Tag Archives: writing

Behind the spyglass…


Understanding the motivation behind a person’s behavior is something that has always
been of interest to me. Rather than just accepting that so and so did this and that and
is now facing the consequences of the action, I spend some time reflecting on what made
them do it. I used to ponder these things out loud but realized that many people in my
circle were impatient and really not interested so I have become a “closet” thinker. I
believe that in order for me to invent a character (protagonist) that is multidimensional,
I need to invest energy in finding out just exactly what makes him/her tick. It has not
been easy or perhaps I should just say I have not had the discipline or courage to let my
mind simply focus on a subject long enough to grasp their very essence and then turn it
into narratives that will work in a novel.

I live in a really small town. It is in a developing country where recent years have found
it attracting all sorts of people who come here to do tourism and go back home, or those
who find it so laid back and beautiful that they actually commit to living here despite all
the obstacles. Some people are wonderful, bringing with them the enthusiasm they feel
for nature and living in peace. They contribute their time, their ideas, their resources so
that the community can benefit. Other people come with the intention of establishing
communities that they would not be able to have in their country of origin.

In the recent past, I have encountered people whose communities can only be described
as “cultish”, and this is scary. The leaders look pretty “normal”; their message is anything
but. It boggles my mind to see how many reasonably intelligent people are taken in by
these reckless individuals whose motivation can only be financial gain or fame. In the past
I would have exposed them at once but that was not beneficial to me so after turning 60 a
couple of years ago, I turned to the pen as my collaborator in unmasking these creatures.

They make interesting subjects for my narratives and provide much entertainment to me,
and I am hoping to capture their essence to develop my villains. Life is often so much more
satisfactory from the point of view of the observer, sitting a distance away in a comfortable

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only gets done by sitting down and writing! How true it is. Yesterday I was incredibly prolific,
not sure any of my writing made sense or would be worthy of a pulitzer prize but it was plentiful
and by day’s end, I felt that I had found a nice rhythm. For this week, I would like to challenge
myself to just sit and write without worrying too much about grammar, topic, misspellings,
using words incorrectly, etc. Indeed, it is better to just sit, write and then go back and edit
than to spend a lot of time thinking about a good topic.

In my country, elections are coming up in another 5 weeks (second round). I am nervous
about the outcome, it seems to me that people are focusing more on the personality of the
candidates (neither of which got to this point by being particularly popular with anyone)
rather than their plans to get us out of debt and back on track to celebrating our 200th
anniversary with our Carbon Neutrality in place.

Yesterday I wrote a little bit about our small writers group and how one member suggested
we invite others along. Although I am fine with the status quo, I guess it is not entirely up to
me to decide for everyone else.

I have been reading and watching movies that I would not normally watch. I think getting away
from my “Pollyana-like” choices has opened my eyes to a lot of things. Some of the dark humor
contained in the recent movies I’ve watched (plus the fact that they are foreign) has allowed me
to tap into my imagination the way I used to when I was a child. Hopefully this will translate into
some kind of motivation to write more and to write different and to add those necessary traits
that will allow my protagonist to have some depth.

Another weekend …


They come so quickly, the weekends! On Sunday afternoons, I usually feel the blahs that so
many of us are prone to as we start to make the switch from two days of (mostly) relaxing
to the upcoming obligations of work, school and general parenting.

When I was a young, single gal in “like” with a co-worker, I used to hate weekends and love
Monday mornings! Naturally, it was because my quasi SO would be there to greet me. I am
happy that I have those memories because sometimes I can remember what it felt like to be
excited about Mondays and try to “fool” my brain into thinking all those things that made me
feel giddy will be mine again.

I have not been writing in this blog, although I have been quite busy writing everywhere else.
Ever since I was a child, I have placed many responsibilities on my shoulders, something that
I can’t explain and maybe I shouldn’t try. The reality is that while my siblings were out there
enjoying their allotted 1/3 of the day of “their” time, I was busy doing whatever it took to keep
the home fires burning and the household running smoothly. It was not my job, and in fact
try as I may, I cannot place any blame on my parents for this self-imposed mandate. My
mother worried sometimes that I was not social enough. I never thought of myself as a wall-
flower but I can look back and see that indeed when all my friends were out having fun, I could
be found listening to music in the background while I vacuumed, loaded or emptied the dish-
washer, did the laundry, started dinner, etc. I guess I felt needed in a way and then it just
became a habit so ingrained in me that to this day, I feel I am wasting time if I am not doing
something I consider “productive”.

