Monday, November 3, 2014

Where Has He Been?

November 3, 2014

Dear Constant Readers,

In my last regular blog post, a couple of weeks or so ago, I told you that I was going to a writers conference and that I planned to take approximately a week off to recuperate.  When that leisurely week came and went, I sat down to compose another thrilling installment of "Confessions of a Second Grade Failure."  But alas, the words would not come and the page remained blank - and lo and behold, yet another week past.  This time it was not leisurely or refreshing, but filled with angst and self-loathing.  The words just were not there.  Try hard as I might, I had no tale to tell.  The writer, Natalie Goldberg, calls this state of being as having the “monkey mind.”  It’s like a monkey sits on your shoulder and whispers in your ear, “You are not really a writer.  Your words are no good.  The story is not worth telling.  Give it up now before you embarrass yourself.”

Today, I have decided to tell the monkey on my shoulder just where he should go.  Today, I choose to write, and in so doing, believe that I have a story that is indeed worth telling.  I share this with you, dear readers, by way of explanation and not as a cry of self-pity.  It is what it is.  Some writers call it “writer’s block,” but I like Goldberg’s “monkey mind” much better.

Now, with that out of the way, let me tell you a little about what I’ve been up to the last couple of weeks.  October 17-19, I attended the James River Writers Conference here in Richmond.  All in all, about 300 people attended.  I attended workshops and panel discussions.  I met authors, famous and not-yet, and we talked about our passions and projects.  And yes, on that Saturday morning, I did meet with a literary agent and pitched my book ideas.  She was very kind and generous with her time.  She asked good questions about my writing projects.  When my time with her was up, she requested that I send her sample chapters around the middle of November when her reading load will be a little lighter.  So, for all of you who offered up prayers or who sent good thoughts, thank you!  They did not go unheeded.  So now, my future as a writer lies in the quality of my writing that I’m about to send to her.  Now you can imagine why I became so flustered this past week!  But, I remind myself, all will be well - no matter what the outcome.

I have spent my time since the conference reading good books, storing up words as a squirrel stores up acorns.  I have also poured through old family photos and watched movies my dad first recorded with an 8mm camera.  I still have the original film and projector, but thankfully, before he died, Dad had these wonderful movies transferred onto VCR tape.  Someday soon, I hope to digitize them myself to save them for the next generation.  This time looking at old pictures and home movies is not about indulging myself in nostalgia, but mining my mind for memories.  It has been time well spent.

Well, this is all that I have in me today.  Tomorrow, with the “monkey mind” banished, I will attempt to compose a new chapter for my emerging memoir.  I hope to share this with you before the week is out.

Humbly yours,



  1. From Hemingway (A Moveable Feast):

    Sometimes when I was starting a new story and I could not get it going, I would sit in front of the fire and squeeze the peel of the little oranges into the edge of the flame and watch the sputter of blue that they made. I would stand and look out over the roofs of Paris and think, “Do not worry. You have always written before and you will write now. All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.” So finally I would write one true sentence, and then go on from there. It was easy then because there was always one true sentence that I knew or had seen or had heard someone say. If I started to write elaborately, or like someone introducing or presenting something, I found that I could cut that scrollwork or ornament out and throw it away and start with the first true simple declarative sentence I had written.

    1. Beautiful quote, Jennifer. Thanks for the reminder! P.S. I love Hemingway - especially his short stories.

  2. I have really enjoyed the stories you have sent by Email. Keep up the good work.

    1. Thanks for the positive feedback, James. I'm glad you enjoy the stories.