Order of the Good Write

That Magic Feeling When the Words Flow. A Blog by Debi Rotmil


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This American Life: The House on Loon Lake

the house on loon lake

With Netflix’s “Stranger Things” being the most popular television bingefest around, I found this story, originally aired on ‘This American Life’ back in 2001, to be quite timely.

“The House on Loon Lake” is the very real story of how a group of boys back in the 1970’s stumbled upon an abandoned house in Freedom, New Hampshire. What they found inside was a veritable time capsule of untouched items and artifacts of a family who seemed to have disappeared.

Adam Beckman, tells the story of how, at the age of 12, he and his friends went on a mission to find out what happened to the family that vanished.

For storytellers and writers, it’s a wonderful one hour tale filled with mystery, sadness and a twist at the end that tells more about the state of family, rather than revealing a predictable and unsavory crime.

Adam’s Mother

“The abandonment. The abandonment is melancholy. In a way, it’s worse than throwing away, much worse. I can understand one family being obliged to flee or run or abandon, but that nobody else cared. That it was so overwhelmingly abandoned by everybody, that nobody had cared to solve something, to resolve something. That was very offensive to me. It was like leaving a corpse. You don’t leave a corpse. And that’s a little bit the feeling that I had. That here was a carcass, the carcass of a house, of a life, of a private, and nobody cared to pick it up and give it a proper burial.

I thought that it was important that somebody should care. That somehow, somebody was leaning over these words, reading them, unfolding these letters that somebody had bothered to write. It really didn’t matter that it was an eleven-year-old boy who cared. Objects have lives. They are witness to things. And these objects were like that. So I was, in a way, glad that you were listening.”

Listen here:

http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/199/house-on-loon-lake

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How A Rug Illustrates a Story

ABCHomeRug

Rug as seen at ABC Home, NYC

It hung there, among the colorful faded green and pink rugs. Like a shabby and dazzling bunch of beauties, these gorgeous items of woven thread formed the most intricate patterns of white, greys and blacks. It left me breathless. The finite layers of simple flower shapes, round, small and big. Dabs of pedal shadows that almost look like birds flowing through the delicate wiggly lines depicting an element of motion.

From afar, we see the dazzling story of visual artistry. It’s a tale by what we make of it. The chairs and sofa that would look so good against the color. The pop of black floorboard wood that makes the patterns come alive, contained in the room in which it lives. This rug’s design can tell a story with it’s patterns and cacophony of visuals combines into one big work of floor artistry. Indeed, in one’s home, it will absorb the human life on which it lives.

ABCHomeRugCloseUp

Yet, if we zoom in on the details, we see a different emotion. Suddenly the story isn’t so obvious, the tales not so simple. From afar, each duplicate design is created by intricate fibers of color and handmade stitching pulls together to make one big beauty. But when we magnify an inch of the vast work before us, there is a depth we never see.

One can find a laughing family on the front yard enjoying a summer day. Yet, if we take one person aside and study him, much like the details of a rug, we’ll find depth, individuality and a whole other story.

Writing is much like this. You can’t have the overall picture unless you magnify the details of the human spirit.

Look closely at the details of life. Understand more than just what the overall picture is trying to tell you. Write about it.

And boy, would I LOVE to buy this rug!

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We Float

arialtextures2

Somewhere over the California Desert

It’s not often I get a window seat on a cross country flight. As someone who deals with anxiety, I’ll take an aisle seat every time, despite having to get up for bathroom bound passengers who are trapped three seats deep. Yet, this time, on a trip from LA to NYC and back, I was booked both ways in a bulkhead window seat, happily willing to help out in the unlikely event of an emergency. Extra leg room, easy access to getting up and not crawling over people – I was sitting pretty with my own personal view of the world below.

I was amazed at what I usually miss in an aisle seat on the edge of the row, my shoulders dodging wayward hips, as my back seat neighbor uses my headrest as a handle for getting up. My view is usually of the head in front of me, or the bathroom sign illuminated in either red/occupied or green/vacant.

At the window, where the light of day illuminated the textures of landmass and hills, I was transfixed by the planet below. I’ve often felt like I’ve never belonged down there, like I’m a soul in a body experiencing a human life outside a glass bubble and all of humanity is inside. Flying at an altitude of 34,000 feet made this feeling stronger than ever.

As we floated in this long metal vessel, the feeling of detachment was profound. Up in space, half way near the Kármán Line, our feet are on the cold steel floor of the aircraft. They are not on earth. And from way on high, we can see the beauty of the planet like a work of art.

There is so much texture to the land. The deserts I watched below were patterns of dunes and cut highways, ant colonies of human beings creating inlets for their own passage from one end of the space to another. Contrast of beige sand and shadows, muted greens and dots of inclines that may be vast to the human foot, yet little nothing from above.

The desert sands of California drifted into the Grand Canyon expanse of Arizona. Deep swaths of land cut and molded into sharp layers indicating millions of years of ocean water dissipating into nothing. You can see how the dying ocean cut long lines of water marks, decreasing into lower levels until a long winding thin river bed left the last dredges of briny water.

As the arid land of the western states stretched into dark greens cut with agriculture and shiny man made circles of water for cattle, I think of how little our angry lives are down below. We are an America made of two different factions, and we are living under civil unrest in so many ways.  There are people believing things out of fear and frustration. There are others angry over being sold a bad bill of goods. There is hatred and love. There is a sense of mourning for what we have become.

But the land was so beautiful below. We are all just souls living a human life, hovering over something bigger than us. From a plane, we see the big picture from great heights and only begin to understand how little we and our problems really are.

We should all have a window seat on the world.

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