Slowly welling from the point of her gold nib, pale blue ink dissolved the full stop; for there her pen stuck; her eyes fixed, and tears slowly filled them. The entire bay quivered, the lighthouse wobbled; and she had the illusion that the mast of Mr. Conner’s little yacht was bending like a wax candle in the sun.
– Virginia Woolf, from Jacob’s Room
Poets think in lines, prose writers in sentences; the best of both work from sound to sense, with an ear for the music in their compositions. S for Sentence celebrates lyricism in prose, the play and craft at work in the artful sentence. We post a sentence a month along with comments by a guest writer on the craft that shapes it, on what makes it great. In one or two sentences.
—Pearl Abraham, Editor
Opening with a slow participial, a VW signature, suspends the subject; the “welling and “gold nib” don’t quite prepare the reader for the “pale blue ink,” a surprise that’s followed by the watery "full stop," which isn't one because it is spreading on the paper and also in this sentence; only after the actual pen is cited do we get to widowed Betty Flanders’ eyes, which are probably pale blue, and are indeed welled up and dissolving things because she has teared up. Woolf is having fun having it both ways with watery ink, watery eyes, and finally the watery setting seen through these eyes continues in a state of liquid uncertainty, with an imprecise bay, a wobbly lighthouse and a mast that does not stand straight, all because there is no man at the helm of this woman's life.
– Pearl Abraham, author of American Taliban and The Seventh Beggar