Sunday, December 27, 2009

Reflecting on the year

As the new year approaches I eagerly look forward to a fresh start. I know there is no magic in a date set by human wisdom but I enjoy the symbol of a new beginning. There are three main facets of the ritual that I enjoy:
-This year I am especially grateful for this blog. We went around our table at Christmas and talked about people who had shaped our lives in the past 12 months. My readers were most definitely high up on the list. Blogging has been a transforming experience, as much from reading as from writing.
-Something I also cherish about the new year is leaving the past behind. I feel like January 1st is a line of demarkation upon which I shrug off my regret and pain from the year and move on into a fresh start. I like to remember that you have to breath out all the toxins before you can take in the fresh air.
-Of course there are the infamous New Year’s resolutions. I hate that for many people these resolutions become shackles or emblems of hopelessness when they are not attained. So, I offer my own aspirations with trepidation. I do not claim to know if we shape our own destiny or if we have little control over the events which unexpectedly carve our lives. Either way my prayers and hopes for the year ahead dance around the following concepts:
*To complete at least one if not two or three works in progress.
*To continue with this blog and become more involved with other blogs.
*To know my own mind better and to be able to write, speak and act more boldly.

What are you grateful for, leaving behind or looking forward to?

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Writing is a Gift

I don’t mean to say that the ability to write is a gift to the writer. Although, that too is often true. No, I mean that the act of writing is parallel to the act of giving. It is a joyful emptying of oneself.
Here are a few things I have discovered about writing and giving this holiday season:
  1. Giving takes time. Procrastination leads only to regret. I think every writer and gift giver realizes the tricks of time. You may find perfection the first time around the mall or the fiftieth. You may experience a moment of insight into just what that person would want or you might slog through various choices dissatisfied with them all until the very end. Whatever the case you’ve got to get to it and stick with it. Allow yourself enough time...Don’t rush...Enjoy the process.
  2. Giving requires bold decision making. You are emptying your pockets and your heart, stop second guessing whether the gesture will be appreciated. As my husband oft quotes, “Give what you have. To someone it may be better than you dare to think.” -Longfellow
  3. Giving is better than receiving. Pouring out your resources, time, love and energy is worth all of the sacrifice. It blesses both you and those who receive your gift.
So, I challenge you to give someone the gift of your writing this holiday season. Be bold, they will love it and you will be blessed as well.

Sunday, December 13, 2009


I have to take a moment to share a personal triumph- one that is unrelated to writing or to publishing but is dear to my heart.
Usually teaching in an urban middle school is as unlike the inspirational movies as water is unlike oil. I weep sometimes when I see the hopeless cycle of poverty at work in the lives of my students each day. My triumphs are usually invisible. I am forced to walk by faith and not by sight.
However, today I saw something wonderful. Today was the Winter Middle School Speech Meet. Schools from across the state came and watched as their students showcased their rhetorical and dramatic skills. I entered 5 students from my school. Most of the schools are affluent and their teams are 25-75 students strong. They practice everyday in and out of school. My students come before and after school but we are by no means a well-oiled powerhouse. Still, the league has welcomed us with open arms and my principal and co-workers are beyond supportive. The parents pull together to get the kids to the meets since we cannot afford transportation.
My students love the experience of competing. They love to see the beautiful schools we get to compete at. They love that they get to eat doughnuts for breakfast. They love meeting new friends and discovering that they are not as different as they had imagined. They love to speak their minds and be really heard.
One student, who I will call Mona, is exceptionally gifted. Her event is impromptu, which means she has 7 minutes to write and perform a speech on a subject she pulls randomly from an envelope. Her ability to do this amazes me,. Today alone she performed 3 times which means that in a span of several hours she composed and delivered 3 different speeches.
There is little need to point out that the day was long and exhausting. By the end of it judges, coaches and competitors all seemed sapped of energy. By the awards ceremony at 4pm I was just happy that my students had made it there, stood up and delivered their speeches, regardless of their scores. After all for a pre-teen to dedicate hours of free time and subject themselves to hard work and possible humiliation is no small victory.
At the end of the day we sat in the auditorium experiencing the emotional stress of the awards ceremony. I felt an ache bruising my heart as I watched the disappointment on my students’ faces. I had not really prepared them well. I had not told them that this is not elementary school, not everyone gets a ribbon, not everybody wins. Still, it mended my heart a little to see their excitement endure despite their lack of visible reward.
And then, the finalists for impromptu were called up. I heard Mona’s name. That sound illuminated the faces of each and every one of my students and my heart began to pound in my chest. I watched her up their as honorable mention was announced, 6th place, 5th place and tears began to well in my eyes. The winners of 4th place and 3rd place were also announced and dismissed. On the stage stood only two students: Mona and a boy from a rival school. (A school, I might add, that is known for its prowess in impromptu.) I was so proud my heart began to ache again, this time with joy.
And then they announced the winner, and it was her! It was Mona, and for that moment I felt my eyes, heart, soul and mind fill with hope and gratitude. I was cheering with my whole being. I was so proud. And her mom was there, she had made it just in time, and the other students celebrated like we had all won... because in a way we had.
I suppose in the end this does have something to do with writing for it is some of the richest food for thought I have tasted. I can ask for no better holiday tale than one so full of triumph, hope, courage and love. It was an undeserved gift and I wanted to share it.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Winter White

