Thursday, December 29, 2016

Discontent Be Gone

I got a little fussy about my pen the other day, something that normally doesn’t matter.  Then I found flaws with the notepad that I was using.  The discontent spread.  I wanted a new place for my computer, the lighting urked me; then I became irritated with the messy papers that I had explored thoughts for my next short story.  The harder I chased after an easy mind, the further I landing in fretting soup. 

I was ready for a change of pace, I finally realized.  The pen was exchanged for another.  I chose another size of paper.  I transferred my messy notes into a computer document.  I stopped pushing long enough to remember that writing brings me pleasure and then I wrote free and easy.  My only goal was to enjoy writing.  No surprise then that my basic joy came alive once more.  

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Farewell to 'The Wind and the Sun'

Once upon a time, I wrote a story titled ‘The Wind and the Sun’.  The actual year I wrote it, I don’t know, but I started marketing it in 2012.  It had an early success; a market said yes, they would like to publish it.  Then they said they were having financing problems and then they said they were closing. 

This seemed to embodied success, so I continued to submit the story to other markets.  So many markets that I filled a page in my marketing records, but never mind, there would be someone that wanted this story.  It had happened already, it was only circumstance that stopped publication.  After a while I took the story and did a rewrite, my writing skills were sharper now, and it was a good story after all. 

I submitted it to more markets, until it seemed I had no markets left.  This is never actually true, because I found a market out of Ontario that received The Wind and the Sun by Liz Betz this spring.  The story of my story progressed and eventually I got a rejection email from that market.  That was it, then, I thought, until I saw a submission call for an anthology about neighbors.  That seemed to fit, and with renewed optimism I submitted my little story again.  For the 36th time, a hopeful writer (me) sent the story away. 

They said no and I’m done.  Done enough to blog about being done.  Done enough to have included this story of the story in an email to my writer friend Linda.  Done enough to title a folder the Done File and put The Wind and the Sun inside. 

I feel a little sad; I am proud of the story.  The Wind and the Sun had a bit of my mother within its main character and it had an atmosphere of small towns that seemed true.  Sorry it isn’t going to have a real audience, unless those 36 rejecting editors count.  Maybe they do.  The End.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

The Audit at Summersetreview - New Story   The Audit is in the latest issue of Summerset Review.  This story is a personal favorite of mine and I am very pleased that Summerset Review chose it for publication.  At some point I will share the story behind the story, but in the meantime, enjoy reading this child of my mind. 

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Chiffon Cake At Halfway Down The Stairs - New Story

This is my latest publication.  Chiffon Cake is a story that touches on the effects of difficult mothers and incorporates a rather unusual trick of the mind.  I hope that you enjoy this story.  Chiffon Cake

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Writer Activities

Fully immersed in my writing is such a pleasure for me, but I can’t write all day.  My brain and my body have to rest from the activity.  It doesn’t mean that I don’t think about writing though.  Many times those thoughts are about my current project, but even that has to be given a rest.  At the end of the day I have to turn to some relaxing activities.  I’ve often thought that the evening television shows are poor and I am bored with them.  Since learning is never boring for me, so I have a little supply of ‘minute’ projects.  One example; I am reading my way through a book called ‘Word Power.’  It’s more or less a dictionary and I amuse myself with word games such as picking 3-4 words from a page to put into a sentence coherently.  I can do this and catch most of the shows at the same time.  My latest ‘minute’ project is to actually watch the TV shows and analyze them for plot, characterization techniques, number of story lines being followed, and even what I imagine the writer’s intent was.  TV with a twist.  Since I’m not judging the show’s entertainment value as a passive audience, I’m enjoying this end of the day activity more. 

Friday, December 2, 2016

The Pulling Teeth Method of Story Telling

I’ve finished the first draft of a story that took a lot of effort.  I had to pull out all the tricks, it seemed, to get this story onto the page.  I pre-wrote.  I wrote several versions.  I put it aside once thinking that it was beyond me.  It was dark, it was desperate.  I couldn’t bear it at times, nor could I set it aside.  I suffered along with my imaginary world, I feared for my equilibrium.  I brought the third or fourth beginning of this story to my writer group.  I went through my days with the plot puzzles riding on my shoulders.  I had to encourage myself often.  I tended to the emotional impact that I feared this story would have on my friend, the most important audience this story will have.  She gave me her blessings.  The publishing world gave me a couple of thumbs up in the form of other stories being accepted.  I persevered, but it felt a lot like pulling teeth.  Could I do this?  Eventually, I gave myself a deadline to be done and that was the final push.  Once I was finished I gave myself a rewarding break. 

