Time and Talent

Heaven hath no rage like love to hatred turned, nor hell a fury like a woman scorned

AdobeStock_130629499 pngThat’s the full quote, from William Congreve, a popular playwright from the late 17th-early 18th centuries. Specifically, it’s from his 1697 play, The Mourning Bride. (It’s also the play with the quote “Music has charms to soothe a savage breast,” frequently misquoted as “beast.”) Suffice to say, Mr. Congreve knew a little about human nature. “No rage like love to hatred turned” is well understood by every divorce lawyer in this country, if not the world.

We count on playwrights and fiction authors of every genre to tell us tales we can relate to, even if they’re set in some sort of alternate reality. It takes time and talent to develop those skills. Each author has his or her voice, or a collective voice when there are multiple authors. It’s not something AI can duplicate, as I’ve discovered through my writing group.

We did some experimenting with AI, and the results surprised–and pleased–me. While the same story might have been told, it wasn’t with the same voice. It was flat and, frankly, sounded like a mass market novel, not something original. Now, I know AI can be tweaked to come closer to that reality. But there is still room for the talented writer.

I understand, however, why the screenwriters are so concerned. So much of their voice is subject to interpretation by actors anyway. AI may come closer to mimicking their work with some skill. But it can’t truly do the job. Not yet. After all, AI pulls from work that’s already been created. Can it create plot twists? Political satire? I don’t know, and to a great extent, I don’t care.

As a writer myself, I sympathize with the screenwriters and wish them well in their negotiations. It’s more than just AI, of course, and I believe they’re trying to get ahead of the game with that one. The other issues they’re dealing with are apparently numerous, including fair pay.

AdobeStock_284900920 [Converted] smThe next time you watch TV, send a silent thanks to the writers and recognize their worth in the world of entertainment. The good ones will be quoted for a long time, because they know what makes us tick. And like I said, that takes time and talent.

Image Credits: Broken Heart © Galyna_P–stock.adobe.com; Television © Irene–stock.adobe.com

What to Say, What Not to Say

As some of you know, I’ve been trying to write a novel. Originally when I joined my writer’s group, I had planned to write a memoir, and had gotten pretty far in outlining my efforts. I was going to focus on some of the mental health issues I’ve faced and their consequences, among other things.

Problem is, my mental health issues are tame compared to what many people face. I’ve struggled with depression and was diagnosed as having bipolar disorder not otherwise specified. In my case that meant there were identifiable episodes of bipolar depression, but it didn’t appear to be an ongoing problem. I do take medication, but for many years now there’s been no sign of anything resembling bipolar disorder.

A lot of my problems come from family issues when I was growing up. I struggled with these all through my 20s and 30s, but now I’ve gotten past them (for the most part) and have healed several of the relationships that brought me down previously.

AdobeStock_563786899I’ve watched young women I know fairly well deal with-or not deal with–many of the same sort of issues I faced at their age, and at least one of them is notorious for saying, “you have no idea what I’m going through.” Those of us who are older and wiser just shake our heads and say to each other, “yeah, right. Like we didn’t go through the same thing.”

If I had a better recall of the specifics of what I went through, it probably would make for some good essays, but I’ve moved past that era of my life and I simply don’t remember the day-to-day struggles. Either that, or I don’t want to.

And here’s the other thing about writing a memoir: in order for it to be any good, I have to be painfully honest, and I have no desire to do that. There’s no healing value in it for me anymore, and other people in my life don’t need to see that part of my life. I’m a fairly private person and I’d like to keep it that way.

Beautiful daisy isolated on white background

Many people I know, in fact, think I had an idyllic childhood. I don’t necessarily want to let them keep believing that, but I don’t really want to go into any detail about why that isn’t true. It’s not that I want to keep secrets, mind you. There’s a difference between secrets and private matters.

Which leads me back to where I began with this post. I’ve been trying to write a novel. I think I’ll stick with that.