When I teach symbolism to my students I always use the classic examples. Sunshine often represents hope. Water means cleansing. White stands for purity. I taught the lesson on symbolism last week to my night class and I began to think about how highly cultural and personal symbolism can be.
Then, last night it snowed. The first snow of the winter. Usually this event represents the hope of school closings, days spent at home in my pajamas, or outdoor adventures with my husband. But this year, the white felt like a heavy blanket, covering me with the weight of things not yet accomplished and the increasing difficulty of accomplishing them in the oncoming bleak weather.
As I contemplated these feelings and my lesson on symbolism I found that winter white is a good symbol for who I have been (and not, I think, for who I would like to become).
I was born in the cold. I grew up clearing the ice to skate, stacking the wood for warmth, bundling myself up before bed. The white of winter reminds me of my own cold heart, my icy independence, my perfectionism like snow killing the grass below.
The winter white is blank, it causes blindness, it shimmers and cracks. I, too, feel blank. I attempt to keep my personality that way in order to complement the expectations of others, never to clash. This emotional whiteout has blinded me to who I am, who I was created to be. I may shimmer with talent and promise but I crack upon closer inspection.
My life is like winter white, and I am waiting for the warmth of Christmas, of Christ, my Messiah to arrive.
What are some symbols that run through your writing? Or perhaps more importantly, through your life?

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Crushing, Shaving, Breaking, Beating, Cutting, Whipping and Baking

Baking has the illusion of being a cozy pastime. There is nothing so welcoming, in my mind, as walking into a house full of freshly baked goods. Therefore, the false connotation is one of comfort and ease. But as I was baking cookies today, I stopped to consider the directions I was following so blithely. They are, in truth, somewhat violent:
Crush the cereal until it is "roughly ground."
Shave the chocolate before mixing.
Break the eggs and add to the bowl.
Beat until creamy.
Cut in the butter.
Whip at highest speed for 2 minutes.
Bake until tops are slightly browned.
The ingredients must go through trials and tribulation before their full flavor and potential are realized. I tried to sit and think of how this truth applied to living and writing well, so that my flavor might be discovered. I came up with the following instructions:
Crush up all your expectations and previous assumptions. You may need to change the texture of your work before its essence can be used.
Shave off all unnecessary words and ideas. Thick chunks of musings will not be accessible to readers.
Break your shell of pride and add something personal, something real and alive.
Beat out any lies, fears and apathy that will affect the work until everything flows smoothly.
Cut in qualities you admire in other writers. This adds the richness that would otherwise be lacking.
Whip up all the support, encouragement, and inspiration you need. Motivation is crucial in getting a work to hold together from start to finish.
Bake your work, submit it to high temperatures where it will be refined and melted. Its consistency may change but the taste will only improve.
The result should be delicious.

