Grief

 

it came in waves today

grief did

the sound of Yolanda Adams opening her heart

did it

I was wrong to listen

her voice was a gun

her lyrics, a trigger

me, the victim

she was thunder

my tears

rain

Yolanda knows I can’t listen to that song

it hoola hooped on the radio in ’99

the year we lived with him

and I combed my Barbie’s hair to her voice

as my Dad’s memory rode on the backs of those lyrics

a warrior

the knight and shining armor

of my adolescents

invisible crown on his head

he is bald now

cancer ate away his hair

and I rubbed Witch Hazel on his foot

I kissed his forehead

I am thirteen again and my heart is inexperienced

I am not ready for the lightening on its way to me

My hands are too small to hold the weight of what’s about to happen

“What if I choose the wrong thing to do?”

she sings

and in my warrior walks

the cab driver in nice suits

his words are “hip” like his style and his commandments

“don’t sleep ready rose,” meaning,

“don’t sleep in your outside clothes”

“I feel so lost, I don’t know what to do,”

in he walks

tight-roping Yolanda’s lyrics

In those sharp suits

riding on the back of my preteen memories

and I curl my small fingers into a fist

and fit them inside the center of my Dad’s palm

the way we used to do

the way his hand covered my entire fist

the way he’s tight-roping on my heart strings

the way memory crawled its way into my throat this morning

“I just need to hear one word from you,” 

Yolanda’s voice penetrates the clouds

the thunder growls

the lightning strikes

and I am thirteen again and the year is 2000

the final moan of a passing storm

and James walks out of the door

his name planting kisses on my forehead

and anointing my eyes

with grief

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Writer’s Quote Wednesday Challenge – Comedy

Now yall know I love to laugh right? I’m sitting here wondering why I keep thinking about one more thing I needed to post today and then it hit me. Duh! It’s Writer’s Quote Wednesday!

So…welcome back to Writer’s Quote Wednesday hosted by Colleen of Silver Threading and Ronovan from Ronovan Writes. Today’s theme is Comedy.

There were so many quotes to choose from, including the one about how behind every just kidding is the truth. But, I’m sure we’ve all heard that one before. The quote that really stuck out to me above the others is this one:

So let me get this straight, if I laugh a lot, then my wrinkles will be on my cheeks? LOL

Comedy is a very powerful thing because it has the ability to heal as well as conceal. Laughter can uplift but it can also deceive and that’s the complex thing about comedy. Comedians tell the truth all the time, but because its a joke its not something many people take very seriously. This makes a comedian probably more powerful than a lot of professionals as they have lots of creative room which gives them space for the social messages many of them incorporate into their jokes. However, in the end a good laugh does wonders for the soul. According to an article in Laughter is the Best Medicine, “A good, hearty laugh relieves physical tension and stress, leaving your muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes after.” That’s amazing.

“Your sense of humor is one of the most powerful tools you have to make certain that your daily mood and emotional state support good health.”

~ Paul E. McGhee, Ph.D.

Editing For Emotion

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As I enter another revision stage for Book #3 in The Stella Trilogy, and I prepare for that final edit, I found this article extremely helpful. While we hear a lot about action and keeping the story moving, it is true that you don’t hear much about editing for emotion. I know many people do not click third party links, but I discovered this article written by Laura Drake that hit the nail on the head. To the authors credit, I will only post an excerpt of the article. Please visit Laura’s website for its entirety.

The Most Important Edit No One Talks About By Laura Drake

“Everyone knows about ground level edits – copy/line/stylistic edits that look at sentence structure and grammar – they’re small, but important.

We all know those two edits are critical.

But there’s another edit that is very seldom talked about, that could take your manuscript from good to sold.

I call it the 5,000 foot edit. It’s the edit for EMOTION. I don’t care if you’re writing a romance or a legal or espionage thriller; if you don’t have a solid bedrock of emotion in your book, you’re not going to have readers. It’s what they come for! Think of your favorite author. Why is he your favorite? I’ll bet right up there with plot, is the emotion. If we don’t have emotion, the reader won’t care about your character. And that’s a story-killer.

Have I convinced you? Okay, let’s move on to how to do this thing.

In a book, regardless of genre, the character has to grow, right? So you need to follow the character’s arc, and be sure it happens in a timely, logical fashion. It’s okay if the character grows in fits and starts, or even if they progress, then back up a few steps. As long as their character arc doesn’t look like this:

squiggly-line

A problem I’ve seen (and had) is that the character seems bipolar, going from laughing to angry to loving in three paragraphs. For emotion to be satisfying, it has to be deep. Take those three paragraphs, and dig deeper. It doesn’t mean you have to turn three paragraphs into three pages – sometimes a visceral hit and a one sentence reminder of the emotion will do:

This is from my RITA winner, The Sweet Spot:

The red flowers had some brown edges, and looked a bit bug-eaten. She’d planned to stop at Wal-Mart and pick up a bouquet on the way to the cemetery, but . . . Her stomach settled a bit. “These are Benje’s flowers. He’s not going to care about a few bugs.” She headed for the tool shed, to find her clippers.

I added a sentence of dialog that added emotion – a reminder to the reader of an emotional memory: working in the garden with her child (the child she’s going to visit in the cemetery). See?

No matter what genre you’re writing, not all scenes are action. If they are, you’re going to wear out your reader in no time. It’ll be a fast read, but also, unsatisfying, because in action, you can only show flashes of emotion – like paint splattered on a canvas, rather that brush-stroked on. You need what Dwight Swain, in his book, Techniques of the Selling Writer (a ‘must have’ on your craft shelf, IMHO) calls a ‘sequel scene’.

A quiet scene, where the POV character can reflect on what just happened, and compare the results to his world-view. These are the scenes that move him along his growth arc. You can only do that by getting deep into the emotion – because that character’s flaws in his world-view usually come from damage in his childhood: abuse, neglect, or even over-indulgence (poor little rich kid). And that’s emotional. Be sure you’re plumbing all that good stuff.” – Laura Drake

Finish Reading

Emotional Response

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Everyone is made up of emotions. I have them. You have them. We all have them. We are human, and as such we feel. In a sense we are always reacting based on our emotions. Whether we research information or gather enough facts to deem us intelligent, for the most part majority of us will still respond emotionally. If we’re angry we will project an action accordingly. If we are sad our environment will be soaked up with gloom. If we are excited our blog post may just burst forth in a joyous frenzy and perhaps we’ll make a mistake or two. Our excitement may move us too fast or in another direction. Whatever the case may be, chances are your next move will be less based on the facts and more so based on emotion. The problem with this is that reacting emotionally can do away with logic. It takes the simple and makes it far more complicated. It blurs the vision and steers into the direction of flesh and bone and feel and touch rather than common sense. Open doors become blocked by people shouting and pointing fingers. They curse and stomp and accuse and it ignites a fire under you. You curse and stomp and accuse them back, pointing your fingers in their faces because after all, mama ain’t raise no fool, no fear, no punks grew up in her house. Yet all the while the door is open, hanging tirelessly upon its hinges for you to walk through it. Suddenly there is no door, there is no opportunity, just you and emotion yelling and screaming at a mere image of your very self. The next time you feel yourself responding emotionally to a situation stop and count the facts. Try to understand that reason is first invisible until we are ready to accept it for what it is. I guarantee that you will eventually see the door.