Image Credits: Daisy © Leonid Ikan–stock.adobe.com; Both line images © OneLineStock–stock.adobe.com;

A Writer Writes

When I was thirteen, my dad brought home the family’s first typewriter, an IBM correcting Selectric II. I was fascinated, and spent hours writing back-cover blurbs to books that stood no chance of being written. They typically went something like this:

“Brittany is torn between her love for two men–the boy-next-door Jake and the dashing stranger Xavier. Knowing that fully loving one would mean giving up the other makes for an impossible choice…until someone new enters her life and gives her the courage to see things clearly.”

Nothing like a cheap romance. I could never write a book like that today (well, never say never, I suppose), but there was a time in my life when I contemplated writing Harlequin romances to make some money. I’d never read one, but I figured, how hard can it be? Then I read one, and thought, I’d be selling my soul. So much for that writing career.

AdobeStock_529380913I turned to my next writing venture, the one I’d studied for–newspaper reporting. For two years I covered city council meetings for a weekly newspaper. I loved it. I especially loved the fact that my coverage of some controversial issues garnered criticism from some city council members. This was to a point where one city took to having their “real” meetings before the scheduled time, only to put on a show of solidarity for me. They got in big trouble for that one.

I didn’t see a future in journalism, however, and got a series of  jobs in communications. Still, they couldn’t (and still can’t) completely take the journalist out of me. My strength was in media relations, pitching stories to newspapers and television newsrooms. I was, if I do say so myself, pretty good at it.

Today my writing is solely for personal, and not professional, satisfaction. I’m working on a novel, although I struggle with it mightily. I belong to a writer’s group that provides critiques and encouragement for my efforts. So far, the first few chapters are going well. I just don’t really know where the book is going. Hence my struggle.

To all you writers out there (and I know there a many in the blogasphere), I say, keep on writing. Find others who are doing the same and share stories and ideas with each other. You may never make a profit with your writing, but that’s not the point. The point is your soul needs it. And that’s enough to hit those ol’ typewriter, I mean laptop, keys again and again.

Image Credits: Typewriter keys © Miguel A Padriñán–stock.adobe.com; Reporter © Sergio J Lievano–stock.adobe.com.

Cloud Talk

Today I was early for work, so I leaned back in my car and watched the clouds float by. It was a windy day and they were moving quickly.

Like Charlie Brown and friends, I sought images in the sky. First face I saw was a cameo-like profile of s woman. It morphed into the Grinch of Dr. Seuss fame, and then became nothing more than abstract poofs.

I moved on to the image of a mountain lion, and began to wonder if some legends of old found their start in cloud formations. I know the stars inspired some stories, but what about clouds?

What inspires stories, the tall tales or myths of today? We hear sometimes of odd prompts that influenced an author, songwriter or other artist. We don’t see the connection, but it’s there in the mind of the creator.

As for me, I watch the clouds float by and listen to hear what they might be saying.

Photo Credit: © Pakhnyushchyy – Fotolia

I Like Pens Too Much to Quit Writing

Frequently these days my friends in education tell me schools are no longer teaching cursive writing.

I can’t imagine. You won’t be able to sign your own name?

I’m hardly old, but I feel as though I’ll be judged that way when I say I “still” write notes or send cards to friends. An e-mail birthday card doesn’t cut it with me. You can’t save them and treasure them. Or is that the point? Do people no longer want cards & letters cluttering up their lives?

I came across a stack of letters from college friends the other day. They were written years ago, before e-mail, Facebook, or the plethora of other ways to communicate. I laughed a lot and cried just a little when I read them. We were so optimistic and idealistic, in love or embarking on new careers, moving across the country or across the ocean. We hadn’t faced the responsibilities and disappointments life throws at you as adults.

What about journal entries? I stopped writing in a journal a few years back when I was falsely accused of a crime. I didn’t want personal thoughts taken into evidence and made public record. As it turns out, there was never a real risk of that happening, but it frightens me it could. I miss the writing, though.

I have two blank journals I’d bought in anticipation of the events and feelings I’d enter in them. My fear holds me back from writing, and I’m deeply saddened.

I like the feel of the pen in my hand. I won’t give that up.

