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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Pebbles on the Beach


Are you a collector?

When on vacation, I find it impossible to resist bringing back a piece of the place. How better to preserve memories of special times, gatherings, food, music, and scenery than holding it, literally, in one’s hand?

Sometimes a “piece” means a cheap refrigerator magnet in the shape of the Mayflower, but often it means a literal piece picked off the ground. My husband is from Athens, Greece, and visits to his family always include a trip to the beach. The ubiquitous pebble beaches of Greece are a wonderful place to find packable treasures. Marble chunks smoothed by years in the Mediterranean Sea. The whitest pebbles, or the blackest. Pieces of blue and green bottles. Broken terracotta so smooth it seems like an ordinary pebble, but one that might have originated in some ancient past. Each pebble contains the power to bring back visions of my kids dancing in a village square, laughing and stumbling over the fancy Greek footwork.

Collect words
In my writing, too, I am a collector. When I first began, I voraciously sought out “how-to” books. How to structure a story. How to bring believable characters or plots to life. How to build a platform. Then I realized: I was doing a lot more reading about writing than actually writing. Has this happened to you? We “feel” like writers, therefore we are? Nope. Not unless we are writing! Now, I prefer collecting books of words, unique thesaurus-style books filled with words relevant to whatever theme I am exploring barefoot at the moment.

Keep a small notebook
Collect special sayings that touch your heart in a notebook. They might worm their way into a book's theme. A small notebook can be a writer’s best friend, easily on hand to record the joys/pains of life. Annual events like the 4th of July would seem easy to recall, as they happen pretty much the same every year—but on a winter’s day writing about it, are you going to remember the sound of the American stripes flapping in a strong breeze, or its hooks clanging a summer music against the flagpole? Will you remember the sting of lemon in a fresh cut, or the pesky bee buzzing around the pitcher of lemonade?