The Disciplined Writer


A great writer shows discipline; she adheres to a plan
She’s seldom distracted by the presence of man
She embarks on a mission with an outline in hand
Ignoring the dishes, the mop and dust pan
Her coffee gets cold while she’s pecking away
Till wee hours of the morning at her laptop she’ll stay
I think she’s fictitious, this goddess of pens
She exists in the mind of imaginary friends
Too many distractions that get in the way
Too many expectations in the course of a day
Like Smartphones and Ipads, tv and much more
The children and shopping and knocks on the door
And even at night when the rest are in beds
Temptations invade us and dance in our heads
There’s red wine, dark chocolate, tidbits of cheese
Sudukos and novels, guilty pleasures to seize
Procrastination some call it; excuses others say
But a writer who avoids them? I don’t believe it. No Way
by dianemhow

I Dream of Genie Writing Room


My hands tremble slightly in anticipation as I gently press my fingers on the electronic detector and wait for it to read my prints. I glance over my shoulder making sure I have not been followed then quietly slip past the soundproof door that will separate me from a world of interuptions for the next few hours.

A dark mahogany desk serves as the command center for my oasis. I walk past it to the supple leather lounger where a freshly brewed cup of hazelnut coffee awaits me. With my favorite pen and notebook, I settle down and announce “Maui”

The LED wall illuminates and I’m on Kaanapali Beach in , listening to the swoosh of the ocean as I watch a magnificent sunset.

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From the rhythm of my pen a poem spills forth.

Come walk with me on shifting sands
Along my Maui shores
Come find the peace within yourself
That leaves you wanting more
The gentle flow of crashing waves
Will mesmerize your heart
The azure skies, the gentle breeze
You’ll never want to part
The tide will rise to greet you there
To cleanse your weary soul
The lofty palms will wave to you
And whisper “Please don’t go”

I recite it to Margie, my faithful genius who resides somewhere within the black laptop, and she records my words with precision.

“Bryce” I command and the wall changes to reveal the colorful hoodoos in the Utah National Park that appeared like chess pieces throughout the massive canyon.
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Once again the movement of my hand results in words spread across an empty canvas as a creative piece takes form. Nearly an hour has passed and I realize I must move on, lest I will fail to complete my journey.

“Colorado” I sigh as I think about the recent trip. There were not enough hours to journal my adventures while at Keystone. Perhaps a glance at one of the magnificent mountain scenes will refresh my memory enough to capture some lingering thoughts
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Oh, to have a perfect writing room. Must I leave?

Bountiful Baskets


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It’s funny how a thought sticks in your mind until it finds its way into a post. This weekend, my daughter and I made baskets while at Girl Scout Camp Tuckaho http://www.girlscoutsem.org/Programs/Camp/Camp-Tuckaho.aspx. We’ve both been involved in Girl Scouts since 1977 and as a treat, each year about nearly 100 adult volunteers from two districts come together to share talents, laughter and treasured memories with one another.

One of the many baskets displayed by our instructor, Pat Vogel, http://www.bittersweetbasketsandsupply.com/ was titled Bountiful Basket and it made its way into our conversations enough times that it settled in my brain. I returned home late Sunday evening and dragged myself into bed. (Hey, weaving baskets for hours on end and walking across icy fields to get from lodge to lodge was hard work!) Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the laundry basket bursting at the seems with clothes that needed washing. I smiled and decided to wait until morning to tackle that chore.

My thoughts continued to turn to bountiful baskets as I rested my still tender fingers against my disgustingly bloated stomach. Seemed I overfilled the bread basket that occupies the area where I used to have a waist. One thing for sure, we always eat well while at any Girl Scout function; it goes hand to hand, or maybe I should say mouth, with a bunch of women and fresh country air.

As I tried to fall asleep, I realized that although my body was worn, my mind was traveling at a high rate of speed. It wasn’t long before I found myself sitting in front of my laptop. Why? I had recevied the most bountiful blessing on Friday when my last post, Rock, Paper, Laptop, was Freshly Pressed. It was the first time for me and I was overwhelmed by the response. By the time I returned on Sunday, more than 1500 fellow bloggers had viewed my post and many of them took the time to hit the “like” button and/or leave a comment. What an extraordinary event!

To all those who took the time to read my post, write a comment, put a smile on my face with the click of button, or follow my blog, thank you, thank you, thank you! I hope all of you have bountiful baskets filled with great things this week.