My life is very different right now. At this moment, my children are grown and living in another
country. We have a wonderful relationship and communicate almost on a daily basis. My husband
in away for the next 12 days or so. We have a dog who is about to turn 8 and of course, I have my
dad who is 89. These are my very strong connections and I love them all. Today, after the cleaning
lady left (my house is spotless for one day!), I realized that I have a very blessed existence. I can
do or not do anything I want after I meet my obligations. I have fed my dog, turned off the water
that is making the lawn a lovely green in this dry weather and am eating a comforting lentil soup
that I made earlier this week. My kitchen is spotless, just the way I like it, no dishes in the sink.
My food plan has been successful this week and for that I am also very glad.

I look forward to this particular weekend because I get to indulge in a massage tomorrow. It has
become a necessity rather than a luxury and I am blessed to be living in a country where household
help and massages are affordable. My writing is coming along and hopefully this weekend will have
me taking out my latest attempt at a novel and begin again to work on it. My protagonist needs to
get some attention, he is so superficial I can’t even fall in love with him, how do I expect my readers
to do so.

Let’s all have a great weekend, and us writers especially!


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The surreal world we’re living in…


I was speaking with my husband this morning and he mentioned that we are
living in surreal times. I stopped to think about what he was saying and wondered
what (of the many different examples he could choose) particular event had triggered
his need to make the statement. He began by mentioning the bizarre words and
behaviours coming from leaders and countries all over the world that were heretofore
unthinkable. Nuclear weapons threats, bullying and immature behaviour by people
who should not only know better but with positions that demand they conduct
themselves with more elegance.

The world events relating to weather might or might not be the effects of climate change.
It is true that hurricanes have been happening for a long time and so have earthquakes;
but what is mysterious is that everything seems to be happening at the same time. We
no sooner minimally recover from one disaster when we are plunged into another.

Earthquakes, hurricanes, fires, landslides, volcanic eruptions, that’s Nature. But what
about genocides, nuclear threats, bullying, corruption, have we lost our minds? Are all
our world leaders so bent on their own creed of greed that they have no empathy at all
or any thought whatsoever that “what goes around really does come around”?

All my life I have sought to be “good”. I know that I am more Pollyana than cynical
and most days, I am grateful because of my ingenuity, I can still be shocked by what
is becoming more and more “normal” behaviour. Even on television and in popular
music, what we say and the words we use to say things are showing exactly the same
lack of creativity and laziness which are replaced by violence and shaming or really
foul language. If my children were toddlers now, I am not sure what kind of schools
or neighborhoods I would be comfortable being part of.

It saddens me for our young people. I, at least, was a child when the world was still
a pretty good place to live and I had plenty of sunshine, fruits and family to make me
feel special and loved. Today’s fast pace (where are we going?) means that children
are left with caregivers who may or may not have what it takes to really nurture a child.
Children are largely left to their own devices but unlike in the past where a child could
venture to a park or a friend’s backyard to play and make discoveries about him/herself
and the world, today their world is indoors and under the dome of a technology they
may not be ready to tackle.

I am a writer. Exploring ideas is how I get my characters to move from one point to
another. Lately, I am not sure what traits my protagonists need in order to navigate
the complicated world I create for them in my mind. Today’s surreal/real world, the
one my husband mentioned is scarier than any Stephen King horror novel I have ever
read. Heck, even he says so!

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Small success feels good!


Although this graphic looks like it is only for enormous success, I feel that the really small step
that I took yesterday to eat a healthy breakfast instead of a tasty one is very worthy of celebrating.

My mood was good all day, even though it was Monday and I have a lot of trouble getting “started”
on Mondays after the couple of days of relaxation. Tuesdays are good for the most part because I
try not to schedule too many errands so I can devote myself to writing. It is incredible that this
morning I was done with shower and dressing early but have spent the last 5 hours trying to
schedule an upcoming cruise that I will be taking with my daughter later this year. I guess I had
forgotten that looking at dates and cost comparison plus the regular interruptions mean that my
unrealistic expectations that it would be done in a flash were not correct.

