The year 2020 found lots of different ways to crush my soul and with it, my creativity. A particularly dark winter meant I was still singing the Seasonal Affective Disorder blues when COVID-19 showed up in Washington State. Then everything shut down and my morning ritual of sipping tea and writing words in a quiet house disappeared. Suddenly there were three extra people at home all day long. Noisy, hungry, talkative people. Even with my office door shut and the fan churning out white noise, their energy threw me off my creative game.
I was primed for a creative crisis…
This week, the world turned bitter,
as if Mother Nature decided she’d given us
a long enough reprieve from winter.
And so she sent her sparkling frost,
her freezing temperatures,
a breeze sharp enough to cut
through fleece and down.
She sent ice skating across the surface of the pond,
refracting crystals creeping up tiny shoots once green,
bare branches creaking and crackling in the wind.
Safe inside, I wrap myself in blankets and kittens,
distract myself with endless books,
but my mind wanders elsewhere.
To a place where my toes dip into the surf,
where we leave a pair of happy footprints in…
Writers talk a lot about revision. “Revision is where the magic happens.” “I’m going into the revision cave.” “I revised this 852 times before publication.” But to aspiring writers who are still hoping for their first chance to work with an editor, it all sounds equal parts mysterious and daunting. At least it did to me before I became a book coach and freelance editor and became the one sending the edit letters.
That’s why I’m going to give you a peek behind the curtain at the editorial process I went through with my recent short story, “The Wending Way.”…
More than twenty-five years ago, three friends and I drove round and round Monument Circle in our hometown of Indianapolis, convertible top-down and music blasting. It was 1992 so the Pretty Woman soundtrack was our music of choice. Of course, it was Natalie Cole’s Wild Women Do. The refrain was our anthem: “Wild women do and we don’t regret it / Wild women show what they’re goin’ through / Wild women do what you think they’ll never / What you only dream about wild women do.”
We were sixteen and the sense of endless possibility was as intoxicating as the…
You’ve all heard the recommendation: If you want to be a writer, develop thicker skin. Searching for “writing, thick skin” on Google yields almost 75 million results. But after two decades of writing and editing, I can tell you: getting a thicker skin will only hurt your writing.
Don’t get me wrong. This advice comes from a well-meaning place. After all, writing for publication is a rejection-filled process. And as writers, we do have to accept feedback on our work if we want it to shine. From critique partners to agents to editors to copyeditors, multiple people touch each book…
when you put the garden to bed
on a cold winter day
to focus on
the bare branches
fallen in the wind,
the number of green tomatoes
— such a loss of potential —
the blackened buds,
what a waste, what a waste.
What’s harder is to relish
the sunlight on my face,
the crisp crunch
of the leaves underfoot,
the hidden treasure
of winter carrots.
But when I pause,
see past the gloom
that didn’t fruit,
of slugs that
rasp at the cabbages
in the long dark,
I look up
against a bright blue sky
a little bit of beauty,
a gentle reminder
After eleven months at home, we’ve finally gotten tired of baking sourdough bread. Don’t get me wrong, my husband makes a mean loaf of bread. But by December, we were ready for a new culinary challenge to distract us from the pandemic.
So of course, Santa brought me a pasta machine and an extruder. A week later, a bag of “Tipo 00” Italian pasta flour arrived at our door. We looked up a basic pasta recipe in our favorite Italian cookbook (River Cafe Cookbook Green) and off we went.
It’s not a quick process — good thing we’re stuck at…
If there’s one silver lining to being home for nine months and counting, it’s that my garden has never looked better. The extra at-home time convinced me to try something I’ve been wanting to do for ages: greenhouse gardening. So this past summer, we ordered a greenhouse kit and my husband and son, bless their hearts, spent several days building me a 7'x13' greenhouse.
Although I read a couple of books on greenhouse gardening, as the temperatures dipped, I started to panic. I had this whole huge empty greenhouse — how would I decide what plants to put in it…
Many writers are coming off the creative high of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). But how do you sustain that level of creative energy through the dark days of winter, the busy holiday season, and beyond? The Writing Cooperative has featured some great writing tips this month, including You Can Cure Writer’s Block by Pretending to Text Your Friends and Blocked Writers, You Have a Typing Problem. But I have a few suggestions for a few creativity boosters to try when you’re not sitting at your desk as well.
Tip #1: Create Time
One of the best things I’ve done…