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.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Writing Garden

You can compare writing to any creative process, but I think gardening is the perfect creative analogy. Six weeks ago, my garden was a bunch of seedlings sitting in front of my dining room window. Now they are gearing up for that summer rampage of growth. The tomato plants are over two feet tall. The peppers are sitting sedately, waiting for the crazy weather to subside and the hot summer days to arrive. The beans are twisting and turning heavenward, leaping up several inches each day.

As for the writing, I am now 200 pages into editing a 500-page novel. The second 100 has been more difficult. Like a gardener, a writer needs to control the weeds and put fingers in the soil and feel the beat. Words are like rain drops. You listen for the rhythm and the sound. Just as you would touch a plant to sense its needs, its condition, so too is writing a tactile experience. If something is lacking, you must find the remedy. Sometimes words must be pruned to concentrate the life force. Sometimes passages must be ripped out because they threaten the whole.

Always, always there is a life force you must tap. Take off the garden gloves so you can feel the soil and touch the plants. My husband often takes it upon himself to water the garden when I can't get to it. I always check out his handiwork because I know when he splashes water around a plant that he thinks he has watered it satisfactorily. My fingers dig deep and tell me otherwise. I see when a plant is weak or diseased, starving or thirsty. And so it is with writing. You have to go after it like a gardener--touching, smelling, seeing, hearing, tasting. And then there's that sixth sense--knowing, the third eye. When you stand in the midst of all that you think is beautiful, you must be able to stand back and coolly assess the whole without ego.


  1. The most gardening I've done is a Chia XMas tree--and that didn't go so well.

  2. But I see you've done a lot of writing. If you can write a novel, you ought to be able to handle pushing a couple of seeds in the ground. :-)

  3. Thanks for sharing the pretty garden pictures!

    I'm starting up a 'Critiquing Crusaders' program, where participants in the Second Crusade can find other writers to exchange critiques with or form critiquing circles. If you're interested, come by The Kelworth Files to check it out!

  4. Your garden is lovely! And I love the comparison of those weak plants and weak words.