Tuesday, January 5, 2010



We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is, knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out.
~ Ray Bradbury






Isn't this quote perfect? It is one of my favorites. It makes me think of Wordsworth and the poem I shared with you not long ago.

We are always living, learning, observing, remembering, feeling things - every moment, awake or asleep. Think about it. Awake AND asleep, we are being filled. But with what? Humanity. Literature - all of it - is meant to teach us what it means to be human. Even most animal stories are told through human personification. We are being filled with the human condition, which for writers, is the very breath of our craft.

I love to remind myself periodically that everything - good, bad, or otherwise - is food for my imagination. Every experience, every snowfall, every kidism I laugh at, is breathing "life" into my stories. Yes, we sometimes make stuff up, but it all centers around a broader human message. I love that! Whatever you experience today, may it bring you ideas galore.

What are some tricks you use to let out the beautiful stuff life fills you with?

36 comments:

Corey Schwartz said...

What a great post, Shannon! Love the quote.

Kristen Torres-Toro said...

Yes, they are! I love that too!

Ha! Whenever someone infuriates me (like stupid Ga drivers at Christmas time, not that I have any recent stories-HA!), I just mutter under my breath about how that idiot just made it into a novel. :0) It's cathartic and hopefully a successful method of processing (one day) at the same time!

Tamika: said...

Beautiful quote Shannon!

Everyday is a new opportunity to share God's goodness with others. My husband says all the time when I grumble about doing to my day job, "it's another chance to minister."

Bethany Mattingly said...

I love this line, "We are being filled with the human condition, which for writers, is the very breath of our craft." You're so right. I try to use what I see of the world and in humanity in my books, it breathes life into my characters.

Falen said...

This is an awesome quote. I'm going to have to steal it ;-)

Roxane B. Salonen said...

Shannon, I love this, too! And it's so true. Wow! Never heard it quite like this before. I guess you just spilled a bit of that beauty out of your cup, and we are the beneficiaries. I try to pay close attention to those things in my life that catch me; those things I can't quite walk on by, whether it be something my kids said or someone else said or did. If it got a second glance, it deserves a third, usually. If it pushed my humanity button, it's likely to be something that is universal, or worth sharing with others. Thanks for helping me pay even closer attention. Not everything we see will show up in our work, but it all does become a part of who we are, and eventually quite a bit of the good stuff spills out if we're attentive.

Roxane B. Salonen said...

P.S. Randomness from yesterday: I'll be 42 in September. How about you? I'll check back for answer since I'm keeping my introductions comment box dialogue-free (so as to focus on the readers). :)

Catherine Denton said...

Gorgeous picture, and quote. This is a great post. And good to remember everything comes together and surfaces in our creations.

Simon C. Larter said...

Music does it for me. It primes the pump of my imagination, and if it's new music that's moving me, I might just have one of those days where everything clicks. I love those days.

Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com said...

I love the picture :)

Lisa and Laura said...

Thank you for putting it so perfectly. I always try to find beautiful in the ordinary--how a woman at a coffee shop sips her coffee and amuses her baby at the same time, how teenagers gossip and laugh at the library after school, etc. When I'm writing, I close my eyes and pull up the images I've logged.

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Corey - Thanks, Corey!

Kristen - Cathartic is a good word for it. :)

Tamika - "another chance to minister" I like that! :)

Bethany - Thanks. Breath of life = more than words on paper.

Falen - Be my guest! :-)

Roxane - I'm glad you enjoyed the post. I turn 42 at the end of March - ugh!

Catherine - Thank you!

Simon - Yep! Music is always good. :)

Juju - Thanks. Me too!

LiLa - That was beautiful. I think your comment has the makings of a post. :)

Jennie Englund said...

That's really a great quote.

I'm going to share it with my students on Thursday: Narration Day.

Carolina Valdez Miller said...

Oh beautiful...exactly what I needed today. Thank you.

Kristi said...

Excellent quote...thanks for sharing!

Wendy Morrell (aka Quillfeather). said...

Great quote, indeed.

