Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Teen Writing

Teen writers!

I just had my first teen creative writing workshop at the Franklin Public Library (America's first public library!) last night and it was loads of fun! We freewrote and brainstormed about characters and dialogue between girls and their annoying perfectionist parents ... and just got to know one another. There's a lot more to come. If you're in the Franklin, Massachusetts area and between the ages of 14-18, you belong with us every other Tuesday evening.

Above is a great book that gives lots of great tips to serious teen writers. You might want to look for it at your local library, or recommend it to your librarian!

Teens, want a prompt? Today, think of someone who was punished unfairly--at least in your mind. Write about why.

Adults, want a prompt? Think about a day in your past when you were treated unfairly--at work, in a relationship, in the family. Write about how you handled it! Would you do something differently today?

Happy writing!


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Noitalever, aka That Light Bulb Moment

My kids used to laugh at me when I would share that I'd had a revelation. Usually I had something backwards until I refined what I'd learned in that light bulb moment.

Hence their term: "The Noitalever." Clever kids. From the mouths of babes and all that.

What revelation have you had, or has one of your characters in your writing had, that proved to be totally wrong, ass-backwards, dumb as a rock?

I'll give you an example. I once woke up believing that I had the answer to all my recent questions about a character. Of course! She will hook up with that cute guy with the hair flop, who will encourage her to write the best poem she was always meant to write, and she'll get a fellowship based on it!

You all would have told me to avoid the hair flop guy, right?

What ends up happening to that character? She falls in "love," writes a dippy poem, doesn't get the fellowship, and has to try harder to figure out who she really is. And of course hair flop guy turns out to be a better friend than boyfriend.

I love it when those characters surprise us. All we have to do is put our fingers on the keyboard, and the surprises emerge.

How about you? Real life "noitalever" or in your fiction? Write it out.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Briefly Stated Truths


We've all been told we need a platform to entice an agent or editor. But sometimes, tweeting seems worse than writing, or takes over when writing should come first. Delilah Dawson at Whimsy Dark has some great advice.

For those of you just starting, have you discovered a community on Twitter? We are a lonely tribe. Twitter can amuse, inform, and accompany us on our journey.

Me, I like to post nonsense when I'm not posting that I've posted something new on my blog. What nonsense would you Tweet if you could say ANYTHING YOU WANT without embarrassing yourselves and/or your friends and families?

Enter this information in your journal. 140 characters per faux Tweet. Then get a padlock ... or a good hiding place.

Where do you hide your journal?

Happy writing day!


More practice on writing something brief ...

What are a few of your favorite quotations from well-known writers? Here's one of mine:

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring 
Will be to arrive where we started 
And know the place for the first time. 

It's from TS Eliot's "Little Gidding" and I have thought of it repeatedly when life proves it to be true.

If you were to speak one of your truths, something you've learned from your life journey, what would it be? Try out several, and then write one out in 50 WORDS (not characters). Tomorrow, see if you still believe it to be one of the truths you would share with a younger you.

Happy writing!


This morning, I read an interesting quotation from Hannah Arendt:

Nur das ist wahr, dem wir bis zuletzt die Treue halten.

I am hardly a perfect translator (if there is such a thing), and Ms. Arendt isn't hanging around here to help me out, but I take from those words, The only thing that is true is that in which we keep faith. 

Obscure, right? Or is it?

Now let's get a little less philosophical ...

Here's my one and only Dorothy Parker-ish quip:  I have been more faithful to the Red Sox than to any man. 

Haha, right? But it's true! I believed in them in 1967, and I believe in them now. That's pretty long! In 1967, I had a crush on Carl Yastremzski! That's not who I'm crushing on now. (Yes, 50-somethings still do that ... and I'm fortunate to be living with mine.)

Finally, in 2004, 2007, and 2013, the Red Sox validated my belief in them, my faith that they could break The Curse and win the World Series. In 2013, they embodied Boston Strong and I got a maybe too big Sox "B" tattoo to celebrate my 55th birthday.

What else have I believed in that long?

I believed in myself as a writer in 1970, when I wrote a newsletter about my Girl Scout Troop's activities.

I believed in myself as a writer in 1981, when I worked at a publishing house and participated in a writers group. But writing didn't go well for me then, so I had only a wobbly conviction.

I believed in myself as a writer when I started graduate school in English Lit in 1985, thinking that if I read the masters, I'd be able to emulate them. In fact, the masters convinced me that at best I was a minor talent. My faith in my writerly self faltered ...

