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  1. Gawd. I'm so prickled from hearing writers say that his "On Writing" is the best book on writing they've ever read. Really, people? Oh, it's delightful reading and entertains like a night on a barstool, but the best? I think not.

    Check out my blog list. Have you read writing books by John Gardner? Brenda Ueland? Natalie Goldberg? How about Lajos Egri or Dorothea Brande or Anne Lamott? Does Flannery O'Connor ring a bell? Have you tried John Dufresne or Ralph Keyes or Bruno Bettleheim?

    Not sure if some follow the piper because it's easy or if it's that SK has made a ridiculous amount of money telling scary stories (and he's definitely earned every copper penny) but there are others.

    Others that wrote before the influence of tv, internet, iphones, and twitter. Long before translations were available on google translate in seconds and eons before forums were created, voicing less than noble opinions on What Makes A Book Great. These Others are those who thought. These Others sat alone, hour upon hour, month into year, to come up with the truths of life and the further agonizing chore of the assemblage of words in the hopes we would read between them and "get it". Then after they wrote they took the time to sit and figure out how they wrote and how they got into the character's mind and heart to show that humans are simply human. We act, think, dream, live, cry, love, anger, retaliate, pillage, rape, steal, and hate. And they show us why so we can understand ourselves and choose to be better humans, and to allow us self-reflection and maybe, just maybe, we can feel passionate enough to pen further and lead the human race to a kinder, more peaceful place.

    Dear Fellow Writers ~ please, research these books. Research all that is out there. Read Pat Schneider and Wally Lamb and Robert Olin Butler and Margaret Atwood and Sylvia Plath and Susanna Kaysen. Don't just climb the highest tree. Reach for the limbs and branches along the way.

    It's all in the details.
  2. I agree with the others on the notebook, napkin, post-it, back of envelope. I have found ideas strike at the most inopportune times and a few choice words written down will mark your thought for later exploration. I use a tape recorder b/c I have a 45 min ride to and from work and cannot trust my memory to remember the brilliance (ahem) it sometimes comes up with from the car into the building. As a matter of fact, I'm "smarter" about story stuff in the morning, when my mind isn't cluttered from the events of the day.

    If you try and carve out a niche of daily or weekly time you'll find that will get filled with something else, so these moments will become more valuable to you. My kids are now older, 25 and 19 and they and my 17 mo grandson live with me and I have no more time now then I did when they were young. Life fills in each moment so even if you can spare 20 minutes sometime during the day to get anything written, even a sentence or two, you'll be further along than if you try to follow a set schedule. You will also find that what becomes important to you in life gets more attention. I like to write and sew and I find minutes each day to do both, even if it's to read what I previously wrote or fondle my fabric and pins. :)
  3. Dear Santa,

    It certainly has been awhile since I wrote you last. I believe I had asked for a Midge doll which I still have, a birthstone ring which I still have (but fits only up to the first knuckle on my pinkie finger) and my two front teeth which I also still have but if you have about 24 more I’ll take those off your hands. Maybe I should write to Herbie?

    So how are things up North? Everything running smoothly in the factory? Are the elves still happy? Do you have to motivate them at all or do they just love love love making toys? You definitely have a good thing going because I never see ads for toymakers, popcorn stringers, cocoa brewers, cookie bakers, or sleigh drivers. How’s Mrs. C? She sure has her hands full keeping up with it all. Tell me Santa, what is your secret? How do you get it all done? Something in your pipe, perhaps? It’s amazing that you always look exactly the same. You haven’t lost a strand of hair, your clothes still fit and you’re still the epitome of jolly. I believe it must be all that love.

    Now that I’m older Santa I was hoping we could talk. Well, actually I was hoping you could answer some questions, like, how do you get to everyone in just one night? Do you ever take off that suit? Does Mrs. C ever nag you to take her someplace warm? Do kids still write letters or do they text? Why are all the reindeer male? Why do you give the good kids the cool presents and the naughty kids underwear, shouldn’t it be the other way around? Do the naughty girls ever ask you to bring them the naughty boys?

    As for me, Dear Santa, I believe I have everything I need. Even though it may sound corny, it’s true. All those I love are happy and healthy, warm and full, and my amazing boyfriend actually bugged me to get decorating and whistled while he hung up the lights. And we still don’t talk much about Aunt Pearl.

    Oh yeah, I know that some people are now on fitness kicks and eating healthy and exercising and will probably leave you evian and croudete but don’t fret – we will be baking you chocolate raspberry brownies, peppermint cookies, and next to the egg nog in the fridge there will be a mixer of margatinis with a special glass just for you. And carrot cake for the reindeer. Hey, it seems to work for you so you may as well go with it.

    Good night for now, Dear Santa. You know I will still try to stay awake as I would love to get a glimpse of you and that wonderful Christmas scent you seem to leave behind, but for some reason I always slip off to slumberland shortly before you arrive. May you and yours have a safe and joyous holiday and I’ll write again before the next 40 years pass.

    Merrry! Merry!
  4. I was about to post a piece I wrote last year for a personal essay class on why we lie about who we are but after reading it I realized it doesn’t represent me anymore. I am no longer afraid of who I am and no longer feel compelled to play the game and agree with this or disagree with that because I’m supposed to. That’s bull****.

