Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Briefly Stated Truths


We've all been told we need a platform to entice an agent or editor. But sometimes, tweeting seems worse than writing, or takes over when writing should come first. Delilah Dawson at Whimsy Dark has some great advice.

For those of you just starting, have you discovered a community on Twitter? We are a lonely tribe. Twitter can amuse, inform, and accompany us on our journey.

Me, I like to post nonsense when I'm not posting that I've posted something new on my blog. What nonsense would you Tweet if you could say ANYTHING YOU WANT without embarrassing yourselves and/or your friends and families?

Enter this information in your journal. 140 characters per faux Tweet. Then get a padlock ... or a good hiding place.

Where do you hide your journal?

Happy writing day!


More practice on writing something brief ...

What are a few of your favorite quotations from well-known writers? Here's one of mine:

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring 
Will be to arrive where we started 
And know the place for the first time. 

It's from TS Eliot's "Little Gidding" and I have thought of it repeatedly when life proves it to be true.

If you were to speak one of your truths, something you've learned from your life journey, what would it be? Try out several, and then write one out in 50 WORDS (not characters). Tomorrow, see if you still believe it to be one of the truths you would share with a younger you.

Happy writing!


This morning, I read an interesting quotation from Hannah Arendt:

Nur das ist wahr, dem wir bis zuletzt die Treue halten.

I am hardly a perfect translator (if there is such a thing), and Ms. Arendt isn't hanging around here to help me out, but I take from those words, The only thing that is true is that in which we keep faith. 

Obscure, right? Or is it?

Now let's get a little less philosophical ...

Here's my one and only Dorothy Parker-ish quip:  I have been more faithful to the Red Sox than to any man. 

Haha, right? But it's true! I believed in them in 1967, and I believe in them now. That's pretty long! In 1967, I had a crush on Carl Yastremzski! That's not who I'm crushing on now. (Yes, 50-somethings still do that ... and I'm fortunate to be living with mine.)

Finally, in 2004, 2007, and 2013, the Red Sox validated my belief in them, my faith that they could break The Curse and win the World Series. In 2013, they embodied Boston Strong and I got a maybe too big Sox "B" tattoo to celebrate my 55th birthday.

What else have I believed in that long?

I believed in myself as a writer in 1970, when I wrote a newsletter about my Girl Scout Troop's activities.

I believed in myself as a writer in 1981, when I worked at a publishing house and participated in a writers group. But writing didn't go well for me then, so I had only a wobbly conviction.

I believed in myself as a writer when I started graduate school in English Lit in 1985, thinking that if I read the masters, I'd be able to emulate them. In fact, the masters convinced me that at best I was a minor talent. My faith in my writerly self faltered ...

I have published a lot since then, and certainly I can spin out an essay that will move you, or write a poem that captures a moment or emotion. But I still have not finished a novel--and I've always wanted to write one and polish it to my own satisfaction (or as much satisfaction as any novelist ever feels). I've always wanted to see it published with a real cover and an ISBN.

Last fall, I almost gave up. My daughter in publishing said, You can do this. You are a writer, Mom.

I went back to it. I'm getting closer.

The only thing that is true is that in which we never lose faith.

I believe in unconditional love. My parents gave it to me and I to my own children. And my children return it. They would never judge me for giving up. But they want me to fulfill my dream.

What faith in other faulty, fallible human beings do you hold? Including yourself? You can express this faith in fewer than 140 characters--I know you can.

I believe I will publish an important work of fiction.

The only failed writer is the one who gives up.

To whom have you been faithful since you were ten years old? Or to what idea, hope, goal? Write it out in 140 characters or fewer. Now, expand on it. What does that faith mean to you? Let it be as philosophical as Arendt's or as personal as mine.

See you next week! Happy writing!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015



This post is a three-part set of prompts! Get your notebook/journal/laptop ready, and then read on ...

On Writer Unboxed, I found a post by Sarah Callender that really touched me. It's about how being on the bi-polar spectrum can be difficult but usually also means you are a very creative person.

