If Shoes Could Talk

On the Saturday before the Fourth of July holiday, we shopped early at a local Kroger’s store, assuming it would be crowded later with people buying everything grill-able. We loaded our groceries into the car around 9:20 a.m., and my partner remarked that he’d taken an interesting photo showing a pair of castoff wedge sandals that had extremely high heels. I asked where he’d seen them, and he gestured to a small shrubbery island near our parking space.

“Take a look,” he said.

I looked where he’d pointed, got out of the car, and walked to the island, where the shoes rested on a bed of mulch. Size 8 and apparently new, with no visible indication of wear. My first thought was to take them into Kroger’s for their Lost and Found, but my second thought was perhaps someone had set them aside to load groceries into their vehicle–and would soon be back to reclaim them. I left them as they were.

Driving home, I toyed with various possibilities, and realized that “found” items are often the inspiration for poetry or prose. One of the most poignant examples was at a remote, country cemetery I visited a few years ago. I found the grave of a little boy who’d passed at around four years of age. A loving person had left gifts–toys and items that seemed to have progressed in both newness and age-appropriateness for eleven years.

On a lighter side, I won a stuffed rabbit at a Christmas Eve White Elephant exchange. On returning home and examining the fluffy toy, I found a hidden zipper compartment that, when opened, produced a pair of sheer, lacy, thong panties. Who knew?

As for the shoes, here are a few prompts if you are in the mood to write:

Someone changed for comfort, and neglected to put them back in their vehicle.

Someone shoplifted, became scared of being caught, or felt guilty, and tossed them.

A teenager, angry over criticism of her fashion choice, threw them out of the car.

A woman twisted her ankle, and disgusted, tossed them.

A disgruntled sibling threw sister’s shoes out of the vehicle in spite.

A domineering partner called them “slut” shoes and threw them out.

Kidnapped. carjacked, or abused woman kicked them off to signal she needed help.

Or . . . a kidnapper tossed the shoes so his victim couldn’t run away.

A gift rejected by recipient who wanted something more expensive (red soles).

There’s one more, but I’m saving it; I need inspiration on these baking summer days, when the sun drives me indoors to my computer.

Always look for the unexpected.

The Continuity of Things

It has been a year of loss. Fires, floods, and tornadoes have ravaged many areas, including my community of Bowling Green, Kentucky. Add to that the devastating toll Covid has taken on the life and health of countless individuals, and it is no wonder survivors have been left reeling and struggling to make sense of it all. I thought this morning about loss, and how we learn to deal with it. I wrote the following a few years ago. It seems time to share it.

This morning, along with the other dishes, I washed a small, vintage Pyrex bowl. It is white, with a pink design, called Gooseberry. My companion uses it when he prepares his breakfast. We found it when we cleaned out an old schoolhouse. The bowl was miraculously intact, considering it was buried under towering piles of junk–ranging from bureaus drawers full of mouse-eaten sweaters to boxes containing pots, pans, and mason jars. Stacked in every conceivable space were also the kept items from a long-defunct gas station and garage.

We waded through heaps of oily tools and barrels of unknown lubricants. Tossed onto this mound of rubbish were soft drink signs, huge oak doors, a wardrobe with mirror still intact, tires, scrap metal, disintegrating chairs, old lamp shades, broken furniture–the detritus of two dismantled households and a business.

As each of his grandparent died, his family stored the unwanted household belongings in the schoolhouse. What may have begun as orderly stacks, and good intentions, fell victim to pressing schedules and higher priorities. As the years went by, the remnants of the two households rested in the old schoolhouse, gradually turning to mouse fluff and rubble.

When it began to seem masochistic to even try to sort out the mound of trash, treasures surfaced. A cut glass candy dish that sat on his paternal grandmother’s dining room table. A delicate item in the home of a down-to-earth grandmother; one who thought nothing of waking at dawn, going into the woods and shooting a squirrel or two for breakfast. She skinned, gutted, and fried the game with eggs from her henhouse, as easily and nonchalantly as I rip open a package and pop it into the microwave.

Another box wielded books that had belonged to the maternal grandmother, a woman as different from the other as possible. This one was a superintendent of schools, educated and refined, who’d probably never shot a squirrel in her life, much less held a gun.

From both came small treasures: a 1950s’ tablecloth, mercifully spared from the sharp teeth of rodents, with turquoise and brown patterns dancing across a snowy white background. A small stool, cut glass candle holders, a pretty vase, a cast iron frying pan, and two pink bowls, survivors of a set of four.

