Words

writing coverWords are garments
which clothe my thoughts,
like fabric woven from threads.
They can be worn loosely, letting my spirit breathe,
or, bound so tightly, the thoughts are never free.
A few thoughts, essentially unspeakable,
I must wrap warmly in dark, heavy wool,
dressing them carefully for discretion’s sake-
But the majority can be draped in transparent lace,
and exposed to the world.
Anita Stubbs

LOCKS

old women on porchShe sat, reflected.
Locks of silver trembled in fingers reluctant,
Hesitant.
The brush stroked indulgently,
Sensually, unrestrained,
One hundred times.

She sat, reflected.
Strands of silver shimmered in attraction,
In friction.
Crowning highlights bristled in ritual.
Hair, alive and crackling, flew,
Unrestricted.

She arose, retreated,
Locks of silver tightly braided, pinned down,
Properly.
Hair, alive and crackling,
Decently subdued,
And bound.
Anita Stubbs

 

 

Women and Children in Need

living in poverty
Photograph by Steve Liss

When my husband was a little boy, according to court documents, his mother, a widow, left him and his sister in the care of “vicious and immoral people, without proper food or sanitation.”  Due to her neglect, the county removed her youngest two children—my husband and his sister—from the residence and she lost all parental rights.  The older daughter, thirteen-years-old and pregnant, was sent to a state school for girls, where her baby was born and placed for adoption.  An older son, age sixteen, joined the army.  My husband and his sister were ultimately separated from each other.  When he was two and a half and she was five, they were adopted by different families.  They never saw their mother again. Continue reading Women and Children in Need

Verisimilitude: Sometimes a Four-Letter Word

creative-writingI know verisimilitude is a long word but it is the perfect word for what it means. Sometimes one word, and none other, will do. I came across the word, verisimilitude, for the very first time in a creative writing class. It had been scribbled in the margin of one of my short stories by the professor. “Good verisimilitude,” she had said. It happened to be a short story set during the Depression, with a lot of dialogue. The characters spoke in good ol’ rural East Texas vernacular.

Now, I know that lingo very well, in all its shades and off-colors. I was taught early on to write what I know, and apparently, the teaching stuck, for the particular jargon common to this area surfaces often in my writing. The East Texas culture seems to dominate the gene pool from which most of my bucolic (I have always wanted to use that word!) characters evolve. I know that a fictitious person, of any particular ethnicity, using uncharacteristic words, speech patterns, or body language, would finish me off before I even get started, discrediting me completely as a writer of true-to-life fiction.

I have to admit, the nature of the language and the acts of some of my characters, which is most definitely the case in my novel, The Velvet Bridge, often conflict with my own inhibitions. However, verisimilitude in my work must prevail. Any reflection of real life must portray events as vividly and believably as if the reader was actually witnessing them. Whether or not the reader approves of the reality being witnessed, or of the language being spoken, is a moot point. However, I have been subjected to some criticism, for the use of a few “bad” words, which sometimes a character insists upon using. I suspect this is a common problem among writers, one with which we must come to terms in our own way.

It has been said you cannot make a silk purse from a sow’s ear, and that is so true. Some things just cannot be prettied up and some characters absolutely refuse to speak and behave politely! The character says what she says, and he does what he does, pure and simple. As a character-driven writer, dedicated to verisimilitude by creating honest and mature fiction—work that is believable and true to itself—I will never censor my characters in order to appease my own hang-ups, or the folks back home.

Roots, Trees, Facts, and Fiction

cropped-untold-story.jpgAlex Haley’s book, Roots, first sparked my interest in the study of family history. It fostered an acute awareness in me of the strength, the pure willpower of each of our fore-bearers, to survive. The legacy we all share, regardless of our biological beginnings, is that we are all descendants of survivors—generation after generation of survivors. That book gave me a better understanding of the miracle that each one—in his or her own place and time—survived at least long enough to produce what would become us! You know, that is an astounding thing when you think about it. Continue reading Roots, Trees, Facts, and Fiction

The Spirit of Poetry

bluebird sings
E. M. Forster, the English novelist, short story writer, and essayist whose work was one of my earliest inspirations, remains one of my favorite English authors. Forster’s creed of life can be summed up in two words, “only connect”, taken from the epigraph to his novel, Howard’s End.

The first of Edward Morris Forster’s work I read was his essay, What I Believe, and his words had a very personal affect on me.  It seemed as though I had met a new friend with whom I shared a “secret understanding” and felt reassured about my own beliefs. Continue reading The Spirit of Poetry

Reflections of Real Life in Fiction

write bravelyMy greatest challenge in writing the Velvet Bridge was to tell the tale in such a way to expose the flaws in my protagonist, Mattie Featherstone, and not leave the reader disliking her. Even though the behavior and life decisions Mattie makes in the beginning are below the standard of acceptable behavior and decency, particularly for a mother, my job is to make sure the reader loves her anyway. Continue reading Reflections of Real Life in Fiction

Decade After Decade!

30c5c72a251726b022eda8ba28a0a6dd
Art by Fred Swan

What a difference almost a decade makes!  Going through my files, I found the following written, as you can see, in 2008.  I was asking then what I had to show for my sixty-five years of life.  And here I am approaching my 75th year way faster than I ever thought I would! Still, I am wondering, what do I have to show for my life!   Well, reading through this, I am even more grateful now than I was then!  I’ll save the why of that til the end.

Here we are in the year 2008, the year I turn sixty-five. I have already received my Medicare card. It seems impossible that my life has come to this point so quickly. Where did all the years go, and what have I to show for them? That is the question on my mind, and a worthy one for pondering.

Continue reading Decade After Decade!

A Narrow Window

owens familyWhat a narrow window she looked through
during her allotted time for life.
She couldn’t see over the red clay hill
cut deep by rutted tracks.
Years spent in front of that window,
left the imprint of her knees
embedded within the whorls of oak,
a martyr’s testimony.
That window bears the indentions
her gripping fingers made,
pressed into the wooden frame
in anxious expectancy.
She was in a holding pen unaware,
for hers was a common fate.
She knew nothing of optional plans,
or alternate routes of escape.
Anita Stubbs