The story is put aside now for a while so I can return with fresh eyes.  So I am catching up with my blog writing but also considering a new short story to work on.  I hope that the next one is less like pulling teeth, but I have learnt a little more about story telling dentistry. 

My story was like this Bald Eagle, I could tell it was there but a lot of twigs were in the way.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016


Alternate careers.  I sometimes wonder what other career choices I might have made… IF. 

If I had went to college or university.  If I had decided not to marry or to have children.  If I had explored a few more options at a few more times.  If money was not a hurdle, or distance or age.  If.  Small word – infinite explorations. 

A nest of the paper wasp

Thursday, November 3, 2016

The Body of Work


It happened by increments and while I knew my publication credits were growing, I didn’t know exactly how many short stories I have had published.  My first short story was ‘Miriam’s Village’ published by Green’s magazine in 2002.  Green’s magazine is no more but many a novice writer found acceptance there, plus advice and encouragement from David Green.  I wish I knew the rest of his story, but I don’t. 

It is 2016, some 14 years later.  Some of those years I didn’t write short stories, some I did.  Now I am writing short stories exclusively.  Recently, while cleaning out files, I decided to tally my published short stories.  Twenty seven!!  I would not have guessed it to be that high a number but I counted them twice and I really have published that many.  Then before the week was out, I received acceptance for #28.  Funny thing about this is, now I believe that I am a short story writer.  I hope I don’t appear puffed up over myself, but I have had my confidence steadied.  I even believe I know what I am doing.  I’d like to thank many people who supported me through this but today I am thinking about David Green, one of the first editors that saw potential and gave his  acknowledgement of my dream. 
I write short stories.


Sunday, October 30, 2016

New Story Published

The Woman's Battalion of Death is now available to read at Danforth Review.  My bio (at the end) gives you the background of how I came to write this story. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2016


It’s mid-October and some of my associates are considering NaNoWriMo aka National Novel Writing Month.  Last year I managed to convince myself that shadowing the NaNoWriMo contest concept was for me.  I would write a novel in the month of November.  50,000 words.  It could be done but it certainly takes focus and dedication – every writer needs both. 

I found this essay written at that time. 

Slugging it through this misbegotten project has been hard.  Plain and simple, I’m not cut out to write a novel.  This is not my Moby Dick.  A novel is not this writer’s Holy Grail.                     But I’m not ready to quit the project yet.  I committed myself for the month of November and I will stick it out.  I knew that going in, and made the public declarations of intent that would force me to keep this promise.  If nothing else, I thought, I would learn something in the process.  In short, I have to dig deeply into my bag of tricks.  Long view, I have to find the elements of success that I will take forward.  I am learning how to push through some of my stall points.  I am adjusting my goals to accept those stall points, or to challenge them.  I am slugging it through.   I’ll report my December 1st evaluation.  Then I’ll go back to short stories, my first love. 

This year, again, I attempted a large book project – non-fiction and via the blog method.  It definitely was a challenge.  Liz’s Lymphedema Logbook is the result.  It’s smaller than I first envisioned.  It was harder to write than I first thought and it certainly took longer than a month.  But I made it through and I discovered more writer stamina, and strengthened my tenacity.  I know more about commitment and organizing my time and energy for a project.  I could maybe consider attempting a novel.  However, I still love my short stories, so no NaNoWriMo for me this year.  But the best of luck to anyone participating. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Recognizing Success

I know.  Why wouldn't a person know when they are successful?  Well, here's a couple of instances where I had to really think clearly to see that I was at my goal.  The first came while I was perusing books about writing.  A title popped up that included the promise that a 'rewarding writer's life' could be mine.  All I had to do was buy and read the book.  
Actually, all I had to do was think about this.  Was I being rewarded by my writer's life?  Yes, yes I was. 
I have some lamb in the freezer and the first time I brought out a package of ribs, I said to my dinner partner, aka husband, "I don't know how to cook this." 
He looked at me funny and then I shook my head.  I know how to cook and I must have cooked ribs before.  It isn't rocket science and my days of being anxious about how something would turn out should be long behind me. 
All I had to do was recognize my success in the kitchen.
I'll be curious to see what other successes are right under my nose, waiting for me to recognize them. 
This early snow is starting to melt. 