PS. A lovely glass of wine usually lets the beautiful stuff out. Just saying... :)

Tamara Hart Heiner said...

um...writing. Yeah. That's pretty much what I do. Anything that upsets me, makes me think,makes me feel good, I save it for writing.

Julie Dao said...

That is one of my favorite quotes. This post is beautiful and really makes me think... it's so easy to get overwhelmed by the filling and even easier to forget that there is beautiful stuff inside too. Thanks for sharing!

Kimberly Franklin said...

Great quote! I believe all experience good and bad serve as inspiration for my writing. Thanks for sharing!

Marybeth Poppins said...

Ok I have to admit that although I loved the quote, I can't get the little teapot song out of my head!

I agree with Simon though...definitely music!!!

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Thanks for sharing a lovely cuppa today. It's like stopping by for tea and a chat. :D

Kelly said...

What an awesome quote!
Sometimes I feel so hectic, I really need to stop to let everything soak in more often!

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Jennie - I've shared it with my students before too :)

Carolina - I've read your post for today, and you are welcome! :)

Kristi - Glad you liked it.

Wendy - Mmm...

Tamara - Just don't forget to let it spill back out! :)

Julie - Thanks, Julie. That makes me feel good.

Kimberly - Yep! You're welcome.

Marybeth - Hahahaha! You always crack me up, girl.

Tricia - Oh, darn...I forgot the scones!

Kelly - me too! :)

Mary Campbell said...

Wonderful qoute. I walk. Nothing clears my head like walking.

Diana Paz said...

That's beautiful, thank you!

Robyn Campbell said...

Beautifully spoken! And timely. My sweet cat died today. He was eleven and his sweet brother Blue passed away not two months ago. I swear Shannon, Scooby died of heartbreak. He missed his older brother so much. There was such a change in him after Blue died. It is beautiful to know the love they shared. Someday I'll write a picture book about it. Thanks. :(

Kelly H-Y said...

What a beautiful quote ... wonderful post ... thank you!

Jemi Fraser said...

Love the Bradbury quote and the photo complements it perfectly :)

I think walking works best for me when I want to filter through the "stuff" to find the beauty.

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Mary - My husband is a walker. :)

Diana and Kelly - Thank you! I'm glad you both like it.

Robyn - I am so sorry. I am a major cat person, too. Losing a pet is losing a piece of family. My heart breaks for you having to lose two of them so close together like that. I'm sure you are right about Scooby. It will make a beautiful story one day.

Jemi - Walking is a great way to filter the yuck from the yummy. :)

Roni @ FictionGroupie said...

Great quote! And I think that's a wonderful perspective. I try to take everything as a learning experience like you said (or a story idea). I was behind a really annoying women at target the other day and I was like--oh, she'd make a great character, lol.

Shelli said...

its about noticing them and using them.

Sharon Mayhew said...

ROBYN--So sorry about your cat. Losing a pet is hard. I lost my cat 13 years ago, oddly enough today I was at the vet's picking up cat food and I called my current cat the other cat's name. It will get easier.

Shannon--Lovely post. One of the things I learned at the Highlights Foundation Summer Workshop was to be more observant. It really made a difference in how I see the world and how I write.

Sharon Mayhew said...

ROBYN--So sorry about your cat. Losing a pet is hard. I lost my cat 13 years ago, oddly enough today I was at the vet's picking up cat food and I called my current cat the other cat's name. It will get easier.

Shannon--Lovely post. One of the things I learned at the Highlights Foundation Summer Workshop was to be more observant. It really made a difference in how I see the world and how I write.

jdcoughlin said...

Love that quote. Thanks! What a beautiful way to start the day. I don't know how I let it out. I know how I tell my kids to, to smile at everyone, to treat everyone as a friend, treat yourself with dignity, and don't forget to laugh at everything you can.

Mary Aalgaard said...

Most of the time, my cup is filled and simply overflows. I MUST share. I can't hold it back any more than I could a rushing waterfall - a favorite song, and idea, my words, stories of my kids. It is a burning desire to connect and create. If the cup feels low, I rest, I read, I fill up with words and songs from others and let the cycle continue. I will keep this image with my this year as I work to stay focused on the now.

Nishant said...

This is an awesome quote. I'm going to have to steal it

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