Tag Archives: Edgar Allan Poe

From the Archives: Listen to Your Inner Voice

To celebrate the one year anniversary of my blog (March 13th), I’m publishing select posts throughout the year under the title “From the Archives” for those who may have missed them the first time around.

Next up…Listen to Your Inner Voice

As the local high schools prepare for commencement ceremonies this weekend, I find myself reminiscing about my own high school graduation.

I was proud to have completed another milestone and at seventeen, I was almost officially an adult. I was looking forward to my next adventure in college. My mother had always joked that she and my father raised the five of us to be independent and then realized they had to live with us when we’d try to assert that independence. Obviously, I was more than ready to strike out on my own. Although I looked forward to that change, I was also saddened and a little uneasy by what it would bring. My whole world existed within a radius no wider than 20 miles.  I had traveled outside that small circle on a few occasions. It was both unsettling and exhilarating to leave the comfort of all I had known.

“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.” J.R.R. Tolkien

(Here I go with the quotes again). Looking back on it now I realize I had no clue where it would take me or how long it would be until I accepted who I really was. I had always been good at math, but not exceptional. I just didn’t enjoy it enough to put in any effort into studying. My mother was a math teacher, the head of the math department at my high school, She taught the talented and gifted classes, so naturally, I should pursue a career that involved numbers. I chose Accounting and ignored what my instinct was telling me. I’d always been something of a dreamer, a creative being who spent hours drawing and filled entire notebooks with poems (hopefully any record of those juvenile musings has long since been destroyed).

“Those who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night.”  Edgar Allan Poe

But my observation showed fortune doesn’t favor the dreamer, so I spent years suppressing that intuition. My idea of what I should become hinged on the opinions of others and what society expected. Success meant acquiring wealth, power, and possessions; at least that is how society had defined it. I was reluctant to give my opinion any value. I was just a kid after all, what did I know? Actually…it turns out I knew more than I thought. I discovered that another rung on the career ladder and a bigger house still left me unsatisfied. Why? Because society’s definition of success is a lie. Shouldn’t “happiness” figure most prominently in that definition?

If I were to give advice to the graduates this weekend, I’d tell them to listen to that inner voice. It is far wiser than we give it credit. No one knows you better than you know yourself. We each have our own unique combination of talents, abilities, experiences and perspectives. If you want to truly be successful, maximize the qualities that make you…you. Do what makes you happy. Ignore what others say you should do or be. Embrace who you are; otherwise, you waste the opportunity to leave your unique imprint on this world that says you were here and all of your experiences, talents and abilities mattered.

Since I’m discussing advice for graduates, I wanted to share some of my favorite commencement speeches. Take their advice: appreciate the benefits of failure and make good art.

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The Opening Line: How Do You Make It Memorable?

OO is for Opening Line

The Opening Line—probably the most important sentence you will write. Unlike the writers of the past, the modern writer in this fast-paced world needs to grab the reader’s attention as quickly as possible or risk losing the reader altogether.

What makes a good opening line?

Hmm…

In all the books I’ve read on the craft of writing, I don’t recall reading about the formula to writing a memorable opening line. If you know it, please do tell.

After analyzing some of my favorite opening lines, there doesn’t seem to be a  common thread that runs through each of them. They are all different. Some are long (A Tale of Two Cities) and some are surprisingly short (A Christmas Carol). What is it about these opening lines that make them so memorable?

My favorite opening lines contained at least one of the following:

• Imagery
• Contrast
• Intrigue
• Unique voice
• Compelling Mental Picture
• Sarcasm
• Shock
• Fear
• Dialogue

Imagery

“It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.” Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell

Contrast

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.” A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

Intrigue

“Midway upon the journey of our life, I found myself within a forest dark, for the straightforward pathway had been lost.” The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri

Unique Voice

“You don’t know about me without you have read a book by the name of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer; but that ain’t no matter.” The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain

Compelling Mental Picture

“On Friday noon, July the twentieth, 1714, the finest bridge in all Peru broke and precipitated five travelers into the gulf below.” The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder

Shock

“Marley was dead, to begin with.” A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

“My name was Salmon, like the fish; first name, Susie. I was fourteen when I was murdered on December 6, 1973.” The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

Sarcasm

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.” Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Fear

“Once upon a midnight dreary, as I pondered weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of someone gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.” The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe

Dialogue

And this one comes from our very own Sarah M. Cradit:

“‘All I’m saying is, Deliverance was based on a true story.’” The Storm and the Darkness by Sarah M. Cradit

 

What do you think makes a good opening line? What is your favorite opening line?

