The Schedule

As a writer, I have always struggled with finding time to write. I was hoping that starting a blog would make me be better about it. Except that, well last year, I still had numerous last-minute writing sessions and frantic posting moments. I tried to plot out a schedule, but I could never stick to it.

At the beginning of this year, I decided to make one of my goals be to “create a sustainable writing schedule that includes at-home writing time.”  Up to that point all my writing was happening either before work or during my lunch hour.

I figured to find a schedule I was going to have to do a lot of experimentation.  I would need to discover what worked and what didn’t work.  So, on January 11th, I decided to start with taking it back to basics.

I made the following schedule:

Monday: Edit

Tuesday: Write

Wednesday: Write

Thursday: Edit

Friday: Write

Saturday/Sunday: Write one day; off one day

That’s it.  That is the schedule. I thought that a basic, less confining schedule would help me focus, but still give me freedom.  So, I got busy writing and editing on my assigned days.  After two weeks, I was surprised I was not only sticking to the schedule, but I had a number of posts lined up.

The ideas seemed to flow. Even on days when I was supposed to edit, sometimes a new writing idea would strike me. But instead of deviating from my schedule I would jot it down on a sticky note and put it in my journal on the next blank page. Then the next day when I opened my journal to write, I had an idea and prompt already waiting for me.  I’ve also been able to write on weekends, which is something new and exciting.

I’ve been at this schedule for about two months, and honestly, I’m shocked that it’s going so well.  I’ll admit I still get distracted and some days I don’t edit or write as much as I would like to.  But it’s a good base for right now.  It gives me a focus without being too complex or overly burdensome.

My weekend writing has not been as fruitful as I would like, but since this basic outline seems to be working I can now focus more on how to make my weekend writing more productive.  It’s still a win that I am picking up a pen at home in the first place.

I’ve got my fingers crossed that this continues, because it feels really good to have hit upon a regular schedule. It has gotten me writing at home and put ahead on my blog posts. I hope in the future to tweak it so all the various writing project I want to work on get the attention they deserve, but that will be a slower process. And right now, I’m okay with that!

Happy writing!


The Weirdness of English

I love words and language.  I love their flow and magic. I find other languages tantalizing, and I have on numerous occasions attempted to learn another language.  In high-school, it was Spanish. In college, it was Italian, and currently it’s French.  I haven’t been particularly successful at any of them, but I’ve probably stuck with French the longest.  This is probably due to the fact that I don’t have a grade riding on it. I chose to try and pick it up, so I’m less hard on myself and get less frustrated.

When I was younger, I thought all the other languages were stupid-difficult and why couldn’t they be nice and easy…like English? To be clear when I say “easy,” I’m referring to verbal communication. While I’ve always loved to read and write, I’ve struggled with spelling and grammar since…forever.  But I’ve never had trouble speaking, ask my Dad. Apparently, once when I was about two, and I was chattering away he looked at my mother and said, “We couldn’t wait for her to talk…”

Anyway, as I got older, I learned that English is one of the most difficult languages to learn (both verbal and written) because it doesn’t make a lot of sense. Sounds love to morph in weird ways, and we have nine-hundred words that all mean the same damn thing.

We even have “rules” that have more exceptions than followers, I once saw a statistic that said only 44 words follow the “i” before “e” rule while 900-plus words break it. It will never be obvious that the plural of moose is not meese, or that the plural of goose is not gooses.

However, the difficulty of English didn’t really sink in until I saw a sign that read, “Through, though, cough, and rough. None of these rhyme, but for some God forsaken reason pony and baloney do!” After I dried my tears from laughing, I decided that I didn’t have a reason to complain about the French and their obsession with silent letters after all.

The Misleading Dust-Jackets of Humans

We have all heard the saying, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” Most of us are guilty of doing just that, at least occasionally, but sometimes we also judge people by their covers. This is something we shouldn’t do, not only for moral reasons, but because what’s behind those “dust jackets” can be pretty remarkable and surprising.

Take Robin. Robin was featured on the podcast, Criminal. He ends up in prison with a steep sentence for burglary given his prior offenses. He further gets into trouble by participating in a violent prison riot resulting in seven years being added to his sentence. Thus, he finds himself in a prison cell with nothing to do until a library cart comes by. Robin decides to get a couple of books. The problem is Robin can’t really read or write. He was classified as a troublemaker in school, so instead of learning, he was given chores.

Over the course of his time in prison, Robin teaches himself to read. He realizes that books can take him anywhere, and he begins to amass a small but precious personal library. He even sends away for the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Encyclopedia.

