A #summer of #writing & #motherhood, part 1: Every Pebble Has Potential.

“Mommy, look! It’s a magical stick!”

“That’s nice, Bash.”

“Can I take it home?”


“Can I pleeeeease take it home?”

“Look, you can put it on the porch, okay?”

Bash’s speech follows two patterns: wistful questions and squeals of delight. (Flat out screeching is a separate matter.)

“Look, a pinecone! Can I keep it?”

“Look, Mommy, a red rock! I’ve always wanted a red rock!”

“What a pretty flower! Can we take it home?”

“Is this a rock, or is this bird poop?” (He takes special care to ask this before picking up the “rock”…he does now, anyway.)

So it grows, Bash’s collection: flower petals, bits of chalk, wood chips and tire bits from other parks, broken toys, pine cones, walnut shells, feathers, nests, little crab apples, those wee white tables put in the middle of a pizza to keep the delivery box from crushing it, wilted berries, stickers whose adhesive sides are coated by hair, fuzz, and crumbs, fragments of plastic left in the dirt by the previous homeowners, nuts, rocks, dirt clumps that look like rocks: all must be gathered up, for all are precious somehow. He’ll build rock factories, line up the sticks according to size, put his own plush animals into the nests and dirt and make himself a zoo. In Bash’s world, every single itty bitty whatzit has potential. Even torn up bits of boxes can become treats for animals or meteors from space. Every scrap of paper is a map, a note, a ticket to somewhere. My son hoards like a magpie, but with a purpose, too.

Writing’s rather like that.

For all the freewriting we muck through, there is always a find: maybe a name, a sentence, a detail, that has all the potential in the world—or in this case, in a story. Drafts always come out with quite a few holes, slanted walls, plumbing mixed with the wiring. It may as well have been created by the Three Stooges. But it’s in those moments where we dig into our collection of rescued words, a collection we could never live without, and discover just the patch, the nut, the stone that fits in a way we never thought possible.

I can’t imagine my home without Bash’s collection on the front porch. My eyes watch how his little hands reach into the grass of our yard and hold up yet another treasure the rest of the world overlooked. These tangibles feed his imagination in ways I can never predict.

And I love it.


71 thoughts on “A #summer of #writing & #motherhood, part 1: Every Pebble Has Potential.

    • It’s almost strange how these things stick with us, that we may not even look at them for weeks, but while cleaning we stumble upon it and can’t imagine getting rid of it….
      I don’t have any such artifact, sadly, but I was given a short story paperweight by a teacher years ago. If my story weighed more than the rock (about the size of a fist and pretty heavy to boot) I couldn’t turn it in. I, um, apparently wrote a bit too much for his liking. Ah well.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Love this Jean. Our boys are 10 and 12, and I miss that age when little things amaze and incite imaginative trips. We still have some of that, and I watch and listen for it, But its more me by myself wandering around nature, saying “wow” now. As far as writing, I have great respect for how each writer’s process … how stories and characters emerge whether fiction or nonfiction. Write on! I will do the same 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you! The scar upon his eyebrow from HIS stitches (running around the house and colliding with a wall’s corner (yes, this means we had to hit the hospital twice within four weeks for extremely bloody head injuries)) looks rather villainous, but more like a James Bond villain kind of villainous, so there’s still lots of potential for his imagination there. 😉 xxxxxxxxxx You keep healing, Friend!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Don’t you DARE do any more home improvement projects during that insomnia! Read MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS or something. I’ve actually picked that Christie classic back up since Bo told me Kenneth Branagh is bringing Hercule Poirot back to the big screen…

        Liked by 1 person

      • Me…home improvements. Never. For they are the most tedious thing. I am the one who shops for food and does the cooking (I’m not much use at most things, yet I can cook). My dear wife does the DIY and things that make me glaze over.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Ah, you’re a good husband. I’m such a lousy domestic, and I put Bo to work whenever possible, the poor guy. He doesn’t seem to mind too much, so long as I keep the kids at bay. Plus the last time I cooked I didn’t completely turn the burners off, which meant I was breathing gas while cleaning up the kitchen. Made myself intensely dizzy, sick, and unable to talk.
        I have been far more careful with that pesky stove since then!

        Liked by 1 person

      • I imagine you don’t smoke. With the gas on you could have set fire to the place lighting a fag! I must admit I enjoy the shopping and the cooking – it’s another way of ‘people watching’. Long since, I’ve banned Shirl from the shops. She is prone to waves a boredom and becomes dangerous. Once in a check-out queue (this is merely one example) she was stood in front of me. Then, out of the blue she turns about face, slaps me round the face saying, ‘How dare you’. At that point all the people in the queue stare at me as if I’m a pervert and the gal on the till asks if she should call the police! It is the little things like that that have given rise to the ‘ban’…while I’m writing, another incident. There’s Shirl heavily pregnant with George. We are outside, for no good reason, a wedding dress shop in the beautiful city of Bath. All of a sudden she bursts into pretend tears then bellows loudly, ‘You said you’d marry me’. Passers by looked at me with utter contempt!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Ye gods, that is a dangerous boredom! I’ve also noticed that urgent care’s a great place to people-watch when kids sit still for twenty seconds, but I’d rather not go back there any more this month. Season. Year. Yes, could do without that. I’ll take the big ol’ Wal-Mart any day over yet another visit to urgent care. (Oddly enough, Wal-Mart’s quite the cross-section of classes, too. For all the poo-pooing affluent Americans do of Wal-Mart, they sure can’t keep away!)