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Writing Resources or a Hoard?

Gasp!  I couldn't believe it, but I had to.  My multitude of books, my plenitude of files, my little pockets of 'someday' I'll need it resources, are all examples of hoarding.  Yes.  To think that this happened to me, the ever vigilant anti-procrastinator, anti-clutter advocate. 
I began with a hard look at my writing files.  How many years have I had this and not used it, I asked and many things, were destroyed. Then I did a hard cull in my bookshelves and a large selection was released.  None of this is unusual, it seems every year I do this, which isn't a bad thing. 
However, I was lead to look at this from the other side.  Not what did I want to discard, but what did I love so much that I had to keep it.  Further to this, I began to understand that many of my resources were being kept just in case.  Or worse yet, with the vague and draining words 'someday'.  Who am I kidding here?  I know about someday, it is a false promise.  Worse it is a drain on today.  Enough.
So my writing resources are down to what I love - with a few books set in the decision pile.  Feels good. 

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Managing the Divided Mind

I've been working in two genres - non-fiction (Liz's Lymphedema Logbook) and fiction (short story).  Oh, and then there are the blogs.  And the marketing.  So as you see I have numerous projects that differ from one another.  Normally this creates a tension/angst that can frustrate any progress but not so at the moment. 
I am taking a mental assessment - more or less wondering 'How did this happen?' followed quickly by 'How can I keep this going?'  The first and rather simple answer that came up is
I've learnt to pace myself with projects.  I don't know when that lesson was taught but I'm rather glad it is in my tool box.  Sweet. 
Pumpkin field - Mitchell Farms, Vancouver Island

Monday, September 19, 2016

A Published Essay - Collaboration   On page 21, there is an article titled 100 Days - Three Ways that I am part of - I'm the third author and my words begin on page 22, but read the whole thing.  West Word magazine is produced by the Writer's Guild of Alberta.  All three of us are thrilled to be part of October's issue.  Personally I note that it around this time of year, that we began our 100 Day Challenge.  Perhaps it is time for another. 

Saturday, September 10, 2016


When all else fails- cluster.  It’s a writing technique that I use often.  I use it to expand an inkling that hasn’t yet become an idea.  I use it when I have bogged down.  I use it just to play with words. 

What is a cluster, and how does a person cluster? – The first step is to choose a beginning word or phrase.  It isn’t necessary to spend a lot of time choosing this beginning; it will be written in the center of the page.  Then associate words are added and words that come forward from those.  You can circle them if you like and draw little dashes that suggest the order they arrived.  The center word usually ends up with a number of word chain legs, as some ideas will be loosely connected and need their own development.  Again, don’t think too much about what you are doing and why these phrases or ideas are coming forth.  THEN, there is a little bit of magic that happens.  The thing that you want to write about will jell in your mind.  The click happens.  That’s when you write. 

My cluster this morning is around an inkling that I believe holds a storyline.  Cluster pages, here I come. 

Monday, August 1, 2016

An Unpublished Essay

I realize that this is the middle of summer, but winter comes every year.  This essay concerns that colder season. 
Keeping Warm? 

2016 - When someone asks, are you keeping warm, it is a conversation opener and no more.  As long as the electricity is supplied and basic general mantainance occurs, we expect to keep warm.  Winter can howl.  We can take our comfort for granted.  All we really have to do is to adjust the thermostat.  It wasn't always that way. 

1966-How do you heat your home?  I remember my father asking this question and it wasn't at all casual.   I suspect it was a sales pitch but it addressed a very real concern. 

Back in the 60's, my father, a farmer and jack of all trades, sold and installed Kirk furnaces.  These were coal burning wonders.  They had a fan system to force the warm air into each room through ducting and also, luxury of all luxuries, a hopper with auger to feed coal into the fire at regular intervals.  One lurked in our dirt basement, a glory of convenience; modern and automated.  As a child, I was proud of us for owning such a marvel. Forced air heating was a brand new thing and we had it.  However, heating our home wasn't totally hands free yet. The chore of hauling out the ashes remained as part of the homeowner's week as did the annual trip to buy a truck load of coal which would be unloaded through a window into the coal bin. 

