January small stones

I've been faithfully writing my small stones every day - even though my time has been limited the past few weeks. I took on a consulting job three weeks ago back working at my old day job - helping engineers write and produce a proposal to the U.S. Government. It's always interesting and fulfilling and very busy, but doesn't come close to the pleasure I feel when I'm doing my creative work. I'm happy to say the job will be over on February 21. That said, here are my January Gems - my daily attempt at writing a short piece every day of the month. They aren't meant to be masterpieces. Just a way to jump-start my writing for the day. January Gems Happy New Year everyone. I love that we’re still keeping up with our small stones. Let’s make 2017 a great writing year. The floats in the Rose Parade are spectacular. They’re getting more elaborate and tech-y every year. After our recent heavy rains, it’s gotten unseasonably cold here in southern California. But not so cold t … [Read more...]

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Life lessons learned from journaling

For four months I worked incredibly long hours helping a group of engineers write a proposal to the United States Air Force. My job was to advise and to make sure they correctly followed the request for proposal (RFP) instructions in the given number of pages. Plus I edited and rewrote their work to make the proposal read like it was written in one voice. I would arrive at work around 7:30 am and leave between six and eight in the evening. That left me just enough time to have a quick dinner at our hotel where the selections were less than enticing and go up to my hotel room and get ready for bed. Regular writing even under these conditions reminded me how important journaling is to my continued well-being. It always gives me space to gripe, to rant, and even to describe some of the good things about my day. Since journaling has become a way of life for me, I couldn’t let it go no matter what. Unfortunately, my other writing went by the wayside during this heavy period of work and I’ … [Read more...]

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How I’m finding my muse again

I’ve had a tough time getting back to my writing routine since completing my recent consulting job. While consulting I did manage to write a journal entry almost everyday, but that was the extent of my writing practice. Besides the grueling proposal work I lived out-of-town in a hotel and ate bland uninteresting food – for about four months. I had hardly anytime to do anything else besides work. There were no muses in that hotel room, believe me. The first thing I did when I got home was sleep. I napped several times a day for two weeks, until I finally felt like myself again. Although I worked out in the early mornings as usual, not long after breakfast I needed my first nap. Finally I started to look for something to kick-start my writing, to bring back my muse. I had put my list of poetry prompts into my Dropbox folder so I’d have it handy while I was away, but I never once opened that file. I didn’t even update it with the prompts that came by email every Wednesday. So that … [Read more...]

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Fresh eyes are important to our writing process

After a three-week break, I went back to my consulting job on August 3 and worked 17 days straight. That is until today when I got a little mini vacation - a few hours off to go out to lunch and get a much-needed manicure and pedicure. Tomorrow I'll  be back on the job for another 20 days or so until the work is finished. I can't tell how much I look forward to going back to my writing life and playing with all my writing friends out on the networks. I really apologize for being such a dropout these last few weeks and months. Once back I'll probably get so involved again, you all will want me to get a work gig again. However, while I've been working I looked at how similar writing a proposal is to writing a book. Right now  a review team is looking at our product. That's what I hope most of us do with our draft books: ask a team of fellow authors to review our book and give us comments pick our team carefully for their expertise give them a list of specific things to look … [Read more...]

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Comparing writing a proposal to writing a book

I finally have a break from work. Yes, it’s Sunday and I have the day off. For the last five weeks I’ve been knee-deep in working with a team of engineers writing a proposal to the U. S. Air Force. And, I’d like to share some of the steps they have gone through – some very similar to those we take as fiction and nonfiction authors and some not. Plan. Start with an outline or a plan – the engineers produced annotated outlines and planning documents called story maps that showed where on each page of their sections their graphics and text will layout on the page. I started both my memoir and novel with outlines. I know some of you are panzers, but I like to have a plan before I write. Review. We spent a lot of time reviewing these plans for compliance with the proposal instructions and technical soundness. I was very fortunate to have a friend review my original memoir outline and another person review my revision plan when I was getting it ready for publication. Having fresh eye … [Read more...]

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Draft five of my novel is with five beta readers

  Last June I sent Draft Four of my novel-in-progress to five beta readers. This past Sunday I did it again. I sent Draft Five to five different beta readers. I also sent the manuscript to one of the first five beta readers and asked her to let me know if she thinks I created any damage as a result of all the cuts, changes, and rewrites I made to this latest draft - to comply with current guidelines for lengths of novels, I cut almost 9000 words. Hopefully, I left enough in tact that I didn't ruin anything. However, I have a safety net. I have saved every single draft of my novel. I can always add something back in if necessary. You can probably tell from the above, I consider getting my novel out in public both scary and exciting. However, it gives me a much-needed break from it. I've asked my readers to send me their comments by June 30 or sooner, so now I have time to blog, write some new poetry (I plan to participate in Robert Lee Brewer's April Poem A Day Challenge t … [Read more...]

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Ageism doesn’t apply

I’m Going Back to Work I wasn’t looking for consulting work when I retired in April 2010 at the age of seventy. I was intent on working as a creative writer rather than a technical writer and proposal manager. For me it was either now or never. And I succeeded. In the last four and a half years I had my memoir published, I’ve written for several websites, I’ve written poems for two books of photography, and co-edited three poetry anthologies. Now I’m knee deep in revising my first novel. So really I have no time to work a day job, as they like to say. Actually, in the last couple of years I worked a couple of short-term consulting jobs – helping a group of engineers write proposals to the U.S. government. And it was easy-going back. I found that once I walked in the door I got into the swing of the work immediately. It was like I’d never been gone. Of course after doing the kind of work I did for almost thirty years, I shouldn’t have had any doubt that I could still perform … [Read more...]

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Thoughts about the est training forty years later

In 1976 I participated in the Erhard Seminars Training (est), an organization, “founded by Werner H. Erhard,” that, according to Wikipedia, “offered a two-weekend (60-hour) course known officially as the est Standard Training. The purpose of est was ‘to transform one's ability to experience living so that the situations one had been trying to change or had been putting up with, clear up just in the process of life itself.’ The est training was offered from late 1971 to late 1984.” Est, the Wiki says, “focused on transformation and taking responsibility for one's life.” As a parting memento, we received a little brown-covered book of aphorisms that pretty much summed up what we learned in that training. One aphorism that has stayed with me over the last forty years is: “If you keep your agreements your life will work.” Since that time, keeping agreements has been the way I live my life, and I find myself very impatient with those who don’t keep theirs. So it was no surprise that … [Read more...]

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Some thoughts about going back to a day job

My first inclination was to say no at an offer to work on a proposal for three weeks. Not because I don’t like the work. I like proposal work a lot and feel I can really do a service in helping a group of engineers write one that will win them a government contract. My main reason for wanting to say no is the more than hour drive on the freeway each way (Manhattan Beach to/from Anaheim CA). During the drive to work I have to face the light force of the rising sun, whereas my drive home is usually at dusk that turns quickly into a night sky. Traffic stops and goes along the way are also is in the mix. Driving under those conditions make me nervous and long for the ten-minute commute back and forth to the day job I retired from in 2010. However, I do like the work and I loved being asked to do it. I’ve had so much experience helping engineers write proposals that I didn’t question my ability to help them out again - even after being away from the work for so long.  Once I walked in … [Read more...]

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