One night at a writer's retreat, Kathi announced, "Let's do a writing exercise." It was 10:30 p.m.. I didn't want to do it. I'm a morning person. I believed I had a small window of creativity and that was shortly after daybreak.

"Say a word," Kathi said.
"Peaches," said Jeanette.
"Little Sorrowful," said Lola.
"Cicadas," Rebecca, the word collector chimed in.
"Windmill," Kathi said. "Come on, Kimberly."
"Possum," I said, staring at the stuffed possum across the room.
"Okay," Kathi said. "Write for ten minutes using those words."

Below is the result of what I came up with. Don't ask me about what the words in the margins mean. I don't remember. What I do remember is that after I read my piece, Kathi said, "Kimberly, you've got a story there."
The next morning I reread it and I realized she was right.


This is the seventh draft of the story that I wrote inspired by the words above. Some changes have been made, but much of those first words remained the same.

Below is a page from the galley, many drafts later. The title changed. And as you can see, I was still tinkering with the words. There were so many "s" sounds in that sentence. That's why I changed "songs" to tunes. I eventually changed it back. This is the beginning of the first story in my upcoming book, PART OF ME, Stories of a Louisiana Family.