Archive | March 2014

Today’s Reflections- what would be your perfect life? (longish post)

I’ve been reflecting on what makes life perfect and how different the answer would be for each person. The perfect life, obviously, must contain all the elements you consider vital to happiness. Some are already part of life and feel like blessings, others are future desires.So what are they?

For me, I cannot even fathom a life without my husband and soul mate of almost 50 years. Is he perfect? Only for me! Am I perfect? Hell no. But together, something evolves that is complete and meaningful. So my husband, Dan would always need to be part of my life for that life to be perfect; as would be my children, grandchildren, their spouses and other family members. We see each other less often than we should, but need to be together for recharging every now and then. No life could be perfect without them.

Friends are important, but the few good ones I’ve had are gone or distant. Yes, it is true that after years and years of separation, it is just like we never were apart and we pick up where last we stopped. Those distant friends while less vital than family can be very important in the scheme of things. They are a piece to the puzzle that is my perfect life.

I cannot begin to imagine a life without animals. Pets are really like family for us and so need to be part of our every day. Right now the pet population at our house includes a very large 7 year old male Lab/Great Dane mix and 3 cats of various colors and ages plus 1 foster dog that looks like she is going to stay.

My faith is as much part of me as any other single element. Even when not attending a church regularly, my prayer life and trying to please my God are my saving grace. I fail often so it is wonderful that my God never fails me.

Of course, every writer for their perfect life would add the ability to write no matter the genre or method is like the air we need to breathe. I have had a few days where I did not write and it keeps feeling like there is an empty space inside that needs filling up. This often happens, so now I will be very prolific for a few days or so.

No life for me would be perfect without books. If it came down to books or food, I would finally lose weight since I need to read daily and when I don’t, it seems like my day is rather dismal.

My perfect life would be filled with flowers and other grown things. I love to eat and cook so fresh garden produce I grow is a part of life I miss whenever I don’t garden for a season. My veggies are not always picture perfect, but they taste so good and are so healthy. Plus just being part of that miracle of growing is amazing. It is almost a spiritual experience.

In general, just nature, must be a part of my life. Though I get too few opportunities to enjoy it as I would, when I do it is like a communion with my Lord and Savior. One of my favorite pastimes is to fish, but life gets in the way and so we fish very seldom. But, if someone told me I could never do it again, I would be sorely unhappy.

My perfect life would have me surrounded by beauty and my home, garden and being would reflect its importance in my life. I like beautiful things, not necessarily costly things. I can delight in the perfect peach or the sunrise that steals your breath. Cars, furs, diamonds and clothes are not high on my wish list. However, beautifully presented food that looks as good as it tastes is expected in an ideal life. Fresh flowers, as often as possible, would be a big part of the perfect life.

My perfect life would include much travel as I have a curiosity about other cultures and places. My curiosity won’t die out. It is a longing that has been there forever. The world is so large and so varied that it seems extremely sad for anyone to just know a little part of it.
I would round out my perfect life with the more intangibles like imagination, creativity, ability to constantly learn and compassion for others. I would love to add patience to my new virtues as well as acceptance, but maybe that just goes too far.

I’m sure there are things I’ve missed, but the major needs and desires would be in this list and my life would seem perfect until human nature finds a way to corrupt it and start a new list in my mind.

How does your list compare with mine?


Writing and keeping routine versus living your life


After reading a blog about one author’s problem with not writing on weekends and then taking it up again on Mondays I can sympathize. It is hard to completely immerse yourself in work to the detriment of your family. Even harder is taking a break and then realizing getting back to writing is a challenge. So what can we do?

Several suggestions were made and mainly discussed taking an hour or two to write no matter what else happened on your time off. What you write is less important, according to one commenter, than just making sure you spent time writing. I believe I am in full agreement with this solution. When I take off a day or two from writing, even though I am not writing a novel, I find getting back in the flow of things to be difficult. It is like starting over and requires whatever it is your routine demands to get in touch with the muse.

Getting in the mood to write and becoming comfortable in the next phase of actual writing is different for everyone, but most of all, it is necessary and time consuming. Every time, we are required to reach the state of grace where we can actually write means lost time, depletion of energy and a delay that can weaken ideas and even our resolve. Can we really afford this break, this intrusion into our writing life?

Although, I am in agreement that breaks in writing can cause a lot of self-doubt and even despair, we still need to maintain our daily lives and connect with family and friends if we are to have any kind of somewhat normal life at all.

