Writer’s Block (A Poem)

Inspiration…
lacking.
And slacking on the list.
Hours turn to evenings with
nothing to show.
I know, I know –
I can do better than this.
(One breath,
one step,
one task
at a time.)
Just choose the words
and make them rhyme.
Take a moment
and let it grow,
let it live
and sing.
Just make something.
(Anything.
Yes, you can.)

On Caffeine, and Cutting It Out

I love coffee.

I also love tea, and I’m too fond for my own good of Diet Coke. As vices go, caffeine’s not so bad. Nonetheless, I haven’t had a drop since June 21st.

This is a change I’ve been thinking about making for a while. I was experiencing some really bad heartburn, and I’ve never been the best at sleeping. I figured cutting caffeine – especially coffee – would be helpful, and so I finally did it.

And, well…yeah.

I’m fine. Totally fine. Really, I’m completely good. Except…

I had no idea how essential caffeine was to my creative process!!

Y’all, I have had so much trouble writing anything good for the last month. Poems are a struggle, and I truly don’t know how I’m going to manage this month’s short story (which is coming this week, by the way!).

So, tell me, writer friends: How do you get yourself into a good writing headspace, especially if you’re also going without caffeine? I’ll take any advice. HELP. Please. And thank you!

(I’ve also cut out alcohol. But that’s been much easier. Which both surprises me and doesn’t surprise me at all.)

Am I a writer this week?

It’s been a week, y’all. Last week was a week, too. I don’t feel like I’ve been able to focus and spend time on the projects I care most about lately, including my writing. In fact, I don’t feel much like a writer this week at all.

It’s not a great feeling. And it’s also not true.

On weeks like this, when I’m tired and stressed and when my impostor syndrome gets the better of me, I remind myself that creating is fundamental to who I am. It’s part of me, just like my hair and my nails and my eyes and that weird little wrinkle I get in my forehead when I think too hard about math. It’s like breathing.

Every day, I’m thinking about a story, or an idea, or just some words that fit nicely together. Even if I can’t do anything with them RIGHT NOW. Unfortunately, we live in a world where RIGHT NOW is often table stakes, a requirement of any job and an expectation in any undertaking. There’s just not a lot of value placed on someday soon, or on letting your mind meander even when your hands are busy elsewhere. It seems, in many ways, we’ve lost the will or the way to appreciate the art of daydreaming.

So, I’ve not gotten much writing done this week. But I am a writer. I can’t turn it on and off like a faucet. I wouldn’t want to.

And if you’ve had a week like mine, this week or in the future, I hope you remember: You are a writer. Even when things get in the way, and even when it feels like you’ll never get back to your trusty old pen and paper (or laptop). YOU ARE A WRITER.

In conclusion, TL;DR – Yes, I am still a writer this week. And I wonder what next week will bring.

Two Inspiration Cuartetos

It’s time for another monthly poetry challenge from Rebecca over at Fake Flamenco! July’s challenge is to write a cuarteto about what inspires you to write. This one was a little tricky for me – I don’t focus on rhyming in my poetry, so it felt something like flexing a new muscle. I think I did okay, though. 😊


Raindrops pinging on the roof,
a cup of tea, and a cloudy day
make a happy writer, I would say.
And right here is the proof.


I like to write at night
when all is quiet and still,
to keep company with the moonlight
and share thoughts with just paper and quill.


I had a lot of fun with this one! If you want to participate, too, you’ve got until Sunday. I think you should! It’s always good to try new things, right?

Poetry Is (A Poem for National Poetry Month)

A dance of
sound and silence,
the cadence of
word and rhyme
in perfect time.
A cry, a chance,
an exclamation.
The joys and sadness
of one
or a nation.
Light and dark and lyrical,
or halting and still.
The will to write,
the fight to find
just the right
turn of phrase
to break through the haze
of day and night
and step outside
the endless circle.
Poetry is power:
yours, mine, and ours.
Poetry is home,
and away,
and longing
and knowing
and looking
and seeing –
all that we are,
and all that we can become.

Friday Writing

Hello, Friday! Hello, Spring!

It’s so hard, when it starts to get warm again, to focus on work, and it’s been a busy week. But I’ve managed to stay on top of everything, and I’m spending today just writing. And drinking coffee. Which definitely helps with the writing.

And you know, I think this is honestly my favorite way to spend a Friday.

