How technical writing helped me write memoir and fiction

I fell in love with writing in grade school and took journalism and was on the newspaper staff in high school. I attended the University of Wisconsin as a journalism major, then transferred to UCLA my senior year to complete a degree in English. Because jobs for women journalists were few in the 1960s in Los Angeles, I began a long career as a technical writer and editor, proposal manager, web designer and content developer in the aerospace industry. And I must say that was a great choice because my job paid very well, and I’m still able to work from time to time as a consultant years after I officially retired (I’m just about to embark on a four-month job to help a group of engineers write a proposal to the U.S. Air Force). Plus, I’ve been able to transfer what I learned as a technical writer over to my memoir and fiction writing. Here are six things I learned: Plan before you write. I had an outline before I started my memoir and a list of scenes that guided my fiction b … [Read more...]

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Paul Blieden, master photographer

Although he didn’t know it, when Paul Blieden invited me to write the poems for his photography book, The Emerging Goddess, he helped save my creative life. At that time I was still writing dark mourning poems for my dead son. As soon as I said yes to Paul’s request, my writing turned a corner. When I realized I could write about something other than the death of my son and my memories of him, I climbed out of the deep funk I was in. I loved The Emerging Goddess project as I love the rest of Paul Blieden’s photography. His subject matter is endlessly varied. He has done head shots, fashion, fine art, travel, and nature photography since 2001 and has enjoyed every minute. During this time he became a member of the Los Angeles Art Association and was on its board; a member of the Palos Verdes Art Center where he was president of both the Photography and Digital Artist group and the Artist Open Group. He is currently a member of the Palos Verdes/South Bay Audubon Society and an avid … [Read more...]

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Paul’s CD is almost ready

Last December I wrote that I was intent on putting out a compact disc of my son Paul's music and have all proceeds go to charities that work toward erasing the stigma of mental illness and/or preventing suicide.  And I am pleased to say that it is almost ready to go. My plan now is to launch it sometime in the week of September 23 to commemorate the fifteenth anniversary of Paul's death. As the date gets closer, I'll let you know where and when the launch will take place. I must credit the three people who have helped make this project a reality: Martin Borsanyi, Paul's friend from their Crossroads high school jazz ensemble days, copied all of Paul's music from the original cassette tapes that Paul left us onto CDs Patrick von Wiegandt, a brilliant recording artist and singer and musician (he leads a band called Swanky), produced and engineered all the songs. He also helped me pick the songs for the CD and the order in which they will appear. Paul Blieden, photographer ex … [Read more...]

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Aging goddesses in my heart

“How old would you be if you didn’t know your age.” Golda Meir   A dear friend’s mother died this week. She was ninety-five. I only met her one time, but I heard she had a good long life. She lived in the retirement home where another friend’s ninety-three-year-old mother lives. My aunt lives there too. She’s going on ninety-eight. And I still see her as the beauty she was in her thirties, forties, and fifties. I wrote the poems for Paul Blieden’s book of photography, The Emerging Goddess. I dedicate this poem to these ladies. They are in my heart. Aging Goddesses The crones – our mothers, grandmothers, aunts, old friends, and teachers – walk arm in arm in pairs each one supporting the other on the old cobble-stoned streets. They are squat, stout with veiny legs and thick ankles, their bare feet in flat sandals showing jagged toenails or clothed in thick hose and wide oxfords. Some move slowly barely able to walk, clutching each other for support. T … [Read more...]

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Aging Goddesses

I think it makes sense to post a poem about age, having just celebrated a birthday. This is one of a series I wrote for The Emerging Goddess, to accompany Paul Blieden's beautiful photography. Aging Goddesses The crones – our mothers, grandmothers, aunts, old friends, and teachers – walk arm in arm in pairs each one supporting the other on the old cobble-stoned streets. They are squat, stout with veiny legs and thick ankles, their bare feet in flat sandals showing jagged toenails or clothed in thick hose and wide oxfords. Some move slowly barely able to walk, clutching each other for support. They are perfectly coifed. Their hair short and bleached hides their age but not too much. They wear suits with skirts always below their knees. Jeans just don’t do. They talk as they walk closely together. Almost in a whisper they solve the world’s problems, impart their age-old wisdom or decide what they’ll cook for dinner. They wear their age as an exa … [Read more...]

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Recap of 2010 Events

Before I move on to 2011, I thought I'd recap some of our family's 2010. We sent this list along with our holiday cards. January: Bob recovers from knee surgery Bob publishes Volume 1 of Family History – Bob's family story Bob’s brother Richard’s dies; Madeline and Bob travel to New York February: Ben and Marissa announce intention to marry Madeline takes novel writing workshop at UCLA and begins first novel March: Madeline begins blogging on Red Room, a writers website -http://www.redroom.com/member/madeline40 April: Madeline retires from Northrop Grumman on April 30 May: Madeline has several poems published at Survivor Chronicles, unFold, and Poetsespresso Bob ends 14 years of consulting for TRW/Northrop Grumman on May 7 Madeline and Bob begin five-week vacation with trip to Chicago, Washington, and New York City to see family and friend June: Our five week vacation continues to London, cruise from South Hampton to Scandinavia and St … [Read more...]

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