Monday, September 27, 2010

Watching the Day

I sit on a white porcelain plate
Ten times the size of my body.
It spins slowly through the sky.

As I sit on the edge, I see trails
in the hills, the many lanes the deer
have carved across a white sky.

With my eyes, body, and
soul, I absorb nature’s strength this
Monday morning. I see the great Buck,
cautiously leading his family in the hills.
His tail twirls, his head is low as he nibbles on
some treat he has found. He gives his head
A shake, his antlers move from side to side.

He moves along. His strong stance and majestic antlers
Trail behind. The large spinning plate
Swooshes back, through the trees, brought to rest.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Scriptwriting class ~ Tidbit

We have only written two short scenes so far, but I can see how writing a complete screenplay is no easy task. It’s difficult enough to write one scene in five beats of action!

Last week our second scene assignment was to write a scene in five beats of action with characters this time, but no dialogue. The instructor suggested we go back to childhood or to someone else’s childhood. I searched my memory for a visual scene and I chose one. I tend to choose those that have feeling attached. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to move it with “action,” but I tried. This one had a similar mood about it, but how I wrote it was slightly different. I didn’t want to name the mother and daughter because it was my memory, but of course I must name the characters next time; and it seems I wrote it in a staccato fashion, at least that’s how it feels to me.

I won’t receive the instructor’s written comments until next week, but he and others definitely felt I needed character development. I didn’t have enough to show more about them.

The idea was to write a scene that could be filmed without dialogue, which I did not entirely realize to begin with—silly me, I know. Anyway, he said that he felt the scene had a European feel to it and that though dialogue would be helpful to this scene, he could see how with gestures, it could be filmed without dialogue.

I received a good amount of constructive feedback especially with regard to character development and needing more action. It’s a fun process. I seem to be able to create a sense of place from the feedback I received, now I have to work on the people that fill the space.

Here is my scene:


It’s raining hard. Mother is driving daughter to kindergarten. Daughter doesn’t want to go to school today and she tells her mom she’s not feeling well. They wait at the stop sign before they can turn right. There are houses on the streets, the elementary school is on the corner of the block.

Daughter is overly dressed in a pink and blue snow suit as if she’s ready to go to the snow. She sits in the front seat. Mother turns the car slowly from the stop sign to the street. The fog and rain make it difficult to see.

Driving slowly, the front of the school is to the right. There is a park to the left across the street. Daughter sees many school children getting out of cars, crossing in a frenzy, trying to get out of the rain. The sound of the windshield wipers seems to grow louder.

Mother looks briefly to daughter to see if she’s sure she doesn’t want to go to school today. Daughter is fixated on something. Mother continues driving at a slow pace. It is a sea of children darting in between cars. They both hear a thump and they see hands go up.

They sit there, it seems, motionless, only the sound of the windshield wipers, rain, and people crowding around the car. Time seems to have stopped. For a moment there is a deep hush.

Friday, September 17, 2010

A Theme Revisited ~ Water Trickles

I remember sitting in my childhood home in the hallway within the doorframe of my room, sitting on scuffed up wooden floors, back against one side of the frame, feet propped against the other. There I sat, trying to read a book with only words. It was a Flintstones book. I must have been 8 or 9. I kept reading the same paragraph over and over again; nothing was sinking in, and I was becoming frustrated. What was wrong with me? By now I should be able to read and retain, to see images from these words. I took that book, closed it tight, stood up, screamed out, and threw that book hard against the wall and watched it fall.

I cannot recall the books, if any, I read shortly after that. I do have this sense that I took a long break from trying to read on my own. I remember that after my mother passed way, I found myself looking through a book that belonged to my older brother. It was a big book of Plato’s dialogues. I remember turning the onion skin pages to see what was there. I don’t know that I made it very far, but somehow, two of Socrates’ thoughts made an impression on me that at the time I didn’t realize. His quote that “All I know is that I know nothing” spoke to me and it has stayed with me ever since. The other thought that stuck with me, but that I did not realize until I set out here is his wisdom to “Question everything.” But you see, because memory plays tricks, I don’t know if I skimmed the book or what happened, but I do recall from that brief exposure with that book, and its onion skin pages, something happened inside of me that I wouldn’t realize until life continued happening. The other book I started to browse through was a psychology book. A young girl of twelve or thirteen, right at that tender threshold. I was in search of answers—in search of truth—those elements that were absent in my childhood. So much hidden. Little did I know then, that these few peeks into these books would stick with me somehow, would be my saviors down the road, as I bumped into different guides along the way.

