2019 has been a very busy year so far, preparing for the arrival of NO MORE TIME, book #5 in the Dodie O’Dell mystery series. There were copy edits, reading page proofs, and now setting up online promotions for the July 23 debut. All the while I’ve been writing book #6 – KILLING TIME! But in the midst of the creative, critical, and marketing processes, I carved out time to attend the Tennessee Williams Literary Festival in New Orleans in March. It was a wonder! Master classes, literary workshops, performances at various venues, and special guest appearances (actress Patricia Clarkson and novelist Michael Cunningham). Not to mention the food, drink, and music of the city… It was indeed a festival, a celebration of all things literary – fiction, non-fiction, plays, poetry. There was something for everyone. I personally attended master classes focusing on writing dialogue, establishing a sense of place in story, and creating forward momentum in a narrative.
But one session was particularly notable: the power of observation and use of detail in one’s writing. The workshop leader asked attendees to make a list of ten details we noticed on our way to the historical museum that hosted the master class. New Orleans being New Orleans, there was plenty to observe…the line at Café Beignet, street musicians already playing at nine a.m., the hustle and bustle of tourists, natives, and street cleaners. We were then asked to integrate the details in a piece of writing. The results were rich and interesting! Since I’ve returned from the festival, I find myself “noticing” more as part of my daily routine: the neighbor’s flower bed just beginning to bloom, the gray house with broken shutters that looks deserted, the newly paved parking lot where construction equipment stood last month. And the man in the red hoodie, black socks, and striped shorts walking his tiny dog. See what I mean? All I have to do is look around… So as I spring into summer, I am determined to be more observant. Who knows what I’ll see…!