Rock, Paper, Laptop


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Ancient Egyptian writers depended upon chisels and stone as the medium for their hieroglyphics. I’m sure many of them embraced the advances in technology that introduced other resources for their passions. Yet, I imagine there were some who struggled to move forward gleefully.

There was a time when pads of yellow paper graced nearly every table top of our home, patiently waiting for any random thoughts of gibberish to find its way onto a meticulously clean surface. With my companions, a smooth writing pen and lined paper, I delight in sitting cross-legged on my couch or out on the deck, scribbling away with the security of knowing I can rip off a page, crumble it and have a clean slate ready for my next attempt.

Much like reminiscing through old photographs, I can pick up a journal or notebook stuffed with pages of deep thoughts, easily revisiting my attempts to imitate Robert Frost http://www.poemhunter.com/robert-frost/ or Erma Bombeck http://www.ermamuseum.org/home.asp. Sometimes, the words I scripted are buried so deep in the recesses of my mind I don’t recognize the words, yet I always know they are mine because of the handwriting.

It isn’t that I don’t know the capabilities of the black box that had been assigned its own room in the house for many years. My job required extensive knowledge of numerous, ever-changing, complex programs, including the infamous MS Word. Perhaps the challenges forced upon me daily formed a callous on my brain that makes it too painful to imagine drafting my work on my computer.

Seldom did I take the time to store my creations electronically. The few that made it through the final stages of editing onto the complex contraption were lost when the hardware failed. (Thank goodness for my archaic backups!) The thought of composing something while sitting at the keyboard was as foreign the thought of writing a romance novel.

My daughter frequently reminded me of the century we now live in and the advances in technology that she believed would make my life easier, if only I would try something new. The way she rolled her eyes when I’d pick up a tablet and began writing reflected her frustration in my failure to listen. Bless her heart. Instead of nagging endlessly, she generously provided me with a laptop upon my retirement. “You can use it anywhere, mom. You’ll love it.”

So I tried sitting cross-legged on the sofa with the slim blue device balanced on my lap. That lasted about ten minutes before the phone rang and I had to untangle my legs from the wire to get across the room to the phone. What wires you say? The one attached to the mouse of course. Yes, I know others may use the one built into their machine, but using the touch pad doesn’t work for me because I keep resting my thumbs as I ponder my next line. If you have never been gifted in this ability, let me describe what happens next. The perfect words you struggled for fifteen minutes to compose transform themselves into paragraphs and sentences for which they were not intended. The time it took to find and edit them is just long enough for the thought to pass and there you sit staring at the screen again. I fixed the problem by disabling the gizmo – ok, I had to have help with that too.

I often found myself reverting back to paper and pen. It wasn’t until I decided to write my first novel that I considered the time-consuming effort it would take to write a 50,000 word manuscript and then transpose it onto the computer. One day, after much deliberation, I relented and established a work zone in my dining room where I began typing and editing the dozens of pages I had written before coming to my senses.

I opened the French doors leading onto the deck and felt a delightful breeze drift in. The chirp of a nearby cardinal provided for an opportunity to procrastinate and it wasn’t long before I ventured out onto the deck with all tools in hand. My fairybook visions of spending the next few hours accomplishing great things dissipated in seconds. The gentle wind turned into a gust and blew my stacks of paper high into the sky. With arms flailing, I scrambled urgently to retrieve the papers in flight for fear of a neighbor stealing page 10 of a best seller.

Once I even tried taking my laptop on a daytrip to the river where my husband docked his boat. He often liked to visit for hours with a friend who lives there. What a great opportunity, I thought. I’ll be inspired as the river carries barges through the lock and dam. Surely a poem or some type of masterpiece was waiting to find its way into my laptop. I proudly headed to the lovely swing where I had often written in my small journal.

I shifted the mouse and pad from my leg to the bench of the swing. I tried numerous positions to no avail. I decided to remove the accessory and use the touchpad. Try as I might, I could not remember the sequence of steps my friend had shown me to reactivate the function. By the time I successfully retrieved the info from my wary brain, the battery died on the laptop. I bit my lower lip to keep from screaming and quietly closed the lid and stood up, dropping the mouse and pad at my feet. Anger turned into tears as I gathered all of the pieces and headed back to the car.

