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, March 4, 2014

Recovering from Crazy

Life has been crazy for the last several weeks. I feel like I've been in a deep tunnel and trying to find my way out. I stopped writing, abandoned social media, and barely answered emails. I neglected housekeeping and most of my outside interests.

Several months ago my husband and I hired a professional landscape designer to come up with a home improvement design for a new driveway, front entrance, patio, and fire pit. I had been thrashing around forever on my own by scratching out designs and collecting clippings from magazines. We got off to a good start with the designer, but after a while I began to feel neglected--she had more interesting, profitable jobs to pursue than coming up with a design for me. I was patient because I was preoccupied with trying to get my uncle's will through probate. So I overlooked the slow process and her preoccupation with plants rather than focusing on hardscape. My main concern was coming up with a workable hardscape design first. Plants were beside the point until there was a canvas on which to paint them. But plants seemed to be her focus. She insisted on the destruction of our old pomegranate tree. I demurred, but in the end I agreed with her because the tree, though beautiful, was unmanageable. It had grown too large for our garden and required constant pruning. But when she tried to scrub my Australian tea tree from the final drawing, I put down my foot. Whatever the design, it would have to accommodate that small tree. I thought it was too absolutely beautiful to destroy. We began to dismantle the yard by removing plants and trees and enormous hidden root systems. There was no turning back.

Little by little we advanced toward a design and finally one day the designer arrived with a set of beautiful drawings. Her ideas looked impressive on paper but when I tried to visualize them, I couldn't quite make them work in my mind. I didn't feel comfortable with the patio design. I didn't like the closed in feeling of a pergola that would block our view of the mountains. And then when I sat down by myself to analyze her drawings, I realized that her measurements were all in error. I don't know how a professional designer delivers a set of drawings that are not to scale and reflect serious errors in measurement. I was a little anxious and unsure what to do. How could I show these drawings to a contractor? I told her about the miscalculation in measurements and she blamed it on her new software program. Still, I thought to myself, why would you not check your drawings before presenting them to a client? I asked her if she could correct the drawings and give me a completed set by mid January. She agreed she could, but when the deadline slipped and I realized that once again I was being shuffled aside for some other priority, something snapped. I made a list of contractors and researched them online. I picked a couple that interested me. My first contractor took one look at my fancy drawings and told me he would do his own drawings. He gave me an estimate and told me he could start the job in a week and it would take approximately two weeks to complete the job. I was stunned. I expected my project to take a couple of months.

All of the tasks and concerns that I had been wrestling with suddenly started to come into focus. With my stomach in knots, I signed the contract. And then one morning a large demo truck rumbled up my street at 7:00 in the morning. A huge work crew swarmed around the house. Shrubs and lawn were ripped out; pavement and patio was busted up. For virtually a whole week I was a prisoner to all the din and dust of a major construction site. I worried about all the things that could go wrong.

And then through all the dirt and decisions, things began to take shape. Best of all, everything was finished before the weekend of rainstorms hit. Today, the list of tasks that remain to be done is dwindling. I am starting to feel in control of my life again. I'm just about out of the tunnel--I think. I can stop agonizing over every decision and spending my days chasing down the details of Texas probate and major landscape redesign. And, I promise myself that I will never go down this crazy road again! Now maybe I have finally run out of excuses for not writing. (Oh, I wouldn't count on that.)

1 comment:

  1. So, so beautiful! Now you have every reason to write - just pick a place in that gorgeous setting to sit, ponder and let the pen fly.