As I dried the small bowl and put it away, I wondered what his long dead grandmother would think if she could see him using the bowl she must have held so often. I wonder if she was left-handed like him. Does he thinks of her when he holds the bowl? He’s not sentimental, so maybe to him it is just a useful bowl, the right size with a good pour spout on one side.

Today, in my kitchen, I thought about our connection to everyday items that have no monetary value. Every time I open a bottle, I use a bottle opener that reads Casper Liquor Store. It belonged to my mother, and she used it before the advent of twist-off bottle caps. It has an honored place in my utility drawer, and when I feel the smooth, red and white plastic handle, I see her again, sitting in a lawn chair on a hot, Wyoming summer night, prying the cap off a chilled bottle of beer, then handing the opener to me to perform an identical ritual with a bottle of cola.

On my desk sits a red, square Hills Brothers Coffee measure; it is also vintage and rested for years in my mother’s coffee canister. When full, it measures the perfect amount of coffee for brewing two cups. The canister was tin, decorated with tulip decals and a topped with a chocolate brown lid.

The measure now holds a tiny sea shell, two unusual pebbles, and a sprig of eucalyptus. I look at it every day, touch it, feel a strong connection to my mother who died far too young, and far too soon. The coffee measure reminds me of how she would make coffee for both of us, lace hers with canned milk, then smile at me as though our drinking coffee together made her world complete.

Why do we keep mundane, everyday objects of little worth? Bent serving spoons? Tattered linens? Why do I cherish my father’s carpenter square and level, although the last time I used either was years ago in a house long abandoned?

Perhaps because when we see and touch these well-worn items, they connect us to the hands that held them–join us in a tangible way that hazy memories cannot. The singular act of using and caring for inherited objects is, in itself, a form of devotion: a reminder that the chain of life–and love–extends far beyond individual existence, linking us to the past as surely as it grounds us in the present.

I’ll continue to carefully wash and dry the pink-and-white bowl every day, make sure the bottle opener is put away clean so it won’t rust, and seek solace in the continuity of things. © Jennie L. Brown

Other Than That, Are You Writing?

This morning, I said to my resident musician, “Other than the pandemic, the fact your car is up on blocks until it’s repaired, and the malfunction of our home heating system, how are you?” I was reminded of the hackneyed phrase that made the rounds some years ago, “Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln . . ..”

My question for other writers is one I ask myself, “Other than the impact the pandemic has had on you, and the inevitable disruption of your usual pursuits, are you writing?” I admit, I haven’t been. The most I’ve accomplished the last year was to prepare two manuscripts for submission. I am sitting on one trying to decide what to do with it. I finally contacted two publishers on the other (a British mystery). One rejection; one still pending.

I’ve coped with the stress by reading–reading a lot, as it turns out. On the plus side, all those books have improved my at-home Jeopardy score. I now know more trivia than every before. Can I use that in my writing? Maybe. Since March of 2020, I’ve also developed a different attitude toward my writing–more forgiving, more introspective, and, surprisingly, more playful. More of a “What the hell, why not?” attitude.

Many of us, in times of difficulty, reorder our priorities, put aside petty concerns and concentrate on what really matters to us. Certainly, loved one and friends take a larger role in our awareness, as does the general health of our community.

It hasn’t been just the pandemic that has made many of us examine our values, our opinions, and our resiliency. It has, undoubtedly, been a very tough year in nearly every sector of our society. So, it’s no wonder writing is not foremost on many author’s minds. While some people have found solace in Journaling, tackled the novel they always wanted to write, or expressed themselves through poetry, others are too distracted or disheartened to write much of anything.

But is a writing hiatus a bad thing? I initially thought so, beating myself up over not being motivated to make more than a sporadic effort, but then I began to see it wasn’t all negative. If you’ve slacked off on your writing, had a problem with sustaining a creative thought, then take heart. You may have also opened yourself up to new insights, new compassion, and new understanding of the human psyche; all of which will only enhance the words you commit to paper in the future.

Have you been writing? More? Less? Different? I’d love to hear from you.

Washing Bananas: A Writer’s Response to the Pandemic

I’ve just finished washing and drying two bunches of bananas, one avocado, one lime, and two broccoli crowns. They are currently drying on a towel on my kitchen counter. I am also thinking about how I’ve neglected my writing since March 11. On that Tuesday, I had an appointment with my hairdresser at 9 a.m. After that, a quick stop at the grocery store and a drive home to our country cottage. It was the last time I shopped with ease, or carried on with my normal activities.

