Sunday, July 31, 2011

An apology--and 100 words

First, I want to apologize for being behind on my blog reading. Last week was so full, and I just haven't had time to catch up. I will soon--promise!
Ever since Friday afternoon, I've been sick, which is also putting me behind on my commenting. I wrote my 100 words about how I was feeling this morning, when I was especially ill, whiny, and angry. At the moment, I'm feeling slightly better, but the anger hasn't gone away...
I feel so sick. Last Thursday I went to the dentist because I had an infected wisdom tooth, and he gave me a prescription for Clindamycin. After taking three doses, I started to develop severe stomach cramping and nausea. I stopped taking the drug right away and called my dentist, who told me I should continue with the medication in a smaller dosage. I'm glad I didn't listen to him. The cramps were (and are) so bad that I stopped the drug entirely. I'm angry. Except for the tooth, I was healthy, but now I feel like I've been poisoned.
So--that's what's been going on in my life. What's been going on in yours? :)

Saturday, July 30, 2011

The path I chose

Today's 100 words:

He had a ponytail. That was the first thing I noticed about him. This was back in the mid-nineties, when ponytails seemed cool and sexy--or maybe that was just my idea. He reminded me of a rocker, and I'd always been attracted to that type: the bad boy, the one all the women want, the one with the romantic eyes and sensuous lips. The one who would end up breaking my heart. I didn't know I'd be willing to give up so much for him: I changed; I hurt people I love.

I'd do it again.

Friday, July 29, 2011

More on The Writer's Desk

I've been reading and enjoying The Writer's Desk by Jill Krementz. Fifty-six authors--including Stephen King, John Irving, Joyce Carol Oates, and Toni Morrison--are featured within its pages, each pictured working in his or her writing space.

I find it incredibly interesting to see how other writers work. There are some who seem to work best in tiny, cluttered rooms, knickknacks and pictures and books scattered around them. Others seem to take a minimalist approach, preferring the order of clean desks and clear walls. Some use computers; others use typewriters or handwrite their manuscripts. The late John Updike used different writing instruments and surfaces for different tasks: an oak desk and a manual Olivetti for answering letters; a steel desk, where he wrote the beginnings of his projects by hand; and a white, Formica-topped desk where he typed up his projects. Some of the featured writers don't have dedicated writing spaces. Toni Morrison, for example, writes in a notebook while sitting on a sofa in the living room.

Even more interesting than the photos, though, are the writer's words that accompany them. Many of the authors give advice; some talk about how they started writing; others discuss their writing spaces and writing processes, some writing for hours each day, some holding themselves to only a few hundred words or a couple of pages. Still others talk about rituals they have, things they feel they must do before they're able to begin writing.

Through her photos, Krementz has provided a rare and intimate glimpse into the lives of people whose profession is often one of solitude. The Writer's Desk is an informative, entertaining, and beautifully constructed book.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

My child, my teacher

"A child's attitude toward everything is an artist's attitude." ~Willa Cather, American author

Children see things in such original ways. Each day I listen to my four-year-old as he explains the world he knows using the terms he understands (or devises) and the explanations he imagines. His is such an interesting and refreshing perspective! We can learn so much from children and the way they view the things around them. Listening to my son reminds me that I need to be original and free in my approach to my writing, using my words to describe the world as I see it and not as how I think others want or expect me to see it.

Too often, I think we as writers worry so much about what's correct and acceptable in writing that we start to lose our own voices. We sometimes force ourselves to follow certain rules or formulas when all we should be doing is getting the story on the page in whatever form it's supposed to take--without worrying about that critic (real or internal) who stands behind our left shoulder and tells us that what we're doing is wrong and unacceptable and will never sell. My kids don't worry that the things they say are stupid or too simplistic or wrong; if they feel it or see it, they say it--without inhibition, without fear, without worry.

And that's exactly how we writers need to write.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


Aheila's Drabble Day prompt this week is Silence. Check out her blog for the rules.

