Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

A Self-Reflection

Wednesday, April 20th, 2011

Two lives are missing from the tree
Two hanging participles, unfinished phrases
Two Dark Ages, voids in my family history

In a college cafe, I sit across a speckled plastic table
From a girl who wants to be my friend, great blonde hair
Like a cloud had settled upon her head
Desperation races through my veins, my hands
Kept beneath the table to hide white knuckles
I want to be a friend, too, but I fade out
Of focus.  That’s all I can remember.

Four years are missing from my head
Four indefinite chapters in my biography

The plastic porch chair is sticky hot
Against what skin has been exposed
To a sun growing hazy and dim in my sight
North Carolina heat speeds the drowsiness, speeds
The tires on their way, rushing to meet me
And unfurl a white bed and waiting hands
That finish my parent’s sentences
I’ve been waiting for that conclusion.

One history rolls through my veins
Three names have been scrubbed by an eraser
One name remained.

— Leighanne Ellis

Diving In Cenotes

Thursday, April 14th, 2011

In Mexico, an old cenote marks
The death of dinosaurs, where rocks from space
Began an icy age.  I visited the place
In younger days, beheld a pool opaque.

I dove beneath its tranquil, ancient skin,
A trespasser, pursuing pooling depths.
Although I held my breath and wished for fins,
The fathoms ensured its secrets were kept.

In you, I met my own cenote, wide
Across, but knew the sorry shallow banks
Of my heart.  Without a doubt I would provide
You disappointment, sadness.  It was a mistake:

I reached for sand, and found the well was deep.
This lake is endless, bountiful, replete.

By:  Leighanne Ellis

Through Inferno To Do A Husband’s Duty

Thursday, March 24th, 2011

She had been a bitch the day before she died.
A frothing, cloven-hooved cunt the like of which
Every modern man has seen his wife transform
Into at some point in their marriage.

She wasn’t even on the rag;
Her blood was elsewhere, and boiling.

The trash couldn’t be disposed fast enough;
The sheep wasn’t slaughtered in time for her to cook it right;
I couldn’t dry the dishes before her tongue struck.

So maybe after we sent the kids to bed,
I called her a few choice words,
And I might have slept on the couch.
But all marriages go through such things.

The next day, you say you’re sorry
Work on that fourth baby, and put what’s
Past behind you.

That morning, as the chicken’s squawking woke me,
I stumbled, feet slapping the chilly wood flooring, to our bedroom.
The four-poster creaked, the feather mattress lumped,
Only to find your nipples, darling, cold to my touch,
Your mouth open, but not with snores,
The dark brush between your legs dry as the fire’s ashes.

Oh, Beatrice.  I regret what I said,
And I had known you were a spiteful woman,
But forcing me to walk through Hell
To apologize when you knew I would be sorry,
It was a little much, even for you.

By:  Leighanne Ellis

Two More Bullet Articles In the Works (And One Editorial)

Thursday, March 24th, 2011

For my Newsgathering class, I am working with a group of my classmates on computer abuse at UMW.  Five people are involved for this, so it will hopefully be well-written and well-researched, which is always fulfilling.

It’s been interesting to be the group leader.  For one thing, I still don’t view myself as having a leader-like personality.  On the other hand, I certainly don’t tolerate being under poor management, myself.  Yet I find myself in these positions more and more frequently.  But I’m coming to terms with the fact that I’d rather be a leader than a follower, due to simple obstinance, so I might as well get used to it.

The other article I’m working on is an individual pursuit.  Our own Dr. Claudia Emerson is being inducted into the Fellowship of Southern Writers, and I offered to take the job of writing about it.  Getting interviews done under such time constraints is terribly difficult (I accepted the lead on Tuesday, and I have classes, homework, and work, mind you).

What on earth is driving me to take on these extra tasks?  Well, getting my name in print is a rush every time, of course, but more heady is the sense of power I feel through journalism.  I’m allowed to ask pressing and pertinent questions to people in positions of power.  When I publish a piece, readers know they can trust me to have gotten the facts.  Trust is an amazing thing to have in this day of skepticism and cynics.