If I’m like my mom, my hands someday will fail me and writing will become a challenge I no longer want to take on. Until that time, I hope I don’t stop handwriting thoughts and letters.

pen-idea sm

Image Credit: © artender — Dollar Photo Club

The Pursuit of Passion (and lesser things)

We speak of passion with great enthusiasm, as in “pursue your passion.” I agree, finding joy in life is a good thing, and finding fulfillment and purpose is a treasure. But too much of a good thing has its drawbacks.

I cringe a bit at the word “passion.” It connotes a drive to do something at the expense of other, necessary tasks in life. There can be a lack of balance when you’re passionate about cause, a skill, a person…anything. Of course, sometimes, that lack of balance is part of what gets the job done. For a period of time, letting your passion drive you is a good thing.

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Wild Thing, I think I love you…

Political candidates and those who campaign for them need to be passionate, for example. When you’re in love, you’d better be fully engulfed in your feelings for that other person, or forget about a long-term commitment.

It’s also a term that’s thrown around fairly easily, one that plays on your emotions but isn’t always easy to define in practical terms. I enjoy knitting. I’m an avid knitter, and I always have a project or two in the works. I love to share and compare with other knitters, encourage them in their projects and pursue the next big undertaking with vigor. I have dozens of knitting magazines (including every Vogue Knitting since 1982, which isn’t as many as it might sound like — for years they only published two issues annually). I dabble in design.

Yet I would not say I am passionate about knitting. To me, that would imply some sacrifice, a devotion that goes beyond what is appropriate for my favorite hobby. I have several friends who own yarn shops. I’ve asked them if knitting is their passion, and they laugh and say no. They love it, love their work and are dedicated to the success of their stores. But there is a balance in their lives, and their passion, if they can name one, is more likely their grandchildren.

For years I was also a devout reader. I read as many books as I could get hold of, and while circumstances dampened my enthusiasm for reading (something I never would have thought possible, and I resent those who caused it), that flame likely will never be fully doused. I still enjoy the feel and promise of a new book, and today, when I order one online, I can’t wait to open that box and just hold the book.

So I’m an avid reader as well as knitter. Perhaps there is a little more passion there, for I will firmly say, “you can’t spoil a child with books.” (I know, I know, some of you could provide solid examples contradicting that statement, but look at the heart of what I’m saying. And if a child throws a fit because he or she doesn’t get a new book every time the family goes to Walmart, that has nothing to do with books.)

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Wait while I finish this thought…that’s not true, you are important to me!

The one thing I will say I feel compelled to do, even when I have nothing to say (hence the need for a blog haha), is write. That might come close to being a passion. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, if I could write for a living…the jobs I’ve found for writers, however, generally are for someone younger, more entry-level. I’m not sure that’s the kind of writing I want to commit myself to on a daily basis.

I have found a way to make room for all the things I can get lost in doing. If any one of them became a job, would I leave behind my joy and what now brings me peace? Let’s face it, too much of anything is going to hurt you in some way.

That goes for the body as well as the mind. As I grow older, I’m increasingly mindful of the toll everyday activities, no matter how seemingly benign, can take on our bodies. Anything we do for an extended period of time has its price.

I just spent months nursing a thumb injury my doctor and physical therapists believe was caused, at least in part, by knitting. When I posted a story about that, one of my blogging buddies commented how she’d hurt herself reading paperbacks.

Yes, find what you love doing, what re-energizes you. But remember, our bodies and minds need variety to stay healthy. We may not love everything we do with the same fervor, but the balance is what keeps us alive, physically and emotionally.

Images © geosap — Adobe Stock


Lessons Learned: A Belated Thank You

In sixth grade, in an effort to teach his students the importance of simplicity in writing, Mr. Dunton assigned each of us a famous saying, something we all were familiar with. We were told to re-write it, using unnecessarily complex language.

Here’s what I came up with:

AdobeStock_143047698“An overabundance of persons engaged in creating edible material taint the liquid in which meat, fish and vegetables are stewed.”

I’ll leave it to you to figure out the original popular saying. Mr. Dunton loved my interpretation, and my classmates were completely confused. I can’t speak for any of them, but that lesson stayed with me.

As did the assignment we were given in eighth grade. Write a 100-word description of anything you choose, just don’t use the same word twice.