I started out with good intentions, determined that if I was sheltering in place, I would finish two major projects: edit a manuscript that has taken me away from this blog site for months, and edit and prepare for publication a biography that is 98 percent complete. Maybe I’d even start something new.

None of that transpired. I was too distracted to focus on any writing other than commenting to a few friends on social media, or writing an email here and there. I knew I’d feel better if I sat down, turned on the computer, and worked. I had the desk, the chair, and the computer, but what was sorely lacking was motivation. At the end of each day, with nothing accomplished, I mentally beat myself up for being so “lazy.” After all, the hard work was mostly behind me; I had two projects very close to completion. All I had to do was apply myself, but . . .

I found myself bouncing around the house, busying myself with household chores, cooking, and reading–a lot of reading. It was all I could focus on for any length of time. The only thing that seemed like a win was finally perfecting a low-fat brownie recipe.
Then, I read an article that said, in effect, “What in the hell do you expect from yourself–or anyone–in the midst of a pandemic that’s taking lives at an alarming rate?” What indeed?

And that was when I decided to let reading a favorite author, popping a dark chocolate truffle occasionally, and surrendering to the rhythm of the days–as numbingly  repetitious as they have become–be sufficient for now. Perhaps the next seventy-five days will be more productive. At least, a more relaxed attitude has yielded small gains–pages if not chapters.

I often heard the slogan, “Practice what you preach,” as a kid growing up in a prairie state. I still adhere to it, so I won’t tell you to write every day, become the most creative you’ve ever been, or write the memoir you’ve had simmering for years. The only writing pointer I can suggest is to be kind to yourself, write when it makes you happy, and trust that the muse will return.

He Called Me UNIVAC

My ex-husband called me UNIVAC. Although I found it immensely unflattering at the time, in retrospect he probably had a point. I liked accounting, and tended to be organized; thus, I handled all the household and business bookkeeping, including keeping track of our bank balances. And therein was the problem. He scattered checks around town like confetti at a parade. Every couple of days I would try to jog his memory–how many had he’d written, to whom, and where–so I could enter them in the check register and, hopefully, keep enough money in the bank to avoid an overdraft. It was daunting.

But, this really isn’t about my ex-husband; that was a long time ago.

What it is about is how we view ourselves, and how we view the nature and content of our writing.

Expectations, ours and those of others, can lock us into a pattern where we think, “I only write nonfiction; I wouldn’t be any good at writing a novel,” or “I’m too whimsical to write serious articles.”

At one time, during and after college, (where I’d specialized in political science, history, and English), I concentrated on research. I liked digging for facts, and writing what I hoped were halfway scholarly papers. Writing anything else never entered my mind. I still love the research facet of writing, but now I see it’s application for fiction as well as nonfiction.

Old habits do die hard, and a simple line in my novel about a baby being both with a caul led me to a full day of reading about the superstitions surrounding that amniotic membrane. A 1,200 words article for a true crime ezine had me digging into not just the spate of bank robberies in 1937, but the social fabric of the Great Depression.

There is a blogger I follow who never fails to interest me. He is a retired oncologist, and from time to time addresses scientific and/or philosophical issues related to science. But his next post might be an imaginative, entertaining science-fiction piece or–just today–a children’s story. All are thought provoking and worth the read. It was his blogs that made me think about how versatile we can be in our writing if we don’t stereotype ourselves.

Suppose you write nonfiction on crucial, but distressing subjects. It’s important work, but it can become draining after a time.That’s when writing a one-act play, a poem, a short story, or a flash fiction piece might provide a new perspective–as well as a much-needed respite. Conversely, a comedy writer might discover a new angle on social issues if he or she wrote a thoughtful article on a current concern.

Writing can be a lonely endeavor–just us and a blank screen or tablet. While some people write in teams, most of us sequester ourselves and try to produce a few pages at a time. That’s why trying something different can help us remember why we fell in love with writing in the first place–writing can be fun.

Perhaps our basic nature doesn’t change all that much, but our writing universe certainly can, and, from both a creative and a good mental health standpoint, probably should. Exploring a new genre can brighten every aspect of your writing. It’s worth a try.