How did people heat their homes, those that didn't buy a Kirks furnace from my father? I remember answers that went something like this.  A coal and wood cook stove provided part of the heat while another area of the house had an oil floor furnace.  To light these, someone told me recently they would drop a piece of burning paper through the grate.  A drip system of diesel fuel waited.  It would spew oily smoke and eventually warmth.   

 I recall that my grandmother had a oil-burning space heater.  It sat on a metal clad base that looked like a giant pot-holder.  The base's purpose was to prevent the floor from catching fire, and the heater was that hot.  We were allowed to draw near to warm ourselves but were also warned, with stories of bad burns,  to keep our distance, and above all, not to fall against it.  

So while the adults concerned themselves with our safety, I also worried for theirs.  Housefires took lives, space heaters just like my Grandma's were dangerous.  Oil floor furnaces exploded.  Chimney fires, sparks that jumped out and burnt where they landed meant keeping warm was a serious business.

What lay behind the concern with homes and heating was the brutal fact - winter, white and snowfilled and cold, 40 degrees below zero or more, was on the other side of the wall.  And those walls varied greatly in their construction.  There were drafts, and fingers of snow that came in through the bottom of doors and through window frames, and drawing near the outside walls meant a marked change of temperature. 

The war against cold air included 'storm windows' that were put up in the fall and removed in the spring.  Electrical outlets, if your home featured the 'power' often had frost built up on the central metal screw.  And if 'indoor plumbing' hadn't reached your home, there would be frozen chamber pots under the bed.  Burrowed under feather beds and multiple layers of quilts people still woke to see their breath.  Children warmed their clothes under the blankets first, then leap quickly to where hopefully the cookstove had been fired up.  

It was a bit more rugged in those days. And I am grateful that heating a home has become easier. The enemy was, and still is winter, but we are warm.  Until we go outside, of course!


Sunday, July 24, 2016

Sample Summer Exercise

This quote is by Alice Munroe in The Albanian Virgin.  I used it as the model for a character introduction excerpt of my own.  

“I had met Donald when I went to see him about a rash on my neck.  He was eight years older than I was – a tall, freckled, blushing man, cleverer than he looked.  A dermatologist sees grief and despair, though the problems that bring people to him may not be in the same class as tumors and blocked arteries.  He sees sabotage from within, and truly unlucky fate.  He sees how matters like love and happiness can be governed by a patch of riled up cells.  Experience of this sort had made Donald kind, in a cautious, impersonal way.  He said that my rash was probably due to stress and that he could see that I was going to be a wonderful woman, once I got a few problems under control.”

My words - I met Aaron when I brought in a sample of our water after we discovered oil seeping out of the ground in the corner of our backyard.  He was six years older than I was - a short, sunburnt, solid built man, more patient than he looked.   An assessor sees how dreams can be shattered by unseen elements, though the problems people bring to him are not in the same class as foreclosures, or zoning laws.  He saw how property values and people’s lives can be sabotaged by the shifts underground.  Experience of this sort had made Aaron tentative, in a thorough, impersonal way.  He said my water was probably okay, the depth of the water well my saving grace, but the presence of oil particles in the air would be a bigger detriment to my health than any drinking water issue, and that I was the type of woman who could not only survive this challenge but eventually have a wonderful life.   

As you can see I unabashedly used many elements of Alice Munro’s work as I built these sentences.  The paragraph is not going to be used in any piece of my own fiction, I sought instead an expansion of techniques I could use to bring a story to life. 

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Summer Writing

I'm enjoying my summer which includes some welcome trips.  For the writer, it both a blessing and a curse.  The good part is that I'm gathering stories.  The bad part is that I have less time to use those impressions, details and story lines in actual writing.  What to do? 
Well, here's the plan. 
I will be writing in the form of exercises.  I have begun a 'Bits and Pieces' as my summer assignment.  These may or may not become part of a larger work, but that doesn't matter.  One of the first things I have done is to find sentences or paragraphs that I admire and use them as models for my own work.  So far this assignment has included these things as models.
A dialogue that is both quoted and summarized. 
A physical description that includes allusions to character.
A handling of time that is effective and brief. 

