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Scuttling my One Ship

Like Hernán Cortés, the infamous conquistador, I have decided to scuttle my ships and march forward to meet my destiny at all cost. Knowing I would retreat at the first sign of unpleasantness, I ditched all my other options and chose one course – forward. There is no looking back.

Cortés took on the whole Aztec Empire against all odds, and succeeded in defeating two great leaders, Moctezuma and later Cuauhtémoc, thus claiming Tenochtitlán and the whole interior of Mexico in the name of God and king.
Or so he said at his trial. 
In reality, Cortés could care less for either (he was an immoral and greedy man), and his tactics and character left much to be desired, but his determination is admirable.
I love the whole bit about scuttling all the ships so his men had no other option but to go with him into battle (and possibly live), or to stay behind and let the hostile territory or its inhabitants kill them off one by one. 
Now that is what I call guts.
Last January I decided it was time to ma…
Recent posts

Word Count

A lot of my friends are writers, so I get to watch them work. Each one has a different process of how they come up with characters, plot, and conflict. They especially work at different paces.
I have one friend who jumps into the writing immediately and isn’t satisfied unless she can accrue thousands of words on paper each day. I also have one friend who has to have a looming deadline (like days away) before she can sit down to write, and then spends complete days nonstop to meet that deadline. I have friends who write and write and write and then when “finished,” go back to edit and trim their manuscripts. Others edit as they go, polishing each chapter to perfection before moving on to the next. Some plot everything before typing a single word; some type and let the words create the flow of the plot as it forms on the paper. This is known as the plotter versus pantser (fly by the seat of their pants) conundrum. I’ve had to learn the hard way as to what works for me. Until a few years …

Story is in our DNA

Every night, my father would tuck us into bed with a story, a prayer, and a blessing. Not necessarily in that order. We’d clamber into bed, giggling at the thought that we might get a story out of him, and we were usually right. He’d cover us and start to tuck us in, but we would beg for a story and he would relent. Most days he would repeat one his mother told him as a child; those were our favorites, but other days, he took requests and allowed us to give him the parameters – scary or funny, male or female protagonist, real or fiction. On days we chose scary, he would turn off the lights to increase the fright quotient. We knew he would pounce on us with the terrible ending, but we looked forward to it, squealing and giggling afterwards. Mom would yell at us to settle down and go to sleep, and she would scold Dad for riling us up and giving us nightmares. We didn’t care. We loved Dad’s stories. Humans have always been wired for story. One only has to look at cave drawings or th…

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…

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…