A World on a Card Table

The woman, a rough shawl wrapped around her and the infant she clasped close to her breast, surveyed the barren prairie. The snowy landscape offered little shelter from the bitter wind. She walked until she came to a small ravine, with fallen trees and a low, rocky outcrop. She wrapped the infant tightly in the shawl, and lay it under an overhanging ledge, partially protected from the wind. Keeping an eye on the bundle, she began scouring the ground for broken branches with which to build a shelter for the night.

The story was neither written nor voiced. Rather, a series of tableaux acted out on a card table in my bedroom, where my mother had placed the rickety table, a chair, and me in front of a north facing window.The snowy landscape was comprised of white pillowcases, contoured by cardboard and any other prop I could salvage. The woman and her infant were clothespin dolls, replete with painted faces and glued on yarn for hair. The shawl was a piece of burlap found in my mother’s sewing box. The tree branches nothing more than twigs and bits of leaves and grass I’d picked up in our yard.

The entire fantasy landscape I’d created–painstakingly over several days–was for one purpose only: I was acting out a story of a desperate woman and her baby, surviving in the wilderness. The ingenuity needed to survive was what interested me.

My parents had very little money when I was a child, after my brother’s devastating illness kept my family strapped for years. My mother rose to the occasion, and saw to it that I went to school dressed acceptably, even if it meant ripping apart adult garments and remaking them into clothing for me.

She also supplied everything elementary school demanded. Somehow, between her artistic talent and her creative use of found materials, I often had the best decorated Valentine box or the best costume for the school play or pageant. Her motto, as she often reminded me, was “Necessity is the mother of invention.” I grew up believing that.

Fast forward to the advent of reality shows. I was an avid watcher of Survivor for the first few seasons, before it became more concerned with relationships than it did survival. I didn’t care about the personalities or the orchestrated challenges; what fascinated me was how they would find water, food, build a shelter, fight off insects, withstand weather. Sure, I knew I was watching a staged, television show, and no one was going to perish, but still . . .

I realize my fascination with survival, beginning with the make believe world I created on a card table, has dominated much of my writing. I believe we all have a dominate agenda in our writing, regardless of what genre(s) we decide to pursue.

A friend of mine, a very talented poet, writes with great understanding and compassion, whether her focus is on a shuttered and abandoned workplace, or on the process of grieving. The thin line between life and death hovers over her poetry, yet finds expression in a multitude of subjects.

One writer I know is a strong environmentalist, and preservation will be a part of every thing she publishes, even if the general story line is set far from natural world. Another will always address unequal justice in the legal system, regardless of whether the novel is a romance or a thriller. It seems we don’t stray too far from the themes that shaped our thinking, regardless of the content of our work.

I still follow my childhood passion for survival scenarios in my writing, although they are infrequently centered on a battle with the elements. Now, I find most of my work is along the lines of an individual surviving their circumstances, overcoming their personal conflicts, or finding the means to cope in our 21st century society.

It seems it’s to our advantage to identify the recurring motif underlying our work, if for no other reason than to solidify our convictions and provide a philosophical framework; a framework that comes in handy when we find ourselves writing something that doesn’t seem to coalesce into a concept that we–or more importantly, the reader–will grasp. Recognizing the dominate theme in the bulk of our work helps us get back on track and write more authentically.

The Hydrangea’s Last Chapter

I’m not a gardener; however, I like having a few containers sitting around with basil, rosemary, lavender, and perhaps a few flowers. And, I like to save plants–the ones I find on a bargain table that, if not sold that day, are destined for the trash bin the following day.

Recently, I debated whether I should let a large hydrangea plant–that was clearly struggling and not putting forth any flowers–die a natural death, or take a drastic measure to save it. Assuming it was on it’s way out regardless, I whacked it down to about about 10 inches above ground. I fully expected it to perish. Instead, it burst forth with new leaves, has grown at least two feet in a short time, and even managed a few blooms.

That may not be a bad approach to take with a manuscript that has a weak, unsatisfactory last chapter. When I approach the last chapter of a manuscript I’m working on, I envision my characters as having met their challenges and emerging into a new phase of their lives. I want to convey that to the reader who, I hope, cares about what happens to the characters as much as I do. If I have portrayed my fictional men and women sufficiently, that should happen. And I should bring the book to a believable conclusion that leaves the reader–if not in agreement–at least with a sense of closure.