I have found that finding these models is a valuable exercise, I'm paying close attention to sentences and their purpose within a story.  I'm learning.  Always a good thing. 

Saturday, July 9, 2016


I think I spend too much time being haunted by conversations; mainly my responses.  What I should have said, what I actually meant and so forth.  Like anyone ever has a do-over.  It’s a useless occupation, the situation arose and it went the way it went.  The question was asked and answered.  The opportunity was bungled or handled.  My words were said.  The mistakes were made, the impressions were formed.  It is time to move on. 

However, these hauntings contain potential for story plots once I get over the insanity that is to continue to overthink the incident!  For the sake of my mental health, I’m going to choose story plot.  Here are some steps that have worked for me in the past to move from disturbed to inspired. 

An eerie bird?
First I will make brief notes, with dates and names of what happened.  These truths are then filed.  I have found that because I have recorded the facts of the matter, I can then move away from further mental review.  It (the disturbance) is ‘put down.’ 

Then I am ready to create fiction around the situation.  I will give my feelings to another, or I will create another who thinks and reacts very different than I do and let the incident happen to them.  I will stretch and exaggerate, I will think of dire results or causes.  I will let the seed from my own world grow in a world of its own.  

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Holiday and Writing

There is a foolishness that I indulge in when I am on holidays.  It is that I will have inspirations and the time to write.  Ha.  Best I can do is observe people and converse with people, and read.  I've always been fond of second hand book stores.  I've found one today.  Luckily I got out of there before I went crazy buying books.  Now I have words for the rest of the trip. 

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Now for a break!

I've managed to write to the end of the first draft of Liz's Lymphedema Logbook.  I'm going to take a breather from writing and let the scheduled posts show up for my readers.  The last post will appear in July, but it isn't the end of the work.  As I said, the blog post are my first draft.
It's been a wonderful journey, I'm proud of what I have accomplished.  I had some challenges during the writing process and I certainly know a few more tricks to be able to proceed.  I'm thankful for that.

Creativity of a different type - my friend's pottery.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

One Thing At A Time

I discovered a long time ago that I wasn't a multi-task worker; especially when it comes to writing.  This doesn't mean that I am always happy with one-project-and-one-project-only focus, but I have discovered that focus is to be encouraged. 
Lately I have been pushing towards the completion of my blog book - Liz's Lymphedema Logbook.  This is progressing nicely and although I cannot say this with 100% certainty, I believe I have crossed the half-way mark.  I have joy in my heart that I have managed to come this far in this large project.  There have been at least two junctures where I had to overcome difficulties with the writing project.  This success alone makes the project worthwhile, because similar difficulties may well come up again.  My confidence is good that I can write my way forward to the completion of the blog book. 
And then...

Friday, May 27, 2016

Sentence Basics

I've been reading 'How to Write a Sentence' by Stanley Fish, and I've devised an exercise in response to some of the first chapters.
The first step is to write a simple sentence with doer, doing, done to, such as Sam ate lunch.  Then this is expanded to 30-40 words or 100 words.  At this point, it becomes the assignment to make sure that all the added phrases, information, flights of fancy or whatever has been written, connect with any of the first three words.  If and when they don't, it is up to me to fix that. 

A second assignment that I've added is to take a longer sentence from an author I admire (Alice Munro) and pick out the simple three or four words that are at the core. 


The objective is to practice a sentence form.  So far, so good. 

Thursday, May 19, 2016

The Coach Approach to Writing

I serve as my own writing coach, and long before I bring my efforts to anyone else’s attention, I have to get something written.  This is when I have to be self-aware.  Sometimes I have to make a list of the things that are preventing me from applying my fingers to the keyboard.  I follow this valuable advice, gleaned long ago about a different sort of Point of View. 

There are many ways to view any given situation, and no perspective is more correct than any other.  The more perspectives I can see means I have more potential solutions.  Since my view of a problem dictates the solution, and since all views are viable, I try to choose a perspective that offers a solution.  

Why am I not writing?  This title is one that I use often, as I gather my resources and begin writing.  A sample list follows; including some breakthrough thoughts in italics. 

