Here I am

Last week I wavered powerfully on my writing project. It’s too hard. It feels too far in the past. Why would anyone want to read what I have to say? Who do I think I am? It would be easier to quit writing altogether! I can enjoy life more if only I didn’t put so much pressure on doing this thing. Short of wiping my hands clean of the whole project, I decided to shelve it while on vacation. Too much was competing for my attention, especially the warm sunshine of Florida which I wasn’t going to have for a while if I didn’t soak it up then and there.

I am now home in my empty house looking at a dreary, gray sky from the writing space in my loft I haven’t been able to visit for weeks due to a broken leg. It is so quiet and nice. Is it wrong I missed this so much? I am also a day away from having my walking boot removed and I’m hoping I’ll be cleared to drive. I am two weeks post my second Covid vaccine and life is blooming with possibility along with the daffodils in our front garden. I feel like I am once again coming alive.

We are in the 30 minute space of my Monday writing class where we work on free writing. The questions posed this morning to get us going were all about honoring this call to write. The one I latched onto was how to use a physical object to represent your project this week. Looking around, my eyes settled on a small marble bowl of rocks brought home from various journeys. Chief among them, the start of this collection, came from climbing Croach Patrick, a rocky mountain that towers above the villages of Murrisk and Lecanvey in County Mayo, Ireland.

It was late August 2012 and we went to Ireland for a Notre Dame football game in Dublin later that week. On my husband’s bucket list was to climb this mountain and I said I’d be honored to do it with him, not realizing how tough of a climb it would be for me, how the drizzling rain would make it much harder than usual, especially the last bit which is pure loose rock. At the bottom of the mountain, just as we were starting the climb, an American went into cardiac arrest and we found out later in the hike he had died there at the foot of the St. Patrick statue. This strengthened my resolve to continue the climb, that I could do this no matter how hard the climb became. One step at a time.

It took over 4 hours to get to the top and we were greeted by cloud cover, unable to see the view but there was a feeling of great accomplishment in doing something I didn’t think I could do. Remembering some of the worst things I have gotten through over the many years of my life so far are inspiration to keep me moving forward even when I want to quit. Croagh Patrick is the biggest physical challege of my life while surving my brother’s suicide is the mental counterpart of that. I know that with time and patience I will do this too. One word at a time.



Why do you write?

This was one of the initial questions the writing Mastermind teacher asked us on our first Zoom encounter in early January. I looked at the squares of women, twenty-eight of us in all, embarking on this six month quest to devlop a non-fiction project we hoped to publish. I felt overwhelmed and wondered who I thought I was to embark on such a quest.

Why do I write? It started after my brother Jeff’s suicide when I was a freshman in college. A glorious new world of freedom was at my feet and I was now facing the biggest stumble of my life. Grief. Loss. Hopelessness. The only thing I could think to do was to write about it. My mom brought me to a therapist shortly after Jeff died but I was all clogged up, didn’t know how to speak out loud the things I was feeling, the dark thoughts rolling around in my head. Pen and notebook saved me. Denial did too.

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To enroll or not, that is the question


For the past couple of years, I’ve taken a few writing classes at an area arts center to improve my skills and expose myself to new styles of writing. It has been a mostly good experience but my last class, while overall I would give it a thumbs up, my schedule was such that I missed half the classes so I was hesitant to sign up for another one this spring. I found one I am extremely interested in called Narrative Nonfiction and it starts tomorrow. Should I enroll? I go back and forth.

I have a couple of vacations and one work trip to California coming up in March and early April which is one reason I’m balking. I found that missing half the classes in my last go around, I didn’t have a great connection with the other participants and while I read a couple of my essays/stories in class, I didn’t get to workshop them like the others. It was still very helpful and I got good feedback (although I didn’t get suggestions on things I should tweak or change). One of my goals for 2018 is to try to get something published (offline) and I think the more I expose myself to these classes, the better chance I will have.

One of my favorite aspects of the last class was to explore and attempt some different writing techniques (like a Wikipedia entry and a metafiction story). Again it was hard because I was missing about every other week so I was always a week off from what we were sharing in class. Our instructor was great and I got a lot from the other people in the class – how they wrote, suggestions everyone made to improve their stories, all the points of view.

I also tried an online novel writing class last summer and it felt like a lot of work because you have to read everyone else’s work and offer suggestions in addition to writing your own. It’s probably because instead of giving the person your feedback in person, you had to type up all your comments and then keep all the different pieces straight from week to week.  I also got a lot out of the class because we had to work on specific writing tasks each week like writing the same chapter using different points of view and found I’m most comfortable writing from first person (which was not how I was writing my novel). I’m not sure I would try an online class again, though.

So I still have another 24 hours to make my decision on whether to take a class this spring. What to do! What to do!





Finding the Time to Write


I have read several books on writing and attempted the twelve week program outlined in The Artist’s Way over the summer (I didn’t make it past week three). The advice I most often see is to write in the morning and to commit to a block of time to do so. This sounds great to me but then I remember I have a job. A job where I’m in the office at 7 a.m. so right there I throw out the idea of morning writing. I so want a true writer’s life where I can devote specific hours to it every day.

For a time I tried getting up at 5 a.m. so I could at least put in an hour in the morning but that lasted as long as the end of summer when darkness and cooler weather enticed me to remain under the covers until 6 only giving myself enough time to quickly shower and dress before leaving the house at 6:40. When I was morning writing, some days it would be hard to break away from the rhythm after an hour.

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