An unnatural silence jarred Adam awake. He squinted at the clock. 3:31 a.m. He never woke this early. Farmwork exhausted him, transporting him to a dreamless sleep that ended only with the bleating of his 5 a.m. alarm. Yet even in sleep he was somehow always aware of night noises: owls, wind, cars... But this night felt different. Quiet. Expectant. Like the trees, the night creatures, even the air were holding their breath, waiting for something. A storm? An attack? Something that hid in shadows? He threw off the covers and stood, parting the curtains. All he saw was the reflection of his own haunted eyes.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


Today's 100 words:

From where I'm sitting, I can see right into my neighbor's open window--which means, of course, that my neighbors can see right into mine. Since I was a child, I've loved walking through town as the night has just started to fall and people have turned on the lights inside their homes, revealing little snapshots of domesticity to anyone observing from the outside: families eating dinner; children watching TV; mothers and fathers with their feet up after a long day, reading. The pictures aren't always idyllic, of course, but they are always real: wonderful, unedited glimpses of life.

Monday, July 25, 2011

"You know, you're smarter than you look"

Today's 100 words:

I've encountered several people in life who are experts at making backhanded compliments--people who say things like "You drive very well--for a woman." I had a couple of these "friends" in high school. One, a fellow band member, moved away before senior year, when the band director presented an award to the most accomplished senior band member. I was honored to receive it. When I saw my "friend" that summer, she congratulated me, saying that of course I deserved it--since she hadn't been there. I suppose I have to give her credit for such an overt "compliment."

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Authors at work

In my journeys around the Internet today, I was excited to stumble upon reviews for The Writer's Desk, a book of photos of authors at work by Jill Krementz. This book was published nearly fifteen years ago, and although I'd placed it on my list of books I wanted to read, I'd somehow managed to overlook it. When I saw the reviews today, I felt compelled to check my library's Web site and was thrilled to find that the book is on the shelf of one of the local branches. Guess where I'll be going tomorrow?

Have you read this book? What did you think?

Saturday, July 23, 2011


Today's 100 words:

I was a quiet kid in school. I didn't get into trouble, mainly because I just did what I was required to do. Once, though, when I was in junior high, I was called to the principal's office. My friend John--also a "good" kid--was called there, too, so we walked together, jokingly wondering what horrible thing we had done. When we saw the principal's stern face, however, we started to worry. Apparently, some of our school papers had fallen out of our lockers and were found in the hallway. We got yelled at for accidental littering. How ridiculous!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Jed's still talking!

I haven't mentioned my WIP in several weeks, so here's a quick update:

I finished outlining Jed's story and have started writing the first chapter. Things are going well so far, except for the lack of writing time I've had in the past month or so due to birthdays, visitors, vacation planning, etc. I hope to get a large chuck of the book written before I leave for Michigan next month, so I need to start that push next week. Jed's constantly yammering in my ear, and if I want my brain to myself for a while, I have to get this book written soon!


I wrote this 100-words exercise on November 24, 2010. The first sentence is a prompt:

The faces in this room are stamped by the heel of life. I look around at them, and some return my glance, eyes clouded by despair, anger, pain, and grief. Some eyes seem clearer, and I glimpse moments of happiness, times of elation, instances of pride, flashes of peace. Yet underneath, even those faces are facades hiding hurt, resentment, indecision, and embarrassment. Life pushes us down as it lifts us up, crushes our souls and our hopes yet somehow manages to raise them too, and through it, we emerge, and we are better--whole--in spite of it all.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

My, how times change

Today's 100 words:

I'm only thirty-eight, but until I started graduate school in 1994, I did all my writing assignments on typewriters. Computer labs were available at my college, of course, but the professors didn't require that we use them, and since I had a typewriter in my dorm room, I typed. As a graduate student, however, I had my own office, which was furnished with a tiny, medieval-by-today's-standards computer, and I abandoned my typewriter. When I started my teaching career two years later, I discovered that the computer in my office was so high-tech that I hardly knew how to use it.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


Aheila's Drabble Day prompt this week is Light. Check out her blog for the rules.

When Stacey left the Piggly Wiggly, she found Joe leaning against her Honda.

"Got a light?" he asked, holding up a cigarette.