In looking back and trying to give form to the experience as it unfolded, all I can remember—or rather a feeling that I have—is of some boot pressed firmly upon my back, upon my very soul, but something in me always said, “No!” It’s not easy to pinpoint when exactly my well opened and started to flow, but when it gradually did, it came gushing out and I grabbed and reached for every bit of knowledge that I could, but I always kept that quote in the front of my mind to remind me not to get carried away by my by own delusions, by this thing called knowledge. That it’s all there, always has been, waiting for each individual to come upon and to try on, to spit out and make their own and then throw it out, not become owned or defined by it. I always had this rebellious side that I learned to reel in—that became humbled with time and there is still much that time has in store for me— and what a sight—to behold oneself as a beautiful creature that must flourish, must thrive—to embrace oneself; and at the same time, memory: The reminder that a firm hand must be planted upon the tigress’s head, to keep life in perspective, to not be whisked away, washed down that well, forever lost.

I sought to understand. I listened to people, I observed people. I tried to understand my own mother, people in general, myself, humanity, from the small view from my little world. It was a start. My world was becoming large through my imagination. Large because it’s not just my world, it is a world made up of everyone and everything, all the paths and conversations, twists and turns, and of the books that spoke to me later in life and that heed me on.

I have grown into my skin and it has been a long process, one that seems slow and yet it seems to whiz right by, one that continues every moment. This transformation has hinged on reading and writing. I have become a layer within the layers of time and I have grown the confidence in myself and appreciate the act of reading and writing in a way that I can only show by being immersed in it every moment I can. When something does not come easy, the gifts take on a different type of meaning. For me, I have a high school report card full of F’s and D’s and an early college transcript of F’s and W’s—more reminders. What was it in me that kept getting up and getting up? A combination of experiences and inner fire, I’m sure. I always come back to this because it is such an awful feeling to not be able to write complete sentences and to not even be able to build one’s thoughts into a coherent whole. This is especially difficult for a person that has much they need to spill out to only a trusted page. To know that once I could not and then with time, I could—that I could both read and write—is humbling and also a most proud feeling—and at the same time to have found one’s voice inside the great deep silence.

And with this transformation, I realize it is time to give back and through the career and life planning course, my passions have only been affirmed. Along with a few other synchronistic nudges, I’ve realized, too, that I don’t need to get paid to do what I love because I love it. I’ve always known there is a teacher inside of me, but I didn’t have the courage to follow through, didn’t have direction, had other emotional hurdles to heal, and I also didn’t know the right environment. I have decided to revisit a volunteer opportunity that I’ve crossed roads with before, but was too scared and not ready to commit, so I didn’t. But now, I feel more ready than ever. I have submitted my application to become a volunteer tutor to assist adults achieve their literacy goals in both reading and writing. I will wait to see. It’s another beginning in the world of passages and watering wells.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Essential Oil Spotlight: Lavandula

Close your eyes and immerse all of your senses in a field of rows upon rows of lavender. Feel the texture as each floret caresses your skin and the breeze rises up with the calming aroma of sweet woodsy floral notes. Relax your muscles, breathe in deeply, and allow your out breath to flow effortlessly, as you feel yourself becoming more relaxed with each breath.

Lavender has long been know to have many healing properties. It dates back thousands of years to the Egyptians, Romans, and Greeks. Lavender is one of the most popular of the essential oils due to its versatility and safety of use. One of the few essential oils that can be applied directly to the skin, lavender is soothing, calming, and relaxing.

Lavender’s complex chemical structure makes it a versatile plant. “Perhaps the most important property of Lavender oil is its ability to restore unbalanced states – whether of mind or body – to that state of balance in which healing can take place,” writes Patricia Davis, author of Aromatherapy: A-Z.