Good writers treat every day like a workday, including weekends and holidays. They must be torn away from their work to engage in the most simple of family connections or celebrations. They want to stay writing and resent anyone who interrupts this flow of ideas and work. How do they manage then to have a family life or any social life at all? Or do they?

I think dedication to anything a person does is admirable. I believe a superior work ethic is what breeds success. To become the best you can be requires an above average amount of work or else you will never stand out from the crowd. Writers have so much competition, but I believe that is okay if they write what only they can write and use only their voice. Still those who work the hardest usually see the best results and that means giving more time and energy to the project you are obsessed with each and every day.

Learning to balance this goal with enjoying life and connecting with human beings is the larger goal. Take time for life since this is the fodder we need to grow this animal of imagination.

Gaining patience for writing and resulting goals


If you’re like me you are impatient about everything. I want it all to happen now. I do not want to wait for anything, but writing requires patience. You must be patient while learning the skill and even more patient to see results.

Learning to write well does not happen overnight. Some of us have been writing for decades and still don’t possess all the skills we need.

Anytime you write with expectations of success, you must learn patience. Establishing a following in any field is time consuming and does not go fast even though we need to speedily reach that goal.

To make money at a craft or art is unlike actually earning a paycheck at a 9 to 5 job. It is a painstaking process and while following this path it is true that starvation could happen. We put our art or craft first, but must temper that ideal with some practicality since ideals do not pay any bills or put food on the table.

Especially when doing online writing, you must learn patience since you have so much competition that making a name for yourself requires much time with little reward. It does not mean this is a worthless pursuit, but it will seem so without patience.

As a poet or writer searches for the exact word they need, patience is required. While fleshing out a character to make them live, patience is required. To say exactly what you mean in exactly the way you need to require patience. So where do you get this patience from for each and every day as you struggle to put words to paper?

What are the things that teach people patience? There are very few if you are anxious like me to get on with things. Any project that does not yield immediate gratification teaches patience. Anything that can slow you down while still increasing your interest in results can be a helpful tool in gaining patience.

One such patience increasing activity is gardening. You plant a tiny seed and expect it to grow to a fully mature plant. There are many things that can delay its germination and many challenges it must conquer. If the weather is too cold, it may slow it down, possibly even permanently. If the water is not plentiful enough it might thwart its growth. It may start to look like success is right around the corner, but then something unforeseen happens. It could be a hailstorm or the neighbor’s dog or maybe a fungus that kills it. Then we are left to start again. That certainly requires patience.

Quilting by hand is a craft that requires patience, probably more so than other types of sewing. It is a tedious work of patching and matching, contrasting and coordinating colors and fabrics. When the top is made, we then must add the batting and after basting in place, we then begin the arduous, though enjoyable, element of quilting the layers together in tiny stitches. In some quilts, you will be adding a binding or possibly embroidering colorful stitches on top in addition to the quilting. Some hand quilts take a year or more to complete. Now that is a great example of patience.

Waiting for a baby to be born requires a good deal of patience since even though the end date is somewhat known, we must go through many stages before it happens. There are challenges in health and possibly changes in our moods, living conditions and other stressful differences that challenge us before the arrival of that sweet little being.

One more thing that comes to mind and also teaches patience is a jigsaw puzzle. If you have little patience, don’t engage in this activity since it will drive you completely batty. You need to be observant and take your time if you are ever to complete it. This is not an activity that lends itself to speed and the finished product takes time to appear. Patience allows you to succeed.

There are many other activities that might teach patience. Is there one that helps you?

Writers need to learn patience so they do not get pushed down and believe what they do has little value or merit. They must look eagerly toward any degree of success while keeping emotions in check as they try to achieve their goals. Be patient, success will happen one day. Instead of fretting over your faraway destination, enjoy the journey.

Reflections on the spring of our writing

When spring approaches I find myself excited and hopeful. No matter what else is going on in my life, spring still means renewal to me. It means beginning again, even though I seem to be in that state continually since I never really stop anything, but revisit it after time taken for a break. From what am I taking a time out? I’m never sure, just the mind is so active it wants to explore everything and so starts something new way before finishing something old. I try hard to keep all these projects going at once, but my mind rarely focuses on one thing forever. Although it does not always focus, it does obsess about whatever is in the uppermost part of my mind’s cue. There is no reason to believe that what I just abandoned won’t be vital again and upmost in my mind in time to come.

