There are Doors…and then there are DOORS

Door fence at Molly's

door on side w:bird cage

In architecture, protection, and decoration, doors are getting second looks…and second lives. One new trend combining all three is “door fences.”   My favorite example is pictured above.  These very old doors were given new function and appreciation as a privacy fence entrance to a charming Kansas farmhouse, built in 1881 and then restored after a tornado in 2008. Only one door actually opens and closes. Can you guess which one?  (Answer at the end of the post.)

In moments of confusion and forgetfulness, doors offer an opportunity for clarity. For instance, when you go from one room to another, intent on getting or doing something, if you can’t remember what it was, turn around and go back. Crossing the threshold of the original doorway often triggers the memory.

In life and literature, doors are metaphors for opportunities and choices.  Boris Pasternak, author of DR. ZHIVAGO, advises us to listen closely because    “…when a great moment knocks on the door of your life, it is often no louder than the beating of your heart, and it is very easy to miss it.”  Actor Milton Berle’s advice is to choose our “tools” and take charge: “If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.”  Whatever our approach, Ralph Waldo Emerson says, “Be an opener of doors,” and Emily Dickinson reminds us to be open and ready: “Not knowing when the dawn will come, I open every door.”

Building on the words of Emerson and Dickinson, here is a contest to open the door for a writing opportunity. The contest asks: what would be the title of a book written about your life—and then made into a movie? This is not a time to be serious or profound.  Interesting titles that make the judges smile, or even laugh, will have an advantage.  For instance, here’s a sample idea of a title and tag line from the contest judges: A LITTLE OFF THE TOP ~ One man’s struggle with male pattern baldness.

There’s no entry fee; length is a maximum of 50 words total for title and tag. The online deadline is August 17 (come on, you aren’t actually writing a book or movie script; have some fun with this!). The winner will be posted in early September, and the prize is the online Gotham writing class of your choice. This is open to everyone. 

Charles Dickens wrote: “A very little key will open a very heavy door.” Try this contest and see if a very few words will gain you a very good prize.

(Answer to the question in the first paragraph: The door that actually opens and closes is not the door on the side, next to the bird cage. It’s the white door with the glass pane.)

Look closely at doors and keep them in perspective. What do you see in this door picture?

Look closely at doors and keep them in perspective. What do you see in this door picture?

The door on the left is regular size; the door and little window on the right are much shorter and more narrow, almost child size.  (all photos by Marylin Warner)

The door on the left is regular size; the door and little window on the right are actually much shorter and more narrow, almost child size. (all photos by Marylin Warner)



Filed under Books and book titles, Dementia/Alzheimer's, special quotations, writing contest with cash prizes, writing exercises

65 responses to “There are Doors…and then there are DOORS

  1. I have always been fascinated with doors. Your quotes are great! I may try to come up with something for the contest.

  2. I love doors, Darlene. My mom and I used to look at the doors of houses and create stories about who might live inside.
    You’re on! 🙂 We’ll both come up with something for the contest, okay? But we’ll have to trust each other to say if we did it. (We can’t post the entries here or anywhere until after the contest closes.)

  3. No matter what subject you write about, Marylin, your posts are always so beautifully written and researched! And thank you for the contest info…when writing a picture book, some experts suggest that coming up with the title and the tag line are a great way to find the direction of your story. 🙂

  4. Excellent, Vivian! If you were writing a book (to be made into a movie) about your life, what would be your title and tag line? (Don’t post it here and disqualify it from the contest!) I didn’t know that suggestion also came from experts of picture books.
    You should try it, Vivian. As I remember, you were a contest winner in one of the contests I sponsored for this blog for my mom! 🙂

  5. juliabarrett

    How interesting! I too have been thinking about doors lately- almost every day. I’ve been looking for doors to paint. Your post is much needed encouragement. Thanks, Marylin!

    • I’m trying to remember a psych class I took in college, Julia. We had a guest lecturer who talked about symbols in thoughts and dreams, and doors were very significant. Journeys, maybe, or making changes? Or maybe it just indicates a desire to paint? 😉 Let me know how your door painting project turns out.

      • juliabarrett

        Yes, powerful symbols. I feel like doors are in my future or a door to my future, or something! 😉

  6. The door I’m looking at is actually a window with harlequin-shaped panes, reminding me of a quote from Mother Superior to Maria in Sound of Music. The contest has piqued my interest – may try it!

    • When she sings “Climb Every Mountain”?
      If you try the contest, then you, Darlene and I will all be trying that new door of opportunity, Marian. Once I read about the contest, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. We just can’t post them for each other to read before the end of the contest, but I think it will be fun.

  7. Love it – and I guessed the wrong door..when one door closes, another one closes…

  8. What a novel fence and a great use for unwanted doors.I chose the right one to open but we all get lucky sometimes.
    xxx Massive Hugs Marylin xxx

    • Bravo, David! You got it right, though I think Rod was right when he said he chose it, too, because it was the only one with a little pad to step on and didn’t have any obstructions. I would have guessed it was the corner door, the only one in the second picture.
      I’m curious to know what title and tag line you would give to a movie about your life, David. Are you going to enter the Gotham contest, or can you tell us what it would be?
      Massive hugs back to you!