It is the French chemist René-Maurice Gattefossé that we can thank for realizing the healing properties of lavender and other essential oils. “After burning his hand in a laboratory accident, he plunged his arm into some lavender essential oil. The miraculous effectiveness of lavender in healing his burn led him to further research essential oils, and to use the term aromathérapie for the first time in a scientific paper in 1928, ” writes Gill Farrer-Halls author of The Aromatherapy Bible.

Aromatherapy is the
application of essential oils
for therapeutic purposes


Although lavender is one of the safest of the essential oils, and it is one of the few essential oils that can be applied directly to the skin, it is best for pregnant or nursing women to avoid it altogether. There are no other known cautions.

Before using lavender oil, you may want to make sure you like the scent. For some, essential oil of lavender may be overwhelming.

Having trouble falling asleep? Try placing a few drops of lavender oil on your pillow. Or place a few drops on a small washcloth and keep that under or near your pillow.

If you have a headache or feel one coming on, try rubbing a couple of drops on your temples, or apply a cold compress of lavender to your forehead or back of your neck.

To relieve the tensions of the day, try rubbing a couple of drops on your temples, lie down in a comfortable position, and breath in the aroma.

Prefer a bath? Try adding a few drops of lavender oil to your bath water as a soothing alternative to relieve tension and induce relaxation.

If it’s in your budget, try a massage for total relaxation. The use of lavender oil in massage therapy is common and very beneficial for sore muscles and creating deep states of relaxation. “One of the most important uses of lavender is for the relief of muscular pain, whatever the cause,” Davis writes.

There are many ways to purchase essential oils: Whole Foods Market, health food stores, online. It is best if the essential oils is “pure” and not synthetic. Essential oil has a light consistency and is not oily. Essential oil feels light when rubbed on the skin. Oils are best kept in a dark, cool spot. Some lavender oils smell slightly different than others, depending on the type.

Purchase essential oils from a retailer that is knowledgeable about essential oils, so that they can answer your questions. You may have a small soap and bath shop in your area that sells essential oils and other lavender products.

Whether you enjoy the sweet smell of lavender or its calming properties, this complex flower offers itself as a natural remedy for relaxation and self-healing.


From Essential Aromatherapy: A Pocket Guide to Essential Oils & Aromatherapy:

The name is derived from the Roman word lavera, ‘to wash’ as the Romans used the flowers in their baths.


Most valuable uses:
-Insect bites


Interesting note from The Art of Aromatherapy: A Guide to Using Essential Oils for Health and Relaxation:

During Elizabethan times the aromatic oil of lavender was rubbed into oak furniture to give a high gloss. Apart from the enjoyable scent, lavender provided a powerful weapon against moths, fleas, silverfish, and flies. Commercial perfume houses still use essential oil of lavender as the basic ingredient of many fragrances.


I originally wrote this a few years ago as part of a feature writing class in the journalism department. When I was done with this, my final draft, the instructor said I might try to sell it to a local magazine (minus the first paragraph) that often does this type of feature. I never did try. I’m sure every year, an article comes out on lavender. Now after a few years, I decided to type it up, since somehow this one got deleted, but I saved a hard copy. I’ve wanted to post it for a while now—to share.

Hope you have a relaxing Sunday!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Scenery Change

In the mood for a scenery change, I took myself for a short trip today.

When I boarded the train for Rockridge, I was overwhelmed with the chatter, as I made my way to a vacant seat in a crowded train. There were many groups of people having conversations and from my perspective, coming from my quiet solitude, I felt as though I had ended into a large human head with too much activity and stimulus in every single room for me to process. I reached for my book, and though, I couldn’t hear any specific conversations, just illegible words and sound, I could hardly concentrate on my book, so it took me an extra long time to read each page.

At my stop, I exited the train and began walking West. I walked and walked until I found a coffee shop that wasn’t too crowded, where I could enjoy a latte and my book. I passed two bookstores and made note that I would stop in on the way back. I hadn’t visited these bookstores in ages.