"No." Stacey stepped around him and unlocked the driver's door. As she opened it, he touched her shoulder.

"Stacey, wait."

"Look," she said, facing him. "You have to stop following me. We agreed we needed space to figure things out. We can't do that if you keep showing up at my job." She sighed. "I need time, Joe. Okay?"

"But you're my light," he said, gazing forlornly at his Marlboro.

Stacey rolled her eyes, got in her car, and drove away.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Frozen in time

Today's 100 words:

I taught many students during my years in Nebraska, and I realized today as I was thinking about that time that I hold those students in a state of suspended animation. I see them as they were then, as I knew them, and I can't imagine them as they must be now--for some, nearly fifteen years later--older and more mature and in the midst of their careers. I wonder if that's how they remember me--as I was and not as I might be. Maybe people from some parts of our lives will always be frozen in time.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Much more than tomato/tomahto

Today's 100 words:

I used to live in Western Nebraska, where I taught English and journalism at a college on the plains, an area so different from where I grew up. I remember talking about a forest one day in my composition class, and when I said the word "woods," I was met with blank faces. My students weren't familiar with the term, one that was such a part of my own life growing up in tree-filled Upper Michigan. Even after I defined the word, I'm not certain they truly understood, showing that our comprehension does depend somewhat on where we're from.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Appreciating the present

Today's 100 words:

Maybe I live too much in the past when I write these entries, but I think it's easy for us to look back on things that happened in prior years and see something interesting or funny or teaching about them--something we hadn't noticed as we were living those moments. As a mom, my days now are similar, since life is ruled by schedules, but I'm sure that in a few years, when the kids are in school and life has changed again, I'll look back on this past and realize it was so much fuller than I ever knew.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Princess birthday cake

It's nearly a week late, but here's a picture of my daughter's birthday cake:

It's gone now, by the way.

Oink. ;)


Today's 100 words:

Once, I wanted to be a singer. I grew up idolizing Cyndi Lauper and Madonna, and although I could never consistently carry a tune, I still wanted to be just like them. I even gave two of my Barbies their names, something my sister probably wished had been her idea. I'm from a small town, and my much older brother said I could stay with him in Chicago so I could have "proper" voice lessons, but my parents declined. Sometimes I think my brother, dissatisfied with his life, wanted me to be famous so he could live vicariously through me.

*I'd never heard of this word before today, but I chose it for my title because I liked the sound of it. According to Wikipedia, Klangfarbenmelodie is "a musical technique that involves distributing a musical line or melody to several instruments, rather than assigning it to just one instrument, thereby adding color (timbre) and texture to the melodic line."

Friday, July 15, 2011


This morning's 100 words, this time a vignette:
She knew it would only be a matter of time before the lies caught up with her--before everyone began to see past her innocent facade and uncover the real Sarah, that vindictive, selfish woman who'd lived her life trying to attain an ideal: the ideal daughter, wife, mother, friend. But she couldn't be any of those things; she wasn't good enough. She wasn't perfect. And when she made yet another mistake and saw the anger in his eyes, fear set in. He would no longer love her if he knew the truth. And so she lied. Again.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Back to the past

Yesterday's 100 words:

I find it fun to speculate on what period in my life I would return to if time travel were possible. I think I'd choose graduate school, as those two years were some of the most tumultuous yet fulfilling ones of my life. They were years of firsts: first apartment, first car, first truly adult relationship, first time I really felt like an independent woman. There are things I would like to change, of course--some of the decisions I made and the paths I took. But overall, those two years were fun years--growing years--and well worth living again.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


Aheila's Drabble Day prompt this week is Rain. Check out her blog for the rules.
She could feel it coming. Her old bones ached, and there was a crackling in the air. Something big was about to hit. Leaning heavily on her cane, she rose from her chair and shuffled to the window, parting the faded curtains. The sky had that greenish tint her ma had insisted foretold horrendous thunderstorms and tornadoes that tore angry paths across the fields, and the leaves of the ancient maples near the barn displayed their undersides, flashing their own storm warning. She turned away and sighed. It would be here soon. She'd lived through so many already. When would her luck run out?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Dazed, disheveled, and utterly confused

Today's 100 words:

I've been oversleeping so much lately, which isn't like me. I must be more exhausted than I thought. I know I haven't been getting enough sleep since my second child was born, but I didn't realize how utterly weary I'd become.