Most importantly, Callender points out that if you're on that spectrum, you can live very well! You don't have to be depressed if you take care of yourself. And all those high emotions can be relieved by writing--and can result in really amazing writing, too!

With all the attention lately to mental health and how it can affect someone's work (Germanwings) it's important to realize that mental health issues can be regulated. It took a long time for me to grapple with my own depression/anxiety/bipolar tendencies, but lately they're pretty well under control, at least when I'm not pushing myself to be someone I'm not. As a writer, I'm so happy, as long as I take all the measures necessary to keep myself healthy--medication, exercise, plenty of sleep, avoiding anxiety-ridden situations (like working for a creep).

Have you ever dealt with a mental health issue? Do you know anyone who has? How does it affect your creativity, or another's? Even if you haven't, do you sometimes get so deeply into your creative state that you experience "flow"? What is that like?


Write today about someone you know, or you, yourself, who has been affected by mental health issues or situational depression or anxiety. Tomorrow, we'll examine how writing about that made you feel physically, so keep that in mind as you write!

And if you know someone who is currently going through a  mental health issue or who has a chronic one, reach out. Tell that person you love him or her. If it's you, tell yourself you are worthy of living a joy-filled life. 

Oh, about the crow, pictured above. Check out Sarah Callender's blog. You'll find a wonderful blog and a great explanation of how one word can mean many things.


Today, describe the PHYSICAL feelings you had yesterday while writing about your or a family member/friend's mental health challenges. Reread yesterday's writing. How does your body react today? Take some quiet time to connect with your body. Using words that apply to your physical state only ... no slipping into the emotional! :-)


Today, choose an object or a living thing that represents somehow your physical response to your writing about conquering mental health issues, or living joyously and productively with them. Who cares if you start with something trite or overused ... a track star leaping hurdles, a bear emerging from hibernation ... I'm going to stop here because I don't want to steal them all!

Make the comparison. If you get more than a paragraph, great, but one paragraph is a good start. You can always select two symbols and see how different symbols lead to different descriptions, different meanings!

You've had a great week of writing. Congrats! See you next week.


Saturday, April 4, 2015


Trails through 
scented but 
rocky with
steep declines
I pause
brave hyacinths
trusting only
today's sun
and soil

Copyright 2015

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Freedom of Speech and a Learning Opportunity

When it comes to pornographic and misogyinist material, I wish it didn't exist. But we can't afford to control freedom of expression. It's the last bastion of freedom we have in an increasingly corporatized and militarized America.

Watch CBS Morning News, and then watch Democracy Now's morning news. You'll see what I mean. Mainstream media not only reports on a bias, whether it's the far right Fox News or the progressive MSNBC, but also tells stories and manipulates social media to seize the public's imagination, promulgating stories of little importance on days that stories of huge importance are taking place. Take for example the day of the blue dress and the escapee llamas. Do you know what else happened that day? I bet not.

So today, should we forgive Trevor Noah's his earlier unfortunate punch lines that rely on stereotyping of gender. race, religion, and ethnicity? What do you think? What's okay and not okay when it comes to political humor? Why was Jon Stewart so entertaining? When you tell or hear jokes, do you take into account whether they are exploitative or offensive to anyone, anywhere?

I'm a little political today, and taking a look at political correctness. Oh, you noticed?

Here's an interesting perspective: That Guy T

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Freedom prompt #2


Today I was "freed" from a job I never liked in the first place, after months and months of going back and forth about what was to happen ... I am now a full-time writer of my own work, not anyone else's. Yes, I have to feed myself, so I am also seeking other meaningful work, but purposeful, meaningful work that won't derail my writing.

Whereas I was neither in solitary confinement nor wrongfully imprisoned, I was in a place toxic to me. It hurt.

Have you ever been in a place like that? Or a relationship like that? Can you figure out, in writing, how it turned out to be that way? If you're still in one, brainstorm a way out ... No matter which topic you choose to write about today, before you put down that pen or close the laptop, reflect on how you tried to make it work until, well, you just couldn't. List those ways. Congratulate yourself for the effort.

