Between the Lines: This Writer's Journal

Reading to Inspire Writing

When I’m not reading poetry, I am rarely writing poetry. I was reminded by an exercise in Dr. Caroline Leaf’s The Perfect You to include the practice of reading poetry daily. This is a great exercise for everyone to practice, but essential for a poet. Not reading poetry for a poet is like skipping workouts for an athletic trainer.

So, I am feeling quite guilty at the moment because I have been reading more fiction and nonfiction, but not much poetry. I’m not writing much poetry either. I plan to remedy this situation by continuing my reading of Spoon River Anthology. I suspect it will go well with my reading of Lincoln in the Bardo. (More on all three of these books later in book reviews.)

What are you reading to inspire writing or simply life in general?



Between the Lines: This Writer's Journal

Reading Days

We are having a snowy day today. So, I decided to make time for more reading after cleaning the house. It’s important for writers to read. In fact, we should read more than we write.

It seems like a guilty pleasure, doesn’t it? To sit on the couch with two dogs and a good book. But, this is the privilege of being a writer. The inexcusable excuse to set all aside and indulge in a captivating story.

It isn’t all about reading, in case non-writers think so. This time is meant to analyze the story, the characterization, the theme, and the style of the book being read. Why is this book getting five stars? How can I write in a way to do the same in my own way? Those are the questions being asked by the writing reader. It isn’t all about pleasure, but working at the same time.

Although, I have to say, it is quite fun.

Character Study, Uncategorized

Kindred Spirits

I visited my aunt the other day. Since I was a little girl, I have thought of her as a kindred spirit.We often joke I am more like her than her daughter just as my cousin is much like my mother.

We love reading and books. In fact, she is more of a reader than I am. I’ve seen her devour a novel in a day while sitting at the kitchen table. When I lived with her during my college summers and the fall semester before I married, we often set aside our school assignments–she is a retired Spanish teacher–for our current reads.

Kindred Spirits understand one another. But, that doesn’t mean they always like the same things. My aunt loves gardening. I am a killer of house plants. Her favorite story to tell on me is when I came to her and complained, “My hands are dirty.”

Yet, the older I get the more I see myself in her. People gravitate to her. They tell her things they might not dare tell anyone else. I have found that same privilege extended to me, something inherited from my grandmother and my aunt. People just share things with me. It’s a sacred honor.

Kindred Spirits know this about one another, too. They share their pain in nods and winks, but not always words. Some things don’t need to be said.

When they are, they are poignant. As when my aunt asked me, why do I always give her reading assignments that make her cry? She knows. She just asks anyway. No kindred spirit truly believes she could be trusted with so much.

Which is why she is.


One Page at a Time, Uncategorized

One Page at a Time: Creative Well-Being

On my birthday, I re-evaluated my goals for 2016. Some stayed the same. Some I revamped. Some I condensed. Some I expanded. Yet, the goal in goal-setting is to accomplish as much as possible in a 24-hour period to maintain well-being.

For a writer, writing is at the forefront of creating well-being. Whatever I am hoping to accomplish during the day, some amount of writing and reading must take place. Yet, how do I find the time while home educating two high schoolers, doing the laundry, driving the boys to activities, and making sure the cupboard isn’t bare?

Creative well-being.

The Best of Times and the Worst of Times

Morning is usually when I get most of these critical endeavors completed. In general, they are the quiet hours. My husband and boys are still sleeping. It’s too early to start chores or make contact with the outside world.

I say”in general” because I don’t wake up to an alarm. I wake up to the not-so-subtle whine of my Labrador Retriever puppy. At some point, he will grow out of this habit–we can only hope–but for now his 4:30 am wake-up call gives me at least three hours of personal time.

My worst time of day is between 3:00 and 5:00 in the afternoon. That’s when I don’t bother doing anything mental. I rest or shuttle the kids. I might scan social media. I definitely drink a cup of coffee.

I also don’t write after 9:00 pm. Nothing coherent comes to mind at that point. This is also the time I have set aside to spend with my husband. He is the night owl, and this lark does her best to stay awake during our favorite TV shows.

Booking Appointments

So what happens when the puppy does grow out of his early morning routine? Well, then it is up to me to keep this time as I would an appointment. I had to do the same thing when my boys outgrew nap time. Keeping time is a constant juggle, but it is well worth the effort.

There are certain activities I have wired into my day at a certain time of the day. Devotions is first. I need spiritual inspiration before I can expect writing inspiration. Then, I formulate at least one post for one of my blogs (I try to maintain three). I scroll through Facebook Pages looking for quotations or inspiration to share on my Author Page or on Following Doc’s Shadow. Once these are done, I work on current my writing projects.

I have loosely set appointments throughout the week depending on the day as well. Wednesday is a writing project day when I have lots of waiting time at the boys’ activities. Every other Thursday I have a hired cleaning crew, which frees up the time I would normally spend on vacuuming. Friday we have less school work and is another time when I can focus on creative well-being. On the other days, I sneak away in the afternoon to a local coffee shop for an hour or two.

I often find my reading family and friends at the coffee shops. I am in two monthly book clubs at the moment. I get to discuss great books with great people. Reading stimulates my writing. Coffee stimulates good conversation. It’s a win-win.

Speaking of coffee, I have a few personal rewards I treat myself to on a regular basis. Coffee is one of them. Now I know too much of a good thing is not a good thing. So, rewards must always be done in moderation. I do find that if I head to the coffee shop I am more motivated to write (mental), to socialize (emotional), to get moving (physical), and to reflect (spiritual).

But, that makes me think of another set of goals, which is better discussed in a future post. Until then…