Tuesday, April 1, 2014


Look at them.

I do every time I visit my brother’s house in New Orleans. They are familiar from visits over the years, but last week I determined to make a record of some of the lampshades with which my brother in his decorating avoids the obvious and predictable – again and again


He knows how to invite attention. Because he has paid attention to detail, others pay attention. Because he has varied shape and size and color and edging and pattern and fabric, the lampshades in his home invite visitors to join in a certain playfulness. Watch where I go, they seem to say. Did you expect this, they almost ask.

Avoiding the obvious and predictable is something I strive to do when I write. In my experience, good writing is not the result of merely decorative words, however. It is not the unusual word for the sake of variety. More often than not, power of expression emerges when a writer with simplicity names what might not even have occurred to a reader as worthy of expression. Yes, the reader confesses, that is in fact how something in my world feels, how it looks, how it claims attention or sometimes even deflects it.

I suddenly notice. I almost involuntarily respond.

Tricked by the simplest of words, I recognize my world. I enter my own life.

My heart can feel called to attention.

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