·       Time and ideas are my most common problems; not enough of the first and too many of the later.

·       But it just takes a change of attitude about time.  I will be interrupted, I think, but then it might not happen.  Who says that I don’t have enough time to start or finish something?  There is no time like the present.  (I find that a project started has a certain momentum of its own.  I will return to work on it, even on a day when my time for writing is fractured.)

·       As for the too many ideas, the abundance could be more comforting than alarming, with the right view point.  (I find that if my attitudes are adjusted to something more positive, the excuses will drop away.)


Sunday, May 15, 2016

Blog Number Three - Lymphedema Logbook

Liz's Lymphedema Logbook is the first draft of my non-fiction book, that I am writing blog by blog. I arrived at this project inspired by several things of my life.  First and foremost is the challenge of lymphedema and the isolation involved.  It isn't easy getting the necessary assistance from the health agencies.  It isn't easy managing this condition on a day to day basis. The emotional impact is significant as well.  I have come to my seventh year with lymphedema and I have managed to thrive.  I want to share what I know, because I would have been helped so much had someone shared with me.  If this has the flavor of being a mission statement, perhaps it is. 

The second reason that I set my keyboard to this project is I have a long term goal of writing a book and having it published. 

I believe that Liz's Lymphedema Logbook will be published and even if it doesn't, there will be things that I learn, in this effort that will help with the next. 

So blog by blog and step by step, it is begun. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Duration of Enthusiasms

I’ve taken on some large projects concerning my writing lately.  And one of the things that I’ve discovered is that there is a maximum duration for my enthusiasm.  I am a sucker for variety and the next new idea, so ideally I would have a plan that would provide me with those very things.  Unfortunately the moment I might tire of something is a little hard to predict. 

The next part of this is if slow and steady win the race, what does moodiness and impulsiveness bring you?  If I am going to reach my writing goals, I have to understand my weaknesses but I also have to become stronger as well. 

I’ve come to the conclusion that I might be approaching this from the wrong direction.  I do not need a plan to avoid the enthusiasm slumps.  I need a plan to push my way through or discover a creative way to let the project pull me along.  Others have managed this, so can I.  I hope to think of my enthusiasm duration as being on a graph and while there will be ups and downs; I want the line to stay above zero.  Onward.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Wildfire Reality And News Story Inspiration For Writers

Fort McMurray's situation is horrifying and tragic.  The reality of that is beyond my comprehension and I feel compassion for their plight. 

As a writer I know that many stories will play out as the wildfires tear through this northern Alberta community.  Will I write of this?  Probably not, but I did use newsfeed from Slave Lake's siege, several years ago, to write Flashover

It was a unique experience as I followed the advice I had been given.  'Use the news for writing inspiration.'

May Fort McMurray write a happy ending to their story. 


Sunday, May 1, 2016

How Blogging is Good for Authors

Blogging is writing.   It is not the-big-important writing, not the-stall-you-in-your-tracks writing, nor is it unimportant.  I have learnt that to maintain a blog, I have to pay attention to words and ideas and then to act.  Whatever blogging goals that I have, private and announced, the call of the blog needs to be answered.  I find that when the key board has been silent for too long, a blog post is a simple way to start writing again.  Writing something has the magic to call more projects to mind.  And fingers to keyboard, the process begins. 

Blogging leads to writing.  There’s a sort of sweep the floor, put away the dishes clearing that happens with blogging.  One little random idea is executed with each blog.  This frees the mind to find another random idea, or to circle back to the larger project that waits. 

Sharp-tailed Grouse
Blogging is more than writing practice.  Blogging is a commitment to that writing practice.  There is a point when something that you choose to do, becomes more than a choice.  It has become a habit.  I am not the only person who has found that blogging is one step on the road to being a dedicated writer. 

Blogging is important to my writing.  I’ve circled this lesson before, but if I set blogging aside, for whatever reason, then it eventually stalls my word flow.  It might not be logical, but the blog has to be on list of tasks.  It is good for the writer. 




Saturday, April 30, 2016

My Photo Essay is Published

I went with a little different type of inspiration and a photo essay is the result.  Here's a photo of the two pages with my work.  Our Canada May 2016 edition. 

