Learn to Jot Down Notes As You Pass Through Your Days – Dorothy Wordswoth May Have First Noted William’s Host of Daffodils

Yesterday morning, I walked outside and down to my back garden area, and I noticed that the sweetest of fragrances had filled the air all around me. I couldn’t understand what was making that sweet smell. The honeysuckle along my fence had just begin to bud. It had no fragrance yet, and my roses were in the same stage. I had no fragrant flowers blooming at all, but my tulips trees had dropped golden cups all around my yard.

My tulip trees are very tall, and their blossoms are at the top of the tree. This is my first year to garden in my new home in the Ozarks, and before this year, I had never been around a tulip tree before. I had no idea how fragrant this species is, and because my tulip trees shade my yard almost entirely, I had plotted to have them chopped down. But these pasts two days, I have changed my mind.

Yesterday, while I was standing beneath one of  the trees and looking upward, these words formed in my mind:

“Tulip blossoms fill the air,
And perfumed cups drift down.
The garden gate and picket fence
Surround my tulip town.”

The lyric isn’t great, but today I have been trying to frame a picture book manuscript around these words, and I am not having a great writing day, but I want to recommend the habit of  continuous observation and the continually writing of notes about those observations. Fortunately, I have been writing notes and jotting down observations for years, but after several years of life’s interruptions, I am only now beginning to write picture books that I intend to submit for publication.

This week, I am participating in an online Picture Book Writeathon #NAPIBOWRIWEE and I am pulling some of those notes together and using them in the picture books that I am writing during this time.  To other people who are participating in the challenge, it probably seems as though I am scribing my stories with lightning speed, but the truth is that it has taken a lifetime for me to write these stories. Almost everything that I write is in some way related to the events that became my own life or what I have heard my parents say about theirs. Before today, I have only slightly altered stories that I had begun to write in years past.

My observations about my tulip trees are not something from the past. My Tulip Town was inspired by an observation that I had yesterday.

A couple of days ago, I was outside, and I noticed that the air was heavy and was threatening rain. My dog was sitting with me, and I was drinking sweet iced tea on the porch. Not much later, drops of rain began to fall. As soon as I had darted inside, the following words formed in my mind;

Baby Girl and I were just outside, feeling the moisture build in the air, and watching our garden grow. Apparently, the clouds are full enough, and we have dashed inside–our sweet tea and cushions bouncing as we go.

I certainly don’t believe that this is a great verse either, but I never know when similar words will filter into something that I am writing on another day. The main thing, however, is that my feeling mind is always turned on, and I always try to see things freshly and to find some sort of beauty and perhaps even lyricism in life.

I recommend Dorothy Wordsworth’s Grasmere Journal as an example of how to continually captured daily life in a  lyrical way. There is speculation that it was Dorothy and not her brother William who first captured the beauty of the field of daffodils that William reference in his I Wander Lonely As A Cloud.

“…& at last under the boughs of the trees, we saw that there was a long belt of [daffodils] along the shore, about the breadth of a country turnpike road. I never saw daffodils so beautiful they grew among the mossy stones about & about them, some rested their heads upon these stones as on a pillow for weariness & the rest tossed & reeled & danced & seemed as if they verily laughed with the wind that blew upon them over the Lake, they looked so gay ever glancing ever changing. This wind blew directly over the lake to them. ” April 15, 1802

Allow me to end this by admitting that I do not journal daily, but I do tend to continuously synthesize what I see and feel around me into simple words. My goal is to record all of those snippets of my mind and to be patient when nothing around me seems worthy of recording.

Moments ago, I noted on Facebook: For me, creating is a bit like my gardening. Some days, I run outside and search for new blooms, but none are there. And some days, my paints seem like plastics, and my mouth is dry. But that doesn’t prevent me from dashing out to the garden again. Today, I’m filled with dust and cotton mouth, but I look ahead to the days that I can sow sonnets in the dust.


Sowing Sonnets
by Jacki Kellum

Word found,
Twist it round,
Listen for the fairy sound.
Feelings bound,
Thoughts profound,
Sowing seeds in sonnet ground.

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