The Missing Bits

It’s not fair! I went on a personal writing retreat and while I was gone, all the lovely fall colours that had barely begun to emerge before I left, arrived and departed again.

In late October, for instance, the leaves of our ‘Bloodgood’ Japanese Maple tree were their usual deep burgundy. While my back was turned, they turned… and fell. All that glorious colour is now merely a blood red puddle on the ground. I missed the best part of the show.

While I was pushing to craft my draft novel for NaNoWriMo, I had no thought for what might be happening back in my garden at home.  When I returned, it was a shock to discover a gap between what was, and what now is.

And as I read over parts of my budding manuscript I recognize a familiar truth: there are gaps in my storytelling, too. While I know what happened, my readers are not being given the privilege of seeing those rich details for themselves. They’re still in my head. Mundane bits can be skipped over, but there are some happenings that should be captured in the narrative to add spectacular colour to the story.

I may be back from my offline writing retreat but I still have almost three weeks of NaNoWriMo writing to do. When December arrives I’ll be doing major revisions on the new story that’s currently obsessing me, and I’ll remember the bare trees and all those leaves on the ground. My revisions will include the addition of missing details and description.

(A click will enlarge for a closer look.)

What kind of details do you think readers want to see? What kind would they prefer to skip over?


“If a writer knows enough about what he is writing about,
he may omit things that he knows.

The dignity of movement of an iceberg is due to
only one ninth of it being above water.” 

Ernest Hemingway
~  ~  ~

Taking a Closer Look

I do it all the time. I hurry along, busy with daily trivia, looking at things as I go but not really seeing them. I’m physically there, but not focused on my surroundings. You know how it is when you glance at something and later can’t remember what it looked like?

Fifteen years ago our family holidayed on the Queen Charlotte Islands (Haida Gwaii). While there we celebrated my birthday, and my eight-year-old granddaughter gave me a jar of pebbles collected on a beach below Tow Hill near the northern tip of Graham Island. The jar had also been filled with water because only when they were wet did the rocks display their hidden beauty. For me it was a priceless gift.

That jar of rocks still sits on my china cabinet shelf, and it still has a trace of the original water in it. The rocks glisten with the residue of condensation. I treasure this simple gift because of the giver’s loving heart, but also because those rocks are a constant reminder of the beauty all around me that too often goes unnoticed.

I’m not much of a photographer but am forever snapping photos, often without looking beyond the lens to see the miracle of detail. How often have I captured the picture of a gurgling stream or lakeside vista without stooping to discover the treasures at my feet? How often have I bypassed ordinary rocks without washing off the dust to reveal their true beauty?


While we’re rushing through life we miss living.


Slow Me Down Lord

(Wilferd Arlan Peterson)


Slow me down, Lord!

Ease the pounding of my heart
by the quieting of my mind.

Steady my harried pace
with a vision of the eternal reach of time.

Give me,
amidst the confusions of my day,

The calmness of the everlasting hills.


Break the tensions of my nerves

With the soothing music of the singing streams

That live in my memory.

Help me to know
the magical power of sleep.


Teach me the art
of taking minute vacations,

Of slowing down

To look at a flower;

To chat with an old friend or make a new one;

To pat a stray dog;

To watch a spider build a web;

To smile at a child;

Or to read a few lines from a good book.


Remind me each day
that the race is not always to the swift;

That there is more to life than increasing its speed.


Let me look upward
into the branches of the towering oak

And know that it grew great and strong

Because it grew slowly and well.


Slow me down, Lord,

And inspire me to send my roots deep

Into the soil of life’s enduring values

That I may grow toward the stars
of my greater destiny.