Listening to Write

Thursday afternoon, I emailed a dear friend, and in the message, I wailed a bit about the tree in my front yard. It is a sweet gum tree, and it holds on to its leaves FOREVER. Everyone else’s yard is clean and raked, and my tree is lazily drifting old, dry, brown leaves down to stain the pristine snow.

So Thursday, a dry thaw day, I went out and raked up two bags of leaves and sticks and sweet gum pods, and then I complained about my lot in my email to Terri.

She responded back, as is her wont, with a thought-filled, thought-provoking message. One of the things she said is this: Oh, I love sweet gum pods! I collect them, in the fall, and put them in glass containers. I tie rustic ribbons around the necks, and my friends all beg me to give them one.

She also sent me a link to an interesting article about reading and listening (

Those two parts of her message coalesced in my monkey brain. Here’s the story I’ve been telling, I thought: I am a poor, hardworking, persecuted woman who has all this mucky stuff to clean up in my yard.

 Here’s the story through Terri’s eyes: You lucky son-of-a-gun! You’ve got a yardful of wonderful, natural art components.

 I liked listening to Terri’s story better.

I need to listen more, I thought.

I have set myself the challenge of posting on my blog every Saturday. Sometimes there is a pressing issue to write about; sometimes a story unfolds in my life, and I just have to set it down. Sometimes I scrabble for things to say; my monkey brain natters full charge, and I am lost and dazed and have nothing to write. No matter how hard I try to put words together, summon up rich and profound things to say, my thoughts just burble on and on, senseless and unfocused.

Nyahhh nyahhh, taunts my friendly inner critic. Who are you to think you have a single thing to say?

That’s the one voice I shouldn’t listen to. I need to shut down that chatter and listen to other, better things.

Sometimes a walk will do it. I leash up Greta, the little dog, and set out. Greta has her own way of listening to the world, a way that involves more than just her ears. She snuffles; she leaps. She stops and cocks her head. She paws at leaves and snow, seeking something buried.

Walking with Greta makes me listen, too. I watch her exploring her world, getting messages left in ways I can’t even fathom, and I begin to hear the stories of deer charging through night yards, and bunnies scampering away from hungry, feral kitty cats. I notice the litter left by someone intent on a beer can party. I see new growth, and I crunch the crackly ice of a puddle. I hear the hackle-raising, ululating cawing chorus of late afternoon crows. As we wander the parking lot of the elder care home at the end of the street, I see grim-faced visitors leaving, and I see happy reunions.

Walking with Greta slows me down, and I listen to the world in my neighborhood—to the hard struggles of winter-time wild animals, to the drama of aging people. I hear the silence of dormancy, and I hear the promise that sap will run and spring will come again.

I can listen when I am embarked on my ordinary days, too—when I am in the grocery store and the young man says to a little guy riding in his cart, “How many pies are on the table?” And the he stops as the toddler points and counts, grinning and slow: “One…two…three…” The young man, it seems, has all the time in the world, and when his baby has finished counting, he takes a pie from the display and puts it in the cart.

“How many left when I take away one pie?” he asks.

One…two…three,” the baby delightedly begins again, and I push past them, their unhurried shopping a classroom in life and love of learning. In another aisle, a woman parks her cart cattywampus and barks into a cellphone. “You will NOT!” she says. “I’ve told you twenty F-ing times you are not going to that F-ing party.”

Another kind of parenting taking place, a harder, more bitter kind. Was there a time when she and the disembodied voice curling out of her Galaxy counted pies in the supermarket? What happened between those years and now?

Or were rancor and discord twined in their talk from the beginning?

Two elderly women bump their carts together, nose to nose, and give each other a run-down of Christmas visits from kids and grands. Their voices rise and arc over each other. They are excited to have someone to tell; they are competing for best holiday, and rushing to be heard.

Listening when I’m out and about teaches me about people, a mirror which lets me learn about myself.

Sometimes the Muse hands me an imperative. Here, she says, write about this. And sometimes, she is stubbornly silent. It’s all you, she’s saying. Leave me be for a while.

