“Flip to a random page in a book at hand and make something inspired by the first sentence you read.”
I landed in the perfect place to complete today’s make something mission: an antique store in The Dalles, Oregon. While Jim poked around looking at old signs and boxes and bits and pieces, I leafed through books, books, and more books. One collection of poems for children, by Robert Louis Stevenson, captivated me.
I forgot to note the publication date of this edition, but the internet machine tells me A Child’s Garden of Verses was first published in 1885. That’s two years after Treasure Island and a year before The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I love knowing that this prolific author played with words in so many different ways. According to the RLS Website:
“Robert Louis Stevenson is not only remarkable for the number of works he produced in his twenty-year literary career, but also for the range of genres he adopted: essays, travel writing, short stories, novels and romances, as well as poetry, plays and biography. Stevenson also composed music for the flageolet.”
(A flageolet is a woodwind instrument, like a recorder.)
This reassures me that my own collection of written works may not be so haphazard after all. Perhaps it is even beneficial for a writer to compose a haiku one moment and a video script the next. An autobiographical essay one day and a company’s branding statement the next. A tasteless limerick one night, and a political rant the next. Maybe I am okay, after all. Maybe after I am dead, you will publish works I never even released. (RLS had seven works published posthumously. Just stay out of my private journals, okay?)
Anyway, here’s the page that fell open when I opened this small volume:
In this short verse, Stevenson prescribes the “whole duty of children” like this:
A child should always say what’s true
And speak when he is spoken to,
And behave mannerly at table:
At least as far as he is able.
For my own making, I offer this advice to writers, in similar form:
A writer should always describe and show
Through simple words that people know,
Offering readers common ground
To think about the world around.
The first sentence you read or write is important: http://marygilmartin.wordpress.com/abouttheauthor/
I agree, Mary! Thanks so much for finding my work and making a comment. I look forward to perusing your words as well.