Tag Archives: From the Archives

From the Archives: Had to Rush My Baby to the ICU.

To celebrate the one year anniversary of my blog (March 13th), I’m publishing select posts throughout the year under the title “From the Archives” for those who may have missed them the first time around. Next up…

Had to Rush My Baby to the ICU

“Oh my God! No! No! No!” My heart hammered in my chest as I watched my baby turn blue. I laid my fingers on her and tried to recall the technique. “Okay, on three. One, two, three!”

I pressed CTRL+ALT+DEL on the keyboard and held my breath.

Ctrl+Alt+Del (webcomic)
Ctrl+Alt+Del (webcomic) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Nothing.

“C’mon baby!” I tried it again.

Still…nothing.

Why hadn’t I signed up for that CPR (Computer Performance Restoration) class? My baby, aka my laptop, had turned blue and no remedy was working.  I cradled her in my arms and rushed to the closest ICU (Inactive Computer Unit).

With my baby protectively held to my chest, I threw open the door and yelled to the man behind the counter, “I don’t know what’s wrong with her! I haven’t heard a sound from her in hours! She turned blue! Please help!”

He smiled and placed a hand over his mouth. Wait, was he trying not to laugh?

“Ah, the dreaded ‘blue screen.’ Let’s have a look.”

blue screen
blue screen (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I gently laid her on the counter and watched as he worked. I drummed my fingers on the counter as I awaited the diagnosis. He was so calm. What was that noise? Was he humming? Seriously? How could he be humming at a time like this? My baby’s life was on the line! I couldn’t stand it any longer.

“What do you think it is?”

“Uh, the hard drive may be going out.”

“What?” I covered my chest with my hand. “But – but she’s only two!”

He seemed to notice my apprehension and said, “Or it could just be a virus.”

“Do you think she’ll be alright?”

“Don’t know. We’ll need to run some diagnostics. It’ll probably take several hours.”

“You mean I can’t take her home with me?”

“We need to keep her overnight, just to be sure.”

“But – but I’ve never left her with anyone overnight.”

He laid a hand on my shoulder and said, “It’ll be okay.”

If you’re a writer like me, you can relate to the fear of something happening to your laptop.  Without it we feel like a bird without a song, a bull without its horns, a cowboy without his boots, a jockey without a horse…you get the point. For writers, the laptop is our lifeblood. Fortunately my baby received a heavy dose of antivirus meds and now she’s as good as new.

Special thanks to James Ramsey’s post, Inspiration. I guess she was right. You can find the inspiration to write by surfing the net. Her post reminded me of the trauma with my laptop last week and inspired me to write this post. Check out James’ website. She has a new book coming out next month which I can’t wait to read.

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From the Archives: IT’S ALIVE!!! Creating Characters that Come to Life

To celebrate the one year anniversary of my blog (March 13th), I’m publishing select posts throughout the year under the title “From the Archives” for those who may have missed them the first time around. Next up…

IT’S ALIVE!!! Creating Characters that Come to Life

Do the characters you write about become real to you? Do you sometimes find yourself wondering what they’re up to as if you could simply call them up and chat? I must admit I have done that once. Okay maybe more than once.

Sure, they’re a figment of your imagination, and you’d do well to remember that, but creating good fictional characters involves more than mere physical description. In fact, some authors don’t provide a physical description at all; they leave it up to the imagination of the reader. What I’ve learned is that physical description is the least important part of good characterization.

If you want your characters to come to life, to know what they would say or do or feel, you need to get into their heads. You need to understand what motivates them. To do that you need to know where they’ve been. What has happened to them in the past? What was their childhood like? What environment did they grow up in? What are their likes and dislikes? What are their hopes and fears? What have they experienced that would give rise to any quirks, phobias or disorders? Do they have any special talents or abilities? Do they have any unique expressions? How do they treat other people?