Monday, April 25, 2016

Fear Plain and Simple, Revisited

From my archives

The concept is sound, I thought.  I would use April to launch my novel writing project.  Now April 20, 2015, I am less sure.  The outcome is not what I expected.  The plan that I expected to outline hasn’t happened.  The start point has not emerged.  Planning may just well be another term for procrastination. 

I know what’s going on.  It’s fear – plain and simple that has me stalled.  And the cure for that is to begin.  I have no plan but I don’t need one.  Many of my stories have been written without a plan as I use the D&D method.  Discovery and Decisions in turn has served me well in the past.  And many of my stories have been written without a plan. 

One of my writer friends describes writing as involving bum glue -place butt in chair in front of the writing project and work.  I have heard the advice ‘Stay in the room’ -work through the difficulties.  So here I go:  in the room and on the chair.   

April 2016. 

Fear isn’t particularly simple, but it is manageable.  I expect to have some fear/anxiety/nervous energy about writing and I have decided to welcome it.  Calmness might be seriously over-rated.  Calmness might be the opening theme for boring.   In the past year, I have learnt a few more things about planning as well. 

·       I now use sub-goal plans.  These sub-goals are tiny steps that I give my attention to.

·       I enlist accountability buddies.  At the moment, a friend and I are exchanging weekly logs that include the plan and the outcome.

·       I step back and view my actions as if from an outside observer.  Today, I see that I have checked my weekly log and I am writing a blog essay.  And the outside observer things works too as I imagine what I would do if I were moving towards my goals.  What I imagine often makes it onto the list of things to do. 

·       I take another angle if a goal is eluding me.  I was stalled in the goal of ‘make an outline’, so I borrowed one and made modifications. 

Monday, April 18, 2016

Thoughts While Writing

When I write a story, I also write down my thoughts about writing the story.  Sometimes it helps me to sort out what my mind is doing and to give me clues about what I need to do next.  I pulled this piece from my archives as an example of writing about my thoughts while writing.     

To birth the story; 

I think that I have to get out of my own way on this one.  It wants to be told, in the worst way and all my planning and fussing has been there only to frustrate me.  I will not make a plan, I will tell the story.  I believe that this is right and it does follow the writer’s workshop textbook that I have read.

I wonder if I haven’t been just over-thinking the process of writing as I have my files and resources and all the rest that seem to be prep work for writing but in a lot of ways is not. 


Thought writing can get me writing again but it can also become a diversion and in some cases can stop my writing.  I find that what I read; influences what I write.  So after I have stumbled or stalled in a story, and I have written about my frustrations, I turn to reading fiction.  My mind usually becomes clear and focused again on the story writing process and I move forward. 







Thursday, April 14, 2016

I-Write, You-Write

“The descriptions are vital to the scene.”  The writer said after several of our critique group said they had difficulty picturing the details within his story. 

I too, had the same problem.  Since some left-out details also raised problems within the story, I suggested that he select the details that the story needs and make sure those are clear. 

Now, as I think of this again, I would add this to my advice.

Your words do not have to give us a photograph, but an understanding.  And if that is done in an interesting manner, with words that are effective and entertaining, then it’s a job well-done.   



I'm bringing in a new feature at I-Write (formerly A Simple Blog).  Here's my first posting in the manner of a writers discussion, under the I-Write, You-Write label.

Just a tip, if you are unfamiliar with the label part of blogs, they are the words that can be found in red at the bottom of the essay.  If you click on one of them, a sort of similarly labeled posts appears.



Tuesday, March 29, 2016

New Story Published - Second Job

I'm always happy to have a story published but this one is especially fine because this is the second story that this market has taken.  Thank you Prairie Journal.  The story Second Job began with an off-hand remark from a friend.  She said her retired parent's went for coffee several times a day and that was 'cute'.  What if...? I asked.  What if the coffee group was the husband's thing but not the wife's.  Then an early version of this story got a boost when a member of my writer's group mentioned bullying within coffee groups.  The rest?  Read the rest at Prairie Journal.  It's the only story at this time under 2016, but my story Forty Pounds is in the list under 2014.  You will find there are many fine stories to read here. 

Monday, March 28, 2016

What to Write?

“Sometimes I lie awake at night, and I ask, “Where have I gone wrong?”  Then a voice says to me, “This is going to take more than one night.”   Charles M. Schulz. 

