Compost: Insects

It’s lucky for the ants, flies, and spiders that I’m not in charge of the universe. If I were, the functions of insects would be handled by mammalian creatures – cuter, furrier, without windowpane eyes.


But I won’t kill insects. I’ve even saved a few of their lives. They don’t seem overly smart, and will often head obliviously and directly into certain death: flying into the candle flame, jumping into wine-filled glasses, crawling up my leg.


I know it wouldn’t be a good idea to pave over God, but I believe it would make picnics easier.


Tip: Your Ideas Matter

Have you ever thought the world may need what you write? That your knowledge, or inspirational story, or revolutionary method, may be the exact thing someone out there is waiting to learn? Maybe more than one person is waiting – maybe there are thousands who could be helped by what you have to say.


The bottom line is – your ideas, your stories, and your experiences matter. You matter. You do make a difference in the world. You are an actor, not just a reactor. You needn’t succumb to the despair and apathy present in the phrase, “I’m just one person.” All writers are just one person. The written word has a long and distinguished history of teaching people new ways of thinking and doing. Many books have literally changed the course of history.


Write it down!


Compost: I Am Mom

I don’t hear the voices of my children anymore. I don’t hear the word “Mommy” or the giggles from little-girl sleepovers. I don’t hear the wails from scraped knees or the high-pitched snorts at dumb knock-knock jokes. I don’t hear the harsh blast of Metallica playing to a crowd of rowdy 14-year olds, or know-it-all teenage voices declaiming deathless 80s and 90s slang such as “Mega” or “Burnt.”  I don’t hear the muttered whispers when they creep in way past their curfew, or the shrieks about broken nails or messed-up hairdos.


No, I don’t hear my children anymore. But I do hear their warm voices talking about their women’s concerns and I am happy when the phone rings and I hear them say, “Mom.”


Tip: Springboarding for Goodness

Try this writing tip:  take the first line of a novel, or short story, or poem, written by someone else, and use this first line as a springboard into your own writing.  Write a page or two, starting with the other author’s line as your first line, and see where it takes you.  Then when you are done, delete the first line that is not yours. The rest of it will be.


Here’s one I wrote, starting with a line from a poem by Hildegarde of Bingen, “I am the yearning for good.”


I am the yearning for good because when I feel the nasty thoughts of anger or smallness, jealousy or fear, when I want to snarl, “she can take her xyz and shove it up her you-know-what” or when I want to whine, “why does he get so much and I get so little?” or when I want to yell “Get the hell away from here” – when I want to say these things, I feel guilty, and that’s how I know I yearn for good. Even in the face of despair that I am not, and may never be, really good, not like I want to be.


I am the yearning for good in the midst of fear, strong as dark whiskey brewed in black winter caves. That smoky taste of fear and lust rises in my throat and oh how I yearn for good then, for a crisp light breeze to blow me outside to where wild weeds grow in lush profusion even though they’re not supposed to, even where their beauty is not seen.


Tip and Compost: Darkness Is

Here’s a writing exercise tip:  pick a sensory word, a word that expresses color, shape, texture, sound, smell, or taste.  Then write a couple of paragraphs with every sentence (or most of them) beginning with that word and “is.”  Here’s one I wrote, using the word “darkness.” 


Darkness is soft and stealthy; it creeps and does not stalk. It does not thud and pound like sunshine, and it does not weep like cool gray mist. Darkness is what darkness is, possibilities unending, and the fear that the possibilities will end. Darkness is a paradox. If we lived in darkness would our eyes grow round and big and green, glowing like Gollum’s? Gollum was honest in the dark and treacherous in the light, he was the ultimate creature of darkness, poor deluded thing. Darkness wears a cloak of moss, muffling all the sounds of day. Darkness glows with secrets waiting to be told. Darkness darkness be my pillow, sang Jesse Colin Young, his sweet voice husky with equal parts of desire and pain, making me ache for something that had no name.



Compost: Dream Songs

Sometimes I wake up with a song playing in my head. I wish I knew what this meant, or if it means anything at all.  What could it mean that one morning I woke up with “Holy Holy Holy” playing, complete with crashing organ chords as the background to a church choir?  Since I don’t go to church, I haven’t heard that song for decades, but here were all the words, present in my head: holy holy holy lord god almighty god in his mercy blessed trinity. It lurked in the back of my mind the rest of the day.


But then the very next morning, when I woke up I heard “Zip a Dee Doo Dah” playing, sung by chirping Disney-esque bluebirds – what about that? Does the juxtaposition of Holy Holy Holy with Zip a Dee Doo Dah have any deep dark meaning?

 I ask myself these questions, but I get no answers.