Spring means more to me than lime green grass shoots and delicate early flowers, it means being reborn in a sense. It is one of those things that benchmark your timeline as a vital beginning. With Easter coming and the rebirth of nature and the renewal of life and faith, it is a very important landmark in your personal journey.

When a writer experiences a rebirth or renewal, it is similar to a newly discovered Christian. We feel pure and unstoppable, re-energized and like a veil had been lifted from our eyes. We see the truth or at least our truth. We recognize elements that were once hidden from us. We can see clearer and deeper than ever before and more mysteries are discovered and revealed.

Spring means a cleansing as well as a renewal, rain washes the landscape clean and death makes way for life. The babies are everywhere and nature has restarted a family any place you look. The past is old but makes way for the young future. Everything starts over. Everything is new again.

The writer needs to be cleansed of the old, the stale ideas that are no longer fresh and the unfinished stories that have lost their meaning for them. We need to rid ourselves of the characters who won’t talk to us and the dialogue that makes no sense any longer. We need to be willing to start over as the season demands it and our writing will also if we are only honest with ourselves.

Starting over is hard when we feel like we have given up our child as most writer’s feel about their writing. Abandoning that gem we think we have created; the possibility that it could be that one in a thousand book and could lead to fame and fortune. But more than that, we believe it could lead to someone wanting to read the words we slaved over. That is of course the ultimate reward.

When someone wants to share your thoughts it is such a compliment. Suddenly, a reader begins to understand your writer’s position and that is a priceless gift. After reading some time, a person begins to fathom the depth of your character and that is unbelievably exquisite.

Spring means renewal and new beginnings, so maybe we as writers, should each vow to have at least one new beginning. But don’t stop there we need another and then another until we write something so fresh and unknown that it takes hold in someone’s being. Without even thinking of fame and fortune, we should all be searching for something that has never been said in quite the way only we can say it.

Using traditions and their importance to you as a person and writer

Most families have traditions especially for holidays. I have traditions for almost every major holiday and some other times that are just unique to me or my family

Yesterday, I missed my traditional celebration for St. Patrick’s day since I was feeling under the weather. I will try to make it up sometime in the next week, but it won’t be quite the same.

I have always felt traditions were especially important when you have children at home. Traditions give your kids a sense of heritage and history. They help them feel connected to a larger something. They feel like they belong and they fit in. Traditions are important.

Even though, we have no small children at home, we still carry on lots of traditions. There will be celebrations for every holiday possible and some we made up to get rid of the everyday boredom.

Some intimate celebrations and parties were borne of the winter blahs, a streak of bad luck or just plain boredom. We decided something out of the ordinary must happen in order to restore our good nature and equilibrium.

Knowing about cultural traditions can be an asset when writing out of your personal experience. The variety of traditions people have invented for the holidays are often quite interesting and could be something to stimulate your thinking.

Traditions will give authority and credibility to your writing when used appropriately. It will help flesh out a character and allow them to come alive. It will add depth to your story or plot and could even be the main theme you are exploring.

Traditions offer a chance for another level of your writing. For writers this could be a welcome event.

As well as providing useful material for your stories and poems, it could be of a helpful nature to the writer and their family. Never taking time for oneself or your family, will leave the writer bankrupt of the support and love they need to continue. Traditions are those things we value and have special significance to us. If our families think they are getting short shrift of your time, they will feel threatened and unhappy. An unhappy spouse, significant other or family can be an awful burden to a writer. Keep everyone happy and celebrate those traditions that are so personal for you.


Meditation and it’s benefits for writers

Although I always knew meditation was good for you and had many benefits, I never knew how many. It can help so many parts of your body that it should be a weapon in everyone’s arsenal. The benefits to the writer can be seen in many of these results.

There are probably as many ways to do meditation as there are reasons to engage in it. While I trust all of you can find their own ideal form, I will explore how it can help a writer.

First of all, any person who writes knows how tiring, draining and energy sapping it can be when you pursue it longer than you should. We know if the writing is not going well, it puts an enormous strain on our bodies as well. With that in mind, we can see how this result can affect your general health. Meditation, however, is great for your health. Some of the hundreds of benefits include helping you waste less energy, reduce the activity of viruses, bring blood pressure back to normal and even increase your tolerance for exercise. It can also enhance your immune system.

The benefits to the mind are even more wonderful. When you meditate, your cells receive more oxygen and other nutrients. This is amazing for all your body, but especially useful for the brain of a writer. Meditation can increase your concentration and even strengthen your mind. When you meditate, your body increases its serotonin levels which are helpful in sleeping well and in experiencing a sense of well-being.

