photo-3I’m currently working on some sonnets for a reading I’ve been invited to do on Tuesday. Some of you already know this because I’ve hit you up for some words. Thank you for your indulgence. And to the person who sent in “ooze,” a very special thanks. That’s a good one.

Sonnet-writing is a great exercise in finding the exact right word for the job. I’m constantly seeking out differing syllables and stresses in addition to latching onto a word for its meaning. In daily thought or tuning in to the news or even in overhearing a conversation in a restaurant, I find myself listening to language with a specific intent: to find words that work well in iambic pentameter because of their rhythm and rhyme.

And it amazes me that for every sonnet, I get about a half page of “salvage” language. I personally don’t believe in throwing language away, though I’ve heard some writers do. So, what I have now is all these snippets of iambic pentameter hanging out in a document together, waiting for something to be done with them. Here’s a favorite: They never wanted entry to the fray, and another: The time inside the bundles of your mind.

Salvage is salvage. Years ago, when doing major remodeling on my little house, I spent a lot of time at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore in Winona. (I love that place—an entire store filled with fixtures and furniture salvaged from old houses, and offered at affordable prices if you do some cleanup work.) When walking through that store every weekend, I found myself picking things up and saying, “Where would I put this?” because it was never a matter of if I needed that blue toilet, 12-bulb chandelier, 14-foot arch-topped French doors (they had three sets, bigger than my house!), but for me, it was only a matter of where I needed these things.

In sonnet-writing, I find myself thinking of words and saying, “Oh, that’s a good one. Where will I put it?” Because it’s never a matter of if I need the word, it’s a matter of where I need it.

Listen to language. You might have to move around a bit to find something worth listening to, but it’s out there. And it’s our job to do something great with it. Happy hunting, friends.

My first book, Upside Down Kingdom, is available on Amazon. I’ll sign it for you.