It Depends on Your Point of View

Text and photo by Virginia Parker Staat

“Reality simply consists of different points of view.”
~ Margaret Atwood

It seemed like a good idea at the time. It’s wildflower season here in Texas, and each spring David and I take a trip to the Hill Country to find and photograph as many bluebonnet fields as we can. Because we store our truck camper at a friend’s farm in East Texas, it takes a day to pick it up and another to take it back. We were short on time this year, so we decided to tent camp instead.

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It Depends on Your Point of View

By Virginia Parker Staat

“Reality simply consists of different points of view.”
 ~ Margaret Atwood

Before writing any story, we must choose our narrator’s position to describe events and opinions. Then we must stick to it. This position is called point of view (POV). It is an important discipline in our writing because readers become confused when writers head hop from one character to another, particularly within the same paragraph. Point of view is about creating intimacy between our reader and our subject. 

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Telling the Bees

Text and photo by Virginia Parker Staat

“Stay at home, pretty bees, fly not hence!”
~ John Greenleaf Whittier, 1858

Our beehive is draped in black. While my rendition of this time-honored tradition may be a little backwards, the sentiment is much the same. The custom of “telling the bees” is believed to have come from Celtic folklore when beehives were an intricate part of a family’s existence. Bees were informed of major events in a beekeeper’s life, including births and deaths. Some would even provide a slice of wedding cake for the colony if the beekeeper married. John Greenleaf Whittier’s 1858 poem, Telling the Bees, immortalized the tradition by relaying the story of the narrator overhearing a chore girl talking about him, whispering to the bees about his true love’s death.

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Crikey! It’s National Punctuation Day

By Virginia Parker Staat

 “England and America are two countries separated by a common language.”
~ George Bernard Shaw

I recently edited a children’s book written by a Glaswegian friend of mine (aka, a native of Glasgow, Scotland). I quickly recognized that editing his book would take a bit more effort on my part than I originally anticipated. I had forgotten about the many differences between American versus United Kingdom styles of spelling and punctuation. 

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The Doctor is IN

By Virginia Parker Staat

 “What kind of advice do you expect for only a nickel?”
~ Charles M. Schulz: Peanuts, Lucy van Pelt from her Psychiatry Booth

Lucy van Pelt didn’t have a lemonade stand in the Peanuts cartoon series. She had a psychiatry booth. From behind her rickety, wooden booth, Lucy offered her own brand of advice to whomever had a nickel. Surprisingly, Lucy can be a role model for us writers. 

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Wisdom from a Master

By Virginia Parker Staat

“Sometimes a person needs a story more than food to stay alive.”
~ Barry Lopez

Acclaimed nature writer Barry Lopez passed away on Christmas Day, 2020. I recently read a tribute to Lopez in the journal ISLE: Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment. I learned several interesting things about the man. For example, Lopez was an accomplished photographer before he became a writer. Perhaps his beginning in photography enabled him to paint those lovely landscapes into words. Lopez was a master at writing landscapes. His lyrical descriptions earned him a National Book Award and other exemplary honors.

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The Original Photo Essay

Photos & text by Virginia Parker Staat

“Visual storytelling utilizes both language and art to pass on
the essence of who we are.”  

~ Debbie Millman

It has been over a year since David and I visited Australia. One of the highlights of our journey was our trip to the Mitchell Falls rock art complex. These ochre paintings are believed to be among the oldest surviving rock art in the world. Some as old as 80,000 years.

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A Run-In with the Run-On

By Virginia Parker Staat

Punctuation is a courtesy designed to help readers to understand a story
without stumbling. ~ Lynne Truss

It was early in my college career, long ago and in a time when students learned to diagram sentences. One of my English professors challenged the class to diagram a 1,288-word sentence. It was a convoluted, rabbit-trail of a sentence, filled with countless clauses. I took the challenge… and failed miserably.

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Listen to the Music

by Virginia Parker Staat

When the lyrical muse sings, the creative pen dances. ~ Aberjhani

I am working to revive an old manuscript. The story is the retelling of a myth I found buried in the ancient Mayan Popol Vuh. It is a strange and lovely story but has remained so incomplete and unsatisfying to me that I tucked it away in a drawer for nearly twenty years. When I pulled it out of its hiding place several weeks ago, the secret to what is missing fairly exploded in my face. Quite simply, my words lack rhythm. They do not dance.

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Believing in Fairy Tales

By Virginia Parker Staat

“Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.” ~ Neil Gaiman

I suppose some may consider it an odd place for a nonfiction writer to begin, but for me, the fairy tale structure is the one I use most frequently. Fairy tales use a narrative structure, which lends itself well to nonfiction. I’m not talking about fairy tale formula. I can’t recall a single piece of nonfiction that includes magic beans or a pumpkin turning into a carriage. Rather, a fairy tale narrative structure uses specific building blocks to tell a story. This narrative structure determines how our plot is unveiled to our readers. 

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