“Sow a thought, and you reap an act; Sow an act, and you reap a habit; Sow a habit, and you reap a character; Sow a character, and you reap a destiny.”  ―    Anonymous

Of course, all of this is up to you. The answers to these questions come from your imagination. When you create a character that goes well beyond physical description, it is as if you have brought that character to life. They not only become real to you but they become real to your readers. The reader becomes invested in your book and that is the main goal.

“I will go to my grave in a state of abject endless fascination that we all have the capacity to become emotionally involved with a personality that doesn’t exist.”  ―    Berkeley Breathed

From the Archives: Words of Wisdom on Writing from the King

To celebrate the one year anniversary of my blog (March 13th), I’m publishing select posts throughout the year under the title “From the Archives” for those who may have missed them the first time around. Next up…

Words of Wisdom on Writing from the King

Yesterday I published, Reading Fiction: Guilty Pleasure or Worthy Pursuit? In that post I stated that I only read fiction. Well it’s just one day later and I must retract that statement.

I received a copy of Stephen King’s On Writing in the mail yesterday afternoon. Yeah, it’s obviously not fiction but it’s a book on writing fiction so cut me some slack, okay? I’ve read several excerpts in the past but decided I needed to read the entire book. Well, I couldn’t put it down.

Cover of "On Writing:  A Memoir of the Cr...
Cover of On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

It’s a book on writing but it doesn’t read like an instruction manual and that, is a lesson on writing right there. It felt like I had sat down with a wise, yet fun-loving uncle as he imparted nuggets of wisdom, but first hooked me in by sharing funny anecdotes from his childhood.

The section where he offered advice on writing is a must read for any aspiring author. There are many great tips but I’ll highlight just two (sorry, but you’ll have to buy the book to get the full benefit).

King believes “plotting and the spontaneity of real creation aren’t compatible.” His advice was reassuring because I’m not big on plotting and I’d wondered if that was somehow a weakness. I have a general idea of the story I want to tell and create very detailed character bios, but they are mostly for my reference only. Once I’ve completed the character bios it’s almost as if I have breathed life into them. They become real and end up telling me what comes next and it’s often different from what I had originally imagined.

He also believes that factual information belongs in the background of your story unless you’d like your book to read like a user’s manual or history text. He mentioned a couple of authors who are a little heavy on the factual information and then made this statement:

“I sometimes think that these writers appeal to a large segment of the reading population who feel that fiction is somehow immoral, a low taste which can only be justified by saying, ‘Well, ahem, yes, I do read {Fill in the author’s name here}, but only on airplanes and in hotel rooms that don’t have CNN; also I learned a great deal about {Fill in appropriate subject here}.’

It’s interesting that I just published a post on this topic yesterday. I love it when that happens. It’s like the moon and stars are aligning for some future event.

At the end of the book he tells about an accident that occurred during the time he was writing it. While going on his afternoon walk, he was struck and almost killed by a reckless driver. This part was mesmerizing because I was almost killed in a car accident too. Then he said it occurred the third week in June. Hmm…my accident did too. What are the odds it was on the same day? Well, what do you know? We were both almost killed by drivers who couldn’t control their vehicles…on the same day, June 19th, but eleven years apart, mine occurring in 1988 and his in 1999. But there was another similarity: the driver who caused his accident was reaching behind his seat, trying to prevent a dog from opening a cooler full of meat and the driver who caused my accident was reaching behind his seat, trying to open a cooler for another beer.

As he talked about the long road to recovery, I recalled my own. Maybe I’ll write about it? No, not today.

Instead, I closed the book with a smile on my face and thought, “That was a good story. Thanks, Uncle Steve.”

From the Archives – Reading Fiction: Guilty Pleasure or Worthy Pursuit?

To celebrate the one year anniversary of my blog (March 13th), I’m publishing select posts throughout the year under the title “From the Archives” for those who may have missed them the first time around. Next up…

Reading Fiction: Guilty Pleasure or Worthy Pursuit?

In my former career as a “bean-counter,” I rarely allowed myself to read anything other than business books. Books were merely tools utilized to further my career. The payback period had to be short and the return on investment had to be high. I needed to see an immediate benefit, in the form of increased knowledge, from the time I had invested in reading. Time was money and I didn’t have the luxury of wasting it on nonsensical stories.

