Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Day Two

Reading and Writing

I read for a mixture of reasons
one of them being
the sheer satisfaction of the sound:
the imagery, the language, the words themselves.

I write for a mixture of reasons
one of them being
the turn of the phrase, the flick of the pen, the crank of the wrist,
searching for the just-right words
to hit upon my voice.

I often read for the joy of it
which means that I have a little workroom full of
scraps, tablets and folders
bursting with those choice words of other writers.
Having a little workroom
filled with scraps, tablets and folders of other writers’ words
does not make you a better writer
any more than having a garage stacked with nine irons
would make you Tiger Woods
or a closet plumped with period costumes
would make you Dame Judi Dench.
What it does give you
is a sense of mission and comfort:
Music can be made on a computer keyboard
given enough time and chance
and persistence.

When I am reading
I hold a book in one hand
and a black felt-tip pen in the other.
I capture passages
then move them to the scraps, tablets and folders that fill
this little workroom.
when I read out loud
the words peal in my ears
reminding me that literature is
- first and last -
The words themselves are rarely new, nor are they usually exotic.
Most of them I use all the time:
when chatting with a pal
shopping for a new ceiling fan
or planning my mother’s eightieth birthday party.

But when I am writing
I hold those same words in my mind
flipping through them just as I sort through coupons at the market
searching for the one that fits the situation
letting my fingers fall on their edge and plucking them out of the packet.
I try them on for size
shifting tenses back and forth
rearranging their neighbors like colored beads of glass
on a summer necklace.
I string them together and they make music in this little workroom
where junebugs click at the hot nightscreen
in the same moment that my fingertips tap at the keys.

In my best reading
and my best writing
the words are simply and exactly right
perfectly placed
for the writer and the listener
for the meaning and the music.


  1. A writer needs a reader to complete the circle and make the ideas whole. So, now you know someone may wear the necklace of words you've strung. Have fun!!

  2. colored beads of glass on a summer necklace...
    If, for some unknown reason, you were afraid that you had lost your voice...forget it.

    How evocative and visceral your style...tugging at the heart...punching the gut...exhorting the soul...your students have been very we'll all share in their joy

  3. ah, the art of the wordsmith described in images that are both common and unusual. 'flipping through a coupon book' is the work of creating; 'junebugs click at the hot nightscreen' is the creation.

    Nice Patti! Welcome to the blogoshpere. Your contributions will be a joy to read!

  4. Patti, like I said yesterday.....I am at a loss for words. You are amazing and a joy!