  9. Claudia

    This was thought provoking! I have never thought too much about doors, but I have a thing for chairs, wooden chairs. Of course I set flowers on them but I have a few in the house too–odd ones. I am also drawn to bags…canvas totes bags. What does this all say about me? Maybe that I sit too much and like things bagged up, contained? This afternoon our thermometer on deck shows 112…and this is cool day as weekend is to be much worse. GRRRRR. Hope you can find some Colorado Cool for yourself.

    • At least you’ve chosen only two, Claudia. I have a thing for chairs and bags, too, but also windows, doors, and baskets. I don’t know what that says about me, but it certainly makes things crowded. 😉
      112? Oh, Claudia. This has been, overall, a fairly mild summer in Colorado, plus we’ve had more rain than normal, so things are greener than usual. I hope things cool off for you this weekend.

  10. I love the way you set this piece up and structured it. Oh, and the contest sounds like so much fun. I’ll do it too!
    The door fence is amazing! I had never heard of that before.

    • If you google “door fences” you’ll see many examples, Jane, and they’re very interesting. The fence made of antique doors is a nice accent with a house built in 1881.
      Yea! Now there are three of us who will enter the contest! After the deadline, then maybe we can all share our efforts.

  11. I loved this, Marylin! I have a fascination with doorways and stairwells. I’ve been known to search them on Pinterest. Thanks for the contest info!

    • Then you would really love the rest of the restored 1881 farm house, Jill. It has a turret up the other side, with a staircase inside leading from the first floor to the second. You can tell the original carpenters had a good time building it. (It’s my daughter and son-in-law’s house now, and they don’t ever plan to leave this house they love so much.)

  12. Marylin, you always come up with thought provoking posts. I’ll have to try and remember which door to go back through when I forget what it is I forgot. That tip certainly makes a lot of sense. You had me fooled on which door actually opens! And thank you for the content info too! And now you and I will walk (without our fur babies) through another door that I’m sure will offer joy and peace. Hugs ❤

  13. Doors are fascinating. In Mexico we go on themed photo walks. It’s often doors if exploring a new area.

    I like the Jungian ideas about doors and windows.
    If you drew a picture if a house, what kind of door would it have? How many windows? How many sides of the house would you show?
    Would the door or windows be open or closed?

    The house represents the self and the doors and windows represent how open we are to others. Did you remember to draw a pathway leading to the door?

    Thought provoking post as usual

    I guessed the right door, only one with a little pad to walk on and no obstructions to opening.

  14. It’s been years since I’ve traveled in Mexico, Rod, but I do remember some of the doors. Very similar to the doors and gateways in the adobe-walled areas to the houses in Taos and Santa Fe, New Mexico. Some of my favorites were of heavy wood with iron accents, and often the wood was painted blue or turquoise. I remember one in particular that was carved with stars in the wood, one for each family member, and the stars were painted yellow only when that person died.
    I should have known you would choose the right door without an obstruction. Way to go, Rod!

  15. Don

    I got the wrong door, Marylin. I wonder if life sometimes doesn’t present you with numerous doors and you’re not quite sure which which one is real. Best to try them all. 🙂 looks like quite a wall.

    • That’s a good lesson in these doors, Don. I like it.
      I think we do sometimes find more doors than we expected, and even though they all seem to be closed, it’s up to us to take a risk and find out!

  16. I love all the doors. Hmmm. I need to think about the title of that book 🙂

    • I’ve been thinking, too, Elizabeth. Even though it’s a 50-word max. and it’s a “what if” title and not a real book or movie, it’s taking more time than I thought. But I’m still trying! 😉

  17. Old doors are really “in” right now in outdoor weddings. It’s almost like the shabbier the better too Marylin. I follow many wedding blogs and it’s amazing how many times vintage doors are used as props.
    I will have to give some thought to the 50 word contest. That is a great opportunity to be creative!
    Wishing you a happy weekend.
    xo Joanne

    • That’s interesting about doors as wedding props, Joanne. But it makes sense, the symbol of opening a new door in life together. If you google door fences, you’ll see some amazing fences, but I really like the wedding props you mentioned.
      I’m trying to come up with an entry, too. I need something short to “jump start” my creativity. 🙂

  18. Marylin, I’ve always been fascinated by doors as well. I took so many photos of doors when we were in San Miguel de Allende years back. Every door seems to tell a story. And when I was a therapist, and studied Gestalt, one of the sayings that was bandied about was, “when one door closes, another one opens.” Thanks for the post. You have a gift for provoking thought and comment. 🙂

    • Oh, thank you for the sweet compliment, Diana. I actually have two paintings by E. Strothers, and both are of Santa Fe Doors. I love the strong colors against the stucco accented with southwestern wildflowers.
      When I was a teen and disappointed by something, my mom often said that was one closed door…and asked me to watch for another door to open, or even a window.

