I don’t write to be famous, I don’t write to be known, I write because I am and I want to be read. How sad to fill a room with paintings no one sees or play music no one hears. Writing is talking without sound, singing without score and dancing without movement and yet, it is all of them. It is a solitary art conjured from thought and expressed by the need to communicate.

HEAD SLAPS, SPEED BUMPS and LIGHTBULBS, one woman's WTF, oops and ah-ha moments of life.

They were published once, and as every writer knows, once is not enough.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Fiction mission statement

I am over 18,000 words, aka 67 pages into my third novel. This particular book stems from an idea I had about a year ago during a ten minute ride home from the grocery store. In those ten minutes the entire backbone of the novel came to me as well as almost all the main characters. The location of the story, which is as pivotal as the people who populate it, was the wow factor and ah ha moment of impetus. It was a few days after the idea hit that I realized, I have driven by the location hundreds of times in the past ten years. Sublimely I think the seed was planted. Sublimely the message finally broke through the day I had to get the ice cream home and in the freezer before it melted.

Having the story, as they say, pop into my head so completely and so quickly, had me working over the last year in fits and starts without true commitment. But because I pass the location at least once a week and sometimes more when I food shop, it’s been hounding me to keep on, keeping on. Seven days into this new writing relationship, the amount of words I am producing per day are impressive. I'm waiting for the blush of the honeymoon to fade but hoping the passion will endure.

So I’m back at it, loving the process of creation. Will I finish, will this be the breakthrough into fiction I have been seeking? Who knows? With all the other writing I do, and my column deadlines which loom like continuous gestational due dates trip me up, who knows?  Because I have written two books which are dangerously close to being drawer novels I wonder if the time involved is worth the effort. Who knows? But I will dance as long as my feet hold out, or should I say, write until my hands fall off.

All I know is that after I put my ice cream in the freezer a year ago I sat down at my keyboard and wrote the query for the book. In a year I have barely changed a word. It still stands as my talisman, my focus, my one page outline, contents and synopsis path. More than a query maybe it’s my fiction mission statement.

Have you ever written the query first?

Sunday, September 22, 2013

I do it alone

There are writers whose words will never be published, never read, never discovered by eyes other than their own. The words will drift from mind to page secretly, like a whispered prayer for no one else to hear but God. And for some, that's the way they want it.

But this is not about that writer. This is about the one with the desire to be read and recognized for that, which she does alone.

The brave writer splays herself, reveals her inner workings, leaving pieces of herself to weather if the machine is not perfect.

But the machine is never perfect and if you know that, believe that, live with that and write with the mantra, “it will never be perfect,” set on repeat, you are a writer. Read, unread, we are a strange breed of pack animals with pages for minds and keystrokes as synapses.

What sadder is there than a singer whose voice brings embarrassed laughter, a painter whose masterpiece hangs unnoticed upside down or a musician whose instrument is called cheap and out of tune? Practice bridges ability and talent left wanting, to learning. The unread writer is the saddest of them all because she is the instrument, the painting is of her, the aria is sung by her voice.The stage is the greatest classroom.

I am amazed by the amount of writers who have shared their fear of being read. Judgment, rejection, the, I am not worthy, not good enough voices are echoes best left to travel on forgotten winds. Write, read, share, splay, reveal, be brave, step forward, learn, what you have to say are keys for all of us, to leave in doors for others to open.

I’m a writer, I do it alone.

My greatest fear: two words, anonymity and aspiring.
To be an unknown, aspiring writer negates the years I have spent sewing words into the hems of the garments I wear. For those of us who have been published we are only as good as our next byline or next title page.

Are you afraid of being read or of being unread?

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Framed and hung

When my daughters were little, I mean really little, like in preschool, they’d come home with stories, messages and sentiments, written by them, for me.  The writings were pretty amazing considering that neither kid knew more than a few letters of the alphabet and could barely write their own names. What the girls could do, was talk.

The teachers, in their infinite wisdom, became their writers and interpreters. Stories, cards and memoirs of their days were verbally communicated by the child, to the adult who wrote down exactly what they said. Considering how young they were at the time, I was amazed by how interpretive and wise my daughters were. Always with vocabularies far ahead of their peers, my girls were excellent writers even though they didn’t know an M from an N or an O from a Q. They didn’t need to ‘write’ in order to write, as long as they had someone to scribble down what they dictated.