I took my latte outside and found a shaded area to sit. I first took out my notebook and starting writing about my memories of being in this area and then I took my book out and started reading. It was Robert McKee’s book for my scriptwriting class: Story. And so, I read a bit, highlighted some points, digested. After a short while, I heard someone say,

“Excuse me.” I looked up from my book and a man about my age with a baby stroller said,

“I was wondering…are you enjoying that book?”

“Yes, I am,” I replied.

“I just recently took his seminar and also finished the book.”

“How did you like the book?”

“It was life changing.”

I was so taken aback, too much still in my head, in the book, that I was practically speechless when left to my own conversational ways. I expressed interest and I think the only words that came out besides were, “Wow.” He then apologized for taking me away from my reading—at least I wasn’t writing. I just looked at him, somewhat awestruck, but smiled and said, “That’s OK.” He asked if I was taking it as part of a creative writing class or what, and I told him that I was taking a beginning script writing course at the community college.

“Do you have a finished script,” he asked.

“No. I will be working on the beginning of a script for the final project, but the class is still in the beginnings.”

“I’ve read like five books on the subject and this was by far the best,” he said. He seemed so passionate, on fire, as he held one hand on the stroller, as if to steady himself.

I smiled and may have said, “That’s good to know.”

As I started coming out of my head, out of my space, I wanted to rack his brain. I wanted to ask how the seminar was, what did he think, did he have a script, etc., etc., but I was partially frozen, yet when he asked me questions, I wasn’t frozen at all. After his last comment, he told me to enjoy and strolled his baby along. Do you know that I didn’t even look once at the baby. Something I wouldn’t normally do. I was so fixated on this gentleman, yet I could not talk, beyond what questions he asked me. I reverted to a slightly shy version of myself. And I pondered the scenario and the many ways it could have played out or not played out. Some people are natural conversationalists. Give me paper and pen and I have time to think, but put me right there on the spot and something happens. This is something I continue to work on, quite possibly a life lesson, with a long road ahead.

I only hope that given the opportunity to ask questions next time, that I remember, I have to go beyond the words on the page, I have to bring those words and questions out into the open air. Next time, I hope not to freeze, but perhaps I was taken aback by the whole moment. Apparently he had seen the book from beyond the glass window. The seminar and book must have made quite an impression on him, and I’m sure that as I make my way through the book, I will feel that same change.

When I left the café, I stopped into one of the bookstores and left with two books. It’s hard to resist books on writing that have an appeal about how they are organized, so the first book is Architecture of the Novel: A Writer’s Handbook by Jane Vandenburgh. I also cannot resist books on creativity and I had not read this one when it first came out. This is the 25th anniversary edition of The Gift: Creativity and the Artist in the Modern World by Lewis Hyde. I have tried to curtail my book buying, but since I was on a scenery change outing, it seemed appropriate to come back with two new books.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Process ~ Introverted Saturday, Coffee, Books

Yesterday was a wonderfully introverted day. I woke and wrote my “morning pages,” made a cup of coffee and settled into reading blogs, and then I knew it would be a pure reading day. A day off from school work, which I too am enjoying, but it was nice to take a break.

I visited with a friend the previous day and we’re both reading Haruki Murakami’s The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. He had mentioned a week prior that he started to read it and was really enjoying it. I told him that I had read a few of Murakami’s short story’s and had wanted to read one of his novels, but hadn’t gotten around to it. Talking about it with him, I got exited, and I wasn’t already committed to any one book, so I checked it out from the library. When we met yesterday for coffee, I was only 67 pages into it and he was already at page 200, so I was able to give my impressions so far and we talked only up to the point I had read. It’s an interesting story, with many strange coincidences. I wish that I knew how it read in the original Japanese because I’m imagining that there are some additional nuances that probably don’t translate over. It’s just a hunch. Nevertheless, I am enjoying the ride—and it does feel very much like an adventure with many messages embedded within the connecting story’s.