Somewhere along the way the joy I felt from spending lazy afternoons curled up with a good book was replaced by the notion that fiction held no value. Reading fiction had become a guilty pleasure. It was as if I had adopted an ascetic lifestyle, sworn an oath akin to celibacy, abstaining from the joy of reading, not because it was what I wanted but because it was expected if I were to grow intellectually. A work of fiction was just an invented story about people who never existed; and therefore, useless information. Nothing could be gained from it so naturally it held no merit. “Thou shalt not read fiction,” became my mantra.

On the rare occasion that I allowed myself to read a work of fiction I typically couldn’t put it down until I had finished it. I’d become completely wrapped up in this “sinful” pursuit, reading late into the night. These transgressions were worthy of a good self-flogging which often took the form of force feeding another business book. I never got much joy from reading a business book so it was  an appropriate punishment. I usually had to force myself to finish it and would skim pages just to get through it.

Then I’d come across a favorite quote, gaze longingly at the words, and marvel at how a single sentence could stir my soul. The longing to read good fiction would be rekindled. I found that despite my efforts to suppress my affection for fiction, abstinence made the heart grow fonder.

Now, I never miss an opportunity to read fiction. It transports you to different worlds that you may not get to explore otherwise. It allows you to see life through someone else’s eyes, to be exposed to new ideas and different ways of thinking. It can deepen your life experiences.

“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies, said Jojen. The man who never reads lives only one.” ~ George R.R. Martin

Reading fiction does have merit. It gets the creative juices flowing. It stimulates the imagination.

English: Albert Einstein Français : Portrait d...
English: Albert Einstein Français : Portrait d’Albert Einstein (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

“I am enough of the artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.” ~ Albert Einstein

Now, it seems I always have a book in my hand, and undoubtedly, it is fiction.

From the Archives: How the Life of a Writer Resembles a Bee

To celebrate the one year anniversary of my blog (March 13th), I’m publishing select posts throughout the year under the title “From the Archives” for those who may have missed them the first time around. Next up…

 How the Life of a Writer Resembles a Bee

On this journey to becoming a published author, I’m discovering that the life of a writer resembles a bee, a very busy bee. I’m not referring to a queen bee or a drone, but a worker bee.

Honey Bee in Sunlight
Honey Bee in Sunlight (Photo credit: Scott Kinmartin)

The worker bee buzzes from flower to flower collecting nectar and pollen to make honey, but that’s not her (yes, a worker bee is female) only job. She builds the honeycomb and keeps it clean. She makes wax. She cares for the babies and protects the hive. When she finds a good source for nectar and pollen she buzzes back to the hive and communicates the good news. She is a social creature that shares her discoveries for the benefit of the hive. She collaborates with others to make something sweet. She is a very busy little bee.

So how is the life of a writer like a bee?

The days when a writer could simply collect thoughts and ideas and write a novel (as if writing a novel were simple) are long gone. No, writers, that is not your only job. You need to do your homework.

  • Read books on the art of writing.
  • Read books on formatting your manuscript, query letter and synopsis. I’ve read a dozen or so over the last few years and recently ordered several more.
  • Read the top rated novels. I started a project over a year ago to read the Modern Library’s Top 100 novels and recently merged it with Time Magazine’s Top 100.
  • Read current bestsellers.
  • Read books within your genre.
  • Read books outside your genre.
  • Research the submission process.
  • Research agents too. Read their blogs and get to know their likes and dislikes. After all, you hope one will represent you some day.
  • Read the blogs of authors they represent.
  • Read those authors’ books too.
  • Read…A LOT.

Of course most of you know that already, but did you also know that you are expected to market and promote your work? I’m sure visions of book tours and interview flash across your mind as you think, “Uh, duh. I knew that.” Let me rephrase that then. Did you know that you are expected to market and promote your work before your book has been published?

