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.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Flash Fiction: Misery Loves Company

Sharla Rowlins had been through a lot—an ugly divorce, a lengthy illness, and job loss, but somewhere deep in her heart there was a flutter of hope. One day she woke up all alone in her bed and said “this is enough.” She was grateful for the family, friends, and coworkers who offered encouraging words, but she realized there needed to be a change in herself if there was ever to be a change in her life.

Sharla rolled herself to the edge of her bed and pushed and pulled herself into a standing position. Still so weak. She slowly made her way across the room and opened the drapes. The morning sun was warm and invigorating. The first decision of her new life would be breakfast on the patio with a cup of hot tea, a biscuit laden with butter and marmalade, and fresh flowers. Sharla set the kettle to boil and went out into the garden to cut flowers. The garden was much neglected since her illness, but it was still bursting with spring flowers. She prayed that she might soon have the strength to garden again. No, she WOULD have the strength. Enough with wishing. She would imagine herself into a new life.

Sharla placed the flowers in a vase on the patio table and set about preparing her breakfast. By the time she had finally seated herself at the table, her heart was pounding and her legs were feeling shaky. The hot sun warmed her; the steaming tea calmed and restored her; and the flowers filled her heart with hope. Sharla closed her eyes and imagined the world that would be hers: good health, a good job, and love—the sustaining love of all those that had been there for her. She banished all the sadness, anger, and disappointment she had been experiencing. Life was going to be different. She could feel it in her bones.

With persistence, Sharla clung to her dreams despite the reality that confronted her senses and the well-intended reactions of others that bound her to the old world. But she would not relinquish her tenacious grip. Little by little, things began to change. Her health improved to the point she began to contemplate what kind of work she should choose. She had decided she did not want to return to the old job in the cubicle. Instead, she wanted to open a flower shop. She cautiously began to share her thoughts, trying her best to suppress her joy in the presence of others because she knew they were struggling with their own problems. They wished her well, but she could detect an undertone of resentment in their hollow words. And when a great aunt left her with a small inheritance, she told no one. That unexpected gift was liberation from all the financial woes that had been hers and it moved her closer to the dream of running her own business. Still, best not to make others feel bad in the light of good fortune.

Happiness is hard to suppress no matter how hard you try. The happier Sharla got, the quieter some of her friends became, especially when she was able to open her flower shop. Of course, there were those who were steadfast and genuinely happy for her, but many of those she thought were friends seemed to withdraw in the face of her growing happiness. They disappeared. The more she persisted in her new life, the more it became obvious to her that some of her so-called family and friends did not share her joy. At first she was astonished by those who supported her and those who deserted her. She had somehow gotten it all wrong. The ones who had deserted her made her feel angry and resentful, but then she began to understand that they were only drawn to her when she was down and out. Misery loves company and is hopeless. Joy shines too brightly for eyes accustomed to darkness. In her heart, Sharla wished them well. Perhaps someday they would also find their own new path in life as she had done. She promised herself she would be there for her friends when they were down, but just as important, she would be there to celebrate their joy.


  1. I found your great blog through the WLC Blog Follows on the World Literary Cafe! Great to connect!

  2. Linda, you are such a darned good writer! I love this. I'd never thought about misery in quite this context. 'Joy shines too brightly for eyes accustomed to darkness.' Great philosophy or life lesson. I wish Sharla well in the future, but I wonder whether she will be able to relate to both misery and joy. D

    1. Thanks so much, Denise. I do hope the Sharlas of the world remember the lessons of misery and joy.

  3. I enjoyed your story. A wonderful concept. It was an interesting perspective into the darker side of human nature, and a truth or an awareness not often spoken of about loved ones. Although you concluded well the end, I felt I wanted more. This could make a nice long story or novella, to see if our heroine sticks to her word if she is further challenged. Thanks for sharing. You write well.