But that doesn’t come easily. Case in point: I just finished the latest novel by a well-known author. She is a Pulitzer Prize winner, and has had at least one of her books made into a film. She is at her best when writing about families and relationships. I really liked this last novel, and read with anticipation to see what the main character would finally decide.

The suspense increased as I turned to the last page. Was the main character going to make a life changing decision or not? Finally, in the last two sentences of the book, she appears to make a decision, but then what ? The reader’s left hanging, still with no idea if she will carry through or not.

I realize that short, abrupt endings have become a vogue in fiction, but there is a limit to how truncated one can manage without irritating the reader. This book was 292 pages. It would have benefited from 293.

Sometimes, we either write themselves into a corner, or simply don’t know how to fashion the ending we imagine. When we write, we usually have our characters firmly in mind and know what should happen in the last chapter. Knowing and doing, however, are not the same thing, and producing that perfect ending can be daunting. I’ve struggled with more than one last chapter, reworking endlessly and finally settling on a version, but never feeling fully confident or good about it.

Hence, the whacking. I think the solution may be the same one I applied to the hydrangea. Take a chance, discard the old, the tired, the not-good-enough. Write a new, fresh chapter. Consider–would a different outcome make a difference? Explore various scenarios apart from the one you’ve had in mind. Experiment. You’ll know when you’ve got the conclusion that works, and you’ll have given the reader something to hold onto. You may not ever want to write a sequel, but the ultimate compliment is when your readers ask if there is going to be one.

Writer’s Quicksand

A musician friend, discussing a pop song, said it had “too many notes.” The melody was lost in an overzealous arrangement. Likewise, too many words–or digressions–mar an otherwise good story.

Not unlike many writers, I’m an avid reader: fiction, nonfiction, short stories, essays–all mediums that tell a story or reveal a truth. I am also tenacious, and reluctant to give up on a book simply because I don’t like the writing style.

Thus, a few days ago I began a book that, according to the hype, was a classic psychological thriller. All the requisite elements seemed to be in place: likable, sympathetic main character in jeopardy; interesting setting; intriguing plot; adequate tension. In other words, it should have been a real page turner. I tried to read at a normal pace, but kept finding myself sinking into a quicksand of words.

The author chose to burden a fairly straightforward narrative with endless stream-of-consciousness insertions–in paragraph after paragraph. This might have worked somewhat if the “thoughts” tied in with the plot, but they didn’t, nor did they indicate a fragile state of mind. They were simply a character quirk (thinking in clichés) that might be interesting in a nonfiction, psychological case study, but not in a novel.

As I read, I thought about why good writing can be derailed with superfluous detail.

How does it happen? Sometimes , in an effort to avoid the “cardboard” or “stock” character designation, we overemphasize a character’s traits or habits, mentioning them too often. Sometimes, because it’s generally important to provide descriptive details throughout the manuscript (not just at the beginning), we rely on that tried-and-true device–the elements. But, how many weather reports can the reader appreciate? Or, as I discovered after reading another novel recently, how many long, knit dresses can one author possibly include in a 346 page book? I found out–way too many!

Another pitfall is deviating from the plot, probably because writing fiction is the process of “making up” a world for our characters to inhabit, and giving them thoughts and actions to meet their challenges. It’s only natural that, In creating their world, we rely on what we know or imagine.

For example, if part of my plot involves my protagonist visiting someone living on a lonely ranch, I recall my uncle’s house, and how it looked when I was a child. I visualize the kitchen counter, the vintage dishes, the table covered with patterned oilcloth. So far, so good, but if I’m not careful I find myself writing about the fate of a horse my uncle gave me when I was  ten years old. The story has significance to me, and might even work as a short story, but having my character think about it is out of context only clutters my narrative.

I did finish the book because, in spite of the character’s rambling thoughts, the plot had merit. More importantly, it served as a valuable reminder to avoid miring the reader in pointless details and indulgent tangents. A lesson relearned.

Doing Instead of Viewing: Making Art to Inspire Writing

When writer’s take a break from writing, and why it’s okay to do so, was the content of my last blog. Not being in the mood to write was neither ominous nor permanent–it was simply a leave of absence from the keypad. In my case, it was also guilt free. At least for a while. Then, gradually, an inner voice began to nag, “Vacation is over. Go to work.”

Before I turned to writing, I was an art major and went on to paint realistic oils, mostly of people. I’d stopped when I began writing, with only an occasional try at watercolors or a sketch for a book cover. Then, at some point last year, I downloaded a few free apps to my iPad. Although a couple looked interesting, I didn’t take the time to explore them.