I found this quote while I was going through my files wondering what I would write about for this blog.  My middle of the evening question is a little different than the creator of Peanuts.  I asked, “What could I write about writing now?”

And all I could see were too many choices.  And too many of anything can be its own burden.  When I am faced with too many things I try to remember to be very basic.  The voice said to me “Write about the one thing that you have chosen, because to pick from the possibilities, will take more than one night.” 

One topic, one sentence, one open file with words being typed into it, every day or as close to that as you can make it, that is writing.  Writing is an action word. 


Monday, March 7, 2016

The Workshop Experience

The Workshop Experience

It was mid-point of the workshop and I was struggling.  It is not a good sign when you’ve scratched on the handout – shut up already. 

There was someone that I thought was taking too much air space in the afternoon which proves I can be really judgmental and impatient.  This made it an interesting workshop, if only for me to realize how much irritation I can handle.  And others may not have had the same experience.  While I was seriously irritated by one person, others could seriously have been irritated with me.  I know how this goes. 

The workshop was unique, far more discussion time than many I have been to.  I’m old enough that it takes effort for me to wrap my head around something new.  Some of the discussion was useful, some was not.  We spent significant time on a page of quotations.  But the use of them to examine voice is something that I will consider in the future.  

Eventually we got to several thought provoking exercises.   

#1.  Finish this sentence.  I don’t know why I remember…

#2.   Part A. List the things I was taught.  Part B. List the things I was not taught.

#3.  Create a personal ‘Harper’s Index’. “Harper’s Index” is a registered trademark.

In case you are unfamiliar with the index, it is a collection of facts such as average age, or percentage of, or number of times something occurred.   All of it is random and eclectic enough to get the brain cells working.

Our workshop leader assured us that ‘there was a story’ behind each of our answers.  Indeed he stated, there were fascinating stories.  But the best summation of the workshop might have been a fellow attendee statement ‘you can make all kinds of shit up.’ 

On a person note, the moment I decided that I had got my money’s worth out of the day was during the meal after.  I overheard the instructor explain something of his own process that made total sense to me.  I might not have known before but that was the thing that I came for.  So worth it. 


Sunday, February 28, 2016

Bringing Dessert

This newly published story can be found at Transition but to find Transition you have to start at the home page of CMHASK then click on Get Involved and choose Transition Magazine from the menu.  Choose the Winter 2015 volume and go to page 16 of the PDF file that comes up. 

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Writing is good for you

It turns out that writing is better for you than thinking.  At first glance, writing doesn’t seem much different than thinking.  Thinking however, can often be somewhat chaotic.  Writing is different.  Writing encourages story lines, structure, and making sense of things.  Writing leads to solutions. 

And it doesn’t even have to be very much writing.  Expressing gratitude, in writing, for a few minutes daily can increase your happiness, and optimism.  Writing about a perfect/ideal future is another winning activity, far and above visualization.   You can even boost good vibes about your love life with affectionate writing.   

Happiness might lie in a little time with pen and paper.  Write and be grateful.  Write and describe your best possible future.  Write and remember all the reasons you care for someone.  Each of these three assignments is a simple procedure but all have been proven to have huge impacts. 

Best of all, the words that you write are permanent.  You can read them later.  You can share them. 



Friday, February 19, 2016

Write Now

I've written about writing as long as I've been actively an author.  Here's an old piece that I want to share.
Write Now
Ever set out to do something?  And nothing happens? As a person who strives for accomplishment but then fails, I have been known to blame the beginnings.  Here are some things I have said to myself;

It wasn’t that good an idea in the first place.  I might chastise myself by thinking if I had thought it through; I would have chosen something else.

Or I might second guess myself.  This one didn’t fit, I need something easier, or more of a challenge.

I might decide that I’m not capable enough. I need a coach to help me.

I need to uncover the flaws I must correct (the plan before the plan). 

 Oh.  It’s a slippery slope. 

Here are my thoughts about beginnings from the perspective of a reformed procrastinator.  The beginnings don’t have to be perfect.  Any action toward the goal is good.  The beginning is one step, only.  It fits perfectly with what I am calling my guiding motto. 

“What do you have? Where are you at? What can you do?  Now.”

Push onward.