Writing Practice and The Muse Who is Always There
Writing Leap #41 Writing the Literary Snippet
A literary snippet is just what it sounds like; a snip of a moment captured on the page. It’s immediate, just a few sentences and complete in and of itself.
Ideas for snippets can pop into your imagination from anywhere; a memory flash from your childhood, an observation on the train, a glimpse of something moving in the natural world.
Want to try it? Snippets challenge our ability to write what we really feel and what we really mean with no extra words. I think distilling thoughts is harder to do than it may seem. It takes deep pondering as we revise and delete in our heads. But it’s what we all must do in all our writing. Offer moments to our readers that toll like a steeple bell and appear effortless.
Here’s my attempt.
Once, when I was four, I held my mother’s hand and lifted one leg after the other up the high stairs to get on the bus. She let me reach up and put the change in the money collector.
I stared at a lady who sat up very straight, hands folded in her lap. There she was. Hair rolled up under a brimmed hat with flowers sticking up in back. A mouth that was a thin, straight line. An umbrella by her side. The lady frowned at me.
“Mommy.” I pulled my mother down and whispered loudly in her ear. “Is that Mary Poppins?”
My mother’s cheeks flushed. She directed an apologetic smile to the lady and led me to a seat. She winked at me and gave me a hug. Then she said, “Maybe.”
Happy snippet writing everyone and Happy Spring
LINKING THE ARTS
Original drawings by Mary Shepard for Mary Poppins and Mary Poppins Comes Back, by P.L. Travers
A Book I Love
Recommending Again: Several Short Sentences About Writing by Verlyn Klinkenborg, former op-ed writer for the New York Times. I would sleep with this book under my pillow if I believed I would absorb all of his insights permanently in my creative unconscious. It’s about writing sentences that say what you want them to say.
A Word I Love
ponder, as in relaxing into finding the right tone, the right rhythm, the right word in your writing