I remember oversleeping only a few times in my life. Once happened in graduate school. I was a teaching assistant with an 8 a.m. composition class. I'd stayed at Rob's apartment the night before, and for whatever reason, the alarm didn't ring. Somehow, though, I made it to class on time, dazed, disheveled, and utterly confused.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Harvesting words

"The words! I collected them in all shapes and sizes and hung them like bangles in my mind." ~Hortense Calisher, Extreme Magic

Like most writers, I'm in love with words. I collect them. Whenever I hear or read one I particularly like, either because of its sound or its meaning or the thoughts or memories associated with it, I write it down, filing it away in my collection. Sometimes I bring these words out when I want to freewrite, using one as a prompt and seeing where it takes me. Other times I simply read my list, enjoying the sound and beauty of the language.

One of the first words I absolutely adored was identification. I was very young, but I remember reciting that word over and over again, spelling it out loud in the car and during dinner. When I couldn't spell or say it aloud--when I was brushing my teeth, for example--I would recite it over and over in my mind. I loved--and still do now--the cadence of the word, the way it feels on the tongue; the rhythm it makes as it's spelled, all of the letters pairing up so neatly: id-en-ti-fi-ca-ti-on. I must have driven my parents crazy...

Do you harvest words? What's your earliest memory of a word you love?

Sunday, July 10, 2011

My princess turned two today!

My daughter's birthday celebration today was wonderful, and despite the sad fact that my oven refused to work, I was able to use my church's oven yesterday to bake my daughter's pink princess cake. Thank you, Seneca UMC!

My husband and I were up until 4 a.m. getting everything ready--those last-minute preparations always seem to take longer than one would think--so I'm going to go to bed early tonight. I hope to post some cake pictures soon--and I'll try very hard to catch up on your blogs tomorrow. I missed reading them!

Here are today's 100 words on my baby's birthday and the passage of time:

Today is my daughter's second birthday. It sounds trite, but I really can't believe how quickly the years have gone. I watched some video of her yesterday, and seeing how much she has changed from just a few months ago boggles my mind: the length of her hair, her speech, her coordination--all of these things are so different now. She's grown so much, which is both wonderful and so bittersweet, and I want to laugh with joy and sob at the same time for these years that have passed so quickly, for the tomorrows that will do the same.

Friday, July 8, 2011

A special weekend

Sunday is my daughter's second birthday. Even though I knew it was approaching, I feel like it snuck up on me, and now I'm paying the price: last-minute shopping for gifts and baking supplies, last-minute decisions about what a soon-to-be two-year-old would like for her birthday dinner, last-minute everything... Tomorrow is gift-buying day and cake-baking day, and I'm crossing my fingers that my oven, which has been working sporadically of late, will accommodate a tired, stressed-out mom and bake the cake.

Even though I'm not really a baker, every year I try to make special cakes for the kids' birthdays. Last year, I made my daughter a doggy cake, and throughout the years I've made my son a Motherboard cake (a character from PBS's Cyberchase), a Wubbzy cake, and a Pooh cake. My daughter's cake was the subject of my 100-words exercise this morning:

Growing up, I had birthday parties every year, but I had only one "official" party, complete with friends and games and party favors. I can't remember how old I was, but the pictures show that I was probably turning seven or eight. That year my mom asked her friend to make me a Barbie cake, and I remember how excited I was when I saw that cake for the first time--Barbie looked beautiful in her purple cake dress! Tomorrow I'm going to bake a similar birthday cake for my daughter. I hope she'll be as excited as I was.

So that's what will be happening at our house this weekend: lots of stressing out, but lots of celebrating, too! What do you have planned for your weekend?

