People without hope not only don’t write novels…they don’t read
them. They don’t take long looks at anything. —Flannery O’Connor, Mystery and Manners
I detest most games, especially board (or is it bored?) games. Even as a child, as the rest of my siblings and cousins eagerly gathered around our Aunt Bubba’s card table to play a riotous game of Monopoly or Gin Rummy, I would skulk away and find something else to do. Usually I’d write a story or draw cartoons.
Maybe it’s that I lack the patience to wait my turn. Or, more likely, its that I just don’t see the point to most games. I won Park Place! Big deal. Whatever the reason, most board games drive me batty.
Sometimes I feel badly about it for my own kiddos. Not surprisingly, “family game night” hasn’t really been a priority for me. So I am a bit thrilled that I actually found a game that seems to make everyone happy.
As a writer I try to be aware of my surroundings and sometimes find myself staring at things for an inordinately long time. My children will often break my trance with a frustrated “Mommmmmyyyyyy!” So, one day I invited them into my interior space and asked them to choose three words to describe the magnolia bloom that had caught my eye.
After a few moments of silent observation they came up with : “Creamy.” “Soft.” “Pure.” How great is that?!
Later that day, I was mesmerized by a patch of moss crawling up into the woods behind our house. But this time, instead of ignoring my children, I said, “OK, three words!” They hopped off their swings and set about studying the patch:”Velvety.” “Carpet-like.” “Greeny-gold.”*
We’ve had fun with tree bark, peonies and lightning bugs among other things. Even my husband has gotten in on the action, though sometimes his descriptive words are a little (as my Great Aunt Irene would say) rich, rare and racy.
I can already see how this little game is helping my writing by challenging me to find ways to be more descriptive. And I wonder if this will help them if they are bitten by the writing bug. But above all, I’m hopeful that it will encourage each of us to stop and take good long looks at the little everyday wonders of this wondrous world.
*Yes, yes, I know that greeny-gold isn’t a real word, but still, it’s pretty descriptive for a 7 year-old.