Monday, February 26, 2007

On Families

"The family seems to have two predominant functions: to provide warmth and love in time of need and to drive each other insane."
~ Donald G. Smith (contained in "Sunbeams" from THE SUN magazine)

Saturday, February 24, 2007


Meet our dog, a poodle-terrier mix (they said) that we picked up from the local shelter. All we know is that he's a ten pound wonder, and does all the good things dogs do for families.
He's the best dog in the whole world, I tell him, but then, I'm biased and I worry that it will all go to his head.
Impatience is a form of control.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Serious Writers

There comes a time when you pause and look in the mirror, wondering why. After reading the current issue of The Writer magazine, I am in that horrible space of self doubt, longing to be better, reading how it should and could be done, knowing I have come a long way, yet painfully aware of just how far I have to go.
This magazine offers me month after month of great writing advice. The magazine hails from 1887 (eighteen eighty-seven), so they are doing something "write."
I struggle with yet another rewrite of the elusive novel, using Carolyn See's tried and true revision technique, ( See this done on Barbara DeMarco barret's log at and I pause before I push on, procrastinating by writing this. Back to the trenches for me.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Reading Stacks

How many reading stacks do you have?

How high and how wide are they?

How many gosh darn magazines

Can accumulate every day?

How many books are sitting there

Waiting to be read?
There’s a novel, a history, a self-help, and a mystery

Piled up by your bed.

“I’ll get there,” you say.

“I’ll read them some day.”

“I’ll do it when it’s raining.”

The rainy day promise just never comes

And the reading stacks keep on gaining.

“I’ll cancel subscriptions.”

“I’ll never renew.”

Until the kids next door

Come selling like they do.

Your friends know your weakness.

They know you won’t say no

To books they have read,

Or meant to months ago.

They pass them unconscious

Of the burden they bring.

You love them; you hate them

You’re afraid you’ll miss something.

Then one day you rise

To the smell and gag of smoke.

To your credit you grab your cat, your hat, and a coat.

You run out the door

Leave the stacks on the floor

You bid your house adieu.

And the reading stacks, too!

---© Kathryn Atkins

April 24, 2006

Monday, February 19, 2007

Quote of the Day

"And the day came when the risk to remain closed in a bud became more painful than the risk it took to blossom."
~ I'm sorry I don't know the author.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Substitute Teaching

Substituting at the local high school for a freshman English class returns memories not only of high school as a previous substitute, but also of being in high school. Was I ever that young? Could I ever have been so disinterested in a subject as most of the kids seemed today? Never mind that we reviewed independent and subordinate (dependent) clauses, with no Santa's to be found anywhere, it was abundantly clear that they largely held no curiosity for the concept, and in completing the day, I wondered if indeed, even as a writer, I really need to know the difference. I like to think I know how to use one, but labeling? Oy. On the other hand, if these kids are to continue on into college and graduate school, they should (I love the word) at least be aware of parts of speech in their own language. If they learn foreign languages, they'll learn a lot more grammar than in English. I sure did. Maybe they wondered what in the heck a substitute teacher knows anyway. The answer is: a lot. I had The Answer Book, so I dubbed myself The Expert. Which, by the way, is one of the secrets to succesful substituting. The other is The Seating Chart. It was, all in all, a good day.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Quote of the Day

"Do not confuse activity with accomplishment."

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Flash Fiction Fun


“Scout to ground. Scout to ground. Come in please.”

The tiny plane fought to make the last turn for landing in the driving rain at the Lihue airport. The Hawaiian storm had appeared suddenly and attacked violently. Dwight Scout tightened his seat belt against the buffeting winds.

The airport was empty. All the employees had gone home to save their families. Scout thought he saw the runway lights and headed down. He never saw the hotel.

People, some in nightclothes and some naked and in pieces, lay strewn among the coconuts on the ground. Paradise indeed.

© Kathryn Atkins 2007

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Flash Fiction Fun


“Is it …?” The word stuck in her throat.

The doctor nodded, then said, “There are things we can do . . .”

Mary’s thoughts raced from herself to her two young daughters who sat in the waiting room with their grandmother.

“How long do I have?”

“Six months. Maybe a year.”

“I can’t tell them.”

“Then, don’t.”


“Lie,” the doctor said.

“I’d rather die.”

“Indeed, you will.”

Mary strode to the window and threw herself out, wondering as she passed each of the ten floors how it was going to feel at the bottom.

© Kathryn Atkins 2007

Kathryn Atkins

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Monday, February 12, 2007

Fogged In

A dense fog makes the trees weep, heavy or sad from the extra weight, we're not sure, Pepper and I, as we tiptoe in the eerie quiet, losing each other in the gray of it all. Shapes appear suddenly but softly in the blur of mist pulsing gently as fog does, as if it's alive, because it is, and covers our little park as efficiently as a righteous fog bank can hide San Francisco from itself--pyramid, bridges, and towers subdued by the rolling tide of a hearty pea souper, controlling traffic and people, spectres with headlights and foggy spectacles easing gingerly wondering if they will back-end or head-on collide into other moving or stationary objects. Light bounces off the thickened opaque air, not seeing through to the other side, a wall of molecules collected and convened for the purpose of hiding, causing havoc for travelers and filmmakers, haven for writers and lovers, cloakage for criminals and spirits, trademark weather for cities like San Francisco that wouldn't be San Francisco without it.