My frown turned into a smile when I opened the door and glanced down at the yellow pad and Cross pen that patiently waited for my attention. In one hand, I tossed the laptop on the seat and with the other, I embraced my faithful companions, hugging them close as I strolled back to the wooden swing and settled in for a lovely afternoon.

The transition from rock to paper to laptop has not been easy for some of us. Still, there are benefits to each. Had it not been for the stones that ancient Egyptians carved, much of history would have been lost. Yet hieroglyphics presented many challenges, especially in portability. Paper is readily available, portable and can be treasured for many years, yet it is fragile and fades in time. A laptop stores immense amounts of data, offers unlimited features that transform the written word into works of art, and advances nearly daily in new technology, but with the touch of a delete key, a year’s worth of work can be forever lost into space.

I’ve taken small steps to embrace the wonders of digital technology, but I doubt I will ever relinquish the comfort of paper and pen.

Can you relate?

Facing the truth


It’s mid January and the first time in nearly 50 days that I’ve tried to compose a post for my blog. My yellow pads of paper are blank, much like the white space in my word documents. The craziness of the holidays, winter blues, lack of inspiration – any of those excuses could be supported using a little creative writing. Yet, my writer’s block is something much more than procrastination; something I have not been able to clarify in my mind or on paper until today.

A good friend and fellow blogger, Amanda Bretz shared something on her blog, http://authoramandabretz.wordpress.com/2013, that was beautifully written, but took great strength and courage to publish. She is an accomplished writer who is forging her name in the publishing world with her third book and many other accomplishments. Without realizing it, her inspiring words helped me put my problem into perspective.

So what could be so terrible that would freeze my pen and keyboard too? A four letter word sums it up. FEAR.

There is fear of failure; fear of no one caring if I ever posted another thought; fear that my writing does not deserve to be read; fear that if light touches the darkness of my heart, the walls will crumble and expose the stifled hopes and dreams buried so deep that they no longer have have form.

There it is. Now, what do I do about it? Like eating an elephant – it will require one bite at a time. Surely it is possible to find a balance where honesty does not cause pain for others yet allows for fulfillment of needs.

Have you found a way write the truth? Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Who’s in charge anyway?


“There are only two or three human stories, and they go on repeating themselves as fiercely as if they had never happened before.”  Willa Cather

This quote was introduced to me during a class,  Creating Rich Characters, taught by the talented author and illistrator, Angela Sage Larsen.  Ms. Larsen is becoming a St. Louis icon who has published numerous children and young adult books.  You can check her out at AngelaSageLarsen.com

There is comfort in knowing that every story has the same infrastructure, a beginning, middle and end.  What makes the difference is the writer’s ability to develop interesting characters and present a plot that takes the reader on an unexpected journey.

There have been many posts in reference NANOWRIMO recently. One in particular that caught my eye dealt with whether or not to develop an outline before initiating a novel.

For me, I can live without an outiline, although I often scribble notes that come out looking like one.  It is more important to decide what my main character wants more than anything else.  There must be an objective, otherwise there is no need to write the book.

Once that is clear in my head, I need to know the obstacles that will create conflict for the character while in pursuit of the prize, otherwise the story is boring. Finally,I must decide whether or not the character will achieve his or her goal.

I tend to write stories where ultimate happiness or contentment is the goal.  There may be plenty of action to keep the reader interested, but I’m a sap for happy endings.

If I have done my homework in identifying what my character wants,  how he or she will react when challenged and how the story will end, the characters take it from there.  Some writers say it is best to write the ending first.  I haven’t attempted that yet, but I might some day.

What do you think?  Do your characters take charge?

An Old Dog Or An Old Fool?????


I have always proclaimed my ineptness when it comes to computers and their infinite ability to make me feel ignorant, though never more than through this week’s efforts to the weekly writing challenge – And Now For Something Completely different.

How can it be so difficult to insert more than one picuture into a post?  It’s not like my portable einstein gives me a clue as to what I’m doing wrong- well, perhapps it does, but it is in a foreign techinical language that I have yet to master.

Still, I am a hopeful person, so I persist.

Perhaps my theme is designed to hold only one photo.  I may be on to something.  Let me struggle for another two days and see if I can get the grasp of this.  Oh look!  Third picture and I successfully changed positions.  Thank you new theme!!

Please tell me I am not the only one who struggles to make sense out of something that was designed to be so simplel  I need some support and encouragement.  Can an old dog learn new tricks or will I remain stuck in the paper and pen world until I fade away?