Rough Draft: Declaration of Independence

Rough Draft DeclarationA lot of thought goes into writing anything, or at least it should. I love looking at the rough draft of The Declaration of Independence and imagining a room full of writers arguing over how it should read.

“The opening should grab attention,” says Franklin. “It won’t change anything if we can’t get them to read it in the first place.”

“The opening is important,” says Adams. “But how are they going to take it seriously with all these adverbial phrases?” Jefferson starts crossing lines out with his pen, annoyed.

“Working with all of you is impossible,” says Jefferson as he drips ink on the table. “There are too many cooks trying to brew this document. I’ll finish it on my own.”

“Hold on! Mind your mess!” says Sherman, mopping up the spills with his handkerchief.

“This is meant to be a cooperative effort with input from all present,” says Franklin, wiping his bizarre bifocal spectacles on his sleeve. “It’s ‘we the writers, Jefferson,’ not just you.”

In the corner, Livingston just sighed and wondered how this democracy idea would work in practicality.

You can see the rough draft Thomas Jefferson wrote of the Declaration of Independence, and many other national treasures, online at The Library of Congress.

 

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Of Ink and Blood

F Scott KeyThe pen is mightier than the sword. A sword can only hack dully against oppression, futile and clumsy against the walls built to contain us and hide truths. A sword can be taken, broken and buried.

A pen, on the other hand, is a fuse that can burn as long as needed to explode the same walls into dust. Every pen needs a writer to ignite it.

In 1814, Francis Scott Key was that writer that set the world aflame with his words. Aboard a British ship to retrieve a friend, he wound up watching the British bombardment of Fort McHenry over night. As the sun rose over the water, the exhausted Key was relieved to see the American flag still flying over the battered fort.

StampIn a moment of inspiration, he penned the words that would later be known as “The Star Spangled Banner,” an anthem that has represented a nation and fueled the spirit of independence. Before him, his compatriots spilled their blood to defend their ideals. Key spilled ink across parchment to honor them.

This Fourth of July, as the fireworks break open the sky with bright, riotous display and bar-b-ques keep things hot on the ground, give thanks to the writer who put words to a nation’s passionate refusal to bend to tyranny.

Words inspire us, energize us and move us to move. A shout fades, a fist tires, but words remain as long as there are eyes to read and minds to comprehend. Appreciate your writers, because they both prompt and record history—and good to have on your side.

Happy Fourth of July!

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The Root of All War

800px-People_jumping_on_the_beachWar is started over women, drugs, lands, religion, opinion, beliefs… but they all share the same root cause.

Whether a war is played out in back alleys or the global stage, it is the misguided pursuit of happiness that drives it.

We think we will be happy when we own things, attain a look, gain a province, win a right… blood runs in the name of righteousness and no conquest is a victory. We will be happy when… and we never win.

For most of us, happiness is an elusive mirage that seems to run just ahead of our horizon. We extend ourselves to reach it, knocking over everyone else as we strive to grasp and still our hands are empty. Happiness is a trick mirror in the funhouse, a riddle and a mystery… if we fight for it.

happinessThe truth: happiness is with each one of us this moment. We can’t do anything to earn it, we can’t win it in a battle and we will never run it down. Happiness isn’t a thing to attain, but a gift we already have inside us, waiting to be unlocked.

The key is real giving—the selfless kind that is done for the sake of bringing joy. The smallest actions done in love will unlock happiness. If we are happy, we will no longer fight to attain what we desire because we will have it. Happy people don’t make war.

 

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Friends in the Dark

dandelion|dandilyon|June—what a month! My cat died, my car got rear ended, work nearly killed me and I had two flat tires on my scooter… but… that cat was a good friend for 15 years, the girl who rear ended me became a good friend, and both flat tires happened with good friends at the rescue. On the whole, I think I came out of a tough month better off :) What did I learn from June?

“Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light.” —Helen Keller

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We Are Stronger

dandelion heartIt’s been a rough month as I have struggled with some professional decisions, but then today Mr. Smith helped me remember something very important: I am stronger than this.

I haven’t been able to eat or sleep much due to the stress, and I’ve turned into a cranky witch. I’d like to say it has just been the past month but it’s been the last few years. I used to think that “having a breakdown” was a myth, but after I experienced two panic-induced attacks where I almost passed out from hyperventilating, I’m a believer. I see two paths out of this: crack or grow through it.

I realized something else tonight: we are stronger. I’ve had my head down in my own little rut for awhile now trying to survive. Around me I’ve had friends lose their loved ones, their health, jobs… and yet somehow we are all still standing. My friends and family have helped me see things as they really are. They’ve helped me see beyond what I thought was a wall.

We may feel trapped by our situations but the prison is an illusion. We have choices, we can change. We are stronger.

 

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Knowing What to Leave Out

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Sometimes what isn’t said tells the best story.

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€2,000 Carrot Delays The Braid

SOF Book Front CoverI have been so excited to release The Braid… until my good friend Rachel told me about the Seán Ó Faoláin Short Story Competition. The prizes are worth going for; first prize:  is €2,000, publication in the literary journal Southword, and a week-long residency at Anam Cara Writer’s and Artist’s Retreat. I’d be happy with second prize of €500 and publication in Southword. Four more shortlisted entries will be selected for publication in Southword and receive a publication fee of €120.

The competition is open to original, unpublished and unbroadcast short stories in the English language of 3,000 words or fewer. The story can be on any subject, in any style, by a writer of any nationality, living anywhere in the world.

I’m going to submit The Braid and see what happens. I’ll publish in October after the Cork International Short Story Festival in Cork, September 23-26.

 

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And have no one to blame but yourself…

Lao Tzu quote

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Celebrate: Why not?

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Celebrating the small things with a small piece of art my son made!

The past few weeks I’ve forgotten to do my celebrate post. A life without celebration is like a meal with no flavor—so the first thing I’m celebrating this week is that I remembered to celebrate!

It was a tough week with lots of extra activity going on from car repairs and dentist appointments to extra responsibilities on the job with a workmate out. As the week ends I find myself ready for the weekend in a lot better shape than I expected. I’m celebrating weekends!

This week I thought a lot about friends and family. I am really, really lucky in that department. I have this crazy knack for meeting the most amazing, interesting and loving people. I’m celebrating that I am surrounded by the best of the best everyday.

Celebrate blog hopToday’s post is part of the Celebrate the Small Things Blog Hop hosted by Lexa Cain, L.G. Keltner at Writing Off The Edge and Katie at TheCyborgMom. To be part of this blog hop, all you have to do is put your name on the linky list and then post every Friday about something you’re grateful  for that week.  It can be about writing or family or school or general life. (Originated by VikLit)

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The Braid Cover Reveal

The Braid Cover 3The time has come to reveal the cover for my upcoming short story release, The Braid, available exclusively on Amazon.com.

I’m excited about this one and the line up I have ahead over the next few months. More news soon—

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