Remembering Mr. Rogers, ten years on…

I was reminded by a tweet today from the blog Letters of Note that Fred Rogers died 10 years ago today. (The tweet linked to a couple of very sweet letters he’d sent to a family back in 1990.)

As usual with anniversary-type dates anymore, it seems both not that long ago, and longer, at the same time. So I dug back into my ancient Works files and found the poem I wrote that year, and thought I’d share…


Elegy for a Neighbor

Fred Rogers, 1928-2003


He’s coming through another front door now,
exchanging that blue sweater for something finer,
hanging it up with the rest of his earthly form,
though I hope he somehow keeps the sneakers,
still tosses one from one hand to the other
where the music ripples in delight.

The Neighborhood of Make-Believe is in official mourning,
their king laid to rest, the trolley still,
Picture Picture solemnly dark.
He will not be back, now, when the day is new.

I remember watching him again
when I was first on my own–
the apartment’s cable hadn’t been hooked up,
PBS and daytime talk the only options,
so I watched him while I ate lunch and thought
how much he was like an old family friend,
that adult who didn’t wave you away
with “you’re too young to understand,”

a little, really, like we think of God,
benevolent, comforting, loving his neighbor.
He didn’t even know my name
but liked me just the way I was,
told me it was okay to feel the way I did,
that everyone felt that way sometimes:
angry, sad, jealous, confused.

It’s okay, then, to feel the way I do now.
Dawn has been only gray and cold,
but I turn away from the news
and stand to look out into the morning.
Snow covers the houses
like a child’s beloved blanket.

It is the beginning
of another beautiful day.



My Name is Renee, and I’m a Notebook Addict

Back in January, the awesome blog Notebook Stories posted my notebook collection as part of their Notebook Addict of the Week feature. (At first I wasn’t sure how I’d missed their tweet about it, but then I realized that was the same time as a four-day Internet outage and me subsequently working like crazy for the week after that, trying to make up all those hours.)

Needless to say, when I read June Thomas’ Slate piece on the subject this week, I understood it completely, on an almost embarrassingly profound emotional level.

I know there are writers who don’t keep notebooks. Intellectually, I understand that composing on the computer has a lot of benefits that paper can never match — for starters, not having to retype things, the ease of making backup copies, and simple searchability. I’m not against composing with a keyboard when that’s more convenient (full disclosure: I’m typing the first draft of this blog post on my Alphasmart Neo) or when the mood strikes me to change materials and methods to break through a block.

I also get what Stephen King was talking about when he once advised writers not to keep a notebook, that if an idea is good enough to be written, if it connects with you enough and is important enough, you’ll remember it, and the things you’ve forgotten weren’t worth pursuing anyway. (Though I counter that with the notion that there’s a certain psychological comfort in knowing that even if that idea that just came to you is crap, it’s at least written down, so you won’t forget it and then have that annoying nagging sense of having forgotten something even though you know you’re probably remembering the notion of it as better than it actually was.)

That said — to me, a writer without some kind of notebook is like an artist without a sketchbook. (Though there are probably those now, too, given digital media.) It’s a place to experiment, fool around with materials, catch stray thoughts and try to fit them together like puzzle pieces. For me there’s a definite tactile pleasure in writing longhand that a keyboard can’t match, especially since my job requires me to spend full-time hours at this computer as it is. And oddly, I find that writing on a keyboard feels public (probably from all those LiveJournal posts and emails and so on over the years), while writing on paper feels inherently private (maybe because of all those paper journals I kept off and on growing up). Even if I’m writing out a story that I hope others will read later, when I’m writing it in a journal, it feels like it’s only meant for me, and that feels safe. And when I feel safe, the writing is easier and, I think, better.

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Two links: Flash fiction and an interview

My flash fic “The Quiet Dark” is now online at Mustang’s Monster Corral, accompanied by another fun little piece by Ken Goldman. The timing of our submissions was a coincidence, but it looks like we’ve almost wound up with two sides of the same story. 🙂

(Read “The Quiet Dark” at Monster Corral)

In other flash-related news, the interview with me by Women on Writing has now been posted on their blog:

(Read interview)

Haven’t been doing much writing lately, but I did spend a recent afternoon doing some brainstorming/outlining for a novella I’m planning to write this spring. It looks like Camp NaNoWriMo has scheduled this year’s two sessions for April and July, so I’m figuring on getting a solid draft banged out during April…