        Liked by 1 person

      • She is a gem on occasion; a nightmare when a boredom kicks in. Basically, I can’t let her in a retail environment and not feel anything other than stressed out.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I love YOU and your writing and photos and your uniqye perspective!!! We have no Internet at Munchkin so I’m using my phone. Drinking coffee cup #2 in your honor…and will dedicate cups #3 and #4 to you too.

    Dyane “Wannabe Bigfoot” Spydy the 1st 😉

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh I’m still figuring it out, too. If I’m right–and that chance is slim–whenever someone just tweets an article with hashtags in it, then anyone checking out the hashtag of that category will see the article, vs. when a title has no hashtags, so then is just out there in the great “uncategorized” world of Twitter. As it is I have to alter the title slightly because there’s no moving hashtag for “summer,” but there is for “summerfun.” Yay Twitter. (sigh)

      Liked by 1 person

  3. My beautiful, willowy granddaughter is now 12 years old and taller than me – but I can recall her as a bumbling toddler squatting for nearly an hour at a petting zoo, oblivious of the cold while I shivered at the other end of the reins and made enthusiastic noises in response to her delighted burblings. And what had her so rapt and excited? Stones… we were standing on a gravel path and if I hadn’t finally gently encouraged her away, my pocket crammed with her offerings, we might still be there…

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Fab! Seeing the potential in everything. My daughter used to collect pebbles of all sizes until one day she came back with dad from the beach and in the boot of the car was a friggin boulder – she had managed to convince dad that it would look good back home with us.We had to reign her in a bit after that. It was big. But what an imagination your son has! And love the parallels you identify with the writing. And yes, children are so wrapped up in the moment they don’t notice the elements unless it’s to dance with them. Lovely post 🙂 xx

    Liked by 2 people

    • LOL! Bash filled the compartment next to the seat of his car with rocks and sticks. I had to gather them up to make sure they wouldn’t go flying on the ride home from the park. But no boulders. Not yet, anyway. 😉 Thanks, Friend. xxxxxxx

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I sound like everyone else, but it WAS a lovely post, so I’ll say it too!
    I have to wrestle with my eldest to throw ANYTHING away- every piece of trash in the house is precious, and even though she has 100+ pieces of play food it is SO much more fun to pack up socks or scraps of construction paper or rocks or…
    I need to organize my writing ‘collection.’ Most of it is in my head, and it’s either WAY to cluttered or WAY to empty in there to find anything…
    We need to get him to a beach out here. You’ll have to probably bring an extra bag though, we have lots of nice rocks. 🙂
    Are you Nanowrimoing? Did you decide?

    Liked by 2 people

    • Ah, for a trip to your place! We’d love that so much. But I think we’d need several bags…and a pickup truck… 😉
      Alas, no, no NaNo for me. I thought of it, but I’ve been lucky to get one day of writing in a week.
      And thanks, of course, Friend. xxxxx


      • Sounds like a good call. Without even teaching full time I’m seeing the school year looming ahead and wondering where in the WOLRD I’m going to find time for all of these goals I’ve set. :p Still, it seems like Wynne is coming along splendidly, even without NaNawhatsit being involved.
        My kids were just saying how much they want to get back your way too…someone really needs to invent the Startrekian transporter. It would make life so much easier…

        Liked by 2 people

      • Blondie misses y’all, too. Well and Bo. And me. The boys don’t seem to miss anyone in particular. 😛
        And thanks. I wish I could write Wynne more than once a week, but we gotta take what we can get, right?


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  8. This lovely post reminded me of my own son and myself. My most memorable magpie moment was in the 3rd grade. Our family was taking a trip to Hawaii and I had packed for something special. In my backpack, taking up precious space, I’d included a 2lb slab of wax we used to draw volleyball courts on asphalt for annual block parties. I thought we might need the wax, just in case, on our Hawaiian trip. Not exactly the same as Bash, but with a similar theme: you never know what might be special or important—better to bring those things along.
    As a parent I have to monitor these same things in my child—what is a treasure to be repurposed and what is just garbage? It’s not always an easy judgement call. My own father chuckled at the discovery of my wax and forced me to abandon it in the hotel room before we boarded the plane. He was right, but I still worried that maybe we’d need that darn wax for a game or something magical (it looked just like a shard of unmelting ice).
    I love how you’ve let Bash’s imagination run—and your own too! Obviously, decades later I still remember my wax. What will our sons remember as they enter their adult lives? Hopefully, in my case, he remembers the recombinant nature of objects. All of what they are may not always be what they seem at first glance

    Liked by 1 person

    • Indeed! I used to hoard so many little things, especially scraps of paper–they were books for my toys, little maps, relics, etc. I know I’ve tossed a lot of that out since getting married, but somewhere there’s a bin in my basement with a few scrawls. Maybe they’ll be in the hands of a grandchild someday. 🙂 xxxxxxxxxxxx

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Pingback: #blastfromthepast in #writing #fantasy to #celebrate my #arc #giveaway #countdown: “In Praise of Found Things.” | Jean Lee's World

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