Stumped and frustrated, I pound my head and batter the keys and I leave a trail of lifeless words. Until I remember: listen. And when I begin to write what I’ve been listening to, the words perk up and begin to dance.





Hello Everyone!

I have been busy because of some competitive exams for some months. I have not been able to read a lot of posts or write blogs during this time.

Yesterday, I could finally write an article I had been planning for months. It’s about children, TV shows and parents. Here’s the link.

Thank you!

Good morning from Ohio! Weird calendar this year–Easter on April Fool’s Day, Ash Wednesday on Valentine’s day—got me thinking about the value of sacrifice and the weight of rules learned, early on. Hence this week’s post.

I hope your weekend is great!

Happy blogging, friends…


Funny how things happen–this week I was SO glad to be on social media…and SO angry, too, at how some unscrupulous people use it. I got to thinking about the ups and downs and ins and outs of communication…old school AND new style… Hence this post.

Hope you are well!! Happy blogging, my friends…


Reblog: Only Three More Days To Ask Me Anything

I’ve not seen Cathy here at the forum for a while but guessing she must be super busy with her recent book launch – best wishes Cathy (and all) and hope you don’t mind my sharing mention of Cathy’s event here via this reblog…

[NB: it was a reblog frame, until I edited the post title…doh! so…]
Cathy’s post can be found at this link to her blog:

The event Cathy is participating in runs until Thursday mid-afternoon (guessing that’s a US time zone…?) and the website hosting the event, apparently with a countdown timer displayed, can be found via the link her blogpost (from the link provided above).

I’m wondering, for some future time beyond the event closing … (a) if @cathylynnbrooks might spare a few minutes to tell us something of her experience of running this participatory event… and wondering, what will have been the most unusual or unexpected question you were asked during the event?……
… and in the here and now… (b) what might I think of to ask if I take a virtual hop over to participate whilst there is still time aplenty…

#events #blogging101 #members

Cathy Lynn Brooks

I’m participating in an even that runs until Thursday at 2:00 p.m. It’s called Ask Me Anything! The more questions, the better.

Please go HERE and ask a question. It’s easy. They even give you suggestions to ask.

I’d really appreciate your participation!

Thanks so much!

View original post

#blogging101, #events, #members

Good afternoon, Friends, from cold, white Ohio, where more snow is falling, and the roads are slick and snowy… What do YOU do when weather keeps you inside? I read, of course, but I also cook…comfort food is needed. That’s what my blog post is about this week…

Wherever you are, I hope you’re snug and cozy!

Happy blogging–



“You’re Gonna Love This Book” – A Comment

For @pamkirst2014

And anybody else who’s interested! 🙂

I didn’t come to read this post of yours, Pam, until today but when I wanted to leave the comment below it, I couldn’t for some reason, so I am forced writing a new post. Apologies. 🙂

I’m totally in agreement with the idea that books mean different things to different people or even that they mean different things to the same person at different stages in their life. So much in agreement in fact that I explored this same avenue a few times in posts of my own on the blog – because Waterblogged: Dry Thoughts on Damp Books was always meant to be an untraditional book blog.

This is the post I’m talking about:

I’m pretty sure I explored the idea in some others but I can’t remember what they were called. 🙂 I think I remember this one because it was a very personal post that I didn’t expect anyone to take much notice of at all,  and it generated a lot of comments and some very interesting conversations.

I always thought that I was an oddity among book bloggers in that I never liked traditional book reviews,  or the kind of analyses that our literature teachers required us to write. (I did like it when they gave us essay questions that allowed us to explore a theme, a thought or a character from a book but that is not at all the same thing – as I think you’d agree!) So when I blog about books, I tend to write exactly the sort of posts that you were describing: talking about why the book matters to me and what I think it can offer to people, rather than going into details of the plot or characterisation or analysing the writer’s style. But I did it all instinctively, I never thought it through the way you did, so it was really interesting to read your thoughts on this.

(Oh and Happy New Year, by the way! 🙂 )