So, be on the lookout for more from me in the newspaper, I hope!

An Old Typwriter

Friday, March 18th, 2011

My father wrote letters on an old typewriter

That he didn’t keep. I found them,

Straining in the confines of

An open-mouthed baggie,

And wondered who had kept them.

Unfolded delicately, because they were like

Finding autumn leaves in a winter landscape,

Their stories were different

From the ones he told my siblings and me.

His crush was not my mother.

It was some girl named Cindy, or Sandy,

With long amber hair, in an age

When his hair wasn’t white.

Honestly I don’t remember the name of that woman,

(And probably, neither does he)

Nor what color hair she might have had.

I know just the shock of a Kim’s lack, and

Surprise at the youth my old man


My letters are in the ether,

But my diaries are of this world,

And I wonder if my children will be shocked

To learn of a vivid, youngster’s life before them,

Before their father, when my eyes were wide

With endless possibilities for lovers and dreams.

DTLT Magnet Poetry

Wednesday, March 9th, 2011

I was taking a moment’s worth of break from data inputting at DTLT yesterday, and decided to mix and match some of the magnet words they have stuck up on a shelf.

Mashups Leverage

Net-Gen Global Culture

Evolve the Vision

Higher Source

The Bullet Article: “Professors Embrace Social Media in Class”

Thursday, February 17th, 2011

The UMW Bullet published some writing of mine!  It’s an article entitled, “Professors Embrace Social Media in Class”.

Here’s a teaser:

It’s not every day that students are encouraged to use websites like Facebook and Twitter in class, but there’s a new department at UMW that’s trying to change that.

“Learning is a social endeavor,” said Andy Rush, new media specialist in UMW’s Department of Teaching and Learning Technologies (DTLT).

This philosophy is one of the underlying principles of new media, a discipline that is storming the pillars of traditional lecture-listen-regurgitate methods that dominate pedagogy and forging new ones that place more emphasis on the communal aspects of education.

Read it, and comment!  This is the second time ever that my words have been printed.  The first time hardly counts, however; it was a really bad bit for my high school newspaper.

It’s worthwhile to discuss how I went about writing this, if only for posterity.

Journalism is a foreign language to me.  When I signed up for Newsgathering this semester, it was only because the course fulfilled a requirement, and furthermore, only because the other course that also fulfilled that requirement wasn’t offered this semester.  You can imagine the surprise I still feel at playing the journalist these past two weeks, and then having my article printed!

Reviewing the Interview Notes

Going into this project, I was a complete newbie at interviewing.  I didn’t know what key words to look for in someone’s responses that would give me that feeling of, “Oh, this is going to be a good quote.”  I’m sure that reporters develop a sense of this to the extent that the choices they make in what to take down as exactly and what to gloss over as narrative becomes unconscious.  Until I learn the talent, I have to take down just about everything.  Actually, by the third interview, I got a tingly feeling when my source said something particularly quote-worthy.

I originally thought I would be able to jot my notes on paper, but see above paragraph about being a novice.  I ended up using my computer because I type faster than I write and could use a bullet system to organize questions and answers.

The second hurdle was deciding what questions to ask.  Really, this ties into the biggest issue, which was figuring out where I wanted to go with this article.  I knew that I wanted to write about DTLT and New Media, but what did I want to say?  Luckily, my editor gave me some direction, and the article became what you read now.  However, I wish that I’d had a better idea of it before I went to interview.  It would have helped shape my questions.

The last obstacle was style.  I was unsure what The Bullet’s publication preferences were, but thankfully, I had an understanding editor who was gentle in correcting me.

Overall, this was a fantastic experience, which I hope to repeat.

Suvudu Writing Contest

Tuesday, February 15th, 2011

For those of you who write science-fiction or fantasy, Suvudu (a division of Random House, Inc.) is currently hosting a writing contest.  Submit your entry of 50,000-150,000 words between now (the contest started on Jan 18) and March 18 and your story may be considered for publication.