For those of us whose diplomas on the wall are signed by the seat of our pants, we often feel inadequate because not having a fancy writing education sometimes creates a huge wall dividing the learned, from the learning. If you are a writer with a dream, an open and inquisitive mind, if you have thick skin, revel in your own company and most of all you have the tenacity to row, even when the tide is against you, then you will be successful.

My daughters couldn’t write but boy could they write. Just because their little hands couldn’t form the letters didn’t mean their minds couldn’t form the words. So, never underestimate the talent and abilities of those less educated, never underestimate your own abilities. 

When was the last time you spelled inadequate as s-u-c-c-e-s-s?

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Winning after all

My beautiful boy asleep on the couch

Last night I searched for and found a journal I knew had the birth month and year of our dog Harley. Because he has become an old dog with issues, it seemed important to know, as close as we can, how old he actually is. It didn’t take long to find the journal and the date, May 2002. He is a senior of his breed; golden retriever/yellow lab/mutt mix.

After I found the date I began to leaf through the journal and reread my entries which actually started as far back as the beginning of the new century. It wasn’t one of those journals I wrote in everyday, just during times of anything other than the mundane. Mundane had me falling asleep regularly, different had me up and writing.

The entries on one day might cover three or four different happening on that same date, during different years. Over the last decade I’d go back, add and update what I had written.  It’s interesting because what I wrote about as a worry or expectation, I noted the following years as either being of little consequence, problem solved or dream fulfilled. It was nice to see that because of the journal’s continuation year after year, no matter what the issue, life went on. But, a few times life ended.

Notes about my parents during the end of their lives, and entries regarding my mother-in-law, just before she passed away at 93, were sobering reminders that there is an end to all of this. It illustrates how we should not take any day, especially those written down and noted, for granted.

The backbone of the journal...my grateful lists. It seems that no matter how difficult life got, and it did get difficult at times, I always had a list of five things about my day for which I was grateful. I haven’t made those lists lately, which is odd, because I have more now to thankful for then ever. My newest journal is more a bitch-book, a series of whiny entries all about how much I hate my job. It’s actually a pretty good job. Actually it’s not the job I dislike as much as it is my inability to retire, which I thought I’d be able to do this year.

My husband and I never planned to retire because we knew we could never afford to. Then something amazing happened to us. We won the lottery, sort-of. Not an actual play a number, put down the buck, and win tons of money, lottery, we won by giving up something we dearly loved but didn’t really need...and we won big.

I won’t go into the specifics but when I reread all my entries leading up to the day of the windfall, and all the entries added to the same exact days, but different years, it was eye opening to see how wasteful my angst and worry was. I poured out my heart about a big beautiful  house I fell in love with and wanted to buy so much I ached for it...and here I am having lived in that big-ass house for ten years and we're putting it on the market next spring in order to downsize.

My daughter, off to college, happy, unhappy and eventually back home, I thought would never finish school and end up with a mediocre future. She fought back and transferred, graduated, has her masters, a marriage, a new job and is pregnant. My angst and my worries were wasted. 

Retirement became a real possibility, a part of the plan until ’08 when everything with a dollar sign tanked. In every sense, it was a time of wisdom and memories, a time when possibilities were endless. It is one of those things on my grateful list. The lists I don’t write anymore.

I’d love to write about our journey from nothing, to everything and back. A memoir perhaps the likes of It can happen to you. After reading my journal I learned that when we thought we had so little, we actually had a lot, and when we had it all, we were the same people as before, but with nicer furniture. 

I guess what I really want to say is that last night I relived the journey to the finish line.  It was exciting, the stuff of books and movies and a story I would love to tell but I have so many stories to share, and as humans do, especially the ones who write, we run out of time.

It is the reality of life and ‘time’ that the house will eventually be sold, the couches replaced and Harley, the young pup who moved here with us ten years ago probably will not make it through this coming winter. It is my hope that a year from now I will add to today’s page the truth of resilience and comments about a goofy old dog still hanging on. 

What do you want added to this day's page a year from now?