Prose and poetry that delve deeper

Eyes closed
mind focussed on a fragrance
sparked by the image
of lilacs

Wildwood Lilacs


Sandy’s words
a “fragrance of simplicity”
explode a kaleidoscope
of memories

Lush blooms
spilling from a milk glass jug
set on grandma’s table
glowing purple

Dappled light
filtering through heart-shaped leaves
onto a lavender-strewn lawn at
season’s end

French white
solemn in crystal beside a coffin
pristine and gentle beauty
without cheer


(Lilac Memories – Carol J. Garvin)


We’ve reached the end of another month, this one concluding the study of Dave Harrity’s book, Making Manifest: On Faith, Creativity, and the Kingdom at Hand. Its meditations and writing exercises were meant to be daily devotional explorations, but I didn’t follow the rules. Reading snippets sandwiched into still moments, I didn’t take the journey as planned. Still, this month and its continuing focus on poemia — that’s Greek for poetry, meaning where anything is made — has reinforced my desire to plumb emotional and spiritual depths even as I write my secular prose.

We can’t expect readers to experience the lives of our characters if we don’t experience real emotions while we’re writing their stories. Scenes that flop effortlessly onto the page are sometimes not as inspired as we might like to believe, but are the result of superficial writing. I’ve been guilty of this, occasionally letting the words spill out without feeling any attachment to them.

Sandra Heska King refers to this month of digging deeper as “learning to see a little more clearly, to listen a little more deeply.”  She speaks of faith and matters of the soul, and “a holy awakening,” but truthfully, doesn’t it take a combination of heart, mind and soul to find and follow any writing path that God has mapped out for us?

The book study may be over, but now it’s time to continue the searching, to dig below the surface, to grasp that which is meaningful, and make sure it’s significant and honest before planting it on the page. Are you with me?


Now that May is over I’ve decided to take a week off from blogging. There might be the occasional random post next week, or there might not be, but I’ll be back on the regular schedule by Monday, June 9th to begin my seventh year of sharing mental meanderings with you here. (Can it be that long ago that I ventured out onto the blogging stage? Wow!)

~  ~  ~


National Poetry Month, a Novel, and Now

Throughout the month of March many of us took part in a literary version of March Madness, daily working our way toward an assortment of writing-related goals. Now April has arrived, bringing with it National Poetry Month, and a new daily challenge — reading a poem a day.

Sunny Tree

The challenge was dished out to me by Sandra Heska King and her allies at Who can deny having time to read just one poem each day? I already read a portion of scripture and the poetry of the Psalms. How hard could it be to fit in a few more verses? Of course, one could jump in with more of a commitment and write a poem a day, but that would stretch my poetry moments into poetry hours, and end up overshadowing the other writing I want to do. I know my limits.

Each day I spend a chunk of time working on the new novel I began last month, but my tortoise-like progress reminds me of how easy it is to let other activities obscure that priority. I have writer friends who hold down full-time jobs, homeschool their children, and still cope with the deadlines of multiple book contracts. I’m always in awe of Ruth Logan Herne who daycares a houseful of children, prepares material for and monitors two daily group blogs (in addition to her own website), has chickens, and dogs, and goodness knows what else, but is consistently up and writing by 5:00 a.m. every morning, getting her couple hours in before the rest of her household awakens and her ‘other’ workday begins. My days are mostly empty, but I get much less done. It’s all about priorities, having goals, and not letting them become lost behind other attention-grabbing pursuits. Oh, and knowing how to juggle a bit doesn’t hurt.

I watched a video yesterday and one statement in it really hit me: “It is always now.” Yesterday is an unchangeable memory. We may wait for tomorrow, hoping for our situation to get better, easier, or improve in some other way, but each moment we live is our NOW. We will never get this moment back to do over. What we want to accomplish tomorrow will only happen if we work towards it today… beginning right now.

Do you have any desires or goals that are being eclipsed by other things? What are you doing to try and achieve them?

~  ~  ~

Some gifts are like showers of blessings


Rain pours and puddles, splashing the grime of the deck onto our dove grey siding. Overfull eavestroughs spill waterfalls into the garden beds, and trees dribble on my head while I hurry to and from the car. As much as I don’t usually mind rain, I’m tired of weeks filled with dull, sodden days. Even my writing has suffered; spiritless, uninteresting words that I first type and then delete.

Into the gloom comes a shaft of warmth, a figurative ray of sunshine that instantly changes the oppression to a blessing. A poem inspired by a recent Facebook exchange I had with Sandra Heska King about, of all things, periwinkles. Sandra’s poem and photos make me smile, until I reach the end and see the words, “Dedicated to Carol Garvin.” Then I cry. What a beautiful gift!

There was a similar gift a couple weeks ago, when Joylene Butler sent the Inspirational Blogger Award my way. I don’t think of myself or my blog as being particularly  ‘inspirational’ so it was an unexpected and uplifting surprise.

Such gifts come from the generous and loving hearts of friends, but I believe the prompting for them comes from God. It’s his omniscience that uncovers my need and fills it with a spillover of lovingkindness from another’s abundance.  Neither Sandra nor Joylene could have known how much I needed the encouragement at that particular moment, but God did.

As I stand at the window and smile at the rivulets of rain, I am reminded of the old hymn, “Showers of Blessing.” Remember it?

May you be blessed to be a blessing today.


For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised. [I Chronicles 16:25]
I will be glad and rejoice in thee: I will sing praise to thy name, O thou most High. [Psalm 9:2]


A New Notebook for Words


A brand new notebook! I’m giddy with excitement. Am I the only one who enters a store and heads straight for the stationery department? The only one to dally and daydream over choices before moving on to pick up other more mundane items on the shopping list?

I have a stack of empty notebooks that almost equals the height of my To Be Read pile of books. I love all writerly tools of the trade but I have a weakness for special notebooks, particularly journals with covers in colours and textures that inspire creative words.

Maybe only another writer can appreciate the delicious anticipation of opening the cover of a brand new book, and, with pen poised, choosing the perfect word to initiate the promising blankness. Unlike beginning a new manuscript, where the pressure to produce the right start to an entire story can push us into a panic attack, it’s a gateway into the adventure of free expression.

Now, as I run fingertips over the leafy texture and consider what that perfect first word should be, I remember this poem by Sandra Heska King (thank you for permission to reprint, Sandra):


What’s in a Word?*



mined from



planted on



dispersed with




jewel with



pregnant with


filled with


and rich


a million



Do writing tools make your senses tingle with anticipation for the word? Or are they simply a necessity required by the task? Not counting your computer, what’s your favourite writing tool?

(* Copyright March 2011, Sandra Heska King)


Looking and Seeing

Seeing is a relative thing. A blind person may see things better than a sighted one simply because eyes can’t be depended upon to provide a mental image. Instead the object or view must be experienced to be fully observed.

That’s one reason why I sometimes write with my eyes closed – so I can put myself into the midst of my words and “see” the person or the scene more clearly in my mind.

I was reminded of this yesterday as I read Sandra Heska King’s post entitled “Deep See Diving” in which she said, “Lately, I’ve been prone to wander off the path to see. To see deep. To deep see dive. Seeking. Wondering at the mysterious and the marvelous. Finding joy in the sacred.”

Like all artists, writers must see deeply to produce their best work, but it doesn’t end there. I believe Christian authors have an even greater need to search beyond the surface.  That’s where God builds the foundation of our life story, one brick, one thought, one prayer at a time.

It’s too easy to live each day immersed in trivialities, oblivious to the significant. Instead, we must search beyond the obvious to discover the real story waiting to be written, both on the page and in our lives.