I didn’t know that. I neglected to read anything on social media. I skipped those chapters in the books I read. That comes later, after you’re published, right? Wrong. A writer needs to create a buzz, a following, prior to becoming published. In this technology driven world the best way to do that is through social media. Agents are more likely to take a chance on you if you can show that you have a presence on the internet.

Take a lesson from the honey bee. She visits several different sources (species of flowers) to make honey. Writers should do the same when writing and publishing a book. Don’t trust just one source for information. Read about the mistake I made doing this in my post, Word Count for Novels. Be social, like the bee. Flutter among the cyber flowers (blogs, online forums, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, author and agent websites, etc.) and make friends. Collect all that you have learned and create something that, like honey, lasts. Then go back to the hive (the internet), do the crazy bee “waggle dance,” and share what you’ve learned.

If you don’t have a blog yet, start one. I know. It’s a little intimidating at first. Creative people tend to be more introverted so this “social media thing” can push us out of our comfort zone. You may wonder if anyone will be interested in visiting the microscopic spec in cyberspace that is your blog. If you are like me, you may feel more like a bumble bee: poorly designed for flight. Sure, it may be a little difficult to get off the ground at first and you may wonder if your paper-thin wings can support your awkward body. You may fumble a bit, but remember:

“Aerodynamically, the bumble bee shouldn’t be able to fly, but the bumble bee doesn’t know it so it goes on flying anyway.” Mary Kay Ash

Defy physics and reason and soon you will be soaring high. Plus, I’ve learned that writers, by nature, are generous people. The followers will come.

Oh, and by the way, my name means “honey bee.” So, you see, I have been a very busy bee, indeed.

Against Idleness and Mischief

How doth the little busy Bee
Improve each shining Hour,
And gather Honey all the day
From every opening Flower!

How skillfully she builds her Cell!
How neat she spreads the Wax!
And labors hard to store it well
With the sweet Food she makes.

In Works of Labor or of Skill
I would be busy too:
For Satan finds some Mischief still
For idle Hands to do.

In Books, or Work, or healthful Play
Let my first Years be past,
That I may give for every Day
Some good Account at last.

Isaac Watts

From the Archives – Writers: What Was Your First Story?

 

To celebrate the one year anniversary of my blog (March 13th), I’m publishing select posts throughout the year under the title “From the Archives” for those who may have missed them the first time around. Next up…

 

Once upon a time

The first story I remember creating came after my first nightmare, or rather, the first nightmare I remember. I’m not even sure how old I was, maybe 4 or 5? I must’ve fallen asleep while one of my parents read Goldilocks and the Three Bears to me because my nightmare was a twisted version of that fairytale.

Illustration by David Merrell
Illustration by David Merrell

Mama Bear and Papa Bear had captured my parents. They were restrained outside the bears’ home with thorn bushes. I looked on from a secret hiding place in the woods as they lit a fire underneath a giant black cauldron. Flames licked at the sides and steam rose from the center of the cauldron as my parents struggled to break free. That is where my nightmare ended.

I woke up in a panic. To a young child their parent is everything and both of mine were about to be boiled like lobsters. I calmed down once I realized I’d been dreaming but something tugged at me. I suppose this was the moment my internal storyteller was born.

What offense had my parents committed to deserve such treatment? Had Mama Bear and Papa Bear suspected my parents of eating the porridge, breaking the furniture, and destroying the neatly made beds? Or worse, was it something I had done? Where was Baby Bear? Had I done something to upset him? Were my parents paying the price for failing to discipline a naughty child? How could I save them?

I couldn’t recall the events in my dream that led to my parents being selected as dinner. All I knew was that my parents were in danger. I had to rescue them. I had to finish the story and it had to be brief; after all, my parents were about to become the main course for two ravenous bears.

Somehow I knew Baby Bear was the key. I searched and found him wandering in the woods alone. He was lost and scared. I gave him a cherished toy for comfort. It was a little crocheted doll that my grandmother had made for me. He seemed to understand the value it held and hugged me. We arrived at his home just as my parents were being lowered toward the boiling water.

