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Outside Writing Group 3-10-15
Details details details: This exercise emerges from the chapter “The truth is in the details” in A Writer’s Book of Days by Judy Reeves (note that we spent less time writing version 2 than version 1):
Read over what you wrote today or read something that you brought with you. Underline the five senses: smells, tastes, sounds, sights, touch (or texture). Change “generic” words to more specific ones: “Car” might become a blue 2011 Toyota Camry. “Tree” might become pine. “Flower” might become a yellow carnation. “He was happy” might become “He laughed out loud (15 min).


Version 1
The sunshine the breeze it almost feels like spring. It is wondrous and beautiful. I am in absolute awe of it all. I sit by my window and feel the fresh air enter my lungs. I can breathe. It feels good. I imagine the pink blues and purple sunsets coming off the lake as it sparkles and glistens. This helps me to feel free like a wanderer that needs an escape into privacy. I picture myself on an island eating coconuts and sunbathing while I hear the waves coming in and going out. I believe I am truly at peace here which I enjoy tremendously. It is as though I have everything I need right there on this island of solitude and I count my many blessings thanking God for this earth with much gratitude.

Version 2
I am sitting on the beach on a deserted island eating delectable coconut which are very rich in taste. They are yummy. The sun is shining. I can hear the whisper of the trees blowing in the breeze. I am also listening to the sound of the waves coming in and going out. The ocean sparkles like shiny little glistening stars. It is unique and beautiful all on its own. It is awe inspiring and I smile at the thought of it all. It completely takes my breath away. It is so amazing that I laugh out loud with happiness. Continue reading

reentry, a house of cards, Pt. 3

Every few weeks, I am compelled to update you on Zoe (real name withheld).

by ckretred

by ckretred

She’s the formerly imprisoned woman that Sarah and I wrote with for three years at Chittenden Correctional Facility in Vermont before her release last May.

I’ve chronicled the immense challenges she’s faced this summer re-entering her life. (Sarah and I meet with her weekly.)

In reentry, a house of cardsyou heard about her struggles to find work; and her enrolling in two classes at Community College of Vermont.

Money was tight, forcing decisions such as do I get food at the supermarket, or use this 50 bucks to give others gas money to transport me around?

Continue reading

a letter from outside

thanks to

She’s been out maybe three months. In that time, she has continued to mail me her poems; asking for input, suggestions, my honest appraisal of their publishability. She is patient when I cannot respond by return mail. She remains grateful for the ongoing connection we have maintained thus far, in this fashion. Each time I hear from her I am humbled by her efforts, her willingness to stretch, her desire to change.

Yesterday, I received the following note from her even, round-lettered hand in blue ballpoint pen:

“Dear Sarah,

Thank you for your honesty and very helpful suggestions. It’s greatly appreciated! I am in the process of re-writing “Fascination” and will eventually re-submit it to you.

Also, thank you so much for the anthology. It’s wonderful. There’s some amazing work in there . . .  and so much of it for only three months.

I miss the circle so very deeply – it was my salvation while at CRCF. It is, for a lot of women, a reason to get up in the morning. What you do is more than teach. You show us how to be creative and expressive. You give us encouragement and tips. You make us feel VALUED. I wish I could still be there on Thursday nights. Your class was amazing. Thank you, Sarah!

I’ll be in touch. Please, give all the ladies my very best.