Unfortunately some of us were very literal and thought that included such words as “the” and “is.” It became a challenging assignment. One that has proven to be useful to this day.

Frequently after I’ve written and published one of my blog posts I find an “appalling” error. I hasten to correct it, but what I really should be doing is thanking those teachers who taught me to spot the problems in my writing and helped me hone a skill that is essential to my well-being.

I have several friends who are teachers, and I know there are days they feel as if they’ve accomplished nothing. The demands put on their job that seemingly have nothing to do with teaching, but rather, with meeting the obscure expectations of bureaucrats, overshadow the part of the job they love.

Thank you very much!

Most days will eventually fade in the memories of their students, most assignments will be a part of a hazy past. Still, some things will stick, and they will make the difference teachers want to believe they are making.

Thank you, Mr. Dunton. Thank you, Mrs. Edwards…Mr. Teall…Mr. Tabucchi…Miss Golart. For those of you I’m not naming, you are not forgotten. Neither are your lessons.

Thank you.

Images © geosap — Adobe Stock

A Lifetime Search

Always the question with job hunting, “what am I capable of doing, and what will I enjoy doing?” We’re told to pursue our passion, to do what we love, but there are times when we must simply seek a job we can do well and be content with for a time, maybe a long time, and perhaps find the greater satisfaction elsewhere.

If I had my choice, I’d write for a living. I’d find someone AdobeStock_109760634 [Converted]who needs a blog writer and work my heart out making theirs the finest blog of its kind. In fact, I’ve been seeking such work, and no doubt it exists, but finding it is another issue.

Still, there are other things I enjoy doing, and I do them well. I’m good at customer service, providing a pleasant experience for others, and I find satisfaction with that work. Again, finding the right job isn’t always easy. I’ve applied for a few positions I think I would enjoy with companies for whom I believe I’d be a good fit, and haven’t heard word boo from them after dropping off my application, even following up with a phone call.

There’s a danger with turning what we love into a career. If we find solace in that work, that peace of mind can be taken away by professional demands. I’ve had countless people over the years tell me I should turn my knitting hobby into a money-making venture, and while that sounds appealing, the reality is, I need my knitting to relax. I don’t need the pressures of customer expectations, marketing, budgeting and all the rest. I need the freedom that comes with a hobby.

Are you sure this price tag is right?

The other reality is, knitting doesn’t lend itself well to making money. If I charged someone for the time and expertise it takes me to complete a project, they’d be a fool to pay it. A simple pair of slippers might be close to $100.

Most of us, however, have multiple skills, capabilities that can bring us pleasure and yes, profit.  We also have personality traits that both expand what we can do best and limit it. It can be a lifteime challenge finding all the possibilities, or even a good mix of some of them.

As we grow older, we change and learn new things about ourselves, we move to areas with different opportunities, we seek new challenges. It’s a search with multiple discoveries.

If you know of anyone looking for a blog writer…but look who I’m talking to! A group of capable writers. Still, it never hurts to put it out there….

Images © geosap — Fotolia


Resolutions and Revelations: Two Years Later

october-2016Two years ago today, I opened my WordPress account and posted my first post. The page was bare; I later added a small picture, but there were no graphics, no widgets, no header photo, nothing. Black words on a white page. I got three views and much later, one like.

It wasn’t until the following May I really put effort into this blog, and began the design you see now. I went through multiple headers and a few themes before landing here. I added the premium plan because I began to have ideas I couldn’t achieve with the free option (something I’m glad I did) and eventually started two more blogs, one for classic movie reviews (Classic for a Reason) and one for knitting.

But some things haven’t changed. My first post still rings with truth, although I’ve changed and grown in the two years since I wrote it. I was in pain that day, and you may be able to sense that when you read it. I’ve gotten past that pain, but the lessons still apply.

A large part of my growth has come through the process of writing about my experience, beliefs and dreams for the future. This blog doesn’t have a theme (one of topics, that is) like my other two do, and it’s likely to evolve over time. Just as I do.

So here’s the original post, just as I wrote it then. Many of you likely haven’t seen it, but I know some of you did when I re-posted it this day last year, and a handful of you perhaps read it the very first time.

