“Artists are people who are not at all interested in the facts—only in the truth. You get the facts from outside. The truth you get from inside.” --Ursula K. LeGuin

Thursday, July 24, 2014

See You At The Top

A psychiatrist once told me that we all have a princess suit over the top of a frog’s suit. The trouble is we have holes in our princess suit, and so we jerk and tug and pull on the princess suit trying to keep the frog hidden--of course thinking that the frog is real. The princess suit is flimsy and the more we pull, the more it tears, and so we carefully fold it over trying to hide our that frog that lurks beneath.

What we don’t know is that beneath the frog’s suit is a real princess.

I was reading Jeff Goin’s (Writer’s) blog where he talked about our two selves—the one we show the world--you know the one, where we try to conform, where we seek acceptance or approval, where we try to fit in, where we are seeking love in all the wrong places.

But beneath the princess suit, buried beneath the frog’s suit there lives a true princess.
So, as a writer and as a person, how do we shed the suits and emerge our true selves?
We are a delicate lot, aren’t we, contorting ourselves to fit in? And what is fitting in anyway? Following the crowd? Going with current trends? Being afraid of losing love, or not having it in the first place? We’re afraid of the power structure—oh yes, they can reject us.

Writers know that if they do not follow protocol their queries will be ignored. If they don’t get past the gatekeepers their words are useless. The easiest answer is “No,” so say the agents, I know, I heard one say it at a Writer’s Conference.  Literary agencies and publishers hire a bunch of young students, English majors preferably, lock them in a room, throw in a pizza, and a stack of rejection slips (it’s easier now with emails), and thus begins the rejection process. Clear the stack. Many believe that nothing good will be found there anyway.

It is the same with resume writing. At my daughter’s place of business the administrator said to write the resume one way while a resume-writing seminar leader said to write it another. I have heard that a resume is a good way to get rejected, but then you don’t get through the door without one. Oh the irony of it all.

What to do? Go to your window. Stick your head out and yell “I’m a human being damit.” Remember Howard Beale? “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!”

What this means it to declare yourself to be whatever you want. If you follow the standard, you will be that--standard. Nobody defines you. If you are a writer say you are and get with it. I believe that perseverance and self-confidence pays off. I believe in believing. We can do it. See you at the top!

Thursday, July 17, 2014


I’m sorry. If I’d more time, I would have written a shorter letter. ~ Mark Twain

Have any of you writers taken the challenge some writing gurus have put forth encouraging people to write a book in 30 days? Yes, but if you give that draft a second look you will see that the pages resemble something a two-year-old wrote, the dog carried it into the yard, and the cat mistook it for litter when he was covering you know what.

didn't write Off We Go in 30 days—more  like 30 years, really I exaggerate, it has been only four, but hey, I had to live the story before I could write it. Yes, I know that all writers ought to have a real life human being besides themselves as editor, but it’s like cleaning the house before the housekeeper comes, the house ought to be presentable.

Remember way back to English 101 and the little book, The Elements of Style? Old E.B. White was right, the best writing is rewriting. I find, however, that I am losing word-count faster than a query can bounce.

Writers might like the  following quote.  I did after I read it a second time. The first time I thought it was advice, the second time I thought it was funny advice.

Do not put statements in the negative form.

And don’t start sentences with a conjunction.
If you reread your work, you will find on rereading that a
great deal of repetition can be avoided by rereading and editing.
Never use a long word when a diminutive one will do.
Unqualified superlatives are the worst of all.
De-accession euphemisms.
If any word is improper at the end of a sentence, a linking verb is.
Avoid trendy locutions that sound flaky.
Last, but not least, avoid cliches like the plague.
~William Safire

Monday, July 7, 2014


I see your smiling face as you read this, see I know you—you are smiling aren't you? 

Knowing you are here motivates me to do more. Give more. Happy people reading happy thoughts, people amping up their motivation, their craft, and their life—those are the sorts I want to hang out with. That’s you.

When I read #Seth Godin’s blog about how surprised he is to meet people who proudly tell him that they don't read (their term) "self-help" books because they are fully set, it surprised him and mystified me. Fully set? Is anyone?

I know you writers, and any others who happen upon this page know you have to plant your butt in the chair and pound out your thoughts on the keyboard. You are motivated. I see that, but a little encouragement is always welcome. One of the many truisms good ole Zig Zigler said was this: “Some people say that motivation doesn't last. Neither does bathing that’s why we recommend it every day.”

I love those motivational speakers who think positively, promote confidence, and tell us, “You can do it.”

They remind us that others have done what we are setting out to do, and if they can do it, we can. They tell us that perseverance and hard work pays off, and that pursuing one’s goals is important.  They tell us to follow our gut, to dream big, to know that the great source of the universe is alive and well and living inside us. They spark a fire in us.

Regarding the past, Jack Canfield said: “Everybody has had a tough childhood, get over it.”

Walt Disney had his ups and downs, but he never lost his zeal for life. You all probably know Disney went bankrupt once, he lost his mother to a gas leak in a house he bought for his parents, and depression once forced him and his wife to set off on a world cruise to heal. Yet look what he built. He never lost his childhood zeal, he built “The Happiness Place on Earth,” and cut no corners doing it.

"I do not make films primarily for children. I make them for the child in all of us”—Walt Disney

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

When in Rome

I opened #Oprah's magazine and stared at this page. The joyous girl with the pigeons totally entranced me. Then my eyes were riveted on the scene behind--St Marc's Square, Piazza San Marco Rome.

There are two reasons why St. Marc's Square so attracted my attention. First, long ago from Italy by slow post came an extra-large post card. The picture on the card was of a soldier dressed in uniform standing alone in St. Marc's Square, surrounded by pigeons. He was just standing there, looking toward the photographer, one hand held out, probably with food. 

The soldier was my father.

He was one of the lucky ones--sent to Italy during the Second World War, and not to Germany. He arrived home whole and healthy.

He was one of the lucky ones--sent to Italy during the Second World War, and not Germany. He arrived home whole and healthy.

Second, I have stood in that square surrounded by pigeons. While my two daughters browsed shops situated around the square, my friend, Marilyn, and I sat at a small cafe overlooking the square. As we were drinking alternatively iced tea and champagne --which in Italy is accompanied by potato chips, a fellow sitting at the next table leaned over and asked, "Do Americans always drink champagne and iced tea in the afternoon?"

We laughed, "When in Rome we do."

After I had devoured the above picture, scrounged around in my past, I considered the title, "Live Your Best Life."

I am sure that's what we are doing here--visiting this page, investigating the art of writing, while endeavoring to master the elusive art of living—that is trying to Live our best life.

In trying to do our best writing, in attempting to convey our ideas in the best manner we know, while attempting to reach an audience we could take some advice from Broadway. I was struck by #Seth Godin’s blog, “Learning from Broadway.”

The ad writers, for Broadway shows, according to Godin, tune their posters for tourist’s eyes, and the producers hire big-name stars. There are more tourists than locals they think. And so they hype how wonderful the show is, how many awards it has won, and they miss the point. The point is: the locals are the bread and butter of their business. Locals pay the bills. Locals go to maybe 10 shows a year. They aren’t wowed by the bragging of the ad writers. They want to know about the show, what it’s about, some background, they don’t even care if it has a famous star—they like the discovery of new talent. And their word of mouth brings in more customers than the ad writers do.

We reach for numbers when right in front of our eyes are the people who make the most difference, the loyals who keep coming back.

Thank you for reading.

Live your Best life,