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My Growth as a Writer

A good friend suggested I join her writing group nine years ago. She thought it would be a good fit. Now, I had belonged to writing groups before and I was doubtful that was true, but she insisted and I went. She was right. It has been a good fit, but you have to know I am an introvert. People laugh when I say that, but there is a big difference between being shy and being an introvert. I am not shy; I can be rather bold, but introvert is often mistaken with shyness. After a day out with people, I have to retreat into my shell and recover. It’s like my soul has been depleted and I need time to let it refill itself. Thank goodness this group only meets once a week. Plenty of time to gear up for the following Monday night meeting. I have taught “writing” all my life, both to children and adults, but this writing group has taught me so much more than I ever thought it could. It has taught me facets of myself that I had not explored. I learned that I am a terrible writer unless I have an o…
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Are You a Writer?

I don’t think my answer is what the person asking the question has in mind. They’re expecting Nora Roberts, Janet Evanovich, J.K. Rowling. I’m an author. I ponder and create sentences, characters, stories. I authored them; before me, they didn’t exist, so, yes, I am a writer. The person then wants to know, “Are you famous? What have your written? Where can I get your books? How about a selfie?” Whoa, there. Yes, I’m published, but you won’t find me on Amazon, or Goodreads, or Forbes. I have sold a few things. Some very kind people read anything and everything I write, but you may want to hold off on the selfie. Ask me instead, why I write. I cannot pass up a clean sheet of paper and not want to scribble something on it. Anything. A list, a word, a memo. I find myself molding a sentence in my brain and remolding it until it captures my thoughts in words, sings of sincerity, and I have to scramble for pen and paper before it is gone. I have created characters and breathed life into them. …

Writer’s Block-aid

After six months of writer’s block, I am back. To be honest, it was more like writer’s coma. I’d been blogging faithfully for nearly eight years, posting every Monday morning with only a handful of skips, and realized one day my focus had shifted to things other than writing. Back in April 2011, things like brand and tribe and algorithms were foreign to me, but the more I blogged, the more these concepts evolved and became clear to me as a writer. I needed a change; my blog needed a change, but when the will shuts down, the brain follows, so I went into a writing coma. I am here to tell you all that advice about soldiering through writer’s block is a bunch of hooey. What works for one person doesn’t work for another, but even in my comatose state, I kept all the advice and good intentions in the back of my foggy brain, knowing that in the end, if I were to recover, it would be solely up to me. Google informed me in early 2019 that some of the widgets I used on my blog were being elimin…

The Girl Who Eats Canned Spinach

I went to a Catholic elementary school run by strict Belgian nuns, and we could not leave the cafeteria until we ate everything served on our food tray. Once a week, they served warmed, canned spinach with our meal. The spinach tasted nothing like the way my grandmother made it, but I ate it. I gulped it down in three or four bites and it amazed my table mates. I told them we ate it at home so I was used to the taste. Now, my real problem began the day I ate the spinach off my friends’ trays so we could go play outside. As soon as the nun monitoring the cafeteria turned her back, my friends ate something off my tray I didn’t want, and I ate their serving of spinach. I only did it for two of my table mates, but the word spread. On the next Spinach Day, kids followed me to my table.I was suddenly very popular, and as soon as the nun marched off to the other end of the cafeteria, my friends and an army of others who only knew me as The Girl Who Eats Spinach, begged me to take their servin…

Swimming Underwater

The university where I got my BA required all students to take a semester of swimming in order to graduate.I had been to the beach on occasion in my nineteen years on Earth, but I was from south Texas, desert country, and few of us knew how to swim.I waded.I let the waves splash me.I had no idea what to expect from a “swimming class.” While the other students took off like fish, I had to learn how to keep my eyes open while holding my breath under water. The college instructor required me to come in every day and she would help me learn the basics. I went from scared-to-death tadpole to swimmer in that one semester. To get my PE credit, I swam twenty laps across the school’s Olympic- sized pool, demonstrating a different swim stroke with each lap.I did twenty dunks in the deep end where I had to plunge myself downward, hit the pool bottom, and shoot upward to catch my breath before going back down again. It was the most frightening experience I had ever faced, but I had no choice if I…

Why I Wear Purple

One whole year.My Mom has been gone one whole year. She passed away late on a Friday so we had plenty of time to plan her memorial and burial for the next weekend. She had a lot of family and she was among the last three of her generation, so we knew folks would need time to plan their travel if they were to say their goodbyes. The following morning after she passed away, I rifled through my closet for all and anything that I owned in purple.My mother loved bright colors and among her favorites was purple. She had been a great fan of the actress Elizabeth Taylor, the beauty with the violet eyes, so my brothers, sisters, and I decided we would wear purple to her celebration. We met the following Monday to plan her funeral and afterwards I went shopping for more purple or violet to wear.It was near the Easter season and I figured it would be easy to find nice things in that color, but it wasn’t, so when I wasn’t planning details for her memorial, I went shopping.I only needed a few items…

A Choice is Not a Regret

My grandmother and I had a very special relationship. She’s been gone thirty years, yet there isn’t one day that I don’t remember her in some way. Sometimes, it’s a recipe, or how to do a chore, or a saying, but she is right there, next to me. She lived with us since before my birth until she passed away in her eighties. As a child I resented having a third parent, but somewhere in my late teens, we became friends, almost like comadres. She would share details of her life to me and I would learn from the many sacrifices she endured. Her father died when she was twelve and almost overnight, she, her mother, and siblings went from being well off to being dirt poor. My grandmother ended up working for the woman who used to be their laundress. She married young but my grandfather was no better off than she was, so my grandmother worked as a live-in maid and my grandfather worked as a laborer, doing odd jobs and going off for months to do migrant work in the northern states. He rarely sent…