Thinking or Writing?

Thinking or Writing?

I confess.  Most weeks I’m not a productive writer.  I sit all day in front of a computer doing stuff I’d rather not be doing and by the time I get home, I’m drained–no juice left to even prime the creative pump.  Excuses.  I don’t like to exercise either.  But an online fitness site has recently helped me see what progress consistent, incremental effort can achieve: the key word being “consistent.”  I have already abandoned my New Year’s resolution to revolutionize my writing life.  I knew I would.  But I had hoped the idea would linger like a prompt … and it has.  I accomplished so much in January.

One Hour a Day, a blog by Jo Eberhardt (WordPress: The Happy Logophile) has given me new inspiration–and a new aspiration.  Now that my husband is renewing his interest in painting, it seems just the thing: The Creative Hour at Our House.  I want to try this–will let you know how it goes.

Art in Action

Art in Action


Nannie, pastor’s wife, operated her own business: virtuous woman.  I sat beside her, second pew.  She taught me hymn-singing harmony: my alto, her soprano.

Her house didn’t welcome children–busy street, scant yard, multicolored oval rug: indoor playground.  She reclined, exhausted, while I occupied my mind, exhausting dictionaries, encyclopedias, Vanderbilt‘s tome on etiquette.  Nannie rewarded me with Old Maid, Go Fish.  She taught me Chinese checkers.

Retirement released her like an aging rose.  I inhaled.  She taught me stiff rosebuds can become soft blooms.  She taught me to appreciate the subtle fragrance seemingly sealed behind her enigmatic smile–and mine.

Mammaw shared coffee with Kathy, diluting the ten-year-old’s with “sweet milk” and sugar: “Boston coffee.”

Kathy kicked her chair’s metal legs, squirming when splits in its plastic seat snagged her nylon nightgown or pinched her bare legs.  Mammaw’s eyes smiled through black-rimmed glasses, shaped like butterfly wings.  They chatted like old friends between sips.

“Get your britches on, young-un!  We’re fixin’ to fetch you a purty from the dime store!”

Kathy grinned and scampered off.

Her dime store “pretty” lost to time, her memories of Mammaw last.  Smiling, she pours her grandchildren juice.  They chat like old friends between sips.

100-Word Memories

Family Tree Clipart #1115564 by Johnny Sajem | Royalty-Free (RF) Stock ...I’ve become aware of a growing interest … concern … nagging sense of responsibility to preserve the memory of my family, what little I know of it.  As a writer, I know the importance of story to put color in the leaves and to put bark on the limbs of the family tree.  But how to marry genealogy and art?  I stumbled onto the 100-word story and found my answer.  The forced brevity disciplines the mind, distills diffuse elements of memory into the essence of why it has remained while other experiences faded with time.  In its slender vial one can capture the ethereal relationship between person-person, past-present for micro-examination … or imbibe its contents as a dose of recognition and antidote for the present experience: tetherless, rootless, windblown, discarded, forgotten before being known.

I’ve been giving a lot of thought lately to character since I’ve been trying to get into the head of a boy, just turned 14, who’s had a less-than-ideal upbringing and is about to find himself in a foster home. This post by Ben Trube proved to be mental mulch, fostering fruitful ideas for more nuanced character development–not only that of the boy in my novel but mine in life.  I hope you enjoy it and benefit from it as I have.

[BTW] : Ben Trube, Writer

Are you a different person depending on where you are?

I think we can agree that we act differently depending on WHO we are with. We act differently with our co-workers than we do with people in our church, or our good friends. But what about WHERE we are.

Even co-workers will act differently based on whether it is a meeting, a company event, or talking at a bar.

And what about vacations?

Vacations can certainly change the dynamic of a family from how they are at home. My wife and I tend to adopt a “sense of adventure” meaning we’re willing for a few things to go wrong. We actually travel very well together, even though Google often leads us down a lot of blind alleys. I tend to be less worried about work and the writing.

Now it’s understandable that certain places might put us in a more…

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New Year 2013 (PNG) | PSDGraphicsI’ve always resolved never to make New Year’s resolutions.  The reason?  They’re like rules, made to be broken.  Take my resolution not to make resolutions for one.  So why did I deviate from my norm this year?  Resolutions tend to be irresolute due to a lack of execution.  I decided to back up my resolutions with a daily and weekly plan to attain weekly, monthly, and annual goals.  I even made myself a weekly checklist.  For the sake of public accountability and in the interest of promoting writerly hubris, here is a summary of my 2013 Resolutions:

  • DAILY, I will open my Milky Way Home (sequel to Man in the Moon) file and write SOMETHING (even if it’s just the word “something”) and save it. But seriously, I’d better do more than that to meet my MONTHLY goal of 1-2 chapters and my ANNUAL goal of finishing the first draft by year’s end.
  • DAILY, I will accomplish one of my WEEKLY or MONTHLY tasks so I stay on target to accomplish these goals.
  • WEEKLY, I will “chat” with the characters of my dual-contemporary-historical fiction project and take notes to help with plot development; I will record a chapter of Man in the Moon for eventual mp3 audiobook download; and I will blog, post, and tweet here, there, and elsewhere.  Oh, and I’ll have to make progress toward a MONTHLY or ANNUAL goal each week, as well.
  • MONTHLY, I will complete a query or draft an article, which I’ll submit to a magazine; I will complete one brief audio “lesson” in a non-fiction series; tend to professional social networking; and accomplish at least one definite marketing task to promote my book and myself as a writer.
  • ANNUAL goals include 1-2 contest entries, at least 1 more story in my Mothers & Daughters collection, and some speaking engagements. I also want to resurrect my publisher’s web site and sell a Kindle version of Man in the Moon.

Gee, I’m tiring myself out just thinking of it all.  Of course, it’s all contingent on GOD willing and by His grace, but I can’t blame GOD for any laziness on my part.

I’m on track so far!  Chugga-chugga-choo-choo-I-think-I-can-I-think-I-can!  Now, if I just don’t run out of steam … . free Trains Clipart - Trains clipart - Trains graphics - Page 6

As mountain climbing grants one vistas lost upon those dwelling below, attaining years grants one a perspective from which to appreciate the immense value of each human life and to contemplate the shining significance of relationships, crisscrossing time and space like tributaries, stitching together a patchwork of fertile fields.  From the vantage point of age, one can behold how conversations flow into rivers of memories, emptying into the sea of humanity, to eventually be distilled and recycled, refreshing the next generation and the next.  One can see how each story clothes each field in its distinctive color, contributing to life’s panorama.  No field is utterly fallow.  No bit of dust insignificant.  No drop of humanity without eternal destiny.