This is a second installment of Word Pictures – a collection of lovely and descriptive passages.
“Her laughter catches him off guard. As if it’s carbonated and someone has poured it too fast and it’s bubbling over in all directions.” – from A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
Do you know anyone who laughs like that?
“… at eight o’clock the last of the cool was burning off. The State Farm thermometer out the window over the sink was slowly percolating to the top.” – from Lake Wobegon Days by Garrison Keillor
I love the phrase “….slowly percolating to the top.” When I was a kid, I made coffee for my dad using a percolator that went on the stovetop. I loved the smell, but I didn’t drink it until I was way into my thirties – after some of my kids were already coffee drinkers.
“She knew God tore down the old world every evening and built a new one by sun-up.” – from Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
Vilano Beah, FL
“… a hardware store was your practical Uncle Walter, wearing bib overalls and carrying a hammer, asking you in a hearty sausage-and-egg voice to point him in the direction of what needed to be done.” – from The Year of Pleasures by Elizabeth Berg
In the first few months after we moved to BIrmingham, I noticed several times a man in overalls shopping in Publix. It was a sight I’d never seen in Jacksonville, and it brought to mind the short time we spent in south Georgia. There it was very common to see men in overalls. Sadly, I connect this memory of the overalled man to the racism that was alive and well. It was the late 80s, but it often felt like the 1960s. But, that’s a story for another day.
“…with cornsilk hair and delphinium eyes…” from Travels With Charley by John Steinbeck.
This is a perfect description of my daughter when she was a little girl. But, now I’d have to say “…with Merlot curls…”
“You pierce my soul” – Captain Wentworth to Anne in Persuasion by Jane Austen.
Today I’m going to share some lovely sentences – just for your enjoyment.
“The slightly porky man on the other side of the Plexiglas has back-combed hair and arms covered in tattoos…Is that something an adult person in a healthy state of mind would consent to? Going about with his arms looking like a pair of pajamas?” from A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
“She expects fustiness, an elder funk, but the room smells mildly of soap and books and dried seaweed.” from All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
“It is because people are mostly layers of violence and tenderness…” from One Writer’s Beginnings by Eudora Welty
“I mourn for the loss of dreams and the presence of nightmare.” from The Irrational Season by Madeleine L’Engle
“It’s the things we don’t expect that just rip the scab off,” – said Grandpa from Stand Tall by Joan Bauer
“Every lavish home contains people who have seen disease. Every lawn that must be maintained is attached to a marriage that also must be maintained.” from God of the Mundane by Matt Redmond
“…soaking in the alto chant of the visiting bees…” from Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
“He was a mean little runt. The two of them together benasties the mind.” from The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Annie Barrows and Mary Ann Shaffer
“… I could see how quickly I might become a woman gnawing on a chicken leg over the kitchen sink for her dinner,…” from The Year of Pleasures by Elizabeth Berg
“She’s wearing a green cardigan with a neat zigzag pattern and dusty blue mom-jeans…” from Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
“… shriveled like a chickpea with the cold.” from Travels With Charley by John Steinbeck
“…that’ll be about as profitable as trying to pick feathers out of molasses.” – Madame Manec – All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
We southerners have our quaint sayings for sure, Stuff about having a hissy fit or being in high cotton or fixin’ to do something.
pic – the movie db
But, I digress. Back to the quote above. I just love it. It reminds me of O’ Brother Where Art Thou? where the language was a big part of the charm of the movie. Especially the words of Ulysses Everett McGill, such as, “Say, any of you boys smithies? Or, if not smithies per se, were you otherwise trained in the metallurgic arts before straitened circumstances forced you into a life of aimless wanderin’?” or “Well, ain’t this place a geographical oddity. Two weeks from everywhere!” Then there is the oft quoted line that my family has taken to use on numerous occasions – “You two are just dumber than a bag of hammers!”
I guess I’ll always love words and wordplay. Maybe that’s why I play Words with Friends on my phone and I love the hashtag games on Twitter.
Just remember, our words are like those feathers. Once spoken, taking them back is like trying to pick them out of molasses.
