About Lee Martin

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So far Lee Martin has created 351 blog entries.

What Pauses Can Do for a Narrative

Yesterday, there was work to do—there’s always work to do, something to write, something to read—but, after brunch, Cathy said, “Why don’t you just rest?” I gave her my standard answer, “I’ve got so much I need to get done.” Her response? “Sometimes, it’s okay to not do anything.” So it is in the stories we tell. There comes a time when it’s okay for our characters to rest; it’s fine for us to allow them a few moments of pause. Here, then, are three ways we can think about what we can accomplish by slowing the narrative pace. 1.         [...]

By | 2018-02-19T08:25:08+00:00 February 19th, 2018|Uncategorized|7 Comments

Teachers Making a Difference

I had the privilege of talking to students in the AVID Program at Boyd High School in McKinney, Texas, last week. AVID stands for Advancement Via Individual Determination. The program is “a college readiness program that targets students with the potential of attending college who are not enrolled in advanced classes.” It helps prepare students for college, and I’d add it helps prepare them for life. One of the teachers in the program, Alice Ellenburg, proudly showed the group I was with a wall in the hallway that displayed enlarged copies of her students’ college acceptance letters. At her encouragement, [...]

By | 2018-02-12T07:51:43+00:00 February 12th, 2018|Uncategorized|5 Comments

Memoir as Discovery

A childhood friend sent me a snapshot today, one I didn’t know existed, but one I was so very glad to see. It’s a photograph of me in the home of my childhood friend. I must be around ten or eleven. I’m sitting on what appears to be a love seat, or an oversized stuffed chair. I’m wearing a green polo shirt and jeans with the legs rolled into cuffs. I have on low-cut white tennis shoes, and I’m smiling at someone out of the frame. It means a good deal to me to see that smile because there were [...]

By | 2018-02-05T12:18:33+00:00 February 5th, 2018|Uncategorized|3 Comments

The Addition and Subtraction of Revision

Cathy and I finished putting together a one-thousand piece jigsaw puzzle last night and were surprised to find we actually had one thousand and one pieces. Yep, you got it. We had a piece that was obviously meant for someone else’s puzzle. Oh, lordy, don’t you know that writing can often be like that. Let’s say you’re moving along with a plot, and you’re just letting things happen and you get to the end and you realize there’s this one plot move that wasn’t necessary because it had nothing to contribute to the closure. Now it’s just like that extra [...]

By | 2018-01-29T08:40:54+00:00 January 29th, 2018|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Gather and Release: The Energy of a Narrative

Finally, after a brutal stretch of snow and ice and cold, temperatures have moderated, and the thaw has begun. All that snow will now melt to water and run off into streams and tributaries and storm drains. Once we get above freezing, it has to go somewhere, right? During what I like to think of as a time of gathering, the snow accumulated and the cold set in, and I went out into it with my shoulders hunched against the wind and the muscles in my legs tensed as I carefully made my way over ice. I felt the tension [...]

By | 2018-01-22T08:03:11+00:00 January 22nd, 2018|Uncategorized|2 Comments

How We Spend Our Days: It’s Never too Late to Decide

I’m writing this post late on a Sunday evening because my wife and I spent the afternoon traveling from our home in Ohio to her hometown (a mere five miles from my hometown) in southeastern Illinois. We were supposed to make the trip tomorrow, but we decided to beat the snow that’s forecast for later this evening and on into the morning. It’s cold out here on the prairie. At the Casey’s convenience store, men in Carhartt overalls pump gas into pickup trucks. Somewhere down the street, a dog barks, agitated by who knows what. The strangled voice of a [...]

By | 2018-01-15T11:23:53+00:00 January 15th, 2018|Uncategorized|13 Comments

Writers and Uncertainty

Bernard Malamud once said, “Teach yourself to work in uncertainty.” I’d wager that at some point in the development of our craft, most of us have believed we had to know exactly where we were going with a piece of writing. In some instances, we were right. I’ve heard plenty of writers say they can’t begin a piece until they know the last move it will make, and in some cases, the last line. I’ve never been one of those writers, which isn’t to say that I devalue those who employ this strategy. I’m convinced there’s no one way to do [...]

By | 2018-01-08T08:49:49+00:00 January 8th, 2018|Uncategorized|0 Comments

A New Year for Writers: Tips for Getting through the Cold Spells

As 2017 comes to an end, much of the country finds itself in the midst of a brutal cold snap: temperatures near zero or below, snow, wind. Here in central Ohio we have three and a half inches of snow on the ground. We won’t be above freezing for more than another week. After a few mild winters, we find ourselves pole-axed by this return to a more expected weather pattern, but really why should we be surprised. Face it, we’ve been here before and will be again. Winter will give way to spring. By summer, we’ll have forgotten the [...]

By | 2018-01-01T09:23:30+00:00 January 1st, 2018|Uncategorized|2 Comments

If “If’s” and “But’s” Were Candies and Nuts

It’s Christmas Eve, and I’m thinking of something my father always liked to say: “If ‘if’s’ and ‘but’s’ were candies and nuts, we’d all have a merry Christmas. How could he not pay attention to the way possibilities often disappoint us after the farming accident that cost him both of his hands—the accident he could have prevented if only he’d shut down his tractor’s power take-off before trying to clear his picker’s shucking box of corn. That simple safety procedure would have stopped the snapping rollers in the shucking box from spinning, and, therefore, they never would have trapped one [...]

By | 2017-12-24T11:01:56+00:00 December 24th, 2017|Uncategorized|0 Comments

The Workshop Table Is a Welcome Table

Dusk comes early this time of year out in the country. Across the barren fields, pole lights come on in farm yards. Down a stretch of gravel road, headlights crest a hill and sweep across the horizon. Down lanes, lights fill the windows at houses, and sometimes I’m tempted to drive toward them, to knock on a door, to say, when someone answers, “Thank you for keeping the lights burning. Finally, I’m home.” Tonight, I saw the lights at a church set back from the road, and I knew that folks were gathering for Sunday services. As I drove past, [...]

By | 2017-12-18T07:44:49+00:00 December 18th, 2017|Uncategorized|6 Comments