Graceful loser




A football coach is a violin, conducting his sporty orchestra in swelling crescendos to their first-string victories. The sweet sounds of fans clapping, parents singing out to their children, and the musical stress of a spiking football. The best football coaches are instruments of practice, play the leading grace notes in loss, and provide symphonic encouragement to all team members.

kite/ballet dancer

the ballet dancer of kites

Swan Lake


Prima ballerina




Tiptoes, on pointe

Twigs + paper bag



The ballet dancer of kites is dressed in rainbow silk, golden rods, and tightened with a belt of ecru twine that stretches down to your fingers. Gaily flying through the air, your Prima Ballerina sways back and forth in skillful arcs, aided by a gusty toss from March winds.  Bourgeois twigs and roughly hewn paper bags spectate in awe, their Swan Lake audition as wispy and far away as the clouds born high above the earth.

love letter/moon

moon’s love letter

Crescent, full, half, sliver



Hand-made paper

Ebb, neap

Pen, ink




Ink drops

The moon’s love letter whispers silver words in a bold spotlight of hope onto the inky landscape of your heart. Black trails of longing that mark the corners of your soul ebb away as you read each glowing desire on the handmade paper. Perfume tides wash upwards into your nose as you drink the floral aromas that rush into your lungs and bury your worries at sea.


quilt’s shame




Wool, thread







The quilt’s shame unraveled itself embarrassingly, caught on the punishing edge of your 1850’s antique wooden chest, after you yanked it mightily out into service for your winter cover. Decorative blushes of reds and pinks fearfully crisscross with retiring spring flowers, a complex humiliation of the quilt’s psychology.

Adjectives Provided-Nouns Given

For today’s writing assignment, we were given adjectives, asked to think of the nouns, and then to write.  Here are mine:

itchy / relationship

Marcus squirmed under the strain of his itchy relationship with Martha. It was like walking into a sauna fully clothed. Sweat poured off his brow, down his neck, and underneath his collar.

reluctant / monster

Herschel stomped slowly, lagging. The reluctant monster dreamed flowers. Purple irises, magenta gerbera daisies, and pink roses. His limp hand held a mace, a chain, and one of his teeth.

stumbling / rock

The stumbling rock accidentally rolls over the woman. Grasses lay down low.

sticky / painter

The sticky painter grunts in disgust. Ugh! Glue drying quickly. He wipes. Pants sigh. Glass breaks.

angry / couch

Alissa sat down. The angry couch deflated. Metal coils surge into her leg. Yes! She rubs her leg, winces. She feints.

clumsy / ocean

The bottled ship was launched into the clumsy ocean, slapping about in the chaos. Blue-green waters sneak inside. The SS Gwendolyn goes down. Blrrrrrr….

greasy / hands

Eggs sizzle. Bacon crisps. Ed’s greasy hands slip into action. Wheat toast, sliced diagonally, toasted. Plate set to disco beats. Breakfast!

melting / traffic

Police move the barriers. Open roads widen from melting traffic. Engines hum, leaving birds behind as dots. Bon Jovi’s prayers livin’ on Mix 98.5.

frozen / vista

Lily stood near the icy cliff, painter’s brush in her hand. The frozen vista stunned her in oranges. Teeth chattered. Dots dotted on sketched canvas. Tears fell.

reborn / bicycle

With the twist of a wrench, Blixa’s reborn bicycle races out of the gate. Pedal fast! Faster! Blixa totters.

More Adjective-Noun Collisions


Today’s assignment in my creative class is more metaphor writing, based on 5 pairs of adjectives and nouns. Part I and Part II are similar in that the same five adjectives and five nouns were given, just in different combinations.


broken / street
Broken street sizzles summer between its cracks, and marks touristy feet with the smell of a tired city.

alert / summer
Summer alerts children everywhere with its tempting warmth that wiggles its way through open school room windows.

tangled / theory
Salsa’s tangled theory unravels itself in our two-steps. Heels tap. Hands grasp. Eyes meet. Hearts leap.

grumpy / friendship
Your lies make our friendship grumpy. I pull the duvet over my head. You pretend to snore. I imagine the aroma of coffee brewing. You toss. Turn. Over.

crumbling / pleasure
I saw you kiss her, your hand clutching her chestnut mane. The day’s pleasure crumbled like a too-dry oatmeal cookie and was blown away by the wind.


broken / pleasure
Empty house. Old memories. Closets littered with dust balls, cat hair, and broken pleasure. Tin boxes with old post cards. Strangers posed, black and white in black and white. Echoes of July 4th picnics, roasted corn cobs, and lobster salad.

alert / street
Boys on left. Girls on right. The biggest straight stick we could find. Red rubber hand ball. Two pitchers. The alert street warns ‘Ice Cream Truck!’ We cheer, run in a pack. I stand in line, two quarters in my pocket. Orange creamsicle, please!

tangled / summer
Weekly trips to the beach in a beat up station wagon driven by Pete. 80s music plays on the radio. Stories swapped with rattails at the pool. Summer tangled inside my transistor brain, on repeat.

grumpy / theory
Your grumpy theory thumps the ground. Let. Me. Win! Twirling, I taste triumph over your seared opinions. Sizzle. A glass of wine. Feet up on an ottoman, resting.

crumbling / friendship
You assaulted my iPhone with texts, begging me. Drained, I watched our crumbling friendship fall away like breadcrumbs. For the birds.

