The online home of Jessica Morrell, because stories matter

Thought for the day:

Written By: jessicap - Dec• 18•14

“Maybe learning how to be out in the big world isn’t the epic journey everyone thinks it is. Maybe that’s actually the easy part. The hard part is what’s right in front of you. The hard part is learning how to hold the title to your very existence, to own not only property, but also your life.”
– Meghan Daum
Life Would Be Perfect If I Lived in That House

A poem for the dark days of December

Written By: jessicap - Dec• 13•14

december frozen branchesTHE WRITING LIFE
Give me the names for things, just give me their real names,
Not what we call them, but what
They call themselves when no one’s listening –
At midnight, the moon-plated hemlocks like unstruck bells,
God wandering aimlessly elsewhere.
Their names, their secret names.

December. Everything’s black and brown. Or half-black and half-brown.
What’s still alive puts its arms around me,
amen from the evergreens
That want my heart on their ribbed sleeves.
Why can’t I listen to them?
Why can’t I offer my heart up
To what’s in plain sight and short of breath?

Restitution of the divine in a secular circumstance –
Page 10, The Appalachian Book of the Dead,
the dog-eared one,
Pre-solstice winter light laser-beaked, sun over Capricorn,
Dead-leaf-and-ice-mix grunged on the sidewalk and driveway.
Short days. Short days. Dark soon the light overtakes.
Stump of a hand.
– Charles Wright

Remembering Mark Strand

Written By: jessicap - Dec• 02•14
Mark Strand
In case you’re not aware that Mark Strand, a former Poet Laureate, has passed away at 80 or of the beauty, scope and importance of his work, here is the link to his obituary. It’s a noisier world without him in it observing, bringing us into his golden lantern light.
Not every man knows what he shall sing at the end,
Watching the pier as the ship sails away, or what it will seem like
When he’s held by the sea’s roar, motionless, there at the end,
Or what he shall hope for once it is clear that he’ll never go back.
When the time has passed to prune the rose or caress the cat,
When the sunset torching the lawn and the full moon icing it down
No longer appear, not every man knows what he’ll discover instead.
When the weight of the past leans against nothing, and the sky

Is no more than remembered light, and the stories of cirrus
And cumulus come to a close, and all the birds are suspended in flight,
Not every man knows what is waiting for him, or what he shall sing
When the ship he is on slips into darkness, there at the end.
– Mark Strand
The Continuous Life



Written By: jessicap - Dec• 01•14


Quick Take: Treasure Nothing

Written By: jessicap - Dec• 01•14

Treasure nothing, be willing to throw out anything. The story you just wrote that you are proud of should not be coddled and worshipped. You can do it again. If your house burned down with all your work inside it, you would still be the writer you are, and you would continue to be worth something.
— J. Robert Lennon

Writing = noticing

Written By: jessicap - Nov• 25•14

breakingoutofyourshell“You know what I believe? I remember in college I was taking this math class, this really great math class taught by this tiny old woman. She was talking about fast Fourier transforms and she stopped midsentence and said, ‘Sometimes it seems the universe wants to be noticed.’ That’s what I believe. I believe the universe wants to be noticed. I think the universe is improbably biased toward consciousness, that it rewards intelligence in part because the universe enjoys its elegance being observed. And who am I, living in the middle of history, to tell the universe that it – or my observation of it – is temporary?”
– John Green

Quick take: Complicated

Written By: jessicap - Nov• 14•14

Sonny The GodfatherPlan complicated quirks, flaws and weaknesses in your whole cast of fictional characters. But then make these quality have consequences. Santino, Sonny Corleone, the oldest son in The Godfather was impulsive and a hothead, but he was also a loving father and husband and believed in protecting women and children. When his pregnant sister Connie is beaten by Carlo her husband once again he rushes to her aid and paid for his tendencies with his life.

His impulsive interest in joining another crime family in selling drugs  during a meeting with his father is part of the first plot point and sets off a deadly chain of events.

Keep writing, keep dreaming, have heart

Thought for the day:

Written By: jessicap - Nov• 13•14

“No matter how careful you are, there’s going to be the sense you missed something, Bloody Handprintthe collapsed feeling under your skin that you didn’t experience it all. There’s that fallen heart feeling that you rushed right through the moments where you should’ve been paying attention.
Well, get used to that feeling. That’s how your whole life will feel some day.
This is all practice.” ~ Chuck Palahniuk
Invisible Monsters

Here’s one for Motivational Mondays

Written By: jessicap - Nov• 10•14

magic lantern     You know, I do believe in magic. I was born and raised in a magic time, in a magic town, among magicians. Oh, most everybody else didn’t realize we lived in that web of magic, connected by silver filaments of chance and circumstance. But I knew it all along. When I was twelve years old, the world was my magic lantern, and by its green spirit glow I saw the past, the present and into the future. You probably did too; you just don’t recall it. See, this is my opinion: we all start out knowing magic. We are born with whirlwinds, forest fires, and comets inside us. We are born able to sing to birds and read the clouds and see our destiny in grains of sand. But then we get the magic educated right out of our souls. We get it churched out, spanked out, washed out, and combed out. We get put on the straight and narrow and told to be responsible. Told to act our age. Told to grow up, for God’s sake. And you know why we were told that? Because the people doing the telling were afraid of our wildness and youth, and because the magic we knew made them ashamed and sad of what they’d allowed to wither in themselves.

After you go so far away from it, though, you can’t really get it back. You can have seconds of it. Just seconds of knowing and remembering. When people get weepy at movies, it’s because in that dark theater the golden pool of magic is touched, just briefly. Then they come out into the hard sun of logic and reason again and it dries up, and they’re left feeling a little heartsad and not knowing why. When a song stirs a memory, when motes of dust turning in a shaft of light takes your attention from the world, when you listen to a train passing on a track at night in the distance and wonder where it might be going, you step beyond who you are and where you are. For the briefest of instants, you have stepped into the magic realm.

That’s what I believe.

from Robert McCammon’s Boy’s Life Here’s the link. Boy's Life


Written By: jessicap - Nov• 05•14

exotic skyscapeI am offering a scholarship to my upcoming From Idea to Story workshop on Saturday. The information about it is a few posts below.

Also, the autumn The Writing Life newsletter has been emailed. If you didn’t receive it or need to update your email address please let me know.

Keep writing, keep dreaming, have heart