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FRESH FROM THE INKWELL

CANCELLELATION

There's a word for it?

Just days after giving up Facebook for Lent, bowing out of the Easter cantata, and going AWOL from two meetings, I chanced upon this snippet in Reader's Digest: "CANCELLELATION: The joy felt by someone who frees up his schedule by canceling an appointment or reneging on a social plan" (from WORDBIRDS, Simon & Schuster).

Yes! I've downed a quadruple dose of that feeling, and hope to do it again. After all, we are retired now, or semi-retired at least. How could my calendar fill up so fast? Have I become my own worst enemy? What happened to all those days that stretched ahead of me when I first moved to the country - time to paint, relax, dream, think, write, nap, read, or do nothing?

No one was depending on me to take a leadership role at the events I missed. Friends missed me, and a part of me missed them too, but, on balance, I knew I'd made the right choice. I owed it to myself. Much as I love people, I still crave periods of solitude. You might call them mental health retreats.

I still show up for (and enjoy) my part-time job, plus church activities and meals with family, but I look forward to less rushing from one meeting to another, and a lot more cancellelation. Read More 
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GHOSTS OF THE MIDNIGHT OIL

RIDDLE OF THE SAMOVAR, CHAPTER SOGGY-MIDDLE-9-ISH
IN WHICH THE CHARACTERS TALK BEHIND THE AUTHOR'S BACK
(Based on an exercise that got me unstuck in my last mystery.)

Jandy: Does this author know what she's doing?
Calvin: I'm beginning to wonder that myself.
J: Did you tell her up front what you want?
C: Not exactly. Did you?
J: No, but I'm going to.
C: Will we get it by the end?
J: We must, or it won't be much of a plot.
C: Readers will hurl the book across the room.
J: And never pick it up again, if there's no--
C: Blood and guts? An explosion every five minutes?
J: Not necessarily, but some kind of danger.
C: As the lights dim.
J: Like in a play.
C: Yeah. They'll watch us squirm.
J: And root for us!
C: Wondering how on earth we can fight our way out of it.
J: Using weapons we didn't know we had.
C: Or hoped we wouldn't have to use.
J: But grab at the needed moment, like Lucy's arrows.
C: And Peter's sword.
J: Summoned across time and space by the bugle.
C: Yeah, except this isn't time travel.
J: Right. She's saving that for another book.
C: Are we going to risk life and limb?
J: Possibly. There has to be a sacrifice.
C: Our reputation. Or pride. Or worse.
J: For the greater good. Truth and justice!
C: Never quite sure of success until the last page.
J: Paragraph.
C: Sentence.
J: So, you reckon we can write this story?
C: Yep. High five!
J: OK. Now, who's going to tell her? You, or me? Read More 
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EVICTION NOTICE TO MY INNER CRITIC

Dear Sybil Womberly-Jones:

I regret—no, let’s be honest, I rejoice—to inform you that as of midnight tomorrow you will no longer reside in any property of mine. You have outstayed your welcome, by breaking the terms of our contract.

When you signed our lease at the launch of my writing career, I blissfully envisaged a partnership in which I would write to my heart’s content, as I did at age six when my teacher affixed a blue star to my re-telling of “I Saw a Ship A-Sailing” in my News Book. You, meanwhile, were to stay in your half of the house, or take long walks, whatever you desired that would keep you away from my office until called for.

Instead, you snooped in my apartment window and showed up on my doorstep at ungodly hours, determined to undermine my confidence with premature advice concerning my first draft. Who are you to tell me this kind of story will never sell? What makes you the ultimate authority on character creation, or plotting devices?

Please have your mahogany desk with its rows of red ink bottles, along with your hairsplitting, syntax-quibbling spectacles, packed up and ready to leave the premises by the aforesaid time. Failure to comply will result in a sharp nib in your ribs or worse. My best friend’s husband is the county sheriff.

Sincerely,

Rita Writer Read More 
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