What Does Writing Mean to You?

It was suggested to me recently that I give up writing for awhile.

My mouth fell open and my eyes widened. “Give up writing?”

I was in shock. I jumped to defense, ready to tackle, grab the ball and run for the 50 yard line.

What would I do with all the voices in my head? All the characters who wrangle for a voice, the scenes that require breath to be brought to life? These are real things in writer’s heads. People, places, stories. Non-writers don’t readily understand that.

(I wonder what it’s like to live in a non-writer’s head? What goes on in there if there are no stories? Is there math? *Shudder).

Who in their write/right mind would “give up” their passion, their purpose.

She asked, “What does writing mean to you?”

I realize my defense is not really an answer. What does writing mean to me? I know what is used to mean – it was a survival mechanism. But it was more than that too.

I’m still working on it by the way – a current, present answer to what writing means to me. I just know I can’t not write.

Share with me please – what does writing mean to you?

Troglodytes Unite! uhm, on zoom?

I’m not a materialist. I don’t run out and buy products for the newer, better version. I don’t sway toward bells and whistles or shiny objects. .

When I wrote on my fb that I was getting a new TV after not having one for more than a year, people seemed to collectively gasp. Prior to that, I had an old model – I joke it still had the tube in the back, yet it wasn’t quite that bad.

I don’t own a microwave or a blue ray player and only updated my phone last year.

I’m not a troglodyte. I definitely keep updated, especially in regards to teaching with technology. I’m certified by a national online teaching organization. I train regularly with new learning software.

I’d like to know the ins and outs of more programs like photoshoppe and whatever else I have on this computer.

However, therein lies the problem with technology. There is SOOOO much. And I feel like I’m starring at one screen or another all day every day.

So not having a new whatchamacallit is my way of engaging less with the screen, attempting to live more inside myself than outside myself. I’m not sure how much it works. And it may take more will power than less technology.

The Ghost….

My short story, The Ghost in Her Room, has been published by Dreamers Writing.

The editors were very sweet. Kat mentioned in an email how much the story touched her.

Working with Dreamers Creative Writing has been an extremely pleasant experience.

Thank you!

So now I write….

This morning began as perfect set up for a good writing day. I walked the dogs in the cool air, rain dripped daintily from the sky, neighbors waved from their patios. I brewed a beach bellini tea and plucked a fig fresh from the tree. What could go wrong?

Life happened.

Paperwork of the financial type, grading essays, responding to emails.

Nails on a chalkboard.

The dream like setting beckons, the adoring characters wait. The world I was so lovingly creating has come to a standstill.

I am filled with liverwurst sandwiches.

This is why writers have phoneless, internet limited, no contact writing retreats – which are harder and harder to find.

Can you imagine even being disconnected these days? I used to say – “nothing is going to happen that you can’t hear about an hour later” – to my students to encourage them to put down their phones. But I, too, feel that same tug of addiction these days. The world moves fast. Don’t get back to someone and you lose an opportunity.

Our insta-world expects an insta-response or you’re history.

I just want to write. I want to sit down and not have to worry about anything else except the setting, timeline, character arc, beauty of language, reasoning of scene.

I’ll take the transitional cuppa, the stroll in the garden, anything to get back into my writing state…..

until the next interruption.

To Infinity and… I’ll Stay Here, Thanks

Richard Branson flew to space, then Bezos and his blue crew. A friend of mine wondered about their choice. I said, hey, they’re filthy rich; they’ve been all over the planet. They need something new.

Those who know me know I love travel. I have a deep seated need to experience new spaces, new places, new cultures and people.

For a sliding moment, I felt sorry for these billionaires whose only novel rush might come from a space flight; however, I rejected that thought quite quickly as reductive. They have the cash, why not fly to space?!

And what about the lucky soul who won the extra seat from the person who had to cancel? (First, imagine that! No refund on that ticket!)

I, like many of you,, cannot afford to go to space. But would I want to? I have to ask myself this question. I used to dream of winning publisher’s clearing house, occasionally wish I could guess those lottery numbers. Hell, I’d take finding a wheel full of cash along side the freeway. (I’m not sure why I would ever be on the side of a freeway looking at tires, but stranger things have happened.)

Given the current state of the world, I’m concerned about getting on a plane because of all the f’n nutty people acting out after a year of being locked in. Everyday someone’s being an asshole, refusing to wear a mask, smacking a flight attendant, or trying to open an emergency exit while in flight (did you see the woman duct taped to the seat?!), and getting yanked off a plane by the police.

Bottom line – I’m not ready to fly in our atmosphere. I’m not sure I’d want to fly out of it. Then I heard the trip to space was only ten minutes long. Ten minutes? I’m risking my life for 10 minutes? Yeah, I don’t think so.

When can I spend a week up there? Call me when they have a Starbucks and a CVS. Kitchy shopping. Trinkets to bring home. First painting done in space. Where I can sip space tea next to an asteroid crater. Hike the lunar landing site. Let me know when we can see how real aliens live and tour old space ruins.