Sunday, November 22, 2009


Writers must be brave. We must. Polls generally claim that people’s main fears are rejection and public speaking. Writers are required to face the former of the two.
Rejection is something I dread. I have yet to find a writer who does not harbor the secret notion that there may be an awful moment in the lives when they are exposed as a fraud, a fool or a fiend. And what is perhaps most disturbing is that this is not an irrational fear.
It is very likely, in fact, it is highly probably that if you or I submit a piece of writing to be published it will be rejected. Even if we strike gold as a writer and publish we risk facing a scathing review.
So I wonder how professional writers do it. How do they overcome the fear?
This is crucial information for fear hinders my writing more than anything else. I know there will be a day that I have to face rejection, not just criticism or constructive feedback but wholesale rejection. That scares me.
Worst of all, I suspect that I sometimes sabotage my own chances of success just so I won’t have to face such a mortifying day. I do not want to be a coward. Here are some of my musings on overcoming my fears:
  1. I must face the good and the bad of who I am as a writer. I cannot live in a delusional world that claims everything I do and write is good. It is not. Neither can I hinder myself with negative self-talk and self-fulfilling prophesies of doom.
  2. I must continue to write in the face of the worst anxiety and fear. I must grit my teeth and remind myself that I can do this. This is the time I usually seek out those words of comfort and truth that bring such life to my heart. The blogging community has totally transformed this aspect of my writing.
  3. I must not give to much credence to excessive praise or excessive criticism, gleaning what is helpful and leaving the rest. My value does not lie in the estimation of others and for that I am grateful.
So lets do something brave this week, let’s write! And please let me know: How do you deal with fear? How do you help others to deal with it?

Sunday, November 15, 2009


Someone I respect deeply once said that wholeness is far more important than balance. Wholeness indicates a peace and satisfaction that few are familiar with; whereas balance can feel fragmented and similar to a juggling act.

I have been thinking lately that I need to find a balance between writing for myself and writing to be published. However, that quotation emerged from my memory today and struck me with new force.

It is not that I need to find balance in my writing. On the contrary, my writing must be irresistibly whole. When you read confident, healthy, and hearty writing, are you not drawn to it? Even if on the surface it may not be your style, isn’t it attractive?

That is the sort of writing I want to create.

There is an archetype of writers, forged in the likeness of Hemingway, that insists creative minds must be tormented and unsatisfied. I believed this for a long time and used it to avoid confronting my own battle against depression. However, I now see that becoming healthy is my best bet for becoming a better writer.

It takes courage to stop juggling all of the worries in our lives and seek wholeness. Still, it is undoubtedly a quest that is worth each and every challenge.

This week, think about how your emotional state impacts your writing. I would love to hear what you discover (or perhaps what you already knew.)

Sunday, November 8, 2009


I baked a cake tonight. Just a plain golden cake with chocolate frosting.

As it was baking I read Rachelle Gardner’s blog about sharing surprising facts readers might not know about us. I thought that most readers probably have no idea that I was a cake decorator before I became a teacher and I loved it.

I had never thought that decorating cakes had anything to do with writing. In my mind baking is a physical job using a part of my brain that controls movement, counting, measuring and often surprising strength. Writing on the other hand, takes flight of the mind, the part of the brain reserved for words, symbolism and narrative. However, tonight as I constructed this basic golden cake for my husband I began to contemplate how baking has shaped me as a writer. I came up with the following 3 lessons:

1. You can’t ignore the customers. One of my greatest weaknesses in the bakery was staying hidden in the back kitchen and avoiding the more difficult demands of disgruntled, picky and inquiring patrons. I wanted to exist in a world all my own; just me and my craft. Often, I feel that way about writing too, but there are two things you miss out on without customers. First, you never make any money without customers and second you never get any better. As a baker and a writer you need impartial people to evaluate your work and decide whether its worth buying or not.