It is often hard to write when we are under stress from everyday life or special circumstances. Mediation is said to relieve emotional distress and help us to resolve problems.

Meditation can even offer a cure for doubt when we as writers start to second guess ourselves instead of relying on our instincts. Meditation is instrumental in building up self-confidence. It can clear up the entire muddle that is currently your mind by giving you an orderliness of your brain function.

When you are stressed or so driven that it interferes with your taking time out for you, try meditating. It is said that meditation can produce a much deeper level of relaxation.

Writing depends on your good health and your great brain function to be at its best. To excel we must learn to concentrate while working, but relax at playtime.

Writer, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain, so give meditation a try if you are not already adding that to your tool box. It may prove invaluable.

Do writers have a deep down compulsion to be in control?

As I gave this some thought I decided yes, I believe writers like to be in control. Why else would they have complete decision making responsibility of the world and characters they create?

Writers go to great lengths to create the ultimate world with every element just the way they want it. In recreating the world of today or yesterday, we have guidelines, but then our control comes into play as we try to be faithful and exact in our recreated world.

While helping our characters come to life, we must have them look as we think they should so the description cannot vary if we wish to control this part of the story. We control how they act and speak and move. We really are control freaks.

The dialogue is what we decide it should be and if the character goes off talking in a way of which we do not approve, we quickly bring them back to our reality. Once again, we insist upon our vision of what is just right. Such is our need for control.

The setting must take place in such and such an era in such and such a place. We really will not let that change. We must not lose control or who knows what will happen.

Do we control everything so adamantly in our writing since we rarely have this much control over our lives? Some of us feel pushed around or maybe just lost and drifting because life has a way of controlling us. We can’t control what happens to us in the everyday here and now so we are darn sure we will not relinquish any control in our writing. That may apply to editors, publishers and even well-meaning friends. Our work is sacrosanct and if you know what is good for you, you won’t change a thing.

Yes, I’m pretty sure that helpless feeling we get when we realize we are no longer in control of our life is too scary to risk it while writing so we hold on very tight to our control as if our very lives depended on it.

Did we ever stop to think if the control were gone and we were less rigid about what we have written, maybe , just maybe something new and wonderful might take its place? No, no, no! It is mine and I created it and I will know what is best for it. I, like a mom, will know what is best and best is just the way it is and you should just leave your cotton pickin hands off it. Oh yeah, writers are also stubborn.

Curiosity a most important trait for a writer

Most writers seem to have a healthy curiosity. We ask ourselves what if, how about or really? We examine and re-examine things to get a better understanding of whatever it is that has caught our interest at the moment. I believe this can change rapidly with writers in a very short time.

After taking one of those Facebook quizzes that define you in some way, I was told my main trait is curiosity. Well, I do love to try new things, meet different people and constantly learn something new. I guess that starts with a basic curiosity and a desire to experience all we can every day.

We can read things and then say that was great, but wouldn’t it have been interesting if the main character was a goat instead of a quiet female gardener or the plot included dragons or flying saucers? It is the same bizarre ideas that could be fruitful in one way or another. It may start you thinking about something totally unrelated that at one point could end up in a book. Your imagination, running wild as it should be, never to be fenced in or limited is the starting point.

If we let our minds run wild because our curiosity wants to know what if or how about, we open up new worlds that we have never visited before. I admire imagination, creativity and not only thinking out of the box, but thinking out of this world and maybe the next one. The results might be mind boggling resulting in an explosion of words, images and feelings that deserve our attention regardless of how strange or silly they might be to us.

This process of following your curiosity is much like the brainstorming one does to solve a problem. At first the answers seem ridiculous, but after examining them, they most likely have a bit of truth and credibility also. They may actually be worth something. Stimulation of the imagination and curiosity of the world we live in can lead to some wonderful ideas or if you’re like me more crazy thoughts born of the last ones.

Whatever we do, as writers, don’t ever shut that trait of curiosity down. Use it to explore feelings, people and what they are thinking. Explore whole new worlds with it, even if they just exist in your mind.

Personal Reflections: Really knowing people – the passing of our friend, David

Saturday I attended a memorial service for a pretty good friend. He   only reached the age of 57 before he was taken home. He was very ill and seemed lost most of the time. He had a very tough life at the end, though it was never all that easy. He struggled with many demons and we all felt rather sorry for him, but maybe we shouldn’t have felt that way.