I made more progress yesterday on The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, but I found that I needed a break from the story. I decided to revisit a book called, Books that Changed the World. Because of a conversation I had, I decided to read the chapter on Freud’s Interpretation of Dreams. And then I pulled out the slender, A Primer of Freudian Psychology. I was specifically interested in re-reading about the Ego and how it works together with the Id and the Superego. I feel that the term Ego is often taken out of its original context and is often used to point out the negative aspect of our personalities. It’s true that if the Id, Ego, and Superego are not working in harmony, things can grow out of control, but on the whole I feel the concept of Ego is misused. That’s just my opinion and I’ve thought of exploring this separately with examples.

I suppose my mind was taking advantage of having a day of choices. I peeked into a couple other books: Ten Theories of Human Nature. I immediately went to the section on Plato and randomly read a few paragraphs on his theory of forms, which I have always found fascinating. I enjoy the process of taking small bits and digesting them, inviting them into my consciousness to see how they will meet with other writings I enjoy, or even with how I go about my days. Some things I can only take in small doses. Next I took a look at The Inner West: An Introduction to the Hidden Wisdom of the West. I jumped to certain parts and began reading. I jumped around, got lured into a few, but never stayed too long in any one part.

Was it the combination of this conversation over coffee and reading The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, that had me begin pulling these different books out? The last one I pulled and decided to read where I left off months ago, was a novel by Jostein Gaarder called The Solitaire Mystery. It seemed in my mind to go along with the good strangeness of Murakami’s novel. I learned that there is a Japanese word for this called “Myo.” I first learned about this word in Lydia Minatoya’s novel, The Strangeness of Beauty. There is a passage in her novel where she describes this word, “myo”, as “The art of creating ‘strange beauty.’” I began this one in July, but I have the bookmark in it, ready to come back to it. It is a novel to be absorbed and one that I want to savor.

When my friend and I were talking about literature, I was ashamed to say that I have not read any Steinbeck. He was required reading in high school, but I didn’t enjoy high school, and literature and reading hadn’t yet entered my life in a significant way. It was not something I had any interest in. When I did start reading, it seized me, but I chose to read what I wanted and for some reason I had it in my mind that I would read European writers because I felt they would have a depth to them that matched what I was capable of feeling inside. Even if I could not relate to the specific experiences, I would be able to connect to the feelings of loneliness, isolation, and whatever deep dark feelings these characters experienced. I bypassed many American writers until I began taking more English courses. As the years have gone on, I have picked up books with the intention of hopefully one day actually reading them. I liked having them, so if a flash came, I could go to the shelves and get what I wanted. And so yesterday, I knew I had picked up a Steinbeck book, but I couldn’t remember which one. I went to the shelf and found The Pearl. Because I was on a reading buzz yesterday, I took it to my reading spot, and began reading. It’s a slim book of only 118 pages. I was immediately hooked with the writing, the characters, the story. And a bonus for me was that it took place in the fishing village of Nayarit, Mexico, where my grandmother was born. It softened my heart immediately and made me want to read the story that much more. I didn’t want to finish it in one setting, so I set it aside, knowing that some time today or tomorrow I would finish it. It’s a sad story really. The subject manner is indeed timeless, relevant. If I were an English teacher, this would be a novel I’d like to teach. It may not seem to have a whole lot going on, but I feel that what it does offer is something that we should never lose sight of, and I will leave it at that.

This morning, I continued on with Murakami’s novel and it’s getting more interesting with each chapter. I then went to my shelf again and scanned it. Another shame: I’ve never read any Jack London! So, I pulled The Call of the Wild and Selected Stories and decided I would try to read a little from it today. Since he was born in San Francisco, near enough to the area where I live, I feel that I should become acquainted with him. I don’t like the word should, but in this case it feels appropriate. Not only that, as a person that loves nature and animals, I think I will appreciate his writing very much.

And so, tomorrow, I won’t have as much leisure time when I go back to work and the school week begins again. It sure does make one appreciate spending a day immersed in all sorts of books. I didn’t leave the house all day yesterday. I almost did because I wanted fresh tamales from the market. I resisted though—didn’t want to break my flow. I was able to find things to eat, even though I need to go grocery shopping. That could have posed a real problem.

