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Posts from the ‘Writing’ Category

Stranger than Fiction

20160826_082336I’ve always had what you might call an overactive imagination. My entire life, I’ve made up stories in my head. But it wasn’t until two years ago that I ever thought seriously about writing them down.

Well, actually I’ve thought about it, daydreamed about it, most of my life. But for some reason I was convinced I I didn’t have what it takes to be a writer of fiction.

Even as I say it, I realize how absolutely ridiculous that is. But most limiting beliefs are. Like that meme that makes its way around Facebook every so often, of the horse tied to a plastic lawn chair. The caption is something to the effect of: Sometimes the only thing holding you back is in your head.

Two years ago, I decided to challenge that limiting belief. And on September 1, 2014, I started writing my first novel. Chris Baty’s No Plot, No Problem, was my guide through a month-long fiction-writing binge, where I endeavored to write 50,000 words in 30 days.

And I did. The result was an atrocious first draft of a novel that may never see the light of day. And yet, it was the most amazing thing I’ve ever written. I love every single word. Someday I’ll go back and make a serious attempt at editing it. But for now, just having written it is enough to make me pretty damn proud. (I have since finished 2 more first drafts, and am half-way-ish through a third.)

Now, writing a novel in 30 days is not for the faint of heart. There are days when trying to meet the daily word count almost does you in. Even worse was playing catch up if I missed a day. Or five. But then you have one day where you finally get out of your own way and the magic flows. It makes even the most difficult of days worthwhile.

For me, the process was even more exciting than the finished product. Because I discovered that, as much as I love reading fiction, I love writing it even more. It’s play time for me.

I know what you may be thinking. Here I am talking about how much I love writing fiction, but I’ve never actually shared any of it. Well, that’s about to change.

No, I haven’t landed some publishing contract. Not yet, anyway. But a girl has to dream.

I’m setting a new challenge for myself this month. My goal is to write fiction every day for 30 days. Rather than work on a serious project, like a novel or short stories, I’m going to play.

For the last couple of months, I’ve been stretching my fiction-writing muscles with a really cool writing exercise. I picked it up from Lawrence Block in Write for Your Life. It’s essentially a timed free writing exercise, but instead of using a topic as a starting off point, you use a sentence.

The first time I did this exercise, it blew my mind. As you may have gathered from my other blog posts, I tend to get in my own way a lot. But every time I have done this, I am surprised and delighted by the characters and storylines that reveal themselves with absolutely no conscious effort on my part. These aren’t fully formed stories by any means, although I do have a few nuggets that may become seeds for other projects. But they are so much FUN.

So for the next 30 days, I’m going to do one of my fiction free writes every day. And yes, I’m going to post them here.

Holy crap. I can’t believe I just promised that.

To pull this off, I’m going to need your help. Each of my 30 entries will require a starter sentence. Yes, I can pull them from other sources, but it will be so much more fun if you’re involved.

So if you’d like to lend a hand to my little endeavor, please post your submission in the comments below, on Facebook, message me, etc. You will, of course, get a shout out – and my undying appreciation – if I use yours.

And bragging rights, of course, if there are any to be had.

This all sounds like madness to me at the moment, but I’m committed to it now. Wish me luck!

xo

M

Zero to 50K in 30 Days: An Ode to National Novel Writing Month

NaNo-2015-Participant-BannerLadies and Gentlemen, start your novels!

Fifty thousand words. Thirty days. Sounds crazy, right? Especially when you write out the numbers like that. Yet every year, thousands and thousands of people rise to the challenge for National Novel Writing Month. A mad dash, mad cap (and yes, totally maddening) experience. Take it from me – someone who is 1,048 words into her second NaNoWriMo.

(That makes only 48,952 more to go, in case you’re counting.)

What makes (seemingly) normal people decide to take on such a challenge? There are a number of theories. Too much fluoride in the water. Not enough home cooked meals growing up. Microwaves. Monsanto. Exposure to Common Core math. One too many mimosas at brunch. Or, 10.