I am trying to read and write more regularly but it does take some discipline. I am very pleased
to see that my efforts have culminated in a few more visitors to this blog which is really a kind of
drafting place where I am a bit more unreserved in the topics that I share.

This morning I found out that someone who I thought was a friend has sold his property and
moved out of the country. Upon hearing this news, I was a little disconcerted because I was not
aware a drastic move like this was in his mind. When I asked myself a few more questions, I
realized that we were “friendly” because he worked on pools and I have one but I don’t know a
single thing about him or his wife because we met only on a professional basis. That is when it
became clear that true friendships are hard to come by, especially as we get older.

So if you have friends you care about, share things with them and make sure you let them
know how you feel. Life passes by and each person that touches your life should bring meaning
to it and vice versa.


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Reading helps with writing!


I have wanted to write for as long as I can remember. I knew that writing was important
because every morning when I was a child, my parents kept asking about whether or not the
newspaper had been delivered. I began at about age 4 to look out the window and when I
saw the paper delivery person arrive, I would announce this news to the family. I can
remember that my parents couldn’t wait to get their hands on the source of news! That’s
why I knew that telling stuff in writing was a good thing.

Fast forward almost 60 years and I can definitely say that I have been writing one way or
another all of my life. When I was in my 20’s, I wrote a short story (humor) and sent it off
to an agent who proceeded to tell me that it was good but that in its current presentation,
it would not be bought by anyone. So for a fee of only (whatever it was at the time, I can’t
remember), they would edit and submit it to several publishers. I sent in my money but got
nothing but rejection letter after rejection letter. I gave up and don’t know what I did
with the story which was a loose version of an autobiographical incident that took place in
my own life. The agents, of course, strongly suggested that for an additional fee they might
be able to revamp the story and make it ‘sellable’. I was not so sure.

In the last 10 years, I have written and published a local on line magazine which I stopped
working on in March. In a way, it was a pity to end it because there were some very worthy
journalists who contributed each month, but it had become a heavy responsibility and I found
I had no time to write or develop the themes that have been dancing in my head for years.
Now I have a little bit of spare hours each day but I find that I can distract myself with
all manner of occupations before I eventually find my tush on the chair. I try to look at
this situation objectively instead of taking aim at myself and my writing habits.

Last week I had to renew a 600 page book at the library because I was not able to finish
reading it in the 3 weeks they loaned it to me for. The story is fascinating and it moves
fast but I rarely take the time to read during the day, saving it for bedtime when I know
that as soon as I put head to pillow, I fall asleep! Today, I will try to visit the recliner
I purchased a month ago (but used only 5 times so far) and read for an hour to advance in
the story. I find that when I am reading, I can actually work out some of the details that
are holding me back in my own stories.

Reading helps my writing because I can experience for myself the way another author
transports readers from one place to another. I am hoping to write more frequently
and more easily about universal things that interest all of us. It is true that every story
has been told. It is equally true that we can all tell the same story in a different manner.
Just ask any family with lots of siblings and they will each remember the same incident
in a different way.

I came across that lovely sentence by Steven Aitchison quite by accident. One click
usually leads to many clicks and hours wasted spent searching one thing or another,
but in this case, it was a good find.

Happy reading, happy writing, happy musing!

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The strange things we do…


I’ve been house and pet sitting for a couple of days. I didn’t really know what to
anticipate except that I was looking forward to spending a couple of days on my own
with little responsibilities and lots of time to devote to my writing.

As I did yesterday, I have spent most of my day doing things that make it difficult
to sit down and write. For example, I took out the garbage from the disposal shed
and brought it outside where the carting company has not yet shown up to remove it.
I am worried about that because in the urban area where I live, a fine is issued if
garbage is placed outside earlier than the regulations call for or if the area is not
properly cleaned after the garbage has been picked up. This lack of removal has made
a very good excuse for me to go to the window and check out the situation. While I’m
at the window, I might as well look and see what is going on in the world and thus use
up a few more precious minutes that I could have employed writing.

It is raining, so every time I let the dog out for a short run to relieve her bladder,
I need to devote a few minutes to open and close doors, make sure she is dry before
letting her into the house, making sure I pick up her “deposit”…you get the picture.