“You just find something you’re passionate about and share it creatively and enthusiastically” – Rick Steves
Rick Steves is well known for his travel shows on PBS. I don’t get to see him often, but I enjoy his shows when I do. He loves to travel and it shows. He also loves people – this comes through as you watch him interact with those he meets along the way. He is truly interested and keeps his viewers interested. He writes about travel and he comes across the same way in his writings.
“I just like writing, you know? I guess I’m a word person or something. It’s the spirit of third-grade show and tell.” – Rick Steves
I love this – it’s exactly how I feel! I, too, am a word person, although I wish I knew more words. I, in truth, do need to improve my vocabulary.
Writing not only helps me express myself, but it helps me to think things through when I write about them. And it helps me to learn more about the world and myself along the way. As writers, if we don’t care about what we are writing it will show. And if we DO care, that, too, will come through in our enthusiasm and knowledge of our topic. Whether it’s fiction or non-fiction, if you don’t care, I doubt your readers will, either.
So, find your passion and share it with the world. There is someone out there who will benefit from your knowledge
“Men are what they are because of what they do. Not because of what they say,” said Ove.
From A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
I had to think on this for a while. First off, this applies to women, also.
I think it’s true when it comes to campaign promises. We can all say we’re going to do something. It’s whether we do it or not that makes all the difference. Grand speeches, promises, gestures, are all in vain if they are not followed through to fruition.
On the other hand, especially in this election season, “what they say” is quite the indicator of what a man/woman is. Both of our candidates are foul-mouthed individuals.
But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. Matthew 15:18
These things, according to John Gill, include “…idle words, foolish talking, filthy jesting, unsavory communication, and every word that is rotten and corrupt, or which is done in the life and conversation;” and he continues, “the heart is the corrupt fountain from whence all moral defilement flows; and sinful words and actions are the impure streams, which spring from thence, and increase the moral pollution of human nature.”
I think my favorite characters in Great Expectations are Joe and Herbert. They love and give without expecting anything in return. They see the best in others and they want the best for others. They are both the kind of friend I’d love to have.
But I also like the way Joe talks.
For example, instead of just telling Pip that everyone is about the same, he says, “…And all friends is no backerder, if not no forarder.”
Which reminds me of my husband’s favorite line in True Grit. When Rooster Cogbun is being questioned in the courtroom – this is the dialogue:
Cross-examining Lawyer: So, you say that when Amos Wharton raised his axe, you backed away from him.
Rooster Cogburn: That’s right.
Cross-examining Lawyer: In what direction were you going?
Rooster Cogburn: I always go backwards when I’m backing up.
But I digress.
Here is another example of Joe’s verboseness: “It were understood,” said Joe, “And it are understood. And it ever will be similar according.”
Near the end of the book, Joe is trying to gently break some news to Pip: “I think,” said Joe, after meditating a long time at the window seat, “ as I did hear tell how that he were something or other in a general way in that direction.”
Now, Joe is a little wordy, but, I’d rather talk to a kind conversationalist that to a griping grumbler. Wouldn’t you?
“Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.” – William Wordsworth
photo by photouten
This is good advice to someone who has something to say and has a knack for saying it well. I’m not talking about stuff like, “Good morning! Today I am doing to have decaf instead of regular coffee…. blah blah blah”. That’s okay for a morning conversation with your cat, but it’s not the breathings of your heart.
I’m thinking poetry, or personal reflections of a somewhat serious nature. If you are willing to share some of your soul with others, I can guarantee you there is an audience out there longing for your words. No, not everyone will want to read your thoughts, but someone will. Someone may need to hear what you have to say to help them get through a hard time. Your words may be just the right ones at just the right time that could make a difference to someone.
Even if no one does read your words, just the filling of the paper can do wonders for YOU. And, who knows? That practice of getting your words down may be just what you need to encourage yourself. It may lead one day to sharing with the world.
Rebecca Curtis, author of Twenty Grand and Other Tales of Love and Money, says a writer should be “willing to write drivel in a notebook every day, with the idea that not everything you write should be for the purpose of publication.”
Writing in a notebook everyday is good advice. I keep a notebook in my purse and use it for all kinds of writing, from story idea lists to sermon notes in church to what I need to get at the grocery store.
One thing Curtis said that I thought was really good advice is that not everything you write is suitable for publication. Really, I don’t want to hear about your problems with pooping or how much sugar someone puts in their tea, UNLESS it is woven into a tale worth telling.