One morning, just before Christmas, I noticed I’d downloaded a sketching/note taking type of app, and I opened the sketching section. I began drawing figures, mostly with my index finger, although occasionally with a stylus. They were simple outlines, quickly done. On some, I’d swipe a swath of color or two, then move on. What surprised me was that I was drawing abstract figures, leaving off body parts, suggesting a shape rather than portraying my subjects in either accurate or minute detail. It was fun; it was free flowing; it was quick. It led me to a whimsical style I’d never contemplated when I was striving for accurate representations.

I knew sketching was entertaining, but what I hadn’t counted on was that it would become a strong motivator for my writing. After twenty or thirty minutes of creating sketches in which I’d let my finger–not my brain–dictate the lines, I had the urge to write, and felt excited over doing so. Within a day or two, a pattern was set: I’d sketch, then I’d write. The payoff? My long-neglected writing project is once again on track.

Will art motivate one to write? It’s been established that viewing a painting, sculpture, or other art form not only fires recognition, memory, and understanding, but also evokes an emotional response. The term ekphrasis (ekphrastic) describes the process of a spoken or written reaction to viewing a work of art: it’s a method frequently used for inspiration by writers and speakers.

But what about the doing as opposed to the viewing? When we create a visual art work, we are tapping into the same sources that are in play when we look at art. Perhaps the physical act of moving the hand to draw or color stimulates the brain to crave another creative outlet. That outlet can be your writing. Maybe it’s the satisfaction of seeing something you created, something tangible. Maybe it is just a reminder that your art, in any form, is important and deserving of your time.

If you use art to to inspire or motivate your writing, I’d love to hear from you.
What’s your art form?
Do you use a tablet, sketch pad, pencil, brush or sculpting tool?
How has it inspired or changed your writing?







When a Writer Stops Writing

What causes a writer to stop writing? Stop. Not quit. Quitting is different. Quitting is walking away with the intention of not going back. Quitting is a decision that something has served its purpose, is futile, is no longer viable or desirable. Quitting is giving up, giving away, giving yourself a better option.

Most writers never quit. Most writers can’t quit. There is always some element–a thought, observation, a scrap of dialogue–that suggests a character, a line of poetry, a sentence, or a paragraph. Writers are like musicians who hear music everywhere (the sound of water flowing over rocks; the beat tires make hitting the pavement on a particular stretch of road).

Writers often wake up with an idea for a poem, story, essay, or book before they’ve had their first cup of morning coffee. Sometimes, a remembered dream gives birth to an idea for a great narrative. Do they bound out of bed and develop their idea, write while the concept is fresh in their memory?

Some do, but not all, and not all the time.

Days, weeks, and months can go by without one word being written–by people who like to write. I don’t think it has much to do with that old catchall, “writer’s block.” I suspect many writers aren’t blocked; they just aren’t writing.

If we identify ourselves as writers, we are frequently asked, “What are you working on now?” Often, we murmur something like, “Oh, I’m in the editing stage.” “Too soon to go public.” “Just finishing my novel, (chapbook, essay collections, etc.).” Rarely do we tell the truth, “I have a lot of half-finished stuff on my computer, but I just haven’t felt like working on it.”

It’s difficult (often guilt inducing) to admit this when we are constantly admonished to climb out of a warm bed at 4 a.m. and write for several hours–before putting in a full day’s work at the job that really pays, or attending to personal or family needs.  We are told to stare at a blank computer page until an idea comes, even if it takes several hours. Why would we want to do that? And why assume we are blocked, heads as empty as a gourds? If there is no desire to write at a particular moment, staring at a computer screen or a blank piece of paper isn’t going to be an attitude changer. Neither is putting in a prescribed number of hours per day at the keyboard (regardless of output) going to make a difference.

Most writers I know, when they are motivated and excited about what they are working on, will spend every available moment writing, forgoing activities, pleasures, and frequently the necessary breaks–barely stopping for lunch or dinner. For them, it’s about being “in the zone,” not enforced writing practices.

I haven’t been writing much lately (this blog site attests to that neglect). No excuses. I just haven’t been in the mood. I’m thinking that isn’t a bad thing, because I’ve gained a new perspective on several projects, thought of some new twists on old projects, and will probably welcome time at the keyboard soon.