2. You have to make every stage excellent. The first step in cake decorating is to make the cake bases. They have to be made with the finest ingredients, mixed in exact proportions, and cooked at the right temperature for the right amount of time. I think this is an interesting parallel to writing a first draft. It takes the finest ingredients of great plot, complex characters, a dash of symbolism and powerful meaning. But those ingredients don’t make have to get them in the correct proportions, at the right time with the right amount of intensity. Then, you have to let it cool. Then you put the filling in and the base coat of frosting. In writing I see this as the revision to a draft. Once that is done you can begin to decorate, adding your own flair, making it beautiful and marketable. You could have an absolutely delicious cake but if the decorations are not enticing it will never sell-- much like writing.

3. You have to practice. Baking is not really that difficult. It may seem daunting when you only look at the final product but in reality almost anybody can do it. The trick is trial and error. It may not come out right the first time and it definitely won’t come out right every time. However, the more you practice the better your craft becomes.

And so here I sit, enjoying a moist slice of cake and working on the layers of my writing.

My challenge for the week is to think about yourself this week, examine the unexpected aspects of your day to day life and think about how that has shaped you as a writer.

Sunday, November 1, 2009


I was wondering today if perhaps “Not Penned Nor Published” would be a better name for this blog. It was a musing brought on by my admission to myself that after 5 weeks, I really thought that I would be further.

I thought I would be able to quantify my progress in pages, completions, or submissions. But, I cannot. The thing I have realized is how much I have to learn and how much I have to write. I cannot continue my pattern of half-finished character sketches and various scenes scribbled in my notebook or hastily typed out. This is going to take time.

I like the rush of starting a project and the satisfaction of meeting a goal but I dread the grind in between. And you can sense that dread in my writing. The tone is strained, the ideas trail off and the vivacity fades.

So, I have been asking myself, “How do I get my creative juices going and keep momentum on a WIP?” I found the following regime to be helpful. It is very obvious and perhaps redundant but it has stretched me personally:

First of all, I need to set a time. A daily routine gets my whole body in gear. I am still in midst of this step, trying out different times and locations. I am a morning person but teaching starts early and so I usually write before I go to bed at night.
Next, I read a few blogs. I stress the words, “a few.” And I don’t read the feel good blogs, the encouraging blogs or the inspirational blogs. I save those for weekend and really bad days. No, I read the kick in the pants, get moving blogs that remind me that I have writing to do and I better get to it.

Then, I read over what I last wrote, try to get into that mindset. I make some changes, spice up any sections that began to lag, check any facts I think may need reexamining.

Finally, I write. I write for at least 45 minutes. I try for an hour. I try to get at least two good pages a day. Sometimes, it flows and I do much more. Some days, it is sheer determination and the results are sub-par. But either way, I write.

As an addendum: when I am done writing, I jot a few notes of where I think things should go next.

Then, I turn off my computer with a sigh. I allow what I have written and what I want to write to marinate in my mind until next time.

Sunday, October 25, 2009


Luckily, the world of writing is much more of a community than many fields of work. However, there is still an aspect of cut-throat competition and get rich quick schemes that lingers around the profession. The more I have been looking into publishing, the more I see that one must be discerning as a writer.

Of course, we all know we must laboriously consider each word we choose and each thought we construct. I mean discerning when it comes to gimmicks and motivation. There are a shocking number of empty promises floating about. It is far too easy to waste time chasing after “10 Days to Success” or “Fool-proof Writing” or whatever other shortcuts are being marketed to aspiring writers. I am a sucker for books on writing, blogs on writing, writing tips and “inspiration” in any form. Unfortunately, I never seem to buckle down to the actual writing. I fill myself up with positive emotions and a plethora of ideas and then have no time or energy to craft a piece from all of that. It is frustrating and discouraging.