David was evidently someone we never knew. The small church that held his memorial was absolutely overwhelmed with folks there to celebrate his life. They kept putting up more and more folding chairs. People kept coming and the church was about to burst at the seams. Everyone was so surprised by the turnout. People kept remarking about how many folks were there. People kept shaking their heads in amazement. Even the family, whom we knew were not always on good terms with our dear friend, was shocked at the continued arrival of people.I don’t think I even know that many people, much less would expect them at a memorial for me.

Even more shocking was the outpouring of love that these people had for our lost, troubled friend. We knew David had a good heart. We knew in spite of some of his argumentative ways and boasting of knowledge, he often really did have, he was a good person who cared deeply for other people. We just did not know the extent of this caring. He loved his family and talked of them often.

When person after person got up front to talk about David it was with such feeling as to constantly bring those tears we just got under control to the surface once more. The people talked about him as though he were a brother to them all. They said of David, he saved my life. They talked of how he was always there for them. They mentioned the nightly meetings and the daily phone calls to keep in touch and see if they were okay. This man riddled with sickness and infection, fighting so many demons of his own, lifted others up and held them up to the Lord in prayer and in actions. He was responsible for also bringing many souls to the Lord.

Whatever, you were unsure of about David, the fact that he loved his family and friends deeply and embraced his spirituality and Christianity with all he had was never questioned. He made every person feel like they were very special to him. He said often, if no-one had told you today they loved you, he loved you.

David adored music of all kinds and constantly raised his voice in song. He had a beautiful voice and shared his love of music all the time. In church, he would not let us hear his beautiful voice, but instead just closed his eyes in worship and listened.

The only thing David loved as much as music was probably food. He could certainly eat and he enjoyed every morsel. As one who occasionally cooked for him, I know how much he appreciated home cooking.

David was a pretty gentle soul trapped in a body at war, but he was a friend to Dan and I and we loved him. But as I said, I don’t think we ever really knew him. That was our loss.

Characters stepping in and out of your life

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Characters stepping in and out of your life

Every living day, characters step in and out of our lives. They may be brief encounters, but they leave an impression of one thing or another. The whole of the human race is there to observe and to listen to all the time. There are so many reasons that characters are there and then gone again. It does not matter. Each person leaves something behind. Writers must use whatever it is they left.

We have characters enter our lives by way of film, TV or books. We get to know them almost like family after enough exposure to them. We can almost predict what they will do in certain situations. We may be able to finish their sentences much like we do those whom we know best. To us they are every bit as much a living, breathing person as the person living under our roof.

Sometimes we do not know the characters well whether in real life or in the media, but they are real enough to us to observe and learn from them. Often, in real life, the encounter is so short, that the briefest of impressions is left, just enough to analyze later.

Maybe it was a thought about their appearance that started you on another train of thought that led to something more revealing about human nature. Maybe it was the outfit they wore that made you consider that this was an outrageous outfit and you would be frightened to look so bizarre. Note-this person seems to know they look strange but, they do not care. What’s up with that? You might wonder how that young person got away with wearing something so risqué, where were their parents or why hasn’t the school stopped such an outfit at the door?

The impressions might not be visual, but an overheard snatch of conversation that indicated this stranger was about to do something scary or commit a crime of epic proportions. What is left behind is an idea spawned when you watched this character and determined he was very nervous and edgy like he was afraid to be caught at something bad. Maybe, this person is on the run.

The characters that step into your life from reality could be the postman, an elderly couple across the street, a young bully and his victim or maybe a picture perfect beauty that seems so lost. We find these folks all around us and many are characters in their own right, but possibly the quirks of a neighbor or the nervous tics of the grocery store bagger are what tidbits we are left with. These are the stuff that stories are made with and small traits that can flesh out those characters we want to write.

With this much raw material at our disposal it should be easy to create characters. Of course a writer rarely uses every trait of one person to actually form the character, but the reality or perceived notion of that person is what the character can be based upon.

When we people watch we are gleaning information to be stored in our subconscious till we need it. It is the ideas that will stimulate thinking and help us elaborate on what has been left us. However, we will never use it as a whole character unless the person’s biography is what is being written, and then the truth should be followed to a “T”.

Most of us waste what we are given daily as a writer. We rarely hold onto as much as we should. We probably, should be keeping diaries, notebooks or journals in order to have the ability to recall those magnificent characters that walk in and out of our lives. They’re everywhere, use them.