A Writer Writes

A Writer Wonders…

love writing2016: I found my writing voice haphazardly several years back. The journey to the home in my heart has been fraught with both amazement and disappointment. All of which I have revealed here, on the virtual pages of my Blog. (Confession: at the start of the yellow brick road I hadn’t a clue what a ‘writer’s voice’ was, nor how to find it.) I was also fairly clueless about the daily write and the writer’s rite.

As fate or luck would have it I happened upon The Writing Salon, owned and operated by Jane. The Writing Salon is not quite a school, definitely not Iowa, but a writing collective offering an eclectic assortment of writing workshops on the craft of writing, to the inhabitants of the San Francisco community. Discovering The Writing Salon–for me–was akin to happening upon a first class ticket on Virgin Airlines to Nirvana, and a 1:1 session with all those authors I admired who had crossed the abyss from dream to reality (publishing).

At the time, all knew for sure was I did not know how to write every day, or even that it was essential. I was definitely ignorant about the length of paragraphs and where to start my novel. I was quite certain about what I didn’t know about writing was unquantifiable.

Back then all I knew was I wanted to write. I had a fierce desire to put my stories on the page. The passion roared feverously in the pit of my belly, but beyond the heat to make something, I was at a loss on how to.  Like other virgins, I wandered the aisles of bookstores–back when there were a Barnes and Nobel & Borders on every corner–reading the table of contents of writing books hoping no one was watching. I had it in my mind everyone knew how to write.

Finding Jane’s Salon was like happening upon the proverbial treasure map. While the workshops didn’t make me a writer (that is a personal journey and choice) they did lighten the path I followed to get to where I am today . The nuggets I mined back in the early days have been invested. I continue to reap the benefits from the early windfall.

I was but one of many writers who passed through Jane’s Salon looking for the key to the mystery of writing, but probably not the only one who  never had the chance to thank her or to let her know if not for her foresight and passion I might never have found my writer’s voice.

I was saddened to learn of Jane’s passing today. I was remiss in telling her that because of her Round Robin workshops (I enrolled in dozens of them) I learned how easy it is to write every day and how much I LOVE writing.  I never told her that I learned the more a writer writes the more the writer improves, and finally, how I finally uncovered my writer’s voice.  Jane: wherever you have decided to reside in the afterlife I sincerely hope your desk is armed with the writer’s essential tool-kit, you have a stellar writing group, a hotline to the New Yorker, and your words are always at the top of all the best-seller lists. Thank you for your heart and endless passion with the newbies.


Something from my archive and written in during a Round Robin session.

2013: I am equal parts, introvert, dreamer, hunter, warrior, and detective. I am a writer.  I’m not shy or even timid, but willingly and delightfully, spend an exorbitant amount of time inside of my mind catching sunbeams and chasing shooting stars. Where my creative alter-ego goes, I follow without hesitation. She and I, the we in me, set sail and fill the blank page, working side-by-side in pursuit –as a hunter tracks, a dreamer dreams, a warrior conquers, a detective resolves – of the story. We’re interchangeable.

My brain is ambidextrous. Today the right side is creating while the left half sifts through the raw material that passes through the viaducts on a daily basis.  Later, Lefty will edit and cull the story, while Righty inventories the spoils mined earlier.  By definition, the writer in me is a natural scavenger.

I am hawk-eyed gliding through the days, diving deep within or watching patiently from the sidelines for tidbits worth plucking to use in my narratives. To see the world through my writer’s eyes is to observe the play of glittering light on the diamond’s multi-faceted surface transmitting 24×7 onto any exterior in spitting distance. What a non-writer dismisses – the girl with a dragon tattoo – I capture and describe, catalog and treasure. Alone or in a crowd, I stand guard with my pen and pad.  In line at the local barista or seated in a folding chair at the water’s edge I see what can be…

Two people are standing on a platform in London waiting for the Brussels-bound train. One is a writer and the other is not.  The non-writer wearing dark glasses climb into the train relieved to be away from chatty toddler bouncing like a rubber ball behind him.  The writer watches as he boards.  She turns the dial of her sensory receptors to high and boards the train. To the outside world, she looks like every other traveler.  She wears her jeans well, but they are an inch too long, and the hems catch at the back of her heels every few feet.  She’s proud of their tattered appearance. Her red cotton V-neck t-shirt is faded from age, and the black zip-up-the-front sweatshirt she borrowed from Ian, the stranger she took to bed in Dublin, is tide loosely around her hips.