Then of course, there is the distraction of getting breakfast, lunch, making coffee, tea,
taking a shower, making the bed, sweeping the floors, setting up the food and snacks
for the cat and dog…

It is just after 1 p.m. I have had my lunch and my tea. I am now all set up to begin
to write but find that I am cold so I will have to get up and look for a sweater to wear.
That means spending (wasting?) a few minutes on that and pondering life afterwards. I am
feeling sleepy all of a sudden, the light rain on the window and the slight chill in the
air conduce and seduce me to take a place on the comfy couch like I used to when I was
in high school. There is something about cold, rainy days that invites introspection but
is not a good companion to actual writing. Well, at least I was able to complete this
blog entry.

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Work cut out!


“Oh boy”, my colleague exclaimed after she heard my boss’ instructions to me, “you’ve got
your work cut out for you!”

I didn’t give it much thought at the time, I just began my day like always, prioritizing
the many tasks that would have required someone else many more hours to complete and
got to work. I have always been like that, efficient and a hard worker, rarely whining
and never knowing when too much is too much. As a child, in order to stop my mother from
complaining when she arrived home to a messy house and sink full of dishes, I would do my
chores and others that were left undone by my siblings. Peace at all costs was my motto
and something that has been part of my life for as long as I remember. I blame no one,
I have learned over the years that we are all responsible for the life we live.

The last couple of months have seen me drop projects that take up too much of my time.
Surprisingly, after the first few days of guilt, I find I am quite comfortable saying
no and meaning it. Unfortunately, I have not yet become comfortable with the “extra”
time and instead of filling it by sitting down and writing, I look for ways to distract
myself from that daily goal (read: laundry, clearing out closets, reading the paper,
going on FB, etc.) and at the end of the day, find that I still have not advanced very
much on my essays. One of my goals for this year is to write for AARP with a focus on
age-related issues but I need to really focus.

I am glad that at least for the last few days, I have taken 15 minutes to write some of
my musings into this blog. It is a step in the right direction.

Have a great day and keep doing good work!


Another month begins!


writer-605764_960_720My last post here was on February 19th! It seems like such a long time ago.
By this time, my friend has been cremated and brought back to his original
home in Spain. His brother came to our little town to partake in a simple
ceremony used to remember a friend who contributed so much to our community
in the time he lived here. I will miss him very much but I hope to be
inspired and energized by his passing without having achieved his dream of seeing
his film on the big screen to make sure the same does not happen to me.

I write in my head all day long, but then “real life” gets in the way. If I don’t
do the dishes, will anyone? I am at an age and space in my life when I no longer
have the tremendous physical demands on my body or on my time but I find that I
procrastinate more than ever…and yet I know the stories are in there, I just have

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A quiet Sunday morning!



I usually observe Sundays by spending the day quietly, reading, writing and enjoying
the lack of obligations I make for the day. Although I don’t write in this column on
any specific day, I do write another blog every single Sunday and have for the last
eight years. It is a commitment and although I consider myself a writer (without any
books published or money stream generated by the activity), I find that I spend very
little time actually writing than I do researching or finding ways to not do any
writing because I am second guessing myself all the time.

A friend of mine passed away recently. His dream since I met him 15 years ago was to
be a filmmaker. He went so far as to lay out the entire script every time we met up for
coffee or a chat. Finally, one day, I asked him why he didn’t just go ahead and make
his film already, on a low budget if need be, but do it already!

He and I shared a birthday so I could understand some of the traits that made him unable
to just go ahead and film something (procrastination, paralysis by analysis, etc.) and
I eventually gave up on expecting something from him to really materialize on the big or
small screen. Still, his death was a blow to me and all of us who knew him because he was
only 62 years old. The saddest thing for me is that he died without every externalizing
his script, without making a family, without a circle of real friends who knew the deep
personal anguish he was living on a daily basis.

I feel sad today, but in a way his death has caused me to think about getting down to
business and really pounding out my novel, the book I want to read, the character I want
to create that will make people fall in love with the story. And of course, I still
want to continue to live, take care of my plants, my pets, my family (not necessarily
in that order) and of course enjoy all the things my life is offering me. I am the only
one responsible for making sure my work and thoughts get out there. They may never be
best-sellers but they need to be out there and read by others, not in my head and heart
and dying with me.

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