His goal is to read it from cover to cover. As Robin reads he starts to notice a few mistakes; some of the facts are off. He knows this because, by this time, Robin has read several hundred books on almost every topic imaginable. So, he writes to the editor regarding these errors.

Somewhat to Robin’s surprise, the editor responds thanking him for his corrections. So from then on, each time Robin finds more errors, he writes the editor. As time goes by, the editor and Robin become close friends via their frequent correspondence. The editor, in turn, becomes fascinated by Robin’s journey to master and fall in love with reading.

It’s an awesome story, and I must admit it’s a bit surprising to hear a former convict who has almost no formal education using words such as “gingerly,” “dovetail,” and “hyperbole” in general conversation. Robin describes his reading in prison as his freedom. He didn’t need an escape plan; all he need was a book.

The story shows the power of books and friendship. It shows very starkly that behind some covers, there are truly amazing and unexpected stories. It’s a great reminder to give some books and people a second look despite their lack of shiny exterior.


A Writer’s Random Ramblings

Naturally, I feel a little lost on what to write from time to time. I started this new-fangled writing schedule. It’s going well thus far, but it’s been less than two weeks, so I will keep you posted.  Nevertheless, I find myself writing more (yay!) But what the hell am I to write about? (Boo!) I want to write stuff for my blog, perhaps strike upon an idea for an article, but I think that too much pressure scares off the ideas. Nevertheless, I have found that writing is a bit like running you just have to put in the miles, or words, in order to get what you really want.  It can be frustrating as hell, but it’s just how it works.

I feel very excited to write, but I just don’t know what the heck to put down on paper. But I’m thankful to be excited, that’s a step in the write direction (ahh…I can hear those sweet, sweet groans.)

I realize there is a weird paradox about a blank page.  It can be anything, and it has no expectations; however, we as writers want it to be perfect, whatever it is.  But that is something we impose on ourselves. I’m not sure where the concept of, “we must write the perfect first draft!” comes from.  I guess we all really hate editing, or we don’t want to “waste” our time writing something unworthy. But editing can be interesting, surprising, and even fun. And no writing is a waste or unworthy.

Again, like running, they say that the only bad run is the one you don’t do and the same goes for writing.  The only truly wasted draft is the one you don’t write. Not everything written needs to be published or should be.  Some writing can just be for yourself.  In the grand scheme of things, writers are kind of an uptight bunch who need to take a chill pill and putter a bit.

Puttering is a great thing because it can lead to all kinds of interesting places.  One needs to allow for exploration and see what happens.  I don’t do this enough, but I’m working on it.  But I also need to learn to not feel bad when my putterings actually turn into fruitful pieces.

I know this sounds barmy, but I sometimes sit down to write, and I think to myself: “Today I’m writing a stream of consciousness just for myself. This won’t be publishable and that’s cool.” Then I get started and something strikes me, and I start writing a publishable idea. I freak out that I’m not doing what I am “supposed to be.” Yes, I know I have issues, but putting the pressure off is probably why something came into my brain that’s usable.  That’s awesome and not something to feel bad about. I have to remind myself that there will certainly be times when writing sessions won’t produce much of anything, but when they do I need to embrace it and forget about the intentions.

Writing is a strange and bizarre process, but perhaps that’s why so many are drawn towards it. It’s an elusive medium, and one that we are all in the pursuit of tackling. What makes it even more interesting is that we tackle it one day, but then the next we can’t grab on to it to save our souls.

Yes, it’s a skill and needs practice and experimentation.  It has rules and general practices, but it is a fluid thing which presents so many options as well as so many pitfalls.  This is what makes writing so awesome, so beautiful, and so enticing because it’s full of surprises and never gets old.


The Machine- Going Old School

On a ridiculously rainy day in Chicago, my mother, my aunt, a family friend, and I ventured to the American Writers museum.  It is a small establishment but very interesting. One of the more interactive exhibits were the typewriters.  They had four or five sitting out that people could plunk away on. Now up until this point, I had only seen typewriters.  My mother has a collection, but I had never actually typed on one before.

I grabbed a sheet of paper and looked helplessly at the group of ladies I was with.  I knew generally to insert the sheet in the back and then crank it through.  My mother then said, “lift the bale.”  To which I responded, “English, please.”  They all laughed and came to my rescue.

I then started typing.  It was awesome.  I could have sat there for hours.  It’s such a different feeling than a computer keyboard.  And the satisfying ding at the end of the line is marvelous. I knew instantly that I wanted one.