Mama Bear and Papa Bear were overjoyed to see Baby Bear. After learning I had rescued him they decided I wasn’t a naughty child after all and released my parents. Porridge was warmed over the fire instead of my parents and we all sat down for a scrumptious meal. Mama Bear and Papa Bear swapped stories with my parents and after a while Baby Bear rubbed his eyes and yawned. Seeing that he was tired, I walked him upstairs and tucked him in bed. He fell asleep with my cherished doll held tightly to his chest. I was the heroine of the story and everyone lived happily ever after.

I have created hundreds of stories in my mind over the years. I don’t know why this one has stayed with me while others have faded. Maybe it’s because it was my first story. Maybe the simplicity of it makes it easy to remember. Maybe it was the thought of losing my parents. Who knows? I’ve discarded so many stories over the years because they were “too this” or “too that.” Maybe it’s because this one, at the time, felt…just right.

Do you remember your first story? I’d love to hear it.

From the Archives: WORDLE: A Nifty Little Tool for Writers

To celebrate the one year anniversary of my blog (March 13th), I’m publishing select posts throughout the year under the title “From the Archives” for those who may have missed them the first time around. Next up:

 

Wordle: A Nifty Little Tool for Writers

I stumbled across this program a while back and recently tried to recall the name because I thought it might be a useful tool for writers. Well, I was reading through the comments on Kristen Lamb’s blog (if you haven’t been there you must check it out) and, what do you know, there it was: the name of the program that had eluded me.

So, what the heck is Wordle?

Wordle is a program used to create word art from text. Words that occur more frequently are visually amplified (displayed in a larger font).  While this makes for some pretty cool art (just explore Pinterest and you will find all kinds of creative art using Wordle), there are other benefits too. For example, you can summarize survey results to see the most popular answers or pinpoint the main idea of an online discussion.

I’m sure by now you can guess the benefit for writers. It will magnify the words used most often in your writing. This can help you find words you are overusing, like those pesky little adverbs!

After I came across the post with the reference to Wordle, I jumped on the internet to find it. You can find it here: www.wordle.net. You may need to enable JAVA applets in your browser (the website provides instructions), but it’s fairly easy to use. Just paste the text into the window and press the “go” button.

I pasted my MS into the application and generated the Wordle. I discovered that the main characters in my novel were the most prominently displayed words. The next largest word was “back.” Huh? Do I really overuse that word?

I toggled back to my manuscript and read back through the document. I glanced back and forth between my MS and the Wordle. I was puzzled. Okay, not really, just surprised. I had no idea I used that word so often. I went on a search and destroy mission and discovered that in all but a few instances the word was unnecessary. UNNECESSARY! Wow, what a helpful little tool.

I wondered what the Wordle of the work of a famous author would look like. Well, there was no way I was going to type War and Peace into a document but I did happen to have a digital copy of one of Tolstoy’s short stories. I pasted A Spark Neglected Burns the House into the window and waited for a visual representation. Here is what it looks like.

Tolstoy Wordle

Hey, there’s that word again: “back.” It’s in yellow font next to Gabriel. It’s somewhat prominent in his story. I don’t feel so bad about my overuse, but don’t regret removing it either. I generated a few others for comparison purposes.

The Fiddler by Herman Melville

The Fiddler by Herman Melville

The End of the Party by Graham Greene

The End of the Party by Graham Greene

The main characters were the most prominently displayed words in all three Wordles. You can get a general idea what the story is about by looking at the remaining jumble of words. Okay, well, maybe not, but it looks cool! If anything it would be an artistic way to display your creative work once it’s published. 🙂

From the Archives: Are You in Your Right Brain?

To celebrate the one year anniversary of my blog, I’m publishing select posts throughout the year under the title “From the Archives” for those who may have missed them the first time around.

Here is the original post of Are You In Your Right Brain?

right-brain-left-brain-thinking-225x300I wanted to thank Kristen Lamb for the thought-provoking post How Being Tired Can Make You a Better Writer. I’m a new blogger and just started following her so I haven’t had a chance to read her other posts but based on this one, I’m certain they will be equally brilliant. She has also written two best sellers about social media: We Are Not Alone—The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer. Since I’m a newbie I definitely have to check them out!