She walks down the aisle toward her seat. She stops midway down the passageway, smiles and makes eye contact with the pear-shaped woman whose toddler is bouncing up and down on the seat, squealing. The young mother’s pursed lips relax and curve slightly at the outer most edges. A bead of sweat drips off the woman’s chin landing squarely over the on top of the larynx, and cruises south until it’s swallowed by hallow between her voluptuous breasts.  The writer continues walking down the narrow passageway until she finds 15B, a window seat.  She offers to trade places with the twenty-something in 15A, the non-writer, sporting aviator glasses and plugged into his mp3 player. He slides over to the window seat, pulls his SF Giants cap down over his eyes, looks up, and offers to buy her a drink once the train leaves the station. The writer stores her suitcase overhead but keeps her backpack. She sinks into the warmed seat, delighted. She has the best seat in the house.  She slips the notebook and pen out of the bag and waits for the possibility to come walking by.

Writers accept this is part of the madness of being a writer. Most of us meander through life living in the shadows. We watch. We listen. We document. We hoard snippets of life as an extreme coupon-er clips coupons.  For the most part, we’re content living large in our respective minds.  The longer the writer writes, the deeper the roots burrow, further and further, until they twist and curl around the bones and veins of the writer.  There is no escaping this fate, not that a writer desires freedom. A writer accepts this without question. I know I did. I didn’t question my destiny, but when I had my ah-ha moment and accepted my calling I did wonder, and have assumed others like me had the same questions.

1) How did I get this way?

2) Are there others out there like me?

Where were you when you had your ‘ah-ha’ moment?

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I’m a writer and hoarder of one-size-fits-all panty hose. Until the hose fits over my bum, I write to provide an alternative view on writing and perfection.

55 thoughts on “A Writer Writes

  1. Yesterday I was talking to my mom and I laughed because I said sometimes I feel crazy with all these characters’ voices in my head, waking me up in the middle of the night, demanding I tell their stories, etc. But that’s what makes me a writer. I couldn’t write without those voices. I think some people are born this way, like me. I’ve heard these characters all my life. When I was younger I wrote short stories to get the voices down on paper. Now I write novels. I’ve always been a writer. And thank goodness, because if I didn’t write, I’d surely go crazy. LOL
    Kelly Hashway recently posted….Sweets BlogfestMy Profile

    • Kelly – look at you all grown up and living the dream. So very happy you have an outlet for your voices. Tis a wonderful thing to weave magic onto the page.

    • Sandra – I wonder, is there a difference between happy and content, I guess it would depend on the moment. I am both happy and restless.

  2. I am an eternal voyeur, spying on other people, jotting down notes to use later for my characters. Outside the grocery store, the man with the signs that he is disabled and homeless, talks to the mother and daughter on the other side of the entrance, selling candy bars as a fundraiser for something or other. Rather than brushing the man off, they seem to be bonding.

    I see a man as I drive down the street, exiting a car carrying a brightly wrapped box. His sister’s birthday? A “please take me back” bribe for his now ex-girlfriend? Something he himself has received, and yet, for whatever reason, hesitates to open it?

    I love people watching, and character/story creating.
    Beverly Diehl recently posted….Ann & Nancy Wilson – My Big SistersMy Profile

    • Writer Beverly – I love the way you describe yourself. We ARE eternal voyeurs.. us writers, I think anyway. Your comment might be a vignette for something. I am wondering now if she did take him back.

    • Carin – each of us has our own way of telling a story, whatever it might be. I envy other writer’s processes, but I know it’s futile. We all approach the blank page differently and yield different results.

