Shawn L. Bird

Original poetry, commentary, and fiction. All copyrights reserved.

quote- Stephen King on books December 17, 2013

Filed under: Quotations,Reading,Writing — Shawn L. Bird @ 8:27 pm
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“Books are a uniquely portable magic.”
― Stephen KingOn Writing


Tools for magic June 25, 2013

Filed under: Quotations,Writing — Shawn L. Bird @ 10:35 am
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From Stephen King On Writing:

The most basic skills can create things far beyond our expectations.  We are talking …about words and style…but…you’d do well to remember that we are also talking about magic.  (p. 137)


Little scratches,

symbols made to represent sounds,

sounds to represent words,

words to represent ideas. 

It’s magical even

before you add in the narrative. 

Then things become downright


With little scratches

we create worlds,

become divine,

and though it takes

more than six days,

when we are done,

we are satisfied that

it is good.


Underlying Grammar January 15, 2013

Grammar is not just a pain in the ass; it’s the pole you grab to get your thoughts up on their feet and walking.”

Stephen King On Writing p. 121

I kind of like grammar.  I like the structure of it, and I like analyzing it.  It’s even interesting when I discover I’ve been doing something incorrectly for years.  True, I have an English degree, and I teach English (and frequently I’m the grammar expert on staff), but occasionally there is still a surprise.

Last week, Diana Gabaldon posted a selection of her latest work in progress (My Own Heart’s Blood, book 8 in the Outlander series) which included the sentence, “I saw the seriousness that underlay the laughter…”  I had to study that for a while.

Underlay- a noun- is the padding that goes beneath carpet.  The  form of the word we most frequently use is the adjective  ‘underlying.’  So, whence cometh  ‘that underlay?’  At first glance, I thought it should be ‘that underlaid the laughter,’ but Diana has corrected my grammar before, so I pondered.

Following the lay, laid, laid vs lie, lay, lain model, I realised the verb is to underlie, and therefore the simple past tense must be “Yesterday he underlay the principle with a moral lesson,” and that “Previously he had underlain the principle with moral lesson, until he didn’t any more.”  It still doesn’t sound right, but frequently correct grammar doesn’t.

Good thing someone is keeping an eye on us, and providing an excellent grammatical role model.

More importantly, thank heavens for brilliant editors!

How about you?  Have you had any grammatical epiphanies lately?


art is life support January 10, 2013

Filed under: Pondering,Quotations,Writing — Shawn L. Bird @ 1:54 pm
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Put your desk in the corner, and every time you sit down there to write, remind yourself why it isn’t in the middle of the room.  Life isn’t a support-system for art.  It’s the other way around.

Stephen King in On Writing

There is an inter-connectiveness between art and the artist.  Our lives are fuel for art, a touching point, a grounding place, a beginning, but not a support system.  It’s not the scaffold of bones that holds the art in place, because art should not be tethered.  Art flies.

Art becomes the air that intoxicates and enlivens the life. 

Art supports life.


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