  19. I love doors too Marylin, but I guessed the wrong door, the white one on the right! The quotes are all wonderful, very inspiring and so true. Thank you so much for the competition link, it looks like a lot of fun, I’ll see if I can come up with something. Hmmm… 🙂

    • I guessed the one on the left end, Sherry, the one that was around the corner with the birdcage next to it. I think the one with the big pane of glass should have a lacy curtain hanging on the other side. 😉
      I’m trying to create an entry for the contest, too. I have a lot of title ideas, but it’s the tag lines that feel awkward. 🙂

  20. I loved the Doors too. Riders of the Storm etc. but I also like real doors and often photograph hinges, locks, panels etc. I always wonder what lies beyond. A book title for my life? I think it would have to be My Life and Other Animals. Unless of course it’s already been taken. If so then I’d pick the antidote to Dickens, Great Disappointments.

    • I remember some wonderful photographs you’ve done that feature or at least include doors, Andrew. Some of my favorite amateur pictures are of doors and windows together. I like both your titles, but you know you also need the “tags”–and if you’re going to enter the contest, which I think your should, wait until after the contest is over before you tell me. I don’t want you to be disqualified; you come up with excellent word combinations.

  21. Molly

    My door fence!!!! I am absolutely thrilled with how my fence came out. I truly don’t think that you could make this fence work on just any house, I think it has to be an old – quirky – wonderful house.

    Thank you for spotlighting my fence!!!

    • I still think you need a lacy curtain on the other side of the white door with the window pane, Mookie. It would be so adorable! Your entire fence line of doors is great, but my favorites are still the natural wood ones: the smaller one second from the right end, and then the one around the left corner, with the bird cage next to it. But they’re all good.
      And I’ll tell readers again what you told me, to google door fences to see a lot of great ones! Thanks, Mookie.

  22. Jim

    Stroke of genius, sweetie, to feature Molly’s door-fence in a blog about the doors-of-opportunity. I am really proud of the creativity you and our “Mookie” display over and over again.

    • Thank you, honey. When Molly was in high school and she and I wanted to create a triangle border for a flower bed around one of the big trees in our yard, we had more imagination than planning sense. You watched and waited, and then helped us get it right. You’ve always been there applauding our projects…and preparing to quietly help us fix anything that doesn’t work.

  23. How creative is that; door fences! 🙂 I googled as suggested and found more. A short while before our earthquake in 2010 a photographer in Christchurch did a wonderful series on special doors in the city. His photos are precious because many of the doors and their buildings are no more. Until he took the photos I had no idea we had so many interesting doors in our city.

  24. This is about as cool as it gets – I guessed wrong! Talk about creative and doors of opportunity.

    • If it’s any comfort, Mary, this is my daughter’s house! When she told us what she was building, she wouldn’t say which door was the real one to open and close, and I guessed the one at the end, around the corner, with the one next to it. But I guessed wrong, too! 🙂

  25. I love doors as ‘things’ and doors as metaphors – you have both here Marylin! That sounds like an intriguing contest, I’ll have to think about that one…

    • Several of us are going to try and enter the contest, too, Andrea…but it’s not as easy as we thought.
      I read your post about the pets we’ve loved, and it was beautiful and comforting. Thank you for words that helped all of us who have loved and lost our beloved dogs.

  26. I love the old doors in Europe, especially in France. Your post is thought provoking as always,

    • Thank you, Gerlinde. I still remember the amazing doors we saw in Italy and France. Here in the US, my favorites are doors I’ve seen in Santa Fe and Taos, New Mexico. Some old doors have such character and beauty.

  27. Marylin … My favorite doors either have a beautiful design in glass within the door or are a bold color such as the ones you mentioned that you see in Italy.

    I prefer doors that are welcoming, warm and inviting. Those would be the ones that are always open to friends … and friends you’ve yet to meet. 😉

  28. Scrolling down to guess before I read the answer: it has to be the one on the left, with the hinges. (Construction Consultants have to know things like this!)

  29. I have oodles of pictures of doors. They symbolize possibilities, surprises, opportunities, transitions and transformations. And mostly, they form is just plain pleasing. Lovely post, Marylin. I would have entered the contest if I had time to take a class — but I don’t have time right now! It’s a great contest, though!

    • Possibilities, surprises, opportunities, transitions, transformations…and invitations and insights. Doors really are wonderful, Tracy, which makes the door fence feel very special.

  30. jakesprinter

    Very exciting doors post i think i guess in above photo is in the left side the white one ha ha! Thanks for sharing Marilyn ..

  31. You got it, Jake! I’m glad you like it. 🙂

  32. Marylin, the link to the contest is broken.

    But the essay you wrote is very intriguing. My daughter did a door fence that you would have loved. She used colorful cloth in the windows and used it as a screen between the street (inside the building)and the office on the first floor of their building in Pittsburgh.

    The symbolic nature of doors, thresholds, liminal spaces, has intrigued me for a long time. You do a beautiful job of moving back and forth between physical and spiritual realities. I think you have a special talent.

    • Shirley, I emailed Gotham and asked for help, and one of their very nice editors responded. There was an invisible space (whatever that means) but the new one he sent to me has that space removed. I’ve posted it at the end of the next post, so please enter! This one works; I’ve entered mine!

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