Metaphor Collisions-Adjectives/Nouns-Pt. II

Here are the remaining five metaphor collision examples that I described in my previous post.

I lay on damp, spring grass. Star gazing. Orion’s crooked stars remind me of imperfect gingerbread cookies. I squint and point a long finger upwards. At 8pm Eastern Time every night, we point: you, in Africa. Me, in Topeka. Crickets sing our lullaby. I doze.

When this is over, what will happen to my bumpy heart? Your love sent poison, marking my aorta. A-fib abounds. Thump, bump, lump. I touch my chest. Worried. Angst turns silver in my mouth.

You died. I pulled out my dusty wallet. I paused. My pen hovered over the checkbook, ink dripping down. My mind swirled, clouded with memories. Hot tears blur lines of blue into white. A financial whirlpool.

I ran out of Enterprise after Jesse with bewildered hope. Was he really leaving? I see his firm back, his black wavy hair, his strut. One, two. One, two. I thrust myself forward, as if I wore a jet pack. Our distance, closing in. My lungs break. My tongue presses forward. I leap.

Jealous sleep insists: come to me. I am slumped in my chair, head lolled. A pause. Typing. Teeth insist: come brush me. Bed taunts me softly: come lay in me. My husband snores, blissful. My kitten, head on her paws, lies on the floor. Feather toy under her tail. What do I dream of? The sweet oblivion of jealous sleep.

Metaphor Collisions-Adjectives/Nouns-Pt1

First, I’d like to state that, except for my exercises, the material presented here is copyrighted by BerkleeMusic and Pat Pattison.

This week, we’re exploring metaphor; this is one thing represents another and, in doing so, creates new imagery. Our exercise is to creates a sentence or short paragraph given five adjective-noun combinations.

Susan left me. Alone. My lips trembled. Our tangled hearts resonated in the air far after the last string was plucked. Sweet leg-buckling kisses gave way to silence.
The bumpy wallet opens and tumbles its contents onto the granite countertop. Bills and coins spill out like intestines out of a stomach. Silver rounds clink and jump like an erratic heartbeat. Scrambled eggs steam.
In the ghost town of your love, my dusty hope stirs up sand. Everything covered in tan specks. I gasp and choke on it. Wind blows away what’s left of me.
Your bags are packed. Paperwork flutters by, then disappears. My bewildered sleep leaves me wet and in a twist of sheets. Your scent on cotton flowers. Your voice rouses me. I reach. Emptiness.
The jealous stars will not let me sleep. Their blaze burns into my mind. I ache with fever. I taste metal. They mock me with light. I rotate like they do.

Week 4 Assignment – Grocery Aisle – 3rd Person POV

Sheila hated to walk down the produce aisle on Sunday afternoons, swathes of blackened vegetable leaves crushed into the tiles over which she walked. The rubber heels of her tan Ferragamo pumps slid left and right. The smell of old refrigeration and rotten produce zinged her tongue and caused her stomach to tighten against imagined alien invaders. Sheila’s fear of germs prompted her to don latex gloves before she dared to touch any loose vegetable. What if some germ vector touched it or, worse yet, licked it? Sheila did not want to take any chances. She hurried her hips out of the aisle and into the dairy aisle.

Cleaning fluids shoved themselves down her throat, and Sheila reflexively covered her mouth. The squeaking of heavy-laden pallets going slowly and followed by rail-thin teenage grocery boys catches her attention the way that fingernails on a chalkboard do. On edge, Sheila whirls around, tightly grips the metal bar of her grocery basket, and begins to scurry away, only to be cut off by a little old lady whose cart is full of hairnets and cans of dog food labeled ‘Cesar’. The steely grit of determination hardens her mouth and tastes like cola as it floods the aluminum from her amalgam fillings into her mouth.

What is her final straw? The approaching wail of an untamed child that like an ambulance siren draws closer. Like a deer that abruptly wakes up to bright lights, Sheila swirls around on her heel, dodges the oblivious old lady, dances down the produce aisle with the help of her slimy friends, and makes a beeline for the express self-checkout lane. Whew! That was a close one, she thinks, as she holds up her kumquat in front of the infrared web that strains to read the kumquat’s bar code.

Hello! playswithwords.wordpress.com has been reactivated!

Welcome (again) to my blog. I’ve been writing offline for some time.  I’m going back online. The purpose of my blog now is the same as before: encourage my creative writing skills.  Please follow my blog!