I have published a lot since then, and certainly I can spin out an essay that will move you, or write a poem that captures a moment or emotion. But I still have not finished a novel--and I've always wanted to write one and polish it to my own satisfaction (or as much satisfaction as any novelist ever feels). I've always wanted to see it published with a real cover and an ISBN.

Last fall, I almost gave up. My daughter in publishing said, You can do this. You are a writer, Mom.

I went back to it. I'm getting closer.

The only thing that is true is that in which we never lose faith.

I believe in unconditional love. My parents gave it to me and I to my own children. And my children return it. They would never judge me for giving up. But they want me to fulfill my dream.

What faith in other faulty, fallible human beings do you hold? Including yourself? You can express this faith in fewer than 140 characters--I know you can.

I believe I will publish an important work of fiction.

The only failed writer is the one who gives up.

To whom have you been faithful since you were ten years old? Or to what idea, hope, goal? Write it out in 140 characters or fewer. Now, expand on it. What does that faith mean to you? Let it be as philosophical as Arendt's or as personal as mine.

See you next week! Happy writing!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015



This post is a three-part set of prompts! Get your notebook/journal/laptop ready, and then read on ...

On Writer Unboxed, I found a post by Sarah Callender that really touched me. It's about how being on the bi-polar spectrum can be difficult but usually also means you are a very creative person.

Most importantly, Callender points out that if you're on that spectrum, you can live very well! You don't have to be depressed if you take care of yourself. And all those high emotions can be relieved by writing--and can result in really amazing writing, too!

With all the attention lately to mental health and how it can affect someone's work (Germanwings) it's important to realize that mental health issues can be regulated. It took a long time for me to grapple with my own depression/anxiety/bipolar tendencies, but lately they're pretty well under control, at least when I'm not pushing myself to be someone I'm not. As a writer, I'm so happy, as long as I take all the measures necessary to keep myself healthy--medication, exercise, plenty of sleep, avoiding anxiety-ridden situations (like working for a creep).

Have you ever dealt with a mental health issue? Do you know anyone who has? How does it affect your creativity, or another's? Even if you haven't, do you sometimes get so deeply into your creative state that you experience "flow"? What is that like?


Write today about someone you know, or you, yourself, who has been affected by mental health issues or situational depression or anxiety. Tomorrow, we'll examine how writing about that made you feel physically, so keep that in mind as you write!

And if you know someone who is currently going through a  mental health issue or who has a chronic one, reach out. Tell that person you love him or her. If it's you, tell yourself you are worthy of living a joy-filled life. 

Oh, about the crow, pictured above. Check out Sarah Callender's blog. You'll find a wonderful blog and a great explanation of how one word can mean many things.


Today, describe the PHYSICAL feelings you had yesterday while writing about your or a family member/friend's mental health challenges. Reread yesterday's writing. How does your body react today? Take some quiet time to connect with your body. Using words that apply to your physical state only ... no slipping into the emotional! :-)


Today, choose an object or a living thing that represents somehow your physical response to your writing about conquering mental health issues, or living joyously and productively with them. Who cares if you start with something trite or overused ... a track star leaping hurdles, a bear emerging from hibernation ... I'm going to stop here because I don't want to steal them all!

Make the comparison. If you get more than a paragraph, great, but one paragraph is a good start. You can always select two symbols and see how different symbols lead to different descriptions, different meanings!

You've had a great week of writing. Congrats! See you next week.


Saturday, April 4, 2015


Trails through 
scented but 
rocky with
steep declines
I pause
brave hyacinths
trusting only
today's sun
and soil

Copyright 2015

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Freedom of Speech and a Learning Opportunity

When it comes to pornographic and misogyinist material, I wish it didn't exist. But we can't afford to control freedom of expression. It's the last bastion of freedom we have in an increasingly corporatized and militarized America.

Watch CBS Morning News, and then watch Democracy Now's morning news. You'll see what I mean. Mainstream media not only reports on a bias, whether it's the far right Fox News or the progressive MSNBC, but also tells stories and manipulates social media to seize the public's imagination, promulgating stories of little importance on days that stories of huge importance are taking place. Take for example the day of the blue dress and the escapee llamas. Do you know what else happened that day? I bet not.

So today, should we forgive Trevor Noah's his earlier unfortunate punch lines that rely on stereotyping of gender. race, religion, and ethnicity? What do you think? What's okay and not okay when it comes to political humor? Why was Jon Stewart so entertaining? When you tell or hear jokes, do you take into account whether they are exploitative or offensive to anyone, anywhere?

I'm a little political today, and taking a look at political correctness. Oh, you noticed?

Here's an interesting perspective: That Guy T