They're Just Words

… or are they??

website of author Paula Offutt


What is freewriting?

Freewriting is when you sit down and just – write. Whatever comes into mind, in whatever format, just write it. Its often useful for when a writer is stuck on a scene or an idea or just needs to warm-up first. I sometimes freewrite when I am staring at the screen and can’t think of what to do next. I also freewrite when I am somewhere I don’t have time to get involved in a project but still have the urge to write.

Doing a Google or Duck Duck Go search on “freewriting” or “what is freewriting” will glean you some wonderful resources!


The snow comes down in a noisy silence like sand in an hourglass.

We can put a man on the moon. We can put robots on Mars and control them from Earth. But when it snows, we slow down, get quiet, even downright fretful. Is it because it is out of our control? Is it that the silence demands it? Shouting at the top of its crystalline lungs?

No, it’s because we fear it. One moment, soft, fluffy, full of childhood innocence. It sneaks up behind us and gives us a push. We grip the steering wheel hard enough that our fingers ache. Then, slip, slide, bam, boom. Or our legs get tight, stiff as we try to walk and not fall on our butts. Those of use who live in the Appalachians have no choice but to fear it. We don’t measure it in light years, or miles, or kilometers, or even meters. No, we measure it in inches. Tiny little inches. We freak at an inch, two. Heaven forbid it get over two. The world is coming to an end if it is anything over six!

The snow comes down in a noisy silence like sand in an hourglass.


The little girl with her finger in her open mouth, teeth white and pointy. Even when she smiled, showing me those teeth, she kept her finger there, tapping a tooth.

She comes over to stand by me, watching me type, not speaking. Yet, as soon as I spoke to her, she spoke back, telling me her name. Telling me she was ‘this many’ years old.

Another one, older, climbs a wall behind me, wanting to see what is on my screen. I think she is disappointed it is nothing but words. No pretty pictures or dancing bears. Just a fat woman typing words.

The younger one comes back, looking at me with eyes that are…dark brown, almost black. In one, there is a spot of dark in the white of her eye. When I look down at her and smile, she grins, showing me her teeth. And she taps one again.

4/16/04 (?)

I really dislike barking dogs. Sure, it is their nature, but I don’t like it when they are allowed to bark non-stop at night. If they are guard dogs, who is going to know the difference between a cat walking by bark or a burglar bark? Um, during the day, I don’t mind them, ours or anyone else’s. But at night, that is a different matter. Of course, I just realized I also hear someone’s bass on their car stereo so there is probably someone sitting out there at the end of a driveway or something. Um, you’d think those kids would be deaf by now, that loud music so close to their own ears, loud enough for me to hear all the way down here. We have new neighbors that are youngish so they drive their lowered cars by real fast, stereo booming. But they don’t let their dogs bark at night. I like that. I don’t like it when they lay rubber on the road when they peel out. Especially late at night when its so peaceful and quiet. We live out in the ‘country’ but its not much country nor out much anymore. Sometimes I just want to buy about a 100 acres and build a little cabin smack dab in the middle. That’d put 50 acres between me and my closest possible neighbor. I doubt I would hear their dogs bark or their teenage kids and their car stereos. Wouldn’t that be nice? Am I getting so old that I am bitching about kids and their loud music? Its not that I dislike their music, we each have a right to listen to what we want, I just dislike that the feel the need to listen to it so loud. I have met some that leave the radio on and the door open while they pump their gas. Then they go into the store and leave that thing booming out in the parking lot. Maybe I am getting old. I turn 39 on my birthday this year. Ugh. Um, I first realized I was getting old when my BABY brother turned 30. Ack! Now he has a kid in 3rd grade already. I feel sometimes that it has all been a waste. That now I will sit in my wheelchair on my front porch, bitching about the neighbors. ‘When I grow old, I shall wear purple…’ That I will bitch about their dogs and remember when.


I am sitting here, hot and my legs aching, in the Pack Memorial Library. It is crowded in here, mostly with teens doing research for school project. They are odd, this age group. They wear weird clothing and they keep walking around, never standing or sitting still. And they hog the computers. I wish they had never done away with the card system. I could find anything I wanted just by flipping through those wonderful little drawers of typed cards.

It is hot in here. Several of the kids are wearing baggy pants with motor bike shin guards and toboggan hats. Their book bags are huge, I doubt I could lift one. My own bag is stuffed to its not so proverbial gills yet its half the size of the smallest I see the kids with. There are rows and rows of books at this library. Most are from the 90s or before. I
was able to find a few new-ish books but not that many. That was after I finally waited in line long enough to get to an available computer and finally found what I wanted. Then had to walk the ‘stacks’ to find the area of books I was looking for. Found some good ones in the 808.3 section. Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass as well as one called The Joy of Writing Sex by Elizabeth Benedict.

Did I mention it was hot in here? My forearms are soaked where they touch the top of the computer. There are still lots of kids wandering around here. Where are their supervisors? Some kids should never be allowed to run free. It is 2:20 PM. Why aren’t they at school staring at the clock to get on the bus and go home!? No, here they are, adding to the heat and hogging the computers. I wonder what they are researching? One was looking for books on ‘sex in the rock and roll industry’. Ought to be plenty of books on that. Although they could do better research by watching MTV. Speaking of hot….


I am trying to think of why I am not up to writing. I wrote yesterday and it was good stuff. It’s not like when I was so tired of Wayback I couldn’t stand to even *think* about looking at it. Simple Sarah has been different. I like the
story. Perhaps it’s the details now. Writing in additional scenes and making sure they ‘fit’ with the flow of the moment. The editing is not going either. Like I said, the details are just not in my interest. I would rather play a game than edit or even write. I am going up Nawth to visit family for a while and I am thinking I will set a due date for me. Get ‘whatever’ done by the time I return if not sooner. Perhaps the printing out and editing with a pencil is what I will do. Have all of it done by the time I leave. Yeah, sounds like a plan. I need to get planning for my trip up anyway. Call about CPAP mask; check all meds; get brakes checked on the truck; get tire balance checked; and look into finally getting a suitcase. Maybe a novelist is not what I should be doing. Maybe short stories. No, I tend to ramble too much.