We all know it: eyes can’t fill, can’t tear up, can’t water or leak; tears can’t roll down cheeks, or flood, or track. Lips can’t quiver, tongues can’t get tied, color can’t drain from faces. We can’t freeze and especially we can’t freeze like “a deer caught in the headlights.” Our mouths daren’t drop open, nor our jaws. We can raise our eyebrows, but we best not furrow our brows.
Oh! all the cliches we can’t write, and most especially we can’t write them when our characters are experiencing those Big Emotions. You know, the ones our writing group tells us we must “show” our characters experiencing, rather than just telling about it.
Chapbooks—those small booklets of twenty-five or so pages—have been around since the 16th century. Folk tales, children’s stories, poetry, and religious tracts, all manner of material became available once printed books were affordable by us common folk. These days chapbooks most often contain poetry, though collections of flash fiction or nonfiction are produced, too, or even a book containing a single story. Some chapbooks can be quite elegant, hand-sewn, hand-made paper, embellished with original art. But generally, chapbooks are inexpensively produced and inexpensively priced or even given away.
A little over a week ago, I was deep in the woods at the Kanuga Conference Center near Asheville, North Carolina, sleeping in a cabin by night, and attending workshops by day. Kathleen Adams, her staff and volunteers organized a memorable weekend for Journal Conference 2016. I met so many accomplished, beautiful, open-hearted women (and a couple of beautiful, open-hearted men, too) and loved leading the Wild Voice, Wild Writing workshops. I’m still savoring the experience and the people and the writing and the stories and oh, yes, the full moon. (We howled!)