Today, though, I will venture out and breathe in the fresh air and enjoy the after effects of visiting so many worlds yesterday.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Beginning of Fall

The blog topic of the week at RR was to either write about Summer or the end of Summer. This is where it led me. Inspired by the Squirrel's playfulness yesterday.


What’s that little squirrel? Oh, you’re collecting nuts and berries, getting ready, huh. That’s not a bad idea. Maybe I should gather some books, good Fall books, books of change, contemplation. The end of Summer brings a different flavor that’s for sure. Is there such a thing as a Summer book or Summer reading? Do you think that refers to having more time to read at our leisure or do you suppose it reflects the vibrancy and fun of the Summer sunshine?

I’ll miss the sun too, but sometimes when we have a series of grey days, it calms me. The clouds look different; the light is subdued, mirroring the rustle of the fall leaves as they make their change from light to dark, and then bareness, nakedness. There’s something beautiful about a naked tree, Little Squirrel. It lies there just itself, nothing to hide, as if to say, “don’t be afraid, look at me. I am you. Don’t be frightened.”

We appreciate the sun more when big grey clouds come. Different flowers will bloom. People’s moods will change. Doggies will bundle up in red knitted sweaters. The hills will begin to change too. Of all the seasons, Fall really does show us how to flow with change, doesn’t it Little Squirrel?

Little Squirrel?…

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Beginning Scriptwriting ~ Notes/Reflections II

On the second session of class, the chairs were arranged differently, two rows were angled, so that when I sat at the last row, I faced in and could see all the other desks, the sides of people’s profiles. Once the instructor arrived, he asked us to make a large circle with our desks in order to see everyone. He said this is how all the classes going forward would go, unless perhaps we viewed a movie, then we may have to rearrange. I like this format much better.

It appeared that we lost some people from the first day. They must have decided that this wasn’t the class for them.

From our discussion of character, we moved on to Structure. The instructor tells us that “Structure will take care of itself if the characters are written well.” It seems to be then that the characters really hold a movie together. I must admit that there are a few movies where I got so lost in the characters, I didn’t even care if there was a plot or not. Somehow it worked for me. I suppose too that in certain instances, a movie has a different purpose and the characters go to the background. The one film, and it’s been a long time since I’ve seen it, that comes to mind is Akira Kurosawa’s Dreams. A visual masterpiece.

The instructor bestowed us with words of wisdom from Baudelaire about “being drunk.” It was pure synchrony that I had just read these words a few days before in a little inspirational book I found at the library:

“You need to become drunk. It all depends on this, it is the only key to the problem. In order not to feel the terrible burden of time weighing you down to the point of oppression, you must unremittingly get drunk. But on what? Wine, poetry, or virtue—the choice is yours. Yet drunk you must be…In order not to be slaves or victims of time, you must get completely drunk!”

It was perfect and I feel drunk just being in this class because I get to continue learning and writing and struggling and loving it!

We revisited the five elements related to character:
I. Inciting incident [Call to adventure]
II. Progressive complications [Descent to the underworld]
III. Crisis decision [Character resurfaces]
IV. Obligatory scene (climax) [Back to the surface—a new them]
V. Denouement (French for unraveling) [Gift in a sense that they give the world]

He pointed out how these five elements run parallel to Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey. I’ve put the phrasing the instructor used in brackets.

We learned about beats of action. “Action always means an intention.” He said to think of a beat of action as “bits of action.” I had a difficult time wrapping my mind around a beat of action, but I think it makes more sense since I’ve had time to think about it. Since I’m a week behind in my reflection, I do know from this recent Monday class that we will be talking more about beats of action, as well reviewing them in movies next week. By then it should be more clear in my head.

Back to last week. The instructor gave us our assignment. It was to write a scene in five beats of action that would open a movie. We were to write it with no characters. No people; animals were OK. No letters, no words. No moving cars. We were to create characters without the characters actually being there. I raised my hand and asked if this scene should have movement. Yes, he said. It should begin to lead us somewhere. My naiveté, but I was struggling with it. I didn’t want to revert to the usual scenes that my mind would venture to create, yet what else is there? At least this is how I was internalizing it. He said this would prove to be a challenge when we sat down to write it and he suggested we go sit for an hour or however long it took, but to take our time to think of a situation before writing the scene.