Now back to Kristen’s post. I especially enjoyed the discussion on the Conscious Mind vs. the Subconscious Mind. It reminded me of a college art class many years ago where we were learning how to draw using the right side of the brain.

As I recall the key was to focus on the negative space, the shapes surrounding the object you were drawing and not the object itself. The moment this shift in focus occurs, you are using your right brain and drawing seems to come naturally.

The right side of the brain processes information intuitively while the left brain processes it logically. People who are left-brain dominant are detail oriented and are generally good with numbers. Right-brain dominant people are good at visualizing and thus are more creative.

Sounds like the Conscious Mind vs. the Subconscious Mind in Kristen’s post doesn’t it? The left brain is the Conscious Mind, the side that wants to analyze everything and focus on the details. The right brain is the Subconscious Mind that doesn’t fret over the details. Who cares? Let’s just have fun, explore, and create.

I think we experience this when we write. Writer’s block feels a lot like our inability to shift from left brain thinking to right brain thinking.

Left Brain: “Wait, hold that thought. There’s a misspelled word.”

Right Brain: “You’re kidding me. Can we just forget about that for now? I’ve got something really good here.”

LB: “We can’t just leave it like that!”

RB: “Oh yes we can. Now move out-of-the-way before I lose this brilliant idea.”

LB: “Hold on. There…fixed it. Oh wait-”

RB: “What now? Will you please stop distracting me? I need to get this idea down before it’s gone!”

LB: “But, but-”

RB: “Not listening. La-la-la.”

LB: “Stop! There’s a dangling participle!”

RB: “Oh for heaven’s sake!”

LB: “Okay, we’re good to go. Now, what was your brilliant idea?”

RB: “I forgot.” {Sigh}

It’s frustrating, right? But when you do make the shift, when right brain (subconscious mind) finally tells left brain (conscious mind) to take a nap, well, that’s when the fun begins. I’m sure you can recall times when the words just flowed and when you finally stopped you couldn’t believe how much time had passed. It didn’t feel like hours, did it? That’s when you were in your right brain. Now if we could just make the switch on command that would be awesome. Imagine the novels we could complete!

I wonder if we could use the technique that I learned in art years ago to train our brain to shift focus?

Okay, I just googled it and here is what I found:

http://www.learn-to-draw-right.com/right-brain-left-brain.html

Follow the directions. If you really want to get the benefit of the exercise, don’t cheat. I did it and can actually recall the moment the two sides of the brain were warring with each other and when the switch occurred. Did you feel it? Let me know!

I also found this on that same web page and thought it was interesting enough to post here (with my edits in parentheses).

“However, by learning to access the right brain, you can learn ways to trick the left brain into leaving you alone quietly to get on with your drawing (writing) with your right brain – the side of the brain that really does know how to draw (write).”

I know I have right brain tendencies because I have always loved drawing, painting, and creating, but I do have a strong analytical side as well. I’m good with numbers. Hell, I made a career out of it. I wonder if I have a dominant side.

I just found a quiz for that:

http://painting.about.com/od/inspiration/a/quiz-rightbrain.htm

The quiz is designed for painters but writers are creative people too so just substitute “writing” for “painting” and answer it from a writer’s perspective. So how did you do? Are you dominant on one side? Let me know.

It turns out that my right brain is “quite dominant.” So this is why I was so miserable in my former career. I haven’t been in my “right” brain for years!

From the Archives: “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood”

To celebrate the one year anniversary of my blog, I’m publishing select posts throughout the year under the title “From the Archives” for those who may have missed them the first time around.

The second post I published has received more views than any other post on my blog. As you can see, the writing is nothing special. The attraction is in the title which starts with the words of a popular poem. If you want to attract readers to your blog, then give your posts popular titles. Make it a play on a favorite poem (like this one), movie, song, book, etc. and watch the traffic to your blog escalate.

