Thursday, July 11, 2013


Froufrous are frilly decorations: ruffles at collars and sleeves, many layers of gauzy fabric at windows, and pillows in all shapes and sizes tossed on the floor each night when we finally lay down our labor and crawl under the covers to rest.

(Photo by Al Griffin, 2013)

I am guilty of frilly decorating. Those pillows in the photograph above are one example. Some came with the bed comforter; others were picked up here and there, on sale, in shades I thought would suit the new d├ęcor. I now have too many and rather than stowing or donating some, I arrange them each morning, often in new, different ways.

I do this so often that my husband drops out of helping out when we stand, face to face across the great mattress divide sharing the task of making that bed for the day. He tosses the pillows my way, leaving me to my own imagination except this past weekend after we’d entertained guests for five days. He offered to take care of our bed while I took care of the guest bed, and with a twist and sense of humor, he invented an entirely new pillow sculpture for my delight.

I enjoyed his gesture and still chuckle to remember seeing them stacked. I think of those towel-art surprises left by cruise ship worker-bees, and I think of writing. The many designs for those pillows are like the many varied ways of communicating a message. There are so many patterns, so many possibilities, proven by the thousands of texts that live and thrive year after year, many conveying the same themes on creation and destruction, love and hate, peace and war, bounty and loss, yet each text stands alone, distinct and different, none exactly the same.

I think also of the unnecessary frills we often employ in writing:
  • Exactly the same (Aren’t things that are the same exact copies of each other?)
  • Advanced warning (Do warnings often come after the storm?)
  • Safe haven (Isn’t haven a place where we feel safe?)
Such froufrous in writing ought to be avoided no matter how common or popular they seem to be. Strip the ornamentation and determine to say it clearly, plainly, beautifully.

Reading Challenge:

Consider the deficits and assets of purple prose as you enjoy an article about it: 

Writing Challenge:

Make purple the following simple sentence: The cowboy fell.

Help us all understand: What kind of cowboy? What did he fall from? Where did he fall? How serious were his injuries?