Here is a link to more famous opening lines from Wikiquote.

To see what other A to Z participants are blogging about this month, please click here to link to their blogs.

 

Listen to Your Inner Voice

As the local high schools prepare for commencement ceremonies this weekend, I find myself reminiscing about my own high school graduation.

I was proud to have completed another milestone and at seventeen, I was almost officially an adult. I was looking forward to my next adventure in college. My mother had always joked that she and my father raised the five of us to be independent and then realized they had to live with us when we’d try to assert that independence. Obviously, I was more than ready to strike out on my own. Although I looked forward to that change, I was also saddened and a little uneasy by what it would bring. My whole world existed within a radius no wider than 20 miles.  I had traveled outside that small circle on a few occasions. It was both unsettling and exhilarating to leave the comfort of all I had known.

“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.” J.R.R. Tolkien

(Here I go with the quotes again). Looking back on it now I realize I had no clue where it would take me or how long it would be until I accepted who I really was. I had always been good at math, but not exceptional. I just didn’t enjoy it enough to put in any effort into studying. My mother was a math teacher, the head of the math department at my high school, She taught the talented and gifted classes, so naturally, I should pursue a career that involved numbers. I chose Accounting and ignored what my instinct was telling me. I’d always been something of a dreamer, a creative being who spent hours drawing and filled entire notebooks with poems (hopefully any record of those juvenile musings has long since been destroyed).

“Those who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night.”  Edgar Allan Poe

But my observation showed fortune doesn’t favor the dreamer, so I spent years suppressing that intuition. My idea of what I should become hinged on the opinions of others and what society expected. Success meant acquiring wealth, power, and possessions; at least that is how society had defined it. I was reluctant to give my opinion any value. I was just a kid after all, what did I know? Actually…it turns out I knew more than I thought. I discovered that another rung on the career ladder and a bigger house still left me unsatisfied. Why? Because society’s definition of success is a lie. Shouldn’t “happiness” figure most prominently in that definition?

If I were to give advice to the graduates this weekend, I’d tell them to listen to that inner voice. It is far wiser than we give it credit. No one knows you better than you know yourself. We each have our own unique combination of talents, abilities, experiences and perspectives. If you want to truly be successful, maximize the qualities that make you…you. Do what makes you happy. Ignore what others say you should do or be. Embrace who you are; otherwise, you waste the opportunity to leave your unique imprint on this world that says you were here and all of your experiences, talents and abilities mattered.

Since I’m discussing advice for graduates, I wanted to share some of my favorite commencement speeches. Take their advice: appreciate the benefits of failure and make good art.

Quote of the Week: Edgar Allan Poe

I love quotes. They are on display throughout my home in frames and on plaques, plates, pillows, and mugs; especially in the room where I write. I use them in scrapbook pages that I create. They are on bookmarks or scribbled on scraps of paper that I insert in the pocket of my kindle cover. I have an app for them on my iPhone. I “like” them on goodreads. I even have them painted on my walls.

I love the way a few words, assembled together so eloquently and sometimes so simply, can stir your soul. A good quote can make you laugh out loud, move you to tears, or inspire you to act. I’ve included many of them in my posts and since I love them so much I thought I’d start a Quote of the Week post and share my favorites with you.

I also thought I’d start a Blogger Quote of the Week. I’m continually amazed at the caliber of writers in the blogosphere. I’m often inspired by the words I read on other blogs. I’d like to highlight their words in some way and document them in a place where I can refer to them again. So, look for my Blogger Quote of the Week. Who knows,? It could be one of yours.

Here is one for all the writers out there:

poe quote