Yet, there is some sense in which a gimmick can serve as genuine motivation. NaNoWriMo* seems to be an example of this. This competition is a month long novel writing challenge. It welcomes hype without making hallow promises. It spurs writer’s on with short term goals. And it seems to be fairly effective. I would love to produce a high volume of work and be able to cull through it later. Still, I am reluctant to engage in a venture that may only produce mediocre work at lightening speed.

What are your thoughts on motivation, competitions and writing gimmicks?


Wednesday, October 14, 2009


Research is the unsung hero of writing.  It is so crucial to get our facts right.  Writing is not merely an art of expressing feelings and thoughts but also of knowing the content of what we are writing about.  Many people can pontificate on a given subject without any substantive knowledge of it.  There is a danger in that. I have heard it said that greatness lies in the details and I have to agree.

And yet, I rarely hear writers expostulate on the ins and outs of writerly research. How long do they spend doing background work?  How do they check themselves for accuracy?  Or is that the job of the editor?   Where do they look for their information?  How much of it is from primary sources?

I wonder how much you really need to know about a topic to get the details just right.  I have too often ignored the details, the precise words and facts that could give my writing that ring of truth.  These are two of my goals as I move forward, precision and accuracy.  

Sunday, October 11, 2009


I was digging through the archives  of Rachelle Gardner’s Rants and Ramblings 
when  I found an incredibly helpful post,

“Let's start with the obvious. Why are you writing two or three books at once? Don't you find your focus is hampered? Are you sure that writing more than one book at a time is the way to do your best work? Personally, I think multi-tasking is over-rated and I believe people do their best writing when their focus isn't divided. This is especially true when you're unpublished and still learning the craft of writing for publication.
I understand many people are still trying to find their place as a writer, and much of the writing at this point is experimental. Am I a historical romance writer or am I better at contemporary suspense? What do I enjoy most? Is my heart more in fiction or non-fiction? These are valid questions and it takes some experimentation to find out the answers. The part that makes me worry is when writers assume all their "experiments" are worthy of publication. You're probably better in one genre than another...
So let's just get this out in the open: How many of you are unpublished and working on multiple projects simultaneously, with an eye toward publication for all of them? Are they the same genre or different? Why are you doing this? Inquiring minds want to know.”

Most of the comments to this post revealed that people generally focus on one project at a time but still collect other ideas to develop later. 

This realization was the kick in the pants I needed to get focused. I have 3 or 4 projects threading their way through the pages of my notebook.   However, I have resolved to pick one and work hard on it until it is finished, revised, edited and submitted.  I can then focus my attention on the next project.  I am fairly certain that this is the only way I can actually finish a project.

This is not to say that I will not be collecting ideas, scrawling half finished poems or pontificating on prompts I come across.  I will most certainly continue to prime all my creative pumps, but I want to finish something.  My plan is to dedicate 2-3 months to do just that.  

The first project to come under the force of my focused attention is a screenplay I began this summer but recently abandoned.   It is an epic story based on the life and death of an ancient hero.   I won’t go into details now but we will see how it goes.  

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

"Geography is destiny"

This quotation was given to me by one of my favorite writing teachers.  I have thought about it a great deal and continue to wrestle with it.  

Perhaps geography is destiny.  I mean, it makes sense. Geography touches every sense.  It influences our food, music, scenery, climate, and physicality.   However, I am reluctant to embrace the idea wholesale because the cliche that we make our own destiny is ingrained so  deeply within me.

I grew up in New England (emphasis on England.)  My grandmother immigrated from the UK when she was four years old.  A short time later, her father drowned, leaving her, her brothers and her mother with the farm here in the States.  Clinging to her traditional British maxims, she managed to keep a stiff upper lip and weave her culture deep into the fabric of our family.

I grew up in a dying factory town.  We lived on a lake, and that, I have no doubt, formed my identity in ways I can never convey.  The pink sunsets over the soft peak of ripples helped me understand my mom’s quiet strength.  I have drawn inspiration from the spectrum of blues ranging from the depths of the lake to the velvet surface of  the sky.