  3. k~

    The snippet of story we were privy to was fun to read. It made me consider what it might be like to write a dialogue between two people of opposite genders who are having a conversation about something they did the day before, one as a writer, the other not. Fun, I say!

    As for the “aha” moment, I was eight. The project was poetry and my frustration with finding the right words to pull it all together spanned several days, not because anyone asked me to write, but rather because I could see the story in my head, and my head demanded that it be written, in poetic form.
    When you described turning it on and off, I thought you must be absolutely brilliant to have found the switch!

    • K – You are a natural poet, I am not. I love the idea of writing it, and do, quite badly, but the rules give me a fright. I like spandex when I am playing with verse. You my dear, seem to flow freely on the page. Eight! Jealous. If I were one to regret, this is mine. I didn’t write my stories down. Darn.

  4. Hmm, have I had an aha moment? Yes, I suppose I have had many, but not all about writing, at least not directly. For example, the title of my blog/book came to me in a flash, but I initially thought in terms of teaching it (which I do) instead of writing about it (which I also do). Well, you have given me something to think about, which is what all great writers do!
    Galen Pearl recently posted….Angels Among UsMy Profile

    • Galen – I am glad to have left you with something to ponder. As for me, I like climbing inside and unpacking. I never know what I will discover.

  5. The longer the writer writes the deeper the roots burrow, further and further, until they twist and curl around the bones and veins of the writer. Wow! This is so true and so poetically written. You must be a writer! The more I write – the richer it gets and yes, the more its ingrained in my very being. I’ve wondered, too, how did I get this way?
    Barbara recently posted….the blueness of blueMy Profile

  6. I am like you. I walk through life seeing things symbollically, preciously and intimately. Those are hard to do all together. I see worlds of stories. I love stories. I hear one thing and the story unwinds, I make it up. But if you want to walk with someone, hold them up and not be dragged down, you have to.

  7. I’ve always loved sitting away from the rest so that I could either watch them or write in a corner. I don’t remember when I’d accepted my ‘destiny’ as a writer. I suppose I see it more as ‘something I really want’ rather than ‘something I’m meant to do.’ There was a defining moment when I knew I love writing, though: when I was 15, sitting in my school’s dusty, deserted library, writing an essay test alone. (I’d been out sick for months and this was a make-up test.) My God, the words just flowed and it was an authentic moment for me.
    Claudine G. recently posted….The Things Some of Them SaidMy Profile

    • C- That’s a wonderful story, C. Made me think if it could some how be turned into a story for other children. A little girl alone and sick, finds her magic on the page and goes soaring from inside of her room.

  8. I always love your posts. You are definitely a writer! Your personality comes out in your prose…and it is an amazing personality whose thoughts and reflections I enjoy reading! You are definitely a talented writer.

    I’m not sure I had a specific “aha” moment I remember but that energized feeling that I get when I write, when everything seems to come together and words just seem to spill all over a page, that’s when I know that writing is and will be forever a part of me. When I am seized with an irresistable desire like I was yesterday at the gym to jot out spontaneous thoughts that rose up from my subconscious. I got off the machine I was strength training on and went to the front desk, grabbed a tiny sheet of paper that was in a stack used for members to write comments/suggestions on, borrowed a pen, and furiously wrote down a few lines of what became a poem. Writing to me is when I seem to feel the most and the most clearly.
    Jessica recently posted….100 Words on SaturdayMy Profile

    • Thank you, Jessica, I appreciate your words. You know us writers, we like care and feeding like all zoo animals. :-) I never used to do that, run to the desk to jot something down. I’d tell myself I would remember it. I finally realized I won’t, so now, I stop what I am doing when something or someone comes to me, and make a note. I would have love to know what the person thought when you asked for the pen.

  9. A photograph could not have made that scene on the train any more vibrant. Your words speak out loud. OUT LOUD.
    I think I had my a-ha moment when someone (besides a family member!) said, ‘you write so well’. Was that all it took to open the floodgates? Was that all I needed to hear? Well, yes. As a matter of fact, yes. Though that doesn’t diminish the reappearance of the ever-lurking critic.
    Great post, writer.
    Astra recently posted….Outside my comfort zone…My Profile

    • Astra – Thank you! If that is what you saw, then I did my job right. You should lock that critic in the closet or throw into the ring and let him/her get beat up by the puck. I’m sure the critic will mind his manners.

