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Juicy Journals & Wild Words
Creating a Writer's Notebook : Page 2 of 2

Creating a Writer's Notebook

continued from page 1

Include a few pages devoted specifically to settings for your writing — the landscape, real or imagined, in which a work of fiction or poetry takes place. Making a charcoal sketch, map, watercolor painting, poem, or collage about a place can really bring it to life in your work, and in your imagination. Try to see a familiar place with a stranger's eye. It's also fun to collect interesting place names, and to make up imaginary names for places that only exist on the page — for use in the future. Right here in the Four Corners, we have towns, streets, natural features, and even stores whose names are sheer poetry. Quasar Street, Beads and Beyond, Magpie's Newsstand, The Fallen Angel, The Silk Sparrow, Aquarius Place, Hogsback, The Sleeping Ute, Truth or Consequences, and El Rio de Las Animas Perdidas (Translation: The River of Lost Souls) flows right through downtown Durango. The landscape itself is a poem.

Maps and telephone books are an excellent source of fresh names for characters and places. If you get stuck, go surfing amongst the pages and see what you can find. Other types of reference books — atlases, travel guides, books about nature and art are my favorite unexpected source of inspiration. Mark Griffith's wonderful book, "Orchids from the Archives of the Royal Horticultural Society," is a fine example. This lovely find is small enough to fit into my purse, yet contains mouth-watering color illustrations and juicy text peppered with terms like exotic, epiphytes, Laelia Purpurata, and specimen. I'm hooked. History, rumors and stories, and a ton of interesting "common" names for orchids like Disa, maned for a mythical Swedish Queen, the unlikely Saint Helier, Barabel, and Southern Cross. That's portable inspiration, right there. Mine books like these, suck the marrow out, unearth the gems, and make poems and stories from them. Build a castle of dream-rubies. Dance with the page! Write upside-down, sdrawkcab, and sideways. Write with the wrong hand, write with your toes, or with the pen clenched between your teeth. Cha-cha 'til it hurts, the pen your partner in this dance.

Try This!

Write a haiku or short story using as many of the words from your lists as possible. Here's a writing sample I created — the first few lines of a short story, written using some of the words from the lists in this article:

Disa Barabel rode in the bar-car of the Southern Cross all the way to Georgia with an orchid in her arms. Magpies squawked outside her window. They reminded Disa of her sister, Laelia…

Or try a haiku. A haiku is a short, three-line poem of Japanese origin. Typical subjects are images from nature linked with a specific emotion. It does not have to rhyme. An Amercanized version of the haiku usually has five syllables in the first and third lines, and seven syllables in the second line. Here's mine…

Exotic Specimens
Magpies squawked orchids
At Queen Disa on the train
Dreaming of Georgia

Go forth and write bravely about the thing that hurts, that cuts you to the bone, the truth that only you can tell. •

© Molly J. Anderson-Childers. All rights reserved.

Molly Anderson-Childers is a a highly creative writer and artist from Durango, Colorado. More »

8/26/08