The Why (A Poem for World Poetry Day)

I write poetry
to leave a piece
of me
behind.
I write to
look back and
forward,
to dance
on the edge,
to quiet the
frenzy
in my head.
Or just to sit back,
and look
and see.
There’s no wrong
reason,
I think,
to write poetry.
A slant
of words,
a twist
of the tongue,
can change
the world.
How fortunate
are we,
the writers,
that such a
magic
can be ours?

Just writing…

Today it’s cloudy but not snowy, and as of this moment, we still have a hole in our basement wall, and I’m just feeling sort of…blah. It’s been a stressful week. We ran out of propane yesterday, a problem which has since been sorted but was terribly uncomfortable for the better part of the day. And we’ve both been busy and trying to balance work things with the house chaos.

All of that to say – today, I’m just going to write.

I’m just going to write, because aside from reading, it’s the thing that makes me happiest. The writing zone – that spot when you’re really into what you’re creating, and the rest of the world just sort of melts away – that’s one of my very favorite places. I love the feeling of letting everything else go, and just being carried away by words and by story. It’s magic. There’s nothing else quite like it, and no other place I’d rather be right now.

And it comes with the advantage of marking some stuff off of my very long and ever-growing to-do list! I’m working on a script for an upcoming podcast episode, and a longer-form fiction that I have some ambitious plans for, and of course, January’s short story, which I think will be very inspired by the winter season and the quiet, cold time in between Christmas and spring.

So, that’s me. Just writing. And also there’s coffee. As Fridays go, this one’s not so bad. And hopefully by the end of it, I’ll have some good stuff down on the page.

Happy Friday, and if you’re spending time writing today, too, then I hope that it’s fun and rewarding, and that you create something amazing!

The Power of the Opening Line

I’m working a little bit on my August short story today, and I’ll probably work on it a lot more over the weekend. It’s slow going – I have a spark of an idea, but it’s not really a story yet, and I’m waiting to see where it might go.

And that got me thinking.

Back when I was in college, I took a creative writing class. One of our in-class assignments was to write a story around an opening line provided by the professor. We had fifteen minutes to write as much as we could. This was the line:

“When we saw the headlights coming, we ducked.”

I can’t remember what I wrote, but I remember that opening line. And I remember some of my other favorite opening lines, too.

How about:

“Scarlett O’Hara was not beautiful, but men seldom noticed it when caught by her charm…”

Or:

“There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it.”

Also:

“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.”

Or, the old favorite:

“Call me Ishmael.”

Whether I enjoyed these books or not (I resolutely hated Gone with the Wind, and surprisingly loved Moby Dick), these lines have stuck with me, as have many others. This speaks, I think, to the power of a good opening line.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think it’s a make or break thing. Many an excellent story has had a lackluster or an unassuming opening sentence. One of my personal favorites begins really rather quietly with just:

“There was no possibility of taking a walk that day.”

And I’ve never been very fond of this one, but everyone else seems to like it:

“If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don’t feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth.”

Anyway, my point is this: A good opening line gives a story somewhere to go, and a really good opening line hooks a reader immediately.

In the spirit of fairness, here are some that I’ve written. Some are fine, some not so much. Some have become stories. Some are still waiting. But I thought it would be fun to share them.

Summer is the time for magic.

The girl stood alone on a beach she had never seen.

“This is not how my life was supposed to turn out.”

To anyone else, the door at the end of the hallway was just that – a door. 

It was Lloyd Alexander’s fault, not that she could ever tell him, seeing as she’d never met him, and he was dead.

See, sometimes, when I’m having trouble putting words together, I’ll just sit down and write first lines. No story or characters attached, no ideas, no strings. And I actually find it really helpful. And usually, one of those first lines will lead me somewhere.

So, tell me! Do you have any favorite opening lines? Or least favorites? Either that you’ve read or that you’ve written. Either way, I’d love to hear them!

You’re welcome! (Or, about that quote I can’t get out of my head…)

Y’all, I just had to share this quote, because it jumped out at me yesterday, and now I can’t get it out of my head.

Write as if you were dying. At the same time, assume you write for an audience consisting solely of terminal patients. That is, after all, the case. What would you begin writing if you knew you would die soon? What could you say to a dying person that would not enrage by its triviality?

This quote is from The Writing Life by Annie Dillard.

(From Goodreads)

I read it yesterday while I was procrastinating some housecleaning, and I did not expect it to stick with me like this. But here I am, several hours later, still thinking about it. And now, perhaps you are, too.

So, sorry about that. Or not sorry? I’m not sure. It’s good advice to share, I think. So maybe, then, you’re welcome!

At any rate, what’s your favorite bit of writing wisdom? Feel free to share!