I guess there’s still plenty to see and do here. For me, anyway. The natural beauty of New Zealand awaits. There’s an owl sanctuary in Spain, cocoa farms in Costa Rica, the ruins of Pompeii.

I’ll be here. Gaging my luck, I’ll plan my next flight to NC to see my bestie.

Maybe someday space. But not now. I’m writing.

The Beauty of Forward Motion

At the beginning of the semester, there’s an effervescence in the air on campus. The air around us is charged with positive energy. Thousands of students are buzzing with dreams and goals. They are brimming with the excitement of forward motion, their brains producing dopamine, which seems to affect everyone around them.

The excitement of learning, of trying new things, of working toward something new is like a drug, makes one giddy.

Excitement is lost in routine. Some people go on about their lives, thinking they’ve done everything they need to do and they’ve reached a place of comfort. And they get lazy in that comfort, forget to be open to new adventures.

I asked someone recently about Geocaching. I think of it as finding a treasure, accomplishing mini goals; my brain already releasing happiness hormones in response to the thoughts of the challenge overcome!

His response: It sounds childish.

Yes. Maybe. And isn’t that exciting? The very beauty of youth is excitement at every new adventure, big or small! It’s an energy wrapped up in an overflow of snapping and bubbling. And it’s engaging and enigmatic!

Forward momentum – new challenges – it is what keeps us young.

Einstein was said to have been working on a new theory even on his deathbed. After he passed, his brain showed a lack of plaque. Plaque the normal brain develops with aging.

Writers are all about the new and exciting. The next scene, the next chapter, the next story!

Have fun, engage that childlike excitement, set new goals and accomplish them or fail them – it doesn’t matter – just as long as you keep moving forward!

Empathy and the Modern Human

Earth has been a pretty terrible place to be in the last few years. Only we can make it better. Each and every one of us can do our part in our little corner of the world. Because when we are better humans, it makes the world a better place.

I read an article recently in which Valerie Bertinelli was trolled – by another woman – who fat shamed her. Really? WTF is wrong with you that you have to troll one of the most beautiful humans on the planet?

Bertinelli says she uses empathy to deal with comments such as that.

Empathy is the answer, truly.

Empathy is the high road.

I have been dealing with some harassment on top of the death of a few family members. Recently, I received vicious snail mail by trolls I have had to block on every other platform.

When I consider the effort these people have taken to reach me, it makes me believe they are seriously unhappy in their own lives. I know I have not said or done anything to them to incur or engage their wrath. They’re just unhappy and need someone else to focus on. And that is truly sad.

Burt Bacharach said it best: What the world needs is love, sweet love. And empathy.

Empathy has been my inspiration. How to Throw a Psychic a Surprise Party is filled with stories of empathy.

Sending you love.

Can we be real honest here for a moment?

2020 was traumatizing, yes.

Then the spring culling of faculty was horrifying.

The death of friends and family,

then continued torment by people who are unhappy and unhealthy.

The past 17 months have been horrendous.

We’ve all been in some type of survival mode. We’ve all been hurt and scared and scarred. We haven’t reached out enough or we reached out and didn’t received a response.

We’ve been told over and over, this is the new normal, this is normal, now we’re getting back to normal.

The world is an angry place. Karens rule. Mass shootings. Building collapse.

Nothing is right. Nothing is normal. And it’s okay to be upset, to feel dismayed, confused, unsettled. Nothing about the last year and a half has been comforting.

And you’re not alone.

But

hang in there

we

will

all

be

okay.

Do you write better during the good times or the bad times?

During bad times, some writers seem to pour out a more substantial amount of work. If the pain and heartache are authentically transformed on the page, the work touches readers.

Some writers in history seemed to have sought out heartache and drama through alcohol, affairs, or other. As if their creative bent fed off their self induced suffering.

But a writer needs to produce when things go well, don’t you think?

I’ve heard of many “one-hit wonders.” Their first novel, fraught with the strain of life’s challenges, zings. But then, sitting back with their big, fat check, they are unable to produce.

My hardest times are relieved through poetry. As if words are squeezed out in some sort of rhythm that requires the concise, mystical format of a poem.

But I recall good times, great times, when my writing poured out too – the excitement of new challenges on the horizon lit up the page.

What do you think? Do you write better in good times or bad times?

Compliment Collage

We sit back, in hard times, and wonder – why do I do this?

Most of us write because we’re driven to by the tales and characters percolating over in our brains. We might go absolutely mad if we didn’t let it out somehow!

Compliments are rare in this line of work. Sometimes people will say they liked the book or give a good review, but it’s really very nice to receive an email like this:

“I also wanted to say that your story is very beautifully written and so impactful. I’m grateful to have read it.”

Isn’t that beautiful? Thank you. Thank you.

And, then today,

By the way, I really liked your story. It had an Edgar Allen Poe vibe.”

Woo hoo! Anyone who knows me understands that I am a Poe fan! I’ve written about, lectured on, and have done my own Poe – Cation

This particular story has not been released yet. “Ghost in Her Room” will be published in Dreamers this summer.

Hold on to those compliments, ladies and gentlemen! I think we need to post them, highlight them, make a giant collage and put it next to our desks for when motivation escapes us.