Technical writers or non fiction writers scribble to pay the bills and for the love of the analytical or the exercise of truth or deception.

Fiction authors write to illuminate their world or escape it.

Whichever kind of writer, it's all about staying alive and helping or entertaining others.

The Writing Life

Like most writers, I have a love of reading and the power of words. When I was younger, I read everything I could get my hands on, but I don’t consider myself well read. I consumed books like a starved person, so quickly I hardly knew what I had read. By some strange process of osmosis, I learned from everything I read, but I cannot give you an erudite discussion of characters, plots, or authors. I can only tell you it’s lodged some where in the core of my being and informs my writing.

In addition to reading, I’ve spent a life time writing---from that first elementary school composition to my college days when I studied French literature and wrote explications de texte. Along the way, I fell into technical writing--to put food on the table and pay bills. In the 90s, I had the good fortune to take a dialog class with Sol Stein, former owner of Stein & Day publishers in New York and a prolific author. That led to his California-based writers’ group, Chapter One. It was a rigorous, ego-bruising experience, but I was intent on learning everything I could about fiction writing. A few years ago, I also had the good fortune to study with another writer, Louella Nelson, an experienced romance writer and teacher of fiction writing. She provided a different perspective and balance to my writing.

My novel, DREAMING OF LAUGHING HAWK, a mainstream, Sixties era novel, is available on Amazon in print and ebook (also available in Canada, Europe, Japan, and Brazil). Download a free sample. If you like it, I hope you'll download the book and post a review on Amazon.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Windows and Doors to the Past: San Juan Capistrano

This weekend I went to the old Mission at San Juan Capistrano in Southern California, thinking it might be decked out for Christmas. With the exception of the manger scene, there wasn't much of a holiday touch, but it's a fascinating place nevertheless--one of my favorites, especially in Spring when all the roses are in bloom.

Unlike many other places in California, San Juan is one of those unusual places that is comfortable with its own history. History and modern life intersect and respect each other. The modern day town has preserved the original main street adobe buildings and the historic Los Rios residential area, the oldest residential neighborhood in California.The buildings are still in commercial use today. The Mission, the center of the town, was built in 1776 by Father Junipero Serra. Building on the Great Stone Church began in 1797 and took nine years. For some time, it was the largest building west of the Mississippi. On December 8, 1812, on the Feast Day of the Immaculate Conception, an earthquake struck during morning Mass, killing 42 Indian worshippers. The church was never rebuilt, but you can see from its remains that it was a very impressive structure. The Serra Chapel which was completed in 1788 is the only original mission church in California still standing in which Father Serra is known to have celebrated the sacraments. It has a unique altar that was brought all the way from Barcelona. The altar, estimated to be over 400 years old, is hand-carved and covered in gold leaf. The Serra Chapel is still in use although most worshippers attend the Mission Basillica which is adjacent to the mission.

I didn't mean to start off on a history lesson. The mission has too many stories to tell.  Perhaps that's why I found myself so fascinated by the windows, doors, and archways that face out onto the courtyard. They seem like magic portals to the past.

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