T-giving List #1


by Debbie Vance

As we approach Thanksgiving (it’s THIS week!!) I’ve been thinking (as have most of us, I’m sure) about the things in my life I’m thankful for. To honor a writerly tradition, let’s focus not on the big, dramatic events, but on the small details that often go unnoticed and unappreciated, but go on building beauty and grace in our lives nonetheless.

Here goes…

* I am thankful for line breaks. For the white space that ties words together despite the chasm of returns, ThankfulListallowing each line, each final word, its own meaning while building meaningful tension between.

* I am thankful for em dashes–that allow connected thoughts to be connected emphatically.

* I am thankful for pencils, that let you feel the textuality of writing as graphite transfers to paper, is erased, leaves a smudge, is rewritten. (Am I the only one that really, really wanted the iPad mini commercial to actually be for a Ticonderoga?)

* I am thankful for unwanted but nevertheless helpful writing prompts. (A friend of mine recently told me to begin a story with the word, “Delicious,” to which I was deeply opposed. I gave it a shot anyway and found that I was forced to craft outside of my normal craft-habits, which gave my writing new energy and allowed characters I don’t normally consider the space to people this new story.)

* I am thankful for fresh flowers in tin cans at the market that change with the season and last just long enough for you to miss them when they’re gone. Like sentences. And coffee.

What are you thankful for? Tweet at us. @samizdatcreative And have a happy Thanksgiving. If it’s pleasant, settle in and soak it up. If it’s stressful, consider how you can isolate the emotional core and  transform it into a short story.

Here’s a poem by Wendell Berry to get you through (which is also an example of how writing can be a gift, but more on that later) :

for Gurney Norman, quoting him

The woods is shining this morning.
Red, gold and green, the leaves
lie on the ground, or fall,
or hang full of light in the air still.
Perfect in its rise and in its fall, it takes
the place it has been coming to forever.
It has not hastened here, or lagged.
See how surely it has sought itself,
its roots passing lordly through the earth.
See how without confusion it is
all that it is, and how flawless
its grace is. Running or walking, the way
is the same. Be still. Be still.
“He moves your bones, and the way is clear.”


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