Monday, January 11, 2010

The Swirl and Swing of Words

Last year, my sister sent me a Laini’s Lady ornament called The Writing Muse and I keep it near my computer. On it is a quote from James Michener that has special significance as I reignite the passion for my work. “I love the swirl and swing of words as they tangle with human emotions.”

It was exactly a year ago when Cissy’s story first came to me in a hotel room in Phoenix. That morning as I waited to check out of the hotel after an amazing weekend with an old friend, Cissy’s voice was as clear as if she were in the room with me.

I’ve been afraid that I was losing Cissy’s voice over the last month. I got bogged down in self-doubt. I worried if the story was marketable and the story wasn’t even finished yet!

After some compassionate and insightful feedback from two fellow writers whose judgment I trust, I have delved back into Cissy’s world to add more setting description. Initially, their feedback shut me down a bit. I spoke about these feelings to a dear friend of mine who said something that turned my mood around. She said that when people ask for more details and description, they are not pointing out a deficiency in my writing. They are asking me to give them a gift of the details I already have in my head and have not committed to paper.

Once I let go of the self-doubt -– and did some serious talking to my guides and the universe -– a dam came crashing down and words rushed out almost faster than I could type.

Here are two rewritten paragraphs (from different chapters) infused with what Cissy and I “see”:

Mama said painting a wall white was telling the world you had no imagination so our rooms at home were bright yellows, greens and blues, colors of the Old South, she’d say. The utter lack of color at the hospital made me self-conscious. I suspected that my red hair, whipped wildly into knots from the drive, drew the girls’ stares or maybe it was my hot pink sandals, which I regretted wearing on my first day.

Sometimes when I’m not so interested in what Dr. Guttmann is saying, I think about how many things in his office beg to be touched – the sheet of thick glass that covers his cherry desk, the rough pile of the brown carpet beneath my slippers, the sleek coolness of the black leather couch. Although smell is my favorite sense, touch is close second because the surfaces of things sometimes speak louder than words. A porcupine’s quills say “Back off!” while kitten fur says “Squeeze me carefully.”

I can't wait to continue Cissy's story. She still has much to say.


  1. BRAVO!
    I am so glad to see a new blog entry, and the new paragraphs from Cissy's story are amazing! I'm so sorry that the feedback initially made you feel shut down - but your friend was right. I wanted more! And you are definitely getting there. Great work, Mandy!

  2. Congrats on breaking through the self-doubt, and sharing your terrific writing! Can't wait to read more.

  3. Mandy you are amazing! I can't wait to read more!