Apr 20, 2012 - How-To    2 Comments

Write Details

Some say God is in the details. Some say it’s the Devil. That only goes to show that heaven and hell aren’t as far apart as one tends to think. In this photograph, the subjects are  5″ tall or less. Yet, each object is a library of detail. This window looks out (or in) on at least a hundred stories. Looking out, the tale could be about a gardener. Gazing in, the poem might be about a cook. Or the scene could be used for something as simple as illustrating a blog post about capturing detail in your writing.

Detail is like a fact checker. If the writer or artist paints in specific details, we believe them. They couldn’t have made it up;  how that blood red rose is from  the “Men Only” bush out front, so named because the bush was a congratulatory gift from a lover to the writer for a play of the same name. The plant is also called a “knock out” rose, partly for the ease by which you can cultivate it. What is its name; that bird, that tree, that flower over there?

The pink rose was a present bought for a loved one’s birthday at Austin’s Zilker Botanical Gardens. Since  the two farmers invite wildlife of every kind to the yard and keep bees, all the roses must be hardy because they can’t use pesticides. Obviously, this is early spring, a good time for roses. The Japanese beetles have not yet attacked them.

The bee vase that holds the roses was purchased in Asheville, NC at a gallery called the Woolworth Walk, so named because all the art is housed in an old Woolworth building. There, you can still sit at a bar, eat a hotdog and drink a coke after touring a wonder world of arts and crafts. The vase was a souvenir bought for the beloved beekeeper.

The fuzzy, bright green mint tells endless stories to every Southerner. You can taste the fresh hint of it in a tall glass of iced tea. You may be sipping the scent through a straw planted in the middle of a mint julep. Mowing sends mint wafting through the yard every time you accidentally clip the edge of the bed. Where does the smell of freshly mown grass mixed with mint take you? Knowing how mint spreads reminds me of how those tiny purple flowers on kudzu vine smell like grapes.

By now, I’m sure you are getting my drift. Within every object we treasure resides a plethora of detail that tells a thousand different stories. We authenticate our stories, poems, songs, pictures with our details. The poet was in Austin, Texas in the spring of 2008 and we know it because she bought the rose bush that blooms like a waterfall outside her window and perfumes the house with a delicate pink scent. From the beekeeper who owns the vase there is, outside the frame, a jar of honey floating red and pink rose petals on its heavy surface. But that’s another story.

Find a spot in your own home that holds a handful of objects that are precious to you. Make a list of them. Beside them list their physical properties. Beside that, list the places and events that come to mind when you see them. Do a freewrite on what you see in your mind’s eye, the story in the details of either one or all of the objects. From your freewrite, form a poem using the details to define the experience. Put your reader right there where you were. Add several unusual specifics to authenticate your experience. “The rose wound itself in and out of a crippled bike; a thorny red dragon’s tail capturing forever a blue knight in mid-flight.”

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  • LOVE this post Mendy. And not just for the details. The whole thing is a poem! Thank you for sharing this…your #1 fan. 🙂 Leigh

  • I love the ideas that you share in this post. Thinking of the stories and details in the objects around us is such a great opening to writing. Thanks!!