The online home of Jessica Morrell, because stories matter

Jeanette Winterson: Language is freedom

Written By: jessicap - Apr• 17•15

“For me, language is a freedom. As soon as you have found the words with which to express something, you are no longer incoherent, you are no longer trapped by your own emotions, by your own experiences; you can describe them, you can tell them, you can bring them out of yourself and give them to somebody else. That is an enormously liberating experience, and it worries me that more and more people are learning not to use language; they’re giving in to the banalities of the television media and shrinking their vocabulary, shrinking their own way of using this fabulous tool that human beings have refined over so many centuries into this extremely sensitive instrument. I don’t want to make it crude, I don’t want to make it into shopping-list language, I don’t want to make it into simply an exchange of information: I want to make it into the subtle, emotional, intellectual, freeing thing that it is and that it can be.” – Jeanette Winterson

Keep writing, keep dreaming, keep reading poetry Jeanette-Winterson

Ray Bradbury: Living is the center of your life

Written By: jessicap - Apr• 16•15

puppy and kid leg“The intellect is a great danger to creativity because you begin to rationalize and make up reasons for things instead of staying with your own basic truth –  who you are, what you are, what you wanna be.

The worst thing you do when you think is lie – you can make up reasons that are not true for the things that you did, and what you’re trying to do as a creative person is surprise yourself – find out who you really are, and try not to lie, try to tell the truth all the time. And the only way to do this is by being very active and very emotional, and get it out of yourself – making things that you hate and things that you love, you write about these then, intensely. When it’s over, then you can think about it; then you can look, it works or it doesn’t work, something is missing here. And, if something is missing, then you go back and reemotionalize that part, so it’s all of a piece.

But thinking is to be a corrective in our life. It’s not supposed to be a center of our life. Living is supposed to be the center of our life, being is supposed to be the center, with correctives around, which hold us like the skin holds our blood and our flesh in. But our skin is not a way of life. The way of living is the blood pumping through our veins, the ability to sense and to feel and to know, and the intellect doesn’t help you very much there.

You should get on with the business of living.”
– Ray Bradbury

Written By: jessicap - Apr• 15•15

Picasso quote

Really quick tip: Bring on the clowns

Written By: jessicap - Apr• 12•15

I’ve mentioned this before: a portion of your story’s scenes need to rise, to explode, to provide surprises the reader never saw coming. In these pull-out-the-stops scenes your characters  can fumble, make mistakes, stage confrontations, discover dead bodies or that their beloved is sleeping around. Feature them stooping to new lows or achieving new highs.

Give your characters actions to regrets and  why-did-I-open-my-big-mouth remorse.Give them triumphs, but make sure they’re hard earned. Emphasis on the degree of difficulty.  That’s what causes sympathy and empathy, not playing by the rules. Not keeping quiet.


 If you’re not willing to maim and cripple your characters, you’re not ready to write fiction. 

keep writing, keep dreaming, have heart

Ted Hughes on investing heart

Written By: jessicap - Apr• 09•15
bridge_girl“That’s the paradox: the only time most people feel alive is when they’re suffering, when something overwhelms their ordinary, careful armor, and the naked child is flung out into the world. That’s why the things that are worst to undergo are best to remember. But when that child gets buried away under their adaptive and protective shells – he becomes one of the walking dead, a monster. So when you realize you’ve gone a few weeks and haven’t felt that awful struggle of your childish self  – struggling to lift itself out of its inadequacy and incompetence – you’ll know you’ve gone some weeks without meeting new challenges, and without growing, and that you’ve gone some weeks towards losing touch with yourself. The only calibration that counts is how much heart people invest, how much they ignore their fears of being hurt or caught out or humiliated. And the only thing people regret is that they didn’t live boldly enough, that they didn’t invest enough heart, didn’t love enough. Nothing else really counts at all.”
– Ted Hughes

Keep writing, keep dreaming, have heart


Ray Bradbury on feeding the muse

Written By: jessicap - Apr• 09•15
“It isn’t easy. Nobody has ever done it consistently. Those who try hardest, scare it off into the woods. Those who turn their backs and saunter along, whistling softly between their teeth, hear it treading quietly behind them, lured by a carefully acquired disdain.

We are of course speaking of The Muse.The muses

The Feeding of the Muse seems to me to be the continual running after loves, the checking of these loves against one’s present and future needs, the moving on from simple textures to more complex ones, from naive ones to more informed ones, from nonintellectual to intellectual ones. Nothing is ever lost. If you have moved over vast territories and dared to love silly things, you will have learned even from the most primitive items collected and put aside in your life. From an ever-roaming curiosity in all the arts, from bad radio to good theatre, from nursery rhyme to symphony, from jungle compound to Kafka’s Castle, there is basic excellence to be winnowed out, truths found, kept, savored, and used on some later day. To be a child of one’s time is to do all these things.”
– Ray Bradbury


April is National Poetry Month

Written By: jessicap - Apr• 02•15

April blooms near water

“…When people say that poetry is a luxury, or an option, or for the educated middle classes, or that it shouldn’t be read in school because it is irrelevant, or any of the strange and stupid things that are said about poetry and its place in our lives, I suspect that the people doing the saying have had things pretty easy. A tough life needs a tough language – and that is what poetry is. That is what literature offers — a language powerful enough to say how it is. It isn’t a hiding place. It is a finding place.” ~ Jeanette Winterson

A wee bit of advice….

Written By: jessicap - Mar• 26•15

from Neil Gaiman

“The moment that you feel, just possibly, you are walking down the street naked, exposing too much of your heart and your mind, and what exists on the inside, showing too much of yourself . . . That is the moment, you might be starting to get it right.”file0001071880627

Keep writing, keep dreaming, have heartstatue with breasts


Short Story Contest

Written By: jessicap - Mar• 26•15
The Writer short story contest kicks off soon, and we want to give you a head start. Choose one of the ocean-themed quotes below as a launching point for your 1,000-word fiction story:

“The voice of the sea is seductive; never ceasing, whispering, clamoring, murmuring, inviting the soul to wander for a spell in abysses of solitude; to lose itself in mazes of inward contemplation. The voice of the sea speaks to the soul. The touch of the sea is sensuous, enfolding the body in its soft, close embrace.” –Kate Chopin, The Awakening

 “Doesn’t it seem to you,” asked Madame Bovary, “that the mind moves more freely in the presence of that boundless expanse, that the sight of it elevates the soul and gives rise to thoughts of the infinite and the ideal?” -Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary

“Because there’s nothing more beautiful than the way the ocean refuses to stop kissing the shoreline, no matter how many times it’s sent away.” -Sarah Kay

 The submission period for this contest is April 1 – 30. Stay tuned for guidelines, and in the meantime – get writing!


What’s your story?

Written By: jessicap - Mar• 21•15

What’s your story? It’s all in the telling. Stories are compasses and architecture; we navigate by them, we build our sanctuaries and our prisons out of them, and to be without a story is to be lost in the vastness of a world that spreads in all directions like arctic tundra or sea ice. To love someone is to put yourself in their place, we say, which is to put yourself in their story, or figure out how to tell yourself their story.”  - Rebecca Solnit