Every story has them.
Understudies equipped to step in, extras cheering from the sidelines, others who provide comic relief, or distill information. They stand on call ready to support the main character. Humbly, they recede into the background making room for the protagonist to shine in the spotlight. These hidden characters move the story forward helping to carry it to a successful conclusion. Yet, after the applause or the publication award, we may not even remember their names.
If art, be it written or visual, mirrors real life, I cannot help but consider the everyday, seemingly ordinary people in this story called Life.
I hope this post endures as a testament to all of those hidden characters who are comforting, serving, and giving their all to help others during this COVID-19 Pandemic. Behind the scenes and on the frontlines, they nurse and comfort the sick. Fighting through tears and exhaustion, they carry the healed into the spotlight of wholeness, and then recede into the shadows to continue the fight.
The “extras” keep our streets clean and safe. They brave the roads to ensure that our old and our young can give thanks for the food we are about to receive.
To all of the hidden, invisible and unseen characters, I see you bright and clear.
More importantly, there is one who sits in heaven above who sees and knows all of your works. Your labor of service, dedication and love resonate throughout the land, an anthem, a hymn to life.
God sees you.
I see you.
See you next time on May 22nd.
Smelling something unpleasant? Not really. It’s more an expression of disagreement or disappointment about a particular place or event, which demonstrates how often we use the sense of smell to reveal emotion and understand our world.
We ‘smell a rat’ when we suspect something is wrong.
We ‘sniff out a traitor’ and follow the clues that uncovers an enemy.
We wake up and ‘smell the coffee’ to become more alert and aware.
And perhaps the most famous example would be that of Marcellus, an officer in Shakespeare’s play Hamlet, who states, “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark,” to express that things are unsatisfactory.
Scientists tell us that fear emits its own scent which explains why people who are afraid of bees, cats, or dogs seem to attract them the most.
On the positive side, ‘stopping to smell the roses’ encourages us to take time to appreciate life. The arrival of a pleasant person, or relief from a difficult situation can be like smelling a ‘breath of fresh air.’
And men and women alike know the attractive power of colognes and perfumes. (But that’s the subject for a different type of post.)
So, what does all of this have to do with writing? Much! Like ‘Show Don’t Tell’, using the sense of smell can be a useful tool to create more emotional and dynamic scenes that engage the reader.
In Disney’s animated film, Tarzan, (1999), the gorilla Kala is led by her senses to a treehouse. There she smells danger. Her vision takes in the overturned furniture and destruction that denotes a fight took place. Following her senses, she discovers the baby Tarzan. Her heart goes out to the baby and she adopts him as her own. Sigh. Ain’t love grand?
Not one word of dialogue. But a masterful use of the senses to evoke emotion and create a powerful scene.
If my writing could draw someone in like the welcoming scent of a delicious pie, envelop them in a hypnotic aroma of coffee or tea, and keep them reaching for more, I will be in scentsational writer heaven!
See you next time on April 22nd.
While there is so much concern and controversy over climate change, I am more fearful about the future of our own environment: that of words, writing and speaking.
Nowadays, it seems that one must be a meteorologist; able to gauge and predict social climatic conditions, because you never know who you might offend if your views run contrary to the prevailing winds. A particular topic might heat things up. A storm rages. The dissenting voice is silenced.
It seems we are still living the lyrics to the popular 1968 song by Sly and the Family Stone, Everyday People:
“…There is a blue one who can’t accept the green one
For living with a fat one, trying to be a skinny one…
The news, social media, college campuses, and politics will most likely continue their tug of war. But I hope that the writing community will elevate itself above that fray and be able to provide a safe haven where every voice lifts up on the wings of freedom, and where every voice is welcomed and heard.
See you next time on March 22nd.
Seriously, Mom, you didn’t know?
by Marguerite Quantaine
Cantine Kilpatrick Publications, 2019
Relationships are delicate. They take time to cultivate and grow. And when it comes to matters of the heart, it can sometimes seem like navigating through a quagmire or minefield.
Enter Marguerite Quantaine, your guide and confidante.
Seriously, Mom, you didn’t know? is a collection of sad, funny, and warm stories. Based on events and moments from Marguerite’s own life, these relatable narratives reflect on the changing roles of relationships and offer insightful observations on society and how we live and love.
Marguerite writes about the variety of inter-relationships that come in all shapes and sizes, both good and bad, and the upstream battle when your life and love choices pit you against societal mores. Her writing style is engaging and her stories offer unique perspectives.
But the best that this book has to offer are the surprising and hidden gems that each story reveals. For example: The emotions of feeling, losing, and loving that are universal; the discovery that self-confidence and resiliency are the best defense against bullies; and her recipe for good communication: sincerity, levity, and good intentions.
Heart-tugging and thought-provoking, Marguerite’s stories cause us to examine how we grow through our exchanges with others, and to consider what things we place the most value on. The reader must ultimately answer whether life is calculated by what we let go of, or by what we hang onto with our hearts.
See you next time on February 22nd!
I didn’t lose my voice. I just can’t find the heart of my story or the right words to express it.
Like teenagers talking all at once, ideas wave before my eyes vying for attention and making me dizzy. I blink them away because I sense they are distracting me from finding the jewel I seek. I silence them using the voice of my 8th grade teacher. “Empty barrels make the most noise.” They flutter away. It’s silent now.
Silence. What is it they say about silence? Silence is golden. Aha, the treasure I seek. Which reminds me of a line from the 1956 musical film by Rodgers and Hammerstein, The King and I. In a pregnant romantic moment between King Mongkut played by Yul Brynner and Mrs. Anna portrayed by Deborah Kerr, the king says, “When one does not know what to say, it is a time to be silent.”
Sage advice. So I quiet all of my thoughts and emotions. In that silence, I hear a sound of rushing waters. Then music trickles out like a spring, new and refreshing. It is my voice.
My fingers tinkle the keys of my laptop. Like musical notes, I string the letters together to form the right words.
A vision of Disney’s The Little Mermaid appears before me. Ariel has lost her voice and found her prince. I smile for it was in her silence that she touched and won his heart.
See you next time on January 22nd. Happy New Year!
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