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Choose your own life

Today's 100 words:

I often think about how things would be different had I chosen another path. Every decision I've made thus far--including the seemingly insignificant ones--has brought me to where I am today. Even something as innocuous as what I chose to eat one day in the college cafeteria may have had a major impact on my life. If I had stood in the pizza line instead of at the salad bar, would I have met somebody who would factor into my life forever--a life-long friend, business associate, spouse? It's the little decisions that make up a life.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


Aheila's Drabble Day prompt this week is Wind. Check out Aheila's blog for the rules.

Here's mine, which turned out to be more like a vignette than a true drabble:

Maggie had heard the story so many times that she had begun to believe the great wind had torn an angry path across her land, leaving nothing but the detritus of a life hard-lived. But the story was an ancestor's, passed down with detail so vivid that everyone who heard lived it, feeling the wind's fury and grieving the loss of the only life they'd known.

Maggie is old now, and the years haven't been kind. But her memory remains, and that story she's called to tell. So she gathers her grandchildren before her and begins: "Many years ago there was a great and angry wind..."

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Beautiful life

Today's 100 words:

The best part of yesterday's Fourth of July celebration was the excitement my children showed once the fireworks started booming and exploding in the night sky. My daughter, who wasn't even one at last year's festivities, squealed and giggled with glee this year, and my son--who likes to tell everyone that he's almost four and a half!--shouted and screamed at the sight of each colorful display. As they played with their glow stick necklaces on the wool blanket we had spread across the grass, my husband and I smiled at each other, and I snapped pictures, freeze-frames of beautiful life.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy 4th of July to all my fellow Americans!

May you and your family have a joyous and peaceful holiday--and let us always remember how fortunate we are to live in "the land of the free and the home of the brave."

"My God! How little do my countrymen know what precious blessings they are in possession of, and which no other people on earth enjoy!" ~Thomas Jefferson

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Call me what you want, but don't call me Grace

Avid watchers of Sex and the City probably remember the episode where Carrie Bradshaw participates in a fashion show and trips as she walks down the runway. It's quite a spectacular fall, actually, and I've always loved that scene. First of all, it's funny, and second, instead of slinking away, Carrie shows such grace when she decides to pick herself up and finish that show. I admire that.

I wish I could say that I had a good attitude today when I took a similar spill in the parking lot of one of the busiest grocery stores in town. I had just gotten out of the car and was walking to the store, on a mission for a gallon of skim milk and a container of Cool Whip for the strawberry shortcake I planned to make. As I walked toward the store, eyes on the traffic around me, I stepped into a hole in the pavement, turned my ankle, and started to fall. There I was, teetering in my three-inch skinny heels, arms flailing, face probably doing a lovely imitation of shock, sheer terror, embarrassment, and anger all rolled into one. I very gracefully (no, not really) took several clumsy giant steps in an attempt to keep myself from falling, my arms pinwheeling and my purse whipping around. I certainly didn't show Carrie Bradshaw's grace as, after about forty years of stumbling, I finally came to a halt, leaned against somebody's SUV, rotated my ankle a few times to check the pain level (moderate), said a word or two I shouldn't have, and then made my way to the store, head high, a look pasted on my face that said to anyone watching, "What fall? You saw nothing. Nothing."

Grace under fire? Hardly. Really, the only thing that could have been worse would have been if my name were...Grace.

Saturday, July 2, 2011


I wrote this 100-words exercise on August 14, 2010:

I read a news story today about a six-year-old artist being hailed as a prodigy. This intrigues me. The watercolor paintings I saw were quite beautiful, well beyond what a "normal" young child could do, and I admit I was somewhat envious that this boy had already found his talent while I, so much older, feel like I'm still flailing, still searching for a clue that will lead me to the person I'm meant to become. I don't paint, but I do write, and I can only hope to create pictures as beautiful as his with my words.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Never really the end

Today's 100 words, a continuation of sorts:

Like some kind of trained pet, I was always available when you called, even after we were no longer a we, even when there was no longer anything holding the two of us together. And on that last day of the semester when your car broke down fifty miles from the college as you were traveling home, you called me, knowing I would come, and I rushed to your rescue, even though I had my own packing to do and my own plans.

It was so hard to learn to live without you when you were always there.