He closed with some reminders on writing. Use the present tense. Active, not passive. Be precise in noun and verb choice. Show, don’t tell. Stay away from adjectives and adverbs. Some of the usuals.

I took his words to heart. I know that in order to break rules, we must first learn or relearn the rules, which he reminded us of. I knew that he wanted tight word pictures for our scenes, so I attempted just that. I knew he didn’t want a lengthy piece.

For the whole week, I mostly held the assignment in my thinking box and knew that I didn’t want to describe someone’s room. I knew that I had to choose something with meaning or it would fall flat. I felt stuck, but knew that inspiration and meaning would join. I did have a strong image of a real place and I jotted down how I saw it with a few words in my notebook. I thought it would be the start of the scene. After much thinking and thinking, on the day of class, before work, I sat at the computer and the scene started coming to me, except it didn’t begin with that one image. My emotions and soul were pouring out because the image I painted was of the French Quarter in New Orleans, but only certain portions that left a deep emotional, visual impression on me. I then added a few elements that were not in my original thinking. I was pleased. I printed it and cut out a line and ended up adding the original image as my final one. I read it aloud and made sure each word belonged and furthered the imagery along. It was done. I could do nothing more. I had my five beats.

When I arrived to class later that afternoon, I must say, I was grateful that I had taken public speaking in the summer because from here on out, we would be reading and speaking aloud. I didn’t feel nervous. My heart didn’t pound. I don’t think I’ve ever read aloud something creative that I wrote, at least not to a classroom. The speech yes, but this was different. It felt good. Each student would read their scene aloud and each one of us and then the instructor would give feedback. We were to listen only and not try to say what we may have tried to convey because it was all in the listening. We would then know if our audience was receiving our scene as we intended. If not, what would we have to change? For one woman in particular, she wanted to keep explaining her piece. It was a challenge for her to just listen. She finally did allow herself to hear the feedback and take it in and make literal or mental notes. When it was my turn to give feedback, the instructor had to keep telling me to speak up, so I still have to work on that.

I started doubting myself because what everyone else wrote was much longer than what I wrote, and their scenes were all so good. Some folks were very detailed, but I knew a couple of student’s pieces in particular, although quite good, were bordering on beginnings of novels. It was too much for scriptwriting. Once scene had empty tables with plates to create the character without them being there. Ah, so that’s one way of doing it. There were cats, birds, butterflies, mountains, beetles. Lot’s of interesting details. Bedrooms, photo darkrooms, mines. Each person brought a little bit of their worlds to the stage.

It was great hearing each and every scene and how people created these scenes that came to life with visual images. And hearing all the feedback was just as enjoyable. Finally it was my turn. I edged up in my seat because I can talk louder this way. But of course, no sooner do I start than I’m asked to, “Speak up, please. Just go ahead and pull a Dizzy Gillespie.” I chuckle lightly and begin again and this time my voice did come out loud and clear, maybe like one of those horns. I held my page in my left hand and had my right hand’s fingers curled under the desk. I made sure to try and not read the scene too quickly. I had broken it down in its five beats of action. I finished, put my page down and brought my eyes up slowly to await who would begin the commenting. I honestly wasn’t sure how it went. I didn’t know if they would see the images I had painted with my words. But as I heard the feedback, I felt an emotional stirring inside of me. They saw it and it reached them, just as it had moved me inside. It meant everything to hear that they thought the images were beautiful—that I was able to convey this scene that I felt with my soul and meant something to me. After everyone had chimed in, the instructor then took off his glasses and said that he doesn’t usually care for the literary, but that it worked here. He said he appreciated the economy of the words. However, he said it did seem to be more than one scene and that it moved too fast. Otherwise, he also was able to visualize the scene and its movement. If anything it was a great first reading. I most definitely felt drunk with joy after class and treated myself to a pot roast dinner and a beer at a local restaurant and wrote all about it in my notebook and just felt so good inside.