One book leads to another...

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

A Sentence

Wishing everyone a happy month of July! If you’re getting any rain, send us some out west ;-) Many of us desert dwellers are looking for things to do indoors, and perhaps you are as well. So why not revisit or begin journaling? Write an article, an essay or a trailer for the last good movie you watched – or your next bestseller? You could also sharpen your writing skills with any of the many great resources offered by the Insecure Writers Support Group, founded by Alex Cavanaugh, right here and right now on this first Wednesday of the month, when IWSG members convene through blogging, Facebook, and Twitter to talk about whatever is on our writing minds and agendas. See what we’re all talking about here.

What’s on my writing mind? Well,

In a vaguely defined though obviously freak accident at the age of three, the skirt of a future literary legend caught fire. 

While the child was unharmed, her mother was so deeply traumatized that the young girl was thereafter forced to wear boy’s trousers. This attire earned her the nickname ‘Little Jimmy,' by which she good-naturedly called herself until her early teens.  

Already a budding writer at age eleven, she was also designing her own book covers and including her own artwork in an enterprise she called “Urchin Publishing Co.” By the time she was in college she was going by the name ‘Peg’ and had chosen the mythical Pegasus as her icon. 

Regarding her writing, a demanding teacher once told her she had ability if she worked hard and would not be careless in constructing sentences. “A sentence,” she was told, “must be complete, concise and coherent."

She would later attribute her early inspiration for the book that put her name on the lips of the nation to images she’d both observed and perceived while on a buggy trip she took with her mother through devastated farmsteads where only chimneys remained of what had once been, and the solemn descriptions her mother gave.

“She talked about the world those people had lived in, such a secure world, and how it had exploded beneath them. And she told me that my world was going to explode under me, someday, and God help me if I didn't have some weapon to meet the new world”.

Three years after losing her mother to the Spanish flu, and having married a bootlegger, the young writer found she needed income for herself and took a job as a local journalist; whereby the first glimpses of her vividly descriptive style was breathlessly beheld by all.

“The tall white columns glimpsed through the dark green of cedar foliage, the wide veranda encircling the house, the stately silence engendered by the century-old oaks evoke memories of Thomas Nelson Page's On Virginia. The atmosphere of dignity, ease, and courtesy that was the soul of the Old South breathes from this old mansion...”

Being an avid reader came in handy when she had to quit her job as a journalist, due to an ankle injury, but her new and nicer husband grew weary of lugging hundreds of books home for her to read and asked

“For God's sake, Peggy, can't you write a book instead of reading thousands of them?”

And after he bought her a typewriter, she did just that. “Gone with the Wind” by Margaret Mitchell was published June 30, 1936, and in 1937 won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

“I had every detail clear in my mind before I sat down to the typewriter.”
Did you foreguess the writer's identity?

And so, dear fellow writers, my wordy answer to the optional Question of the Month “What is the one valuable lesson you’ve learned since you started writing?” can be found above, highlighted in green

If you’re interested, read about another writer who forged his way in history here.

If you had to give away one thing on your desk or in your writing space, what would it be?


  1. Hi, diedre!

    I hope you have been well, dear friend.

    Yessum, when I got to the paragraph describing the war torn rural landscape I guessed Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell. One thing I can state with certainty. You learned your writing lesson well because your sentences on Pensive Pens are consistently complete, concise and coherent.

    If I had to give away one thing on my desk it would be an item given to me recently by a family member - a bottle of "Share a Coke" with my name on it. While I appreciate the giver's intention, I am not fond of the gift because I do not consume soft drinks, have a negative reaction to the very thought of them and do not wish to be reminded of them. As a paperweight, however, the Coke comes in handy.

    I hope you had a safe and happy Independence holiday, dear friend diedre, and that you enjoy the rest of your week!

    1. Hi Shady!

      So good to see you out and about again!
      Thank you for the compliment, my friend. I'm still working on it.
      The paperweight tale made me smile. It's useful after all ;-) Bet I'll never see one with my name on it.
      I'd give away a frosted glass candy box. It was on my desk when I moved in - 22 years ago. There are Jolly Ranchers in there that would crack a sidewalk ;-)

  2. Happy July, diedre! We are water-logged up here and would gladly send you some of our rain, if we could. That was an enthralling biography of Margaret Mitchell. I had no idea who you were talking about until the descriptive passage about the mansion in the Old South. Your sentences seem perfect, always, so you've learned that lesson well. ☺ There's a giant set of headphones sitting on my desk that I would be thrilled to give away, as they take up too much space. They were bought long ago and have since been replaced by much smaller ear buds. Wishing you a great rest of the summer!

    1. Hi Debbie!

      I'm so envious! We are positively parched here in the desert. There's a cactus patch out front that has actually shriveled!

      Thank you for your kind words, though I feel as if sentence structure is always my greatest challenge. I wasn't actually thinking of Margaret Mitchell when I began the blog, but when her teacher's advice came up in a search I was (like you enthralled) and thrilled to tie it in ;-)
      Speaking of headphones, I think there's a pair up on a shelf I can't reach in the foyer closet!
      Happy Summer!

  3. Hi Diedre - loved the article you've given us here and the lesson - Margaret Mitchell ... amazing woman. Writing words that give us an image ... that we can take forward ourselves ... and then giving us the story ... full of 'complete, concise, coherent sentences' ... cheers Hilary

    1. Hi Hilary!

      You are so sweet! I'm glad you enjoyed - and thank you ;-)

  4. Can sentences also be short? I'm good at that.
    Little Jimmy - that I definitely didn't know.

    1. Hi Alex!

      Absolutely! That's where 'concise' comes into play. Would that I could more often ;-)

      Interestingly, Kathryn Hepburn called herself 'Jimmy' as well.


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