Some of you who follow my Facebook page know I have been taking a writing class this summer, and some of our work was published in a small booklet, some of it to be chosen for a more professional book at the end of the year. I have been invited to submit work for that book. Anyway, I thought you might be interested in seeing some of the things I wrote for this class.
Following are the three pieces that got published, and from which I will choose for the professional printing later this year.
My Name (this was written in a poetic meter, but I will copy it here as prose)
The name I was given at birth (Carolyn) comes from French and means “lady”. But growing up, I did not feel like a lady, though my mother pretended to gentility. My father’s name was Charles. Carolyn is supposed to come from Charles, but I don’t think so. I remember feeling I didn’t look like my name.
When I left home after school, I shortened my name to Carol. I felt like Carol – a person who was lively, happy, interested in things. Since my birthday is December 4, I also think of myself as a Christmas Carol – musical, a gift.
If there is a smell, it is freshness – pine, holly berries, vanilla and chocolate, and baked goodies. It also smells like salt water and mountain springs. And fresh, cold air.
The name Carol tastes like cold water, new-fallen snow, mud after a freshening rain, newborn leaves in early spring, daisies, geraniums. Never a rose. The rose belongs to Carolyn, which I am not.
My name may be common, more common than Carolyn, but Carol belongs to me – the song I believe I am.
The colour of my name is blue. Carolyn is pink and pastel, which my mom believed. But Carol is blue and silver and purple and red – serenity, purity, royalty, and life. There are shades of bright yellow and green, but the most prominent colours are blue and silver and purple.
I love all colours, but I think I am mostly a winter person, with all the colours and smells and joy of that season.
Wish You Were Here – I am in Death Valley
You would see more colours than you have ever seen in your life. And if you think it is dry where you are, you should walk these salt flats.
The Panamint Mountains have every shade of blue, purple, pink, gray, green. They stand out clearly against a bright blue sky where the clouds don’t hold rain. I have walked these salt fields, with their ridges looking like animal pens and stone walls that stretch across the land, like in Ireland and Scotland and any place where farming is a way of life.
But salt fields are dry – you can’t see the lushness of green farmland, and you feel thirsty.
So, why choose a place that sounds so unappealing? Because I think Death Valley, California, is one of the most beautiful places on earth. The colour contrasts, the starkness, the challenge to survive.
I walked along the hills on the southern edge of Death Valley in an area called Zabriskie Point and watched a man painting a panorama of the valley from far north to far south, and it was a painting I wish I could have bought.
After a day of heat and thirst – imagined or not – I wonder at the colours I saw, the contrasts. I go back to the resort, which somehow they brought forth from desolation, where there is a pool to swim in, green trees to sit under, a bar and a restaurant, and all the cold water you want to drink.
Cold orange juice seems a treat after a day on the Devil’s Gold Course.
There Is A Fantasy World in My Heart
There’s a fantasy world in my heart. It is the place I visit when I read books. It is where I’m still young and can still think abut the places I want to visit or the perfect man who wants me, and where I have enough money to buy fancy clothes and a nice car.
I know this fantasy world is not my real world, but it is a place where I can escape the reality of being poor and old and trapped in the life I have made for myself. The best way for me to visit that fantasy world is through reading – anything and everything I can – because I can become the person in the book.
Actually, that fantasy changes with the book I am reading. I’ve traveled through space, I’ve lived on other planets, I’ve traveled streets in many cities, I’ve been frightened by terrorists, I’ve visited psychological places in my mind, I’ve been in ancient worlds – Greece and medieval Europe – and lived among the American Indians. I’ve traveled rivers with Lewis and Clark and found King Solomon’s gold and swam in the North Sea.
I’ve picked olives in Tuscany and eaten shellfish on the Riviera.
Thinking about this makes me realize it isn’t just books that influence my heart – it’s also TV and movies. I guess what is really in my heart is imagination, which is more real than fantasy.
Hope you enjoy some of these things.
Carol, Austin, TX