Searchlights & Signal Flares


Tiny Lights' On-line Writer's Exchange

How do you make your intentions clear? (05/15/10)



Featured writer: Catherine Montague



Contributors this month:
Catherine Montague


How do you make your intentions clear?

by Catherine Montague

Intentions! Oh, my… that sounds like some dialogue out of a 19^th century novel, as in, "What are your intentions, sir?" delivered by Squire Dimwiddie, father of numerous daughters. The question implies naughty, or perhaps merely improvident, possibilities for the future.

My own intentions, literary or otherwise, are not always entirely serious. I avoid maintaining a serious attitude for more than a few hours at a time, so I suppose that means my intentions might be somewhat frivolous, even immature. Perhaps someday my intentions will grow up, but right now, I doubt it.

When I'm writing something of any substantial length, my intentions shift and change as the characters evolve. What starts out as a project to amuse myself quickly turns into an alliance with my imagined companions. I can't just go off and leave the poor things stuck in the uncomfortable situations I wrote them into: I have to save them from themselves. Or am I saving myself? Is that what all of us do, intentionally or not, when we re-create conflict-filled situations within our stories and memoirs?

Maybe it's all a big old do-over, trying to fix broken things after the fact. I guess that's why I guard myself against getting too serious. If I indulge my intentions too much, they might try to take over. And then where would I be? Pushed around by a bunch of half-baked intentions, no longer free to enjoy the unexpected treasures that wash up on my mental shoreline.

Intentions are fine and dandy, as long as I can see them for the fictions they are. It's nice to entertain them for a while, but like houseguests, they need to move on before they outlive their welcome.

Only then does it become clear that my immature intentions need to grow up and become… actions!



Catherine Montague will continue to work on various writing projects until approximately 35 seconds /before/ she gets bored with them. Her intent is to avoid boring potential readers. She lives in Sebastopol, CA, surrounded by well-intentioned souls, including her favorite plants and animals.



How do you make your intentions clear?

  by Catherine Montague

Intentions! Oh, my… that sounds like some dialogue out of a 19^th century novel, as in, "What are your intentions, sir?" delivered by Squire Dimwiddie, father of numerous daughters. The question implies naughty, or perhaps merely improvident, possibilities for the future.

My own intentions, literary or otherwise, are not always entirely serious. I avoid maintaining a serious attitude for more than a few hours at a time, so I suppose that means my intentions might be somewhat frivolous, even immature. Perhaps someday my intentions will grow up, but right now, I doubt it.

When I'm writing something of any substantial length, my intentions shift and change as the characters evolve. What starts out as a project to amuse myself quickly turns into an alliance with my imagined companions. I can't just go off and leave the poor things stuck in the uncomfortable situations I wrote them into: I have to save them from themselves. Or am I saving myself? Is that what all of us do, intentionally or not, when we re-create conflict-filled situations within our stories and memoirs?

Maybe it's all a big old do-over, trying to fix broken things after the fact. I guess that's why I guard myself against getting too serious. If I indulge my intentions too much, they might try to take over. And then where would I be? Pushed around by a bunch of half-baked intentions, no longer free to enjoy the unexpected treasures that wash up on my mental shoreline.

Intentions are fine and dandy, as long as I can see them for the fictions they are. It's nice to entertain them for a while, but like houseguests, they need to move on before they outlive their welcome.

Only then does it become clear that my immature intentions need to grow up and become… actions!



Catherine Montague will continue to work on various writing projects until approximately 35 seconds /before/ she gets bored with them. Her intent is to avoid boring potential readers. She lives in Sebastopol, CA, surrounded by well-intentioned souls, including her favorite plants and animals.



Searchlights Editor:

Susan Bono

Columnists:

C. Larson, B. Povich, M. Petty, C. Crawford, T. Sanders

Columnists Emeriti: Christine Falcone, David S. Johnson, Betty Rodgers, Jordan E. Rosenfeld, Betty Winslow


Susan Bono is a writing coach, editor and freelance writer living in Petaluma, CA. She has published Tiny Lights: A Journal of Personal Narrative since 1995, along with its online counterpart here at tiny-lights.com. She conducts creative writing classes in Petaluma and Santa Rosa and co-hosts the quarterly Speakeasy Literary Saloon at the Aqus Café in Petaluma. She's on the boards of Petaluma Readers Theatre and the Mendocino Coast Writers Conference. She is still writing a postcard a day. Her most recent publishing credits include Petaluma Readers Theatre, KRCB’s Mouthful, Milk and Ink, and Passager Magazine.

Marilyn Petty is a dyed-in-the wool Midwesterner, a long-ago émigré to California and a fortunate resident of Sonoma County, CA. She taught weaving through the SRJC for 8 years and was the reporter, essayist, editor and publisher of the Redwood Empire Handweavers and Spinners Guild for 10 years. When not tangling with yarns, she is unknotting words, writing poetry and personal essays. She putters in the garden when words fail her.

Catherine Crawford is a former technical writer, editor, and course materials developer for high tech industries. She has taught college English at the four-year degree level, published two award winning chapbooks of poetry, and written articles for 52perfectdays.com, a Portland, Oregon online travel magazine. She works as an editor in Vancouver, Washington. Her email: greenwriter1960@gmail.com

Claudia Larson, in her childhood, wrote long letters to her best-friend cousin and enthralled herself by writing a heart-rending story of two orphans. She writes fewer letters nowadays and prefers writing poetry and memoirs of her North Dakotan farm girl days. She is not yet an orphan, has six siblings and lives in Sebastopol, CA.

Becky Povich lives near St. Louis, Missouri. Although not young in "people years," she's only been writing for ten of those. Getting her first book completed, a memoir, is her current short-term goal. She can be reached at Writergal53@aol.com, or visit her blog at www.beckypovich.blogspot.com.

Theresa Sanders lives in suburban St. Louis, Missouri, where she is completing a novel. A former award-winning technical writer and consultant, she managed a Documentation and Training department before turning to her first love, creative writing. Her stories appear regularly in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. Theresa welcomes email and would love to hear from you. Contact her at: TheresaLSanders@charter.net


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