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.

Monday, December 28, 2015

The Eyes Have It

Of all the sensory organs, it seems to me that the eyes can take in the most interesting information and negotiate a translation of vision in wonderful ways with our brains.

If you are an artist, your eyes break down what you see into shapes, colors and patterns. They look for the subtleties of hue and the balance of visual composition. The brain takes all this in and configures this information into an image. There is little interaction with other senses.

If you are a writer, your eyes take in the whole scene but the brain also pulls in and processes the information of touch, smell, sound, taste, and that elusive extrasensory perception. While artists can’t resist the visual in viewing their environment, writers can’t resist the invisible – the things that contradict the visual.

So the other day I was staring at my art teacher from the back of the classroom and not paying too much attention to what she had to say because she kept repeating herself. The teacher is a tall older woman with long blond hair, sparkling blue eyes, and a ready smile. That’s how I would begin to paint her. Happy. Alive.

She loves bright colors and is an expert at analyzing color. She is animated and energetic, but when she crosses the room she often limps and winces from pain. Sometimes she becomes faint because she is diabetic and probably careless about diet. I look at her and imagine the young, giddy, wild girl she used to be. It keeps bubbling through her gestures and voice, but I also know she is a magnet for misfortune. Bad things happen to this woman, have happened to this woman all her life, despite her essentially happy persona. Her mind is like a butterfly: it flits from one thing to another. She may form an intention for classroom instruction or for some aspect of her personal life, but she is easily distracted. The color of a scarf, the glitter of an earring, an unexpected sound, physical discomfort, or a misfiled thought can completely derail her. That deer-in-the-headlights look makes me want to take a soldering iron to her brain and see if I can straighten out some of the wiring. I see the beauty of her spirit wrapped in fragility and more misfortune on the horizon because she never sees anything coming. She talks about the importance of right brain dominance in creativity but clearly she needs a left brain correction. She is a vulnerable, joyful child playing peek-a-boo with life and repeatedly skinning her knees. There is no one to protect her, not even herself.

It was then that I picked up my paint brush, deciding it was easier to focus on the visual and turn off the other senses.


  1. In Africa, the guides talked about Jacobsen's organ which picks up pheromones and other subtle hormones. When you see a cat pull it's lips back with it's mouth half open, it's using it's Jacobsen's organ to sense something we don't have a clue about. Sometimes I'm happy to be half deaf as the roar of the exterior world has been conveniently halved and who needs all that hubbub? When I was working with flavor and aroma all the time, I'd turn off my sense of smell for most of the day, reserving it, fresh so to speak, for I needed it. Rambling away here about turning senses on and off...sorry, but I know you get my gist. By the way, if you do master the soldering iron technique, I'll volunteer to have my wiring fixed too.

    1. Ha ha. Interesting about turning off your sense of smell. My husband can never turn off his sense of smell and at times I wish he would. As for rewiring the brain, I really do believe some people have difficulties mastering certain tasks or overcoming anxieties, etc. because of the way their brain is put together or "trained."