I’m psyched!  Whether or not I will be successful in getting my story written by the deadline, it is a great incentive to get my butt in the chair and write!  I hope my fellow writers will consider doing so as well.

Here are all the details:  Suvudu Writing Contest.


[golden pen]

ENGL 302: Journal 4, “Press of a Button”

Friday, February 11th, 2011

You come home late at night, after a hard day.  The message light on the answering machine is blinking.  You press play and listen….

…You have the promotion, and the raise, but you will have to relocate to Nome, Alaska (or Ulan Bator, Mongolia, or some other equally remote, inhospitable, and inaccessible place).

Your finger trembles above the answering machine’s play button in the aftermath of the message.  You’re still, frozen, fumbling between shock and elation, and the rain that soaked your blouse and now chills you is forgotten in the rush.  A droplet of water runs down your aquiline nose, splashes onto the cheap plastic appliance.

“If you would like to save this message, press one…”

You hadn’t recognized the voice extending the invitation in sing-song Cantonese, but that meant nothing.  He had still used the right words, mentioned the right things:  You knew it was authentic, you knew what it meant.

It meant a promotion, a raise, acclaim and acceptance from your peers.  It was the accumulation of your years of training and long hours at work.  It was the Mohe County of China, an area with one of the most extreme–but still hospitable–climates on earth.

“If you would like to delete this message, press two…”

You exhale, heavily.  The release drops your shoulders, which were as rigid as steel supports, and returns your mind to your body.  Despite all the honor this assignment imparts, and the trust in you it implies, your stomach is still in knots.  Mohe, China, a remote area thousands and thousands of miles from McLean, Virginia, with as many fewer people.  What exactly awaits a junior core collection officer from the CIA has remained classified information to those aware of the opportunity, tantalizing the recruits salivating at the bits to prove themselves.

But, subarctic temperatures?  Minimal human contact?  A cruel request.  The reason for such a request would have to be interesting.

You could turn it down.  You could choose a different assignment.  No harm, no foul in the Agency’s book.

“If you would like to hear more options, please press three,” the machine requests.

You stare at it for too long, unmoving, and it repeats itself.  “If you would like to hear more options, please press–“

You press the button.

-Leigh Ellis

5-Card Story: “The Rest of the Day in Different Worlds”

Friday, February 11th, 2011

A 5-Card Story

I found this writing exercise via Jim Groom’s Digital Storytelling class.  Students find five photos and then create a story from them. Sounded like fun…

"Panzerfaust Attacke"


869 Paris-Marais

Photo by Voyageur Solitaire-mladjenovic_n

wallpaper - The ISLAND

Photo by balt-arts

Alice in Wonderland: White Rabbit - Who Killed Time?

Photo by Brandon Christopher Warren

Park – Parque del Campo Grande, Valladolid (Spain) HDR

Photo by marcp_dmoz

Today began as a battle.  My four year old son and I hiked the hill and strategized like generals, plotting the submission of the lake to our miniature, plastic forces.  We pursued conquest like hunting hounds until our stomachs began to growl, and we remembered that even the dogs of war must be fed.  His mother threw meat sandwiches into our yapping mouths, and reminded the pup he had homework.

While the afternoon was new, I shouldered my tan canvas messenger bag and took the long way to town, stopping now and then to sketch out the birds I saw chirping their calls from ancient yews and towering bay laurels.   My legs are strong, however, and carried me to the library within the hour.

I greeted the shopkeep, kippah firmly applied to his head, and spent the rest of the day in different worlds.

The first of my creations was floating continent, vast and mysterious.  Dragons lived in this world, and magic, and adventure beyond dreaming.  Steps there must be tread carefully.

The second was a place of time–of no time.  A place littered with clocks, all of them meaningless.  I met a girl there, with skin as pale as the surface of the moon, who talked of rabbits and played cards.

The third world was my favorite.  It is the world to which I always return.  For this one, I forsook words and simply drew, straining to capture the photograph in my head.  This world is a real one, and so more tantalizing.  I dream of taking my son to see the lake where I used to play.