In “Storytellin’: True And Fictional Short Stories Of Arkansas” I write about a young boy, a midnight train, and the value of friendship in the tale “He A Friend Of Yours?” The title of the story is actually a question posed to the young boy by a train station employee.
Several of my family provided inspiration for the story not the least of which were my grandfather, father, and an uncle who all worked for the Rock Island Railroad in various capacities including railroad bull, brakeman, and conductor. All of their work began and ended with the Rock Island Rail Road train depot in the small town of Booneville, Arkansas. Not coincidentally, the fictional story’s beginning is set in and around a train depot.
In its heyday, the Booneville depot was a busy, thriving place, bustling with activity. I remember trips to the depot to either welcome or say goodbye to family members as they left for work or arrived after a working absence. More than once, I too, rode the railroad to and from Little Rock to visit uncles and aunts.
This picture of the Booneville train depot was taken in the early 1980s and reflects a mere ghost of itself in comparison to the days when it thrived. Built in 1910 originally as a railroad eating house, the building style is unique compared to the average Rock Island train depot in Arkansas.
The days of riding the rails from Booneville to Little Rock are gone forever now, as are my family members who worked on the line. Sadly, just a few years after this picture was taken the Booneville depot burned down and its stories mostly lost to history.
It has been an unusually mild, wet summer around my neck of the woods (as they say here in Arkansas). Few 90 degree + days and (thankfully) no 100 degree + days. In other words, when it wasn’t raining, we’ve had beautiful days to enjoy. No wonder I’m doing more bicycle riding than writing. But I do remember those blistering summer days when it was so hot all I could do is kick back and enjoy lounging in the pool.
I’ve been away from the Internet for the last few weeks taking a summer vacation and just relaxing. As for writing, I think this sums up the entirety of my summer:
What’s the matter, writer? That blank page in front of you got you down?
You say your bucket of creative motivation is empty? You fear the procrastination monster has come to stay? And the writer’s block is too big to overcome so you’re waiting for the magic writing fairy to land on your shoulder and deliver perfect pages of prose, sublime sonnets, or perhaps inspirational ideas?
Well, get over it. It isn’t going to happen.
Here’s a newsflash: Your dreamy muse is busy elsewhere with a happy rainbow unicorn in a field of delicious, colorful jelly beans under a marshmallow sky and not likely to return anytime soon.
In the meantime, here’s a word of advice, a solution to your problem: write.
The word “SWIMS” will remain “SWIMS” even after you turn it upside down.
Those type of words are called ambigrams.
Ambigrams can be words, art forms, or other symbolic representations whose elements retain meaning even when viewed or interpreted from different directions, perspectives, or orientations.
Can you think of other word ambigrams?
“Bad writing precedes good writing. This is an infallible rule, so don’t waste time trying to avoid bad writing. (That just slows down the process.) Anything committed to paper can be changed. The idea is to start and go from there.” –Janet Hulstrand
“Self-doubt, exhaustion, and confusion are part of the process. Embrace them and don’t stop writing to examine what you have. The world is full of people trying to perfect chapter one.” –Kerry Greenwood
“If you are struggling with writing a character, write 20 things a reader will never know about your character. These will naturally bleed into your writing and provide a richness even though you don’t share the detail.” –Barbara Poelle
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