Words Find a Way Out

TEN YEARS AGO, the words ran out.

After 15+ years of writing for publication, I suddenly stopped. Not intentionally. I just couldn’t put two words together anymore.

Each morning I sat to write, as was my habit, but nothing came. When the clock got to a certain hour, I moved on to the day’s other tasks.

The timing worked out. Just then, for the first time in a decade, I had no editors waiting on articles from me, no manuscripts in circulation that might require rewrites and no query letters out. I tried every trick I knew to shake things loose, nothing helped. So I took it as a mandated rest period.

Still, each morning I was in my writing chair, just in case.

When the words returned, they came in clusters, phrases, incomplete sentences. They came not as prose, but as verse. I hesitate to call it poetry.

Yesterday’s edition of The Writer’s Almanac had a short bio of poet Louis Simpson, a writer who returned from WWII with post-traumatic stress disorder and found he couldn’t hold an entire novel, or even stories, in his head. Poetry was the only format that felt possible.

Words find a way out.

The PTSD thing caught my eye because several years after I lost my voice, so to speak, I began to suspect it had something to do with PTSD, though I never fought in a named conflict to which monuments are erected. Indeed, at the time the words stopped, something new had just come into my daily life, something that was prying open the storehouse of memories long buried.

Yeah, I’m going to keep writing about this.



Posted in unknowns, writing | 6 Comments

Late Gifts are Often Perfectly Timed


MORE winter accessories for the refugees arrived a few weeks ago. One of the boxes was sent by a West Virginia teen who spread word of the need among family and friends. She received many contributions, all BRAND NEW. I had already run through my inventory and it was great to receive the box in the mail.

Isn’t that lovely and inspiring, that a young person would take that on? I love that she didn’t wait for her church or an organization to launch a major campaign, but just learned of a need and saw where she could plug in. By such, the world is changed!

Temps were in the 50s and 60s when the box arrived and I considered the contents an excellent start for when the cold weather returned, possibly October or November. Ha! It’s plenty cold here now.

Yesterday I took everything I had along to class. In short time, it all was snatched up by surprised and shivering students who’d just blown in on the wind. One earwarmer at a time, one scarf at a time, one hat at a time, the pile dwindled.

A Congolese woman selected a pair of neon orange gloves and wore them all through class, the entire 2-1/2 hours. I wish I’d taken a photo. I am often tempted to pull out my phone and snap a picture, but I don’t want them to feel like oddities or curiosities or something we find amusing.

Posted in compassion, gift ideas, people, refugees | 1 Comment

Quote Found Among My Scraps

“It’s hard to companion someone in something where you yourself are unwilling to go.”

I jotted this down 5 years ago, but don’t know where I saw it or who said it. Still, I think it’s a good quote.

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