Blessings to all of you!

resolutions and revelations

you bought me the book

I’m not motivated by New Year’s Resolutions. No surprise there, most people aren’t. No surprise what does motivate me either: trying to impress someone important to me is always a big one. Problem is, that comes and goes. Here’s the reason that actually works: finally realizing my life is truly better and I’m going to attract better things when I do things the right way. And typically it has taken failure in my life, and some humiliation, to get to that realization.

My friends say, oh, we each worry about those things a lot more than others do. After all, we have to live with our own failings, our stupidity, our repeated efforts to resolve what’s gone wrong with yet one more foolish gesture.

Right now I’m faced with what seems to me to be huge failure brought on by circumstances I had no control over. Wisdom from others tells me to learn to control what I can and live with what I can’t, but what I can’t control has taken over and felled me. Now I need to stand up and return to where I was only a short time ago. But will I fall again? Probably. That which I do not control will always be with me, and I fear that those I care about will leave me.

So I must do what I can to perhaps ward off the beast that follows me everywhere for longer than before. I must learn from this and pray I have another chance that will allow me to succeed. I weep at the thought I won’t, and realize I now have little control over that, but in and of itself there could stand a truth I need to learn. Truth that belies what I have held so dear for so long.

I face difficult yet not insurmountable odds. I tell myself I can take advantage with hard work and fierce resolve, with fortitude and purpose. No trite quotes for me, but strength of mind and character prevail. This year was better than last. I can’t guarantee next year will be better than this, but I’m hopeful it will be.

Seek and Ye Shall Find…some kind of weird stuff

I imagine most, if not all, of my fellow WordPress bloggers check their stats on some sort of routine schedule, including the list of search terms that lead viewers to your site.

AdobeStock_109760634 [Converted]Now, for privacy reasons, Google and other search engines limit how much we can actually learn about those chosen words. Usually we get that vague and somewhat frustrating phrase, “unknown search term.” WHY WON’T YOU TELL ME? What privacy issue can you possibly be protecting? (Okay, yes, I can figure out some of that answer. Still…)

But sometimes a term or two gets through, and it can be disturbing. I had to look one up in the Urban Dictionary not long ago. My initial findings were encouraging: it was a much outdated, not particularly popular slang phrase from a limited number of neighborhoods on the other side of the country from me. So it can still be argued I’m not totally unaware of the world around me, I’m cool, I know the lingo.

AdobeStock_111371163 [Converted]Then I looked at definition #2. Oh my. Could they possibly have been looking for something about that and landed on my blog? Big disappointment, since I’m not quite that cool.

(Out of curiosity, I entered the same search terms, and my decidely unhip post came up #1 in my Google search. Sorry folks, I don’t know what you were looking for, but I do feel certain this wasn’t it.)

You’ve probably figured out by now I’m not revealing that search term in this post. We don’t need to taint the relative purity of this blog…but heck, try this one: “dreaming of selling underwear.”

I do not know where on my blog they landed, but Google claims they brought them here somewhere. I entered that search term, too, and had all kinds of mildly and moderately distasteful things pop up, but nothing from my blog. I checked the posts people visited the same day, and I still have no clue what the link was.

If you discover it, there is a prize for you. Not from me, but I’m sure the Universe would reward you (listen to me, speaking for the Universe).

Hands down, my favorite one is this: “Walter Kitty.” That’s my cat’s name, and someone searched it, undoubtedly for reasons unrelated to my sweet baby but, hey, Walter, you’re famous! The only way it could be better would be if they searched “The Secret Life of Walter Kitty” (with a tip of the hat to James Thurber).

Image Credits: © geosap — Adobe Stock

Thank You, Fellow Bloggers

Well, I had a delightful surprise this evening.

First, (I’m creating a little suspense here) the not-so-delightful part of my evening: I spent 100,000 hours battling the dreaded Blue Screen of Death that kept crashing my computer. The battle may not be over, or I may have solved the problem…it remains to be seen. For the moment, anyhow, I’m up and running, and not cursing.