We were in the town because my mother rebelled against her parents, married my father and was threatened with disinheritance.  Yet, even this schism did not divide her from her sense of British propriety and pride .  We were broke but we were never poor. And when I turned 12 years old we came into a great deal of money. I was therefore free to roam from this small rural town.  

My parents wanted me to go to college and I certainly had the desire.  I made up for my lack of looks with my abundance of brains.  The only instructions my parents gave me was that I could go anywhere but California.  

I had no thoughts of going to California, there was every reason not to go- earthquakes, fires, landslides.  No, my mind was full of my dad’s childhood in South Florida and my grandfather’s riverfront house in Virginia.  Princeton, William and Mary, James Madison were on my mind and in that order. 

I had no idea I was destined for California- but the allure of the opposite ocean drew me away from all of my plans.  

I went because I could breath out there.  I could walk on the beach for hours and no one would ask me where I had been.  I could climb up into the mountains and feel the dangerous breath of the sun.  

I went because I wanted to be alone. I wanted to experience a personal gold rush, pursuing my dreams of education and vocation, carving out a life for myself in the face of the Santa Ynez Mountains. 

Instead I fell in love and discovered grace.

In my case, I’d say that even geography could not keep me from my destiny.  I was born 3,000 miles away from the man I came to love more than my own life.  I lived my life, marred by suffering and sin,  an infinite distance from my saving grace but I believe that  my story certainly was mapped out before I was born.  The significance of each longitudinal point and every latitudinal mark was designed before time.  I can only hope to sort out some of the journey as I write.

So I put it to you, “Geography is destiny.”  
Do you agree?

Sunday, October 4, 2009


I don’t wear much makeup.  I don’t really believe in it. I am afraid of trying too hard to be beautiful. But I have two shades of eyeshadow from my wedding that I absolutely love.  I look forward to putting them on because some genius marketing guru decided to put quotations on the inside of the case to allure literary nerds such as myself.

The lighter of the two reads as follows:
“let other pens dwell on guilt and misery.” -jane austen

I tend to be someone whose pen was full my own depression.  I  have thought that our curse in life was that, as humans, we could only ever catch a second or two of true beauty.  We are granted moments that taste so sweet on the tongue just before we are plunged back into despair. At times, I believe that those moments when everything is lined up are exactly when you can expect everything to collapse.  The beauty destroyed as soon as you notice it.  

For me the darker things tend to muck up the bright spots.  But, taking my cue from Jane Austen, I determined that this should no longer be so.  This determination enabled me to realize that my week has been full of bright spots. 

Yesterday, I came home from my Saturday morning tutoring  and launched into a narrative of events for my husband when he stopped me.

“You have comments,” he said.
My jaw dropped, “What?”
“You have comments AND a follower.”

I ran to the computer, laughing with joy.   I read and reread your insightful and encouraging comments. It took conscious effort not to be afraid that this was only a fluke, that soon I’d find angry insults categorizing my faults.  Instead, I sat in awe of such a small but beautiful moment in my writing journey.       

Today, I found another luminous example combatting my self-doubt,  I rediscovered my writing notebook .  I’ve had this one for about a year.  It is still not completely filled and usually that is all I notice, my failure.  Today, however, I sat down and read my notebook.  I really read what I had written.  And to my shock, it was beautiful.  Not perfect, but enough to inspire me.  And I got an idea of what to do next, I want to organize my multitudinous entries on my life and polish some of the poems I found.  It was like discovering gold, inside of myself.  

My advice for the week ahead? 
 “let other pens dwell on guilt and misery.” -jane austen
and read old journals- it will blow your mind.

Friday, October 2, 2009


Perhaps the most telling sign of my immaturity as a writer is my lack of direction.   As I exclaimed so dramatically in my last post, “I don’t even have a genre.” 

In school, my teachers always made me stretch my writer’s muscles and experiment with a multitude of forms.  Now, I feel the overwhelming need become more focused and purposeful.  

I have undoubtedly begun to write more fluently under the inscrutable eye of the world wide web. Still, genre eludes me.  And I have the nagging sense that until that point becomes clear I am stuck in a quagmire.  