    In a minute I’ll tell you how that happened.

    But first: How often do you deceive yourself by saying the opposite to eliminate hurt feelings? Are theirs more important than yours?

    “Of course I’ll be there” when you know you won’t.
    “I love you” when you would rather be with someone than alone.
    “He’s a great boss” when he’s an arrogant, lying, user.

    Why can’t you just say “sorry, I won’t be there” or “no, I don’t love you and frankly, I deserve better” or “he’s an asshole.”

    You want to know the best way to emerge?

    Take control of your body. I’m not kidding. Keep reading.

    Ask yourself this: what is going on in my life right now that I can completely control? Now answer. Not your marriage, takes two. Not your kids, they’ll tell you how much you suck as a parent. Not your singleness, we all need someone so stop saying you’re content being alone. Not your boss, he’s only in it for his best interest. Not your friends, usually it’s all about them, too. Not your pets, even they get pissed off. We won’t get into your parents or your family.

    Unless your answer is “you” you’re rationalizing.

    The only thing you have complete control of in your life is your body. How it looks, what you put into it, how you treat it. Unless you think of yourself as worthy of looking your best you will pretty much go along with what everyone else says and continue to smother your greatness.

    Little story here: I had a relationship breakup a few months ago after three years. I learned a lot about myself from him and love him, but he’s not the guy. It still hurts. He has found another seemingly more suitable and I’m truly happy about that, even though occasionally I feel those twinges of sadness. For quite some time I kept going back to that dark place where I overanalyzed my decision because, as you know, memories sweeten as the bad dissipates. This can make you crazy. One tiny slip can imbalance your mental state for quite some time.

    During this time I became depressed and naturally, didn’t eat. Ironically, I felt better. I bought a Canon DSLR and took up photography. I walked miles around town and spent hours at the beach taking pictures. My photos improved. I lost weight. I decided I wanted to lose more, trim down and tighten up.

    For some reason I relapsed into the abyss and went back to my old eating habits for a few days. I felt like ****. I bought an exercise DVD to replace the VHS ones and 3 lb. weights. Went back to listening to music I love, loud, – Seether, Godsmack, Disturbed, Pearl Jam. I started this in September. In October I cut all junk food, bread, and dairy except for what is used to cook and the rare indulgence. I continue to cook from scratch.

    Oh yeah, you know how ads talk about comfort food and how it’s okay to feed yourself when you’re depressed? Well, it’s not. Offering food or alcohol as consolation is a punishment and a trick. Ask yourself this: do you really feel better a few hours after you eat an entire plate of nachos or down half a bottle of Drambuie?

    I’ve lost 14 lbs. and now wear size 6 jeans. I bought fitted clothes, smaller, sexy things from Victoria’s Secret and heels. Dated 3 men – looking only for sex but that’s a different blog topic.

    I have never felt so liberated in my life. Co-workers have noticed the change. They comment on how I look, my attitude, even my walk. When shopping I catch men and women noticing me, some even start conversation. I look people in the eye and not past them when speaking. Ever notice how they find this unnerving? Talk about power!

    Mull this over. Your body really is the only thing you can completely control and if you develop the attitude that comes along with it – allowing your mind to think and feel freely and embrace this emergence – if you don’t deny yourself yourself, the uncharted territory that will come your way will offer you nothing but opportunity or at least, peace of mind.

    Disclaimer: You may find that some things in your life may no longer be suitable. Your life might change. Would this be so bad? Be brave enough to confront this. Everything has a price but if you don’t push yourself to the point of no return, you’ll never know who you could have been.

    Don’t deny yourself the greatness you deserve.
  5. Save Yourself from this stupid piece of advice and do this instead – write when the mood strikes.

    I keep reading “write on a schedule” in writing magazines and books that sound like the writing magazines, or maybe the magazines sound like the books, regardless, they all say the same thing. John Gardner wrote over 300 pages of heartfelt, insightful words on fiction writing and the only one given credit to him is "to create a dream in the writer’s mind." It makes me wonder if anyone that quasi-quoted him actually read the rest of what he wrote or if they just parroted what others have said.

    Fiction writing is supposed to be creative, so how can you be creative if you are forcing yourself to do something at the same time every day? Are you thrilled about rising at 5 a.m. and going to work?

    Aren’t there enough demands on your time? The alarm clock, the timer, the bills, the dog, the kids, the party, the office, and you want one more thing to have to do, daily?

    Don’t the brilliant ideas arrive when you are in the shower, exercising, or watching a really good movie?

    Isn’t spontaneity more fun?

    If you write when you get that brilliant thought your writing will reflect it. It will be bolder, stronger, colorful and powerful. That’s what you want!

    And stop reading writing magazines and books that tell you how to write because they don’t. Read books that tell you of the ideas and psychology behind writing and form your own style. This is about you.

    One more thing. I don’t think you have to read a lot of other people’s books to be a good writer. My belief is that you have to be a good thinker to be a good writer. You should read other writing for distraction not for creation. You want your own voice, not borrow theirs. Sell your own drama.