Catch ya tomorrow, writing buds!


Monday, March 30, 2015


“If they strain me up tight, why, let 'em look out! I can't bear it, and I won't.” ― Anna SewellBlack Beauty

Today's Goodreads quote, above, just made me so happy that I decided to use it as a prompt, and my lovely daughter Sophie as an example of how my making myself free taught my kids a lesson--BE WHO YOU ARE, and EXULT IN IT!!

Sophie runs half marathons--she just completed her fifth. I was there to see her response to this one, and it was inspirational back at me. I've run all my life but am much less religious about it these days. My knees hurt and I weigh more than I ever did before which makes it hard to go all out--something I really love. Running flat out makes me feel like I'm flying, bursting through barriers as intimidating as many other barriers I've burst through.

When I was a high school kid, my parents told me I could be anything I wanted to be, but after getting into a prestigious college, I spent a lot of time conforming, and losing sight of that. Now, I'm back to what I wanted to be--a writer and a teacher, if only teaching at the library as opposed to my one-time goal to be a tenured professor. But really, which type of teaching is more freeing, anyway? And as a tenured professor, I wouldn't be joyously writing young adult fiction. 

Not every day as a writer is joyous, but man-oh-man is it better than anything else I've ever worked at doing. When I'm deeply into the creative process, I have no idea what's happening around me. It's flow.

So for this week's prompts, I'm going to focus on freedom. What freedoms did you give up to become a responsible adult? Which would you like back? Brainstorm for a few minutes, and see whether you can get a paragraph or two out of that. I'll post some more ideas tomorrow.

Have fun!


Monday, March 23, 2015

Spinning yarns

“When it comes to life, we spin our own yarn, and where we end up is really, in fact, where we always intended to be.” 
― Julia GlassThree Junes


This Julia Glass quotation is so perfect for me. Is it for you? In one paragraph, write the condensed story of your life. What would you like to part of that story might be a point you'd like to explore more in writing? Pick one. Write another paragraph and then wait for tomorrow's prompt ;-)




If you are the person who rewrote and chose a different episode/event/life experience, come back tomorrow.

Hello, person still using the life experience you wrote about yesterday ... you, my friend,  may continue on ...


Okay, you left that writing (above) for a day. Do you still see the episode you identified yesterday as interesting enough and important enough to you to explore more? If no, write a couple of paragraphs and return tomorrow. If yes here's your next prompt:

You were the protagonist in the paragraphs you wrote. Now imagine that this event features not you, but someone else. Create that person. Day dream. Jot down ideas. Now describe him/her, including both physical appearance and personal characteristics. Try to keep a bit of yourself in this new character, but also include some different traits. Write about this person in third person: He did this, she felt that. Give this person a setting, with detail. Include place, using as many senses as you can. Include time of year. Include weather. Think of the weather and setting as a character, too, influencing the outcome of the event and the feelings of the character.

Guess what?

You just started writing fiction. We all mine our own lives for important life events. We all create characters using some of ourselves and some of what we know about others.

Tomorrow, we shall go forth again ...

Know that this exercise is not just about becoming a fiction writer. Nope. I have hidden motivations.


STOP HERE. I MEAN IT. ;-) See you tomorrow. 


Yesterday you described your character. Now take those sentences and instead of using adjectives to describe him/her, show the same things about him/her through action and dialogue with one other character. You can be the extra character yourself if you'd like! Imagine ... it's sort of authorized talking to yourself! All writers are pretty crazy anyhow. Get used to it.

One more part coming ... tomorrow.


Yesterday, you created a scene, mini-scene, start of a scene, idea for a scene. You know, something sort of scene-like. Today you get an easy assignment. Scenes in a short story, novel, memoir, bio, etc. relate to one and another. One scene leads to the next in a kinda sorta cause and effect relationship. Reread your work from yesterday. What might a following scene contain? Journal on it.

And guess what?

You just finished multiple days of writing like a "real" writer. Which makes you one, too. It's in the doing ... See you next week!