This sort of decision making has always been a trial to me.  When I was applying to graduate school, I asked one administrator if I had a better chance to get in if I studied to be an elementary school teacher rather than a secondary one.  She scoffed at the thought.

“Well, personally,”  she condescended, “I think you can only be one or the other.  If you’re meant to be a secondary teacher you’ll be no good in elementary.”

I disagree.  (And fortunately middle school offers me the both/and solution I was looking for.)  But is this theory true in writing?   Can you dip into many wells or are you meant to be loyal to only one genre?  How do you know what you are meant to write?

Pondering these questions I have collected the following reflections on various genres:
~Poetry: The most manageable and satisfying to craft but the hardest to truly master.  I love it and fear it.

~The Novel: An impossible dream.  Beautiful and subtle, compelling and rich, yet fearsome to undertake, let alone finish.

~Nonfiction: Tempting because it is by nature helpful to readers and I want to create something helpful.  Lamentably, it can be dry and more importantly I am not really an expert on anything. 

~Memoir: The crowning achievement of any writer’s life.   At the moment, however, perhaps a bit too presumptuous.  

~Short Story: A good compromise between the poem and the novel.  Yet, it bears the difficulties of both.  It is distilled so that every word must be gold and yet it must have an ending that wraps up all the loose ends .  I fear I am not that succinct.  

There are certainly other genres to explore but those are the ones I am rummaging through at the moment.   Which ones have you explored?

Wednesday, September 30, 2009


As I wrote below, I do not consider myself a professional writer.  In fact, some days I do not even consider myself a mediocre writer.  Nonetheless, I hoped somewhere deep in my self-centered psyche that starting a blog would assuage those anxieties and confirm my writerly-ness.  

After all I must be a writer...I cannot help but write - on the train, while I teach, in meetings, at dinner.  My hand is ever moving, my brain ever cogitating.

Unfortunately today is one of those days that I feel completely certain that I am a sub-par writer and therefore a sub-par human being.  After all, I don’t even have a genre... I don’t know what I am writing.  

This week in my quest to be prolific I have written an awful mess of musings on a prompt from Writer’s Digest.  Thus discouraged, I attempted a poem about the color chartreuse...need I say more? 

And then tonight, I felt the urge to locate and join a writing group.  I sat down at the computer eager to connect with other creative minds, to be inspired, encouraged..told that everything is going to be alright.

Instead, I feel like I’ve hit my head against a glass wall I did not know was there.  Everyone is connected, everyone has fees, everyone knows what they are working on, has a purpose and direction. 

And I standing on the outside looking in.  Knocking on soundproof glass.  

Looking, I am sure, like an idiot.  

This is undeniably a depressing (and poorly written) post but perhaps somewhere there is another dejected writer bemoaning their them I would say, “I feel your pain. You are not alone.  We’ll make it somehow.” or some other inane verbiage that would convince us both that becoming a writer is not beyond our grasp.

Sunday, September 27, 2009


“I have a million reasons why I doubt I can ever be a ‘real’ writer...” 

I penned these words in my personal reflections upon reaching the end of my final graduate course at Boston College.  To them, my professor replied, “Publication is not what makes one a writer- writing is!”

Be that as it may, publication looms large among my personal motivations.

This project, Penned but not Published, is meant to chronicle my quest for publication.  My goal as I begin is that within the year my name will be in print somewhere being read by someone.  Up till now I have not even had the courage to finish a real polished piece of writing.  I have not dared to submit my work to anyone who has not assigned it first.  

I have the following rules for myself:
-Write constantly then reflect
-Write honestly without fear
-Finish what you start
-Network, submit, take risks
-There are no shortcuts* 

My assumption is that I am not alone in this quest for writerly actualization.  I hope many people who have a story to tell, who burn with the desire to write, who long to create something authentic will visit this site.  I hope they will gather encouragement, inspiration and wisdom here.

* taken from the book by Rafe Esquith