A WRITING BLOG About Playing Around with a Story Line in Different Literary Genres and Different Literary Categories
Writing Leap #34
Are you ever walking or talking or sitting on a train and your mind alights on a writing idea? It hovers there, a sparrow touching down on a telephone line, apt to fly off at any moment. Grab it! (Apologies and gratitude to the wonderful former U.S Poet Laureate Billy Collins whose metaphor this is. I’m so sorry I can’t find the poem for an exact quote.)
But the essence of the poem is a part of my writing self. Write down your impressions and reactions as they are happening. Otherwise as Billy Collins implies the sparrow will probably fly away forever. Gone, swoosh.
Later the spontaneity of the thought will have vanished. Or you will be growling because you can’t remember any of it. Just that it was great.
I carry a small journal and my cell phone to jot down ideas. Later these small jottings can turn into vignettes. Writing vignettes is great writing practice. Just for the sake of writing them. Writers write and edit. As much as possible.
From The Book of Literary Terms by Lewis Turco. “The vignette is a finely written literary sketch emphasizing character, situation or scene.”
So writers, tackle the vignette!
The story line is: What does chocolate evoke in you? Fiction or Non-fiction.
Here’s mine. A vignette inspired by the painting below and something I jotted down. While eating a chocolate truffle as pictured above. Let’s watch Becca.
Oh, how Becca loved chocolate bars. The extra dark velvet kind. Thick and smooth in her mouth. Just sweet enough.
Becca nodded at the old lady, bundled up in three threadbare coats. Her legs were wrapped in scarves and she was settled on a broken chair outside the door of Mr. Palkowski’s newspaper shop.
Becca pushed open the door to the shop. The loud bell on the door made a jangly, jarring noise . She jerked back. She always did.
“Hi there Becca. What can I do for you today?” Mr. Palkowski said.
“Um, not sure. Just want to look, thank you,” she said.
“Right,” he said, and turned his back to fuss with something behind the counter.
Becca grabbed a small chocolate bar from a box on the shelf opposite the counter and slipped it in her pocket.
“Bye Mr. Palkowski. Nothing today.”
There was no avoiding nodding again at the old lady outside.
“You take care now, Becca,” she said.
Becca started to hurry home.
“Wait,” the old lady called. “Think about this. What are you really hungry for? It’s not chocolate dearie.”
Becca kept walking. That lady was crazy.
Mr. Palkowski stepped outside his store. He watched Becca turn the corner.
“Well Minna. That’s about the tenth time now. I haven’t got the heart to say something to her, poor child.”
“You want my opinion?” Minna said. “You are doing her no favors letting her get away with stealing. No favors at all.”
“Hmmmmm,” he said and went back inside.
When Becca reached her stoop she peeled the paper off the chocolate bar and ate the whole thing. She made sure to put the wrappings in the trashcan in front of her building. She wasn’t going to add to the garbage on the sidewalk.
Becca really did know what she was hungry for. She was hungry for her mama’s chocolate cookies. Her mama used to make them for her a lot. Mama didn’t make them now. If she did, Becca thought, the cookie dough would be full of Mama’s tears.
Next afternoon after school Becca pushed open the door to the news shop. Jangle, jangle. Her heart began to flutter in her chest.
“Afternoon Becca,” Mr. Palkowski said. “Ummmm, now look here. I’ve been thinking. I could use a little help around here, straightening up the stock and such. Would your mother let you do that for about an hour after school? I could pay you a little or you could take it out in merchandise. Like chocolate bars.”
Becca stared. He knew. He knew and he was still being nice to her. She fought back tears and let herself hug him.
Here’s to vignettes and your jottings!
LINKING THE ARTS
“Lines Lost Among Trees,” in Billy Collins collection, Picnic, Lightning
A Good Word
Jot As in to write quickly in the moment