  10. I adore this. Again. I am going to share this piece with my Fiction class, as well. Where was I? Home with three babies 3 and under with every moment absorbed by their incredible, lovely, raw, demanding, all-consuming beingness and I started to write – and it was as if I’d taken my first deep breath in a very long time. The more I wrote, the more I breathed, until the two have become so intertwined as to be inseparable. Thank you so much for this. Muah!

    • Dawn – you are such a joy to read. You brighten my day. I hope they enjoyed reading as much as I enjoyed writing my nerdy little posts. I still wonder how you managed it with three so young and under two, but then I remember that we gals have super powers. Hugs.

  11. This post really captures what it means to be a writer. I adore your poetic way with words. It’s vivid, musing, and precise amidst the poetry.

    As for an ah-ha moment…I’ve been a storyteller ever since I was little. I used to play stories out with my toys and illustrated little books, but I never really considered writing them down. It didn’t occur to me. So much happened in my head and through my words, but I always thought of my stories as something to be kept private. I remember chasing my youngest brother out of my bedroom and shutting the door because I didn’t want him to overhear my stories.

    I must have been 10 or 11 when it finally occurred to me to write down my stories so I wouldn’t forget them. I was playing a story with my dolls and realized that the story I was playing didn’t seem quite like the ones I used to play. I’d created so much history that some of the older details became hazy. We’d just gotten a word processor, a hybrid mix of typewriter and computer, so I decided to use that, rather than my dubious cursive, to type up a record of my toys’ adventures.

    I’ve considered myself a writer ever since.
    Kat Clements recently posted….Influential Books: IntroductionMy Profile

    • Hi Kat – thanks kindly for stopping by and for you wonderful words. We share this in our discovery of writing. I was always in my head, too. I took me a while longer before I penned a story, and it wasn’t on a word processor, for me it was in letters. Of course, there were stories for school, but since I never ‘did it right’ as the teacher wanted I was discourage to soar on the page. I am so happy you discovered your calling earlier. It’s a wonderful gift, is it not?

  12. Brenda, that was lovely…and makes me wish I had such a clearly defined moment. I’ve always lived life from the sidelines-a thinker, an observer, selective with who I share my thoughts. Writing in public moved me to a new place, and perhaps it was because I finally figured out that I could, that I should, and that if I did, I could work to make change happen.
    mamawolfe recently posted….Macklemore: Why Moms Should Know About HimMy Profile

    • Sandra, it is a constant battle. I used to be the consummate housekeeper, entertainer, and all around Betty Crocker. Now the house is lucky I get it shining once a week. :-)

  13. That’s exactly how my brain works. You nailed it with: “I see what can be…” Eloquently stated. You’ve captured the inner workings of a writer’s mind. We’re all a bit crazy in a wonderful way. If I could only get into a habit of writing every day. That’s my regret.

    • Lauren – it is like that…so glad to have found a fellow writer with the same connection. Writing every day works for some but not all. I wish I could get over my reserve.

  14. Thanks for posting the tribute to Jane and then a tribute to being a writer. They’re intertwined, aren’t they? Jane was one of my first writerly friends when I moved here many years ago and I’m happy to say that we worked together for many years since. I’m so saddened about her passing.

    You started off, “A Writer Writes.” In three words, you’ve said all that is important. You go on to describe it beautifully and poetically and it’s all just icing on the cake.

    Thanks again for posting, Brenda.
    Bradley Charbonneau recently posted….1,300 Posts in 1,300 DaysMy Profile

    • Bradley.. Jane’s Writing Salon is where I cut my teeth and saw the possibilities. A writer writes.. and writing is a verb, which I sometimes forget myself. I’ve been putting off editing a novel without a reason but realized the act of not doing was getting in my way of writing.

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