Here is the original post for “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood”…and I-I took the safer one, until now.:

Years ago I came to a fork in the road and pondered which career path I should take. The one to the left was well-traveled. In fact, it was freshly paved and lined with curbs. Street lights that turned on at dusk dotted the roadside. There was even the occasional warning sign of what to expect ahead: a curve here, a dip in the road there. It was safe and well, a little boring.

The road to the right gave me a different feeling. It was not paved nor well-traveled. The surrounding vegetation threatened to overtake it. There were no curbs to keep me from straying off course and no streetlights illuminating the path. There was no sign of what may lie ahead. It was a little unsafe, even scary, but it peaked my interest.

Which one did I take?

I merged in with the rest of the traffic and took the safer route. I often wondered where the other road would have taken me. I plodded along “easy street” for years until I had the courage to make a U-turn and head back to the fork in the road.

Now I’m headed down the other path. It is still just as wild as it was all those years ago. It has not changed… but I have.

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both13_roads_diverged_in_a_yellow_wood[1]
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh! I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Some ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

From the Archives: How I Discovered My Passion for Writing

Today marks the one year anniversary of the first post on my blog. To celebrate, I’m publishing select posts throughout the year under the title “From the Archives” for those who may have missed them the first time around. Here is my first post as a blogger:

Hey Cyber Peeps!

Hello? Anybody out there?

{Audible echo}

Yep, this is my first post, and I’m pretty sure it will be sucked into a void in the cyber universe where no one will ever see it. But just in case, I wanted to share how I discovered my passion for writing.

My husband was always questioning why I married him, and why I loved him. I’d tell him often enough (or so I thought), and would sign sappy cards for Valentines, our anniversary, and his birthday, but it didn’t allay his doubts. Maybe it was the delivery: “I love you damn it! Now stop asking me!”

In January 2009, I was struck with an idea. Instead of giving him a card for Valentine’s Day with another person’s words in it, I would write a story for him; the story of how we met. I asked my sister to read it so she could rate the cheese factor. She has never been reluctant to tell me what she really thinks. In fact, she can be downright blunt at times. Once I got her reaction, I’d decide whether to edit it or just scrap it altogether. To my surprise, she loved it.

“Oh my God! It’s like I’m there!” she said.

“Uh, that’s because you were, doofus.”

“Yes, but I can see, smell, and feel everything that you were feeling that night.”

Wow. Really? Maybe he would finally understand the depth of my feelings for him since I never could do it justice verbally. I guess it worked because he has never asked those questions again. In fact, when we argue, he’ll say, “I’m not feeling the love right now. I’m going to go read our story to remind myself that you love me.”  LOL. Adorable isn’t he?

When I sat down to write the story I had no idea how deeply it would affect me. I was transported to another place where hours ticked by like minutes. I found it puzzling how a collection of sentences or even a solitary phrase that I wrote could evoke such emotion. I’m sure it had a lot to do with the subject, but my love affair with writing began that day.

In that same month, I was watching one of those investigative reporting shows like Dateline or 20/20 while I was cooking dinner. It was a story about two little girls living with neglectful, drug addicted parents, and it ended pretty tragically. I didn’t realize my son (who was 8 at the time) had walked in until I heard him crying. I know, Mom of the Year, right?  I quickly turned off the TV and tried to console him, but the story stayed with me. In fact, it haunted me as if it desperately needed a different ending. So I started to imagine a world where those two innocent little girls could find love and happiness.

That’s when it dawned on me. This is what I do! I was always creating stories, turning them over and over in my mind until the setting, characters, conflict, and resolution felt right. But I never dreamed of writing them down. Me? A writer? Don’t kid yourself, sweetheart.

I finally pushed those negative thoughts aside and sat down to write another story. It felt UH-MAY-ZING! I had opened the floodgates. The thoughts came pouring out and saturated the screen as I typed. I had finally discovered something that I was passionate about, and it had been there, inside me, all along.

A person without a purpose is like a bird without a song (I’m sure I’ve read that somewhere), and people, my soul was singing!

For all you writers out there, how did you discover your passion for writing?