Not cursing, because, I checked out the blog of one of my new followers, Hopeless Hannah, and at first was just tickled by several of her posts, especially one describing a device that allows cats to talk to us (I’ll let you visit her site yourself for more on that topic).

Then I discovered she paid me the high compliment of listing my blog under her post titled 10 Bloody Good Blogs About Life, Art & Sexism. Mine is a Bloody Good Blog! Woo-Hoo!

woo-hooNow, I am an award-free blog, but I’ll go for a listing like this anytime!

And yes, it’s self-serving to write this post, but that wasn’t (entirely) why I wrote it. Blogging is so important to me. I love to write, and while I’m seeking further outlets for my writing, as of now, this is my main showcase. It gives me an endless opportunity to write (well, sort of endless, I do have to work, feed the cats, walk the dogs, and all of that), and I get immediate feedback from people I’ve come to respect and admire, my fellow bloggers.

You have made a world of difference to me at a time in my life when it counted most.

Thank you, Hannah, and thank you to all of my followers, as well as the now-and-then visitors who happen by. I value all of you.

And hey, the computer hasn’t crashed since I started writing this post…that’s a good sign…

Drive Me Batty and Keep Me Sane

So often when I’m writing I’m joined by one of two 11-pound lumps of fur and purr, sitting on my lap, shifting, kneading and finally settling in while I lean over him or her to the keyboard.

They’re a sister and brother team who came into my life sometime back, when they were just kittens and in need of safety and shelter. Mimi is my princess, or perhaps pharaohess would be the better term given her sleek appearance. She’s not the best at staying put, in fact, she’s more likely to wander around the apartment, crying and annoying the heck out of me while I write. But when I turn to yap at her, she looks at me and comes running, and I stop before the words come out. She just wants some loving.

uh-oh slrWalter, on the other hand, is adept at snuggling in, melting in, really. He’s the scene-stealer and has been from the beginning. Cute, charming and a little shy, Walter, too, just wants to be loved.

On occasion I read aloud what I’ve written and take into consideration their most likely unrelated reactions: burrowing further in, leaping from my lap, a tiny “mew?” I take as a request for clarification. Sometimes Walter will hold a paw out as if to say, “that’s enough, you don’t need to share anymore, I’m here to nap.”

They drive me batty and keep me sane, wake me in the middle of the night just to play and sit in the window waiting for me to come home. If I’m sick or weary they’re there beside me, and if I’m agitated they keep their distance…for awhile.

I need them and they need me, so we’re together for the long haul. I hope it’s a long haul.

Walter and Mimi in the fresh laundry
Walter and Mimi, settled onto my fresh laundry, moments after I’ve taken it out of the dryer.

Writing, No, Dreaming Without Limits

I love to write, or I wouldn’t be blogging.

In fact, that’s part of why I started blogging, this incessant need to write. I had a journal, but that wasn’t enough. It wasn’t doing quite what I needed it to do. I wrote on my computer about various and sundry things, but those stories would sit on my hard drive and languish there.

Until this blog came along.

I always knew I loved to write, from the time I was six years old. For years my mom had a very simple story I wrote in the first grade that had impressed my teacher, who wrote, “Good Writing!” across the top in big, bold letters. I’m sure that story was on the refrigerator for a long time.

All through grade school, even into college, it felt like cheating if an exam was written. It was almost a certain “A” for me, if I could write on the subject.

I was a journalism major and started out as a reporter. I did well those first couple of years, but decided to pursue public relations and communications instead. The problem with that line of work is, you don’t do as much writing. There’s a whole lot of other stuff thrown in the mix.

Of course there’s plenty of other stuff to love in life besides writing.

But among other things, writing is how I dream. So I can never give it up.

Things happen and we don’t always get to do what we want to do, be who we want to be. We get sidetracked from our dreams for a time. That doesn’t mean we stop dreaming. I’ve had some setbacks in recent years, and I thought I was doomed, quite frankly, to a minimized life.

I no longer believe that. Yes, reality limits us. But dreams can come true, and life can be good again. You never know what day will bring the magic.

Learning Style

Image Credit (background) © GraphicStock; (fairy) courtesy of Pixabay

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