So, I put one on my Christmas list and Santa (aka mom) pulled through.  Mine is a portable typewriter, so she’s less beefy than the traditional desktop version.  She has a few quirks such as she doesn’t have a number one key.  It’s not missing.  It was never there, but she is a beauty.

Obviously, such a fine machine needs a name. It needed to be epic and old school, like Masil, but with more spunk. Louise could work, but that didn’t strike me as studious enough.  Vivan was nice and sassy, but lacks the needed industrious tone.  But Agatha, now there was a name. It’s old school, studious, industrious, and the nickname Aggie had just the right amount of spunk. It was perfect.

(As a side note: when I told my husband I named the typewriter Agatha he responded, “Oh like the mystery writer you like.” My jaw dropped it had never occurred to me that the random name I chose also was the name of one of the greatest writers ever!  What a happy accident!)

Anyway, over the past few weeks, Aggie and I have gotten know each other. I’ve discovered she requires a lot more force to get a clear letter to appear on the page than one of my generation would expect.  The hunt-and-peck method is really the best.  This way you use consistent force for all the keys.  If I use proper typing method, all the “a”s, which use the pinkie on my non-dominate hand, don’t show up, and it looks like I’ve created some weird cipher for WWII communication.

I’ve also learned to anticipate the ding.  If you’re typing along and see that you’re getting close to the end and you need to bust out a big word like “hornswoggled” you will need to start a new line because in the fight between a big word and the ding.  The ding will almost always win.

Anyway, I’ve been able to manage.  I even typed out a thank you to my parents via Agatha.  It had some mistakes, but I figured that added to the charm and nostalgia. She is epic in every way possible. She does her job loud and proud. I’m kind of intimated by her. I try to use her in a timid manner as to not break her, but Aggie will have none of it. She’s a sturdy girl, and we will be the absolute best of friends! Ding!




Last Friday I finally finished The Brothers Karamazov.  (I know I’m still on about this.  I promise this is the last post.) Anyway, it was…dense…heavy…long.  It is not a book I would really recommend.  There are many other classics I would recommend instead.  But on Friday night when I was standing in my kitchen updating my Goodreads account, I realized with a thunder bolt like flash that I had to give this monstrous tome four stars.

How is it that you give a book four stars, but not recommend it?  And use less than flattering adjectives to describe it?


There are books.  And then there is literature.  This is literature.  And literature at probably its finest. It is extraordinarily well written. It has a remarkable number of moving pieces that come to relevance in the end.  It presents profound philosophical views of religion and morality.  It employs psychology and examines intent versus public lip service.

It is one of those strange reads that I won’t be re-visiting.  I can even quite decide if I liked it or not, but I understand the respect that it gets and deserves.  It is something that I’m glad I read, and yet I’m also very glad it’s done.

It is a bizarre quandary.  A book I didn’t exactly like, but I admire for what it is.  I guess it’s like the Mona Lisa.  I don’t particular care for the painting, but I admire and respect it for what it is and what is stands for in the artistic world.  Perhaps that’s the best description that I can give that others may understand. This truly is a masterpiece, but not necessarily one I would want to hang on my living room wall.

Does this make any sense?


The Update

Happy Halloween!!

As promised, I thought I would do a little update today.  We are 290 pages into The Brothers Karamazov. I got a bit behind schedule last week, but wading through two of the most infamous chapters: “The Rebellion” and “The Grand Inquisitor” was indeed a girthy task. Dostoevsky presents remarkable ideas in general, but particularly for the time period he was writing in. I’m enjoying the journey, and I’m very interested to see what happens. I do admit that thus far I think I enjoyed Crime and Punishment more, but I will keep an open mind given that I haven’t even made it half way through yet.

In other news, I did mention in Friday’s post about taking a tap workshop this weekend. This ended up being a bit of a crash and burn scenario. But that’s kind of how learning goes, right? I had a few things going against me, namely that I’m nearly 30 while all the other participants were between the ages of 8 to 16, and I’ve only been tapping for two years while these girls had been tapping for between 4 and 13 years.

Okay so, old Bessie in back couldn’t quite keep up.  And while I did get very tired and frustrated, I never felt demoralized or that I should just give up. This is great news! I would do a workshop again, but I’ll need a few weeks…maybe months.  My brain needs to process all that happened Sunday, and I need to be able to get pants on without all my leg muscles screaming at me.

Nevertheless, the learning continues in full swing whether I’m reading a classic or dancing around embracing that while I have laugh lines I have the ability to buy really cool tap shoes!


P.S. Twenty life points to those that get that reference.

P.S.S. I have no idea what life points are.  I just made them up because I don’t have a real prize.