Back when I set off on this journey to write a novel, I had an appallingly awful writing tick. I used to gaze adoringly at words that end in -ly, those deliciously clumsy things called adverbs. They’re supposed to be insufferably bad in the context of writing, though I was indecorously ignorant of that fact prior to beginning my little writerly adventure.

I felt horrifically inept when parsing the simplest of sentences. How could I constructively cajole thoughts together when I could not gracefully use words ending in -ly?

Hmmmmm. It was a hideously fatal conundrum for which I seriously had no solution. Other than to write a ponderously imperfect blog post in an effort to exorcise the glaringly bad adverb demon once and for all. I peppered them thickly into a post, hoping they would studiously avoid my main project.

Inexplicably, I now look for adverbs everywhere when lazily reading. Does this author randomly use them? Does that one patiently invoke one here? Or there? How am I supposed to graphically construct a sentence when I cannot casually use an adverb? Most definitely, I must possess falteringly simple imagination, or perhaps, I was unfortunately deprived of one entirely, rudely relegated to the back of writing class way back when.

Surprisingly, I still believe I can write, even with my harrowingly serious writing tick, insidiously infiltrating my sentence structure at every dastardly turn of phrase, every colorfully executed description of character or context, until I am perilously close to throwing up my hands and abruptly calling the whole thing resoundingly off. Once and for bloodily-well all.



Okay. I think I’ve put enough adverbs in one blog post to see that they’re clunky. And ill-advised. And downright weird. Hopefully, I will cease to use them in future.

Oh. Wait. ‘Hopefully’ ends in -ly.


Back to the drawing board.


Penelope’s last house was a haze of dust. It filmed the corners. Draped the tops of clothes. Seeped into cloth upholstery.

Dust thou art.

Penelope wasn’t dust. Not yet. She couldn’t see much. Heard nothing. She always said she wanted to die when her mind stopped. Sitting in front of the window in a bland nursing home and feeling the sun on her face wasn’t any kind of life. Especially since she couldn’t remember what was sun or warmth in the first place. She watched the blurry box, combed its edges for clues in a window lit like an oyster shell.

Who had she been when she found that shell? He gave it to her, didn’t he? It was too fine a thing to be dug out of the mud on the beach, though she could smell salt and sulfur when she thought about it. Maybe that was the smell of his cologne.

She was always confused. Suspended there. Waiting to die.

Blind eyes blinked behind orbs of glass. Snatches played in the light of a broken movie reel, her life in her mind’s eye.

Why did she hang on to moldy things? A shock of tulle. A glass box, engraved on top. A bleached oyster shell. Scraps that added up to a life lived. Living done.

To dust thou shalt return.

Not yet.

Penelope whispered it into the void.

Not yet.

To read more about Penelope, go here and work your way forward.

Have you ever found a memento and wondered about its story?

Beginnings. It’s what my brain is telling my fingers to shape this week. The series starts HERE with one of my all-time favorite pieces.  Today’s piece is a work of fiction, though my fiction often contains more of myself than I am ever willing to reveal in my own voice. Thank you for visiting,  for reading, and for sharing my words.

The grief of the soul assaults everyone in the murky claws of night. She is not exempt. It sinks its talons into her chest and drags her out of bed, her feet protesting as she is propelled down the hall. Is it because she hasn’t slept in a week that she imagines a shape in front of her, a shifting image that changes from leering to loving, from the first blush of amour to the final searing throes of goodbye?

She blinks, her eyelids sluggish from insomnia and torrents of tears. No she decides. Purposeful absence paints him everywhere. Waiting in the car next to her at a random traffic light. Calling at the end of the line with the next trill of the phone. Coming toward her through the stands at a ball game. Sitting just beyond the periphery of her vision at a play. Filling her unopened mailbox with apologies, with revocations, with the admission that he made a mistake when he tossed her away.

Those things never really happen, except in the vacuum where her heart used to be. It’s been hoovered from its moorings and steamrolled into the mud at the back end of a forsaken dirt road. She couldn’t find it if she tried.

Weak light from the refrigerator makes her squint at the bottle of water on the top shelf. Sighing, she grabs it and trudges to the sofa. I was sitting here the last time he walked out that door she thinks to herself as the water falls from her hands and seeps into the cushions and the carpet. Before she can blink, she is kneeling in it, her pajamas soaked and her wet hands blending with the cascading rivers on the landscape of her face. I don’t want to begin again I don’t want to start over I don’t want to…………………

Every end is a beginning.

She heard it spoken aloud, read it in the lanky shadows on the wall, and saw it printed on the insides of her eyelids when she heaved them shut. It stole its way to the wasted carcass that lived where her heart once pumped. With a jolt, it shocked her system into a new start, filled it with the will to begin again.

It wasn’t a dream. She knew it when she awoke on the floor, still damp from the spilled water bottle. Every end is a beginning she whispered.

Her mouth trembled as it formed the first vestige of a timid smile.