Hearts and Letters

Sturch Jan 2017 post

Here’s a game for wordophiles where earth, breath and sheet are three words you can spell with the letters in the word heartbeats. Setter, rate, and bra are three more. Steep, if your rules let the “b” swing around. Strafe if you let one “t” grow a canopy. Tree is there. There, too. And three. And others spring from the page if you string multiples:

      heartbeatsheartbeatsheartbeatsheartbeatsheartbeatsheartbeats

Breathing a Vein

There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.
       —Ernest Hemingway

Fast advice to new writers who bemoan the intensity of the discipline sometimes includes throwing around that Hemingway quote about the typewriter and the bleeding. It’s pithy and ironic and makes the more seasoned writer quoting it sound like they know something Hemingway did. It also inspires hilarious imagery: to each writer, his or her own brand of macabre. I keep it simple: me swathed in Civil War-era head bandages barely able to crawl from a drippy crimson keyboard to the coffee pot for yet another cup of Whatever It Takes so I can get that paragraph right. 

Arrival

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Arrival / Paramount Pictures

Memory we cross and cross again. Treks, trauma, and on.
We do know what time is. It is loss and gain. A lingering.
       – Simon J. Ortiz

*Note: this post contains spoilers from Arrival

I went reluctantly to see Arrival, remembering my disappointment over The Martianhow its great sweeps of desolate landscape seemed squandered on themes of American ingenuity, determination, and victory over galactic odds. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But placing one man alone on a vast planet far, far from home begged for a nuanced treatment of the larger ideas of isolation and longing.

The Incarnational Point of View

“Say you have a special child.”  So begins Mark Richard’s House of Prayer No. 2, a memoir that travels the South of Richard’s youth with breakneck speed, from old Civil War battlegrounds to special children’s hospitals to Wanchese scallop boats to New York City and back to a small black Baptist church in North Carolina. It’s a book I read with my creative nonfiction writers to get them to think about the arc of their faith but also to play with point of view.