The Write Stuff

tag-youre-itMy blogmate (now there’s a dreary moniker) and dear friend, Carla, “tagged” me in the Writing Process Blog Tour. As Carla described it in her post last week, it’s kind of like a chain letter only not stupid and kind of fun because you get to share your thoughts about your writing process.

So I’m tagging it forward and tapping two of my most entertaining Facebook friends/bloggers to go next, Danielle Hatfield and Shannon Frady Warren.

Don’t cringe girls, it’s not like I challenged you to pour cold water on your head.

So, buckle up, here we go …

What are you working on?

Well, this post, of course.

Actually, I’ve been working on this blog with Carla for most of the summer, although “working” for Carla and me usually involves wine or at the very least cupcakes but we did meet our goal of having Bookends go live by August 1st.

And it feels so good to be writing again after a long dry spell. I was beginning to feel like whatever the writer’s version of a couch potato is. Without the discipline of a real deadline with my newspaper column, I seemed to find a lot of excuses not to write. #oitnb

The simple truth is that I’m a happier person when I’m writing.

How does your work differ from others of its genre?

I write mostly memoir and I confess to feeling a little self-important when I say that. It’s not like I’ve cured cancer or climbed Mount Everest or even quit my job and traveled to Italy, India, and Bali in the course of a year to find myself. But that would make a great book, wouldn’t it? Never mind.

I certainly don’t think my life is any more interesting than yours but I do know that writing is something I’m pretty good at it. I can’t sing or play the piano and a glue gun in my hands is as deadly as a revolver. I’m not crafty. I write.

I write about experiences and feelings from my own life in the hopes that others can relate to them. That’s the best moment in the world – when someone reads something I’ve written and simply says, “Yes, me too.”

Why do you write what you do?

I’ve always come late to almost everything in my life that is good for me. I didn’t take my first yoga class until I was 50 and I didn’t truly understand that writing is how I process the world until I started my column for the Greensboro News & Record in 2004.

Maybe it’s an utter lack of imagination, but writing about what’s going on in my life and life around me helps me make some sense of things.

The beginning of my column also marked the start of a deeply challenging period in my life. In the course of a few years I lost my job, my parents, and a very long term relationship. Every role that defined me for the first 40 some years of my life was gone. I was no longer a daughter or a partner and I stumbled around in the dark for a very long time.

Writing about my journey helped me make some sense of it all and some days writing was what kept me connected to the world. There were times I felt like that lone balloon you see floating away from a kid’s birthday party. There’s always a little drama when the balloon escapes but then everyone quickly returns to the party.

If not for writing and documenting my journey, sometimes in raw and painful ways, I might have just kept floating.


How does your writing process work?

I’m guilty of overusing sports analogies but I do love when I get in the “zone” of writing – when words just flow out of my hands onto the paper or keyboard almost before I can think about them.

For me, writing never looks quite like it does in the movies. I rarely sit at my desk and write – I pretty much write everywhere. That’s why I always have a pen and pad handy – in my purse, in my car, by my bedside. I also have a school supply fetish so it’s a win/win with my writing process.


Like Carla, I live inside my head a lot and I’m blessed (or cursed depending upon who you’re talking to) with a wicked good memory. I’ve written good chunks of a column in my head during a boring meeting – then transcribed them to paper.

I love words but I loathe writers who overwrite – using too many words to say whatever it is they’re trying to say. Less is more is my writing mantra but I suppose the real challenge is to be authentic without being verbose.

I also read what I write out loud when I’m finished with a piece. It’s a good way of serving as your own editor – you can hear the bumps in the road where the ride could be smoother.

The end of the process is like checking a cake when it comes out of the oven. You can gently poke it a few times in the center, but you just sort of know when it’s done.

Like now.