I can’t, of course, tell you why anyone else participates in NaNoWriMo. But I CAN tell you why I do. Because this 30/50K model was what finally gave me the courage to sit down and write a novel.

I have wanted to write fiction since I cracked the spine of my first Golden Book. A voracious reader from the second I could sound out Dick and Jane, I always felt I was born to write books of my own. Until, of course, I sat down to actually write one. Oh, I tried. And I had all the right ingredients, so to speak: plenty of great ideas, the ability to actually string sentences together, a highly overactive imagination… But I found I lacked two things: the discipline to keep my butt in the chair and belief in myself.

NaNoWriMo – well, the philosophy behind it – helped me accomplish the first part of that by both giving me a concrete word count goal and awakening my competitive spirit. The process was so much more amazing than I ever dreamed it would be. I actually found myself looking forward to writing each day because I couldn’t wait to see what happened with my characters next. It was like reading an amazing novel only FIFTY THOUSAND times better.

And by the time I typed THE END on that first novel, I had long since gotten over my doubts. I didn’t just believe I could do it, I knew I could. Because right there in my hot little hands was a manuscript with my name on it.

I mean, it was the novel equivalent of a steaming pile of horse dung, but that didn’t matter one bit. Because I did it. I wrote A NOVEL. And if I can write one, I can write more, and they’ll be even better.

As I tuck into this year’s NaNoWriMo, I’m actually starting my third novel. And yes, one of these days I’ll actually take one past the first draft stage. Because I hear that’s when the fun REALLY begins – in rewrites.

Not.

That will have to wait until next month, though. Because right now, I have a novel to write. And if I’m going to make that deadline of midnight on November 30, I better dive back in. I still have 619 more words to write to meet my Day 1 word count. And I refuse to let myself get behind this early in the game.

How DO you write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days? You sit your butt in the chair… and write.

And now, without further ado…

Let the novel writing commence!

Bird Droppings: Finding perspective when the unexpected threatens to steer you off course

Not a bad office view, if I do say so myself...

The view from my ‘office’ under the sea grape. Better than my last corporate gig, that’s for sure…

I’m having a bad week. Yes, I realize it’s only Tuesday and therefor a little early to make such a pronouncement. But it fits, believe me. I won’t regale you with the gory details. You don’t need to know, and quite frankly I don’t need to wallow in it, as tempting as wallowing can be. I’ve already given one of my besties an ear full. (Thanks for listening, Liz, and not judging me too harshly for it.)

It all started when a silly little bird took a poo on my laptop. Well, if I’m honest, it wasn’t the bird that was the problem. Nor the milky white substance that scored a direct hit on F10.

No. The problem was me. Because in the grand scheme of life, such an event is pretty laughable, right? It’s even enviable. Since the fact that this little bird even had the OPPORTUNITY to poop on my laptop is something I bet most workers in Corporate America can say is about their cubicle, or even their corner office.

A sea grape tree dripping with unripened fruit.

A sea grape tree dripping with unripened fruit.

But my workplace is a little different. One of my ‘offices’ is under the gnarled  boughs of a mature sea grape. I often sit there in the morning, scribbling in a notebook or tapping away at my laptop in the shade of that beautiful tree, lulled by the symphony of the waves and twittering of birds.

It’s a beautiful spot to do what I love most…write.

Queen of my under-the-sea-grape writing fan club.

Queen of my under-the-sea-grape writing fan club.

There are interruptions of course. The dogs vying for my attention. The occasional ripe sea grape falling on the table. A friend walking their dog on the narrow footpath that is really all that separates our borrowed back yard from the sea. The sirens call of another cup of dark, sweet Dominican coffee.

That whole bird thing, though. That was a first.

I’d rather NOT repeat it. But am I going to let it stop me from enjoying my favorite morning retreat. I feel it’s an acceptable level of risk. I mean, I’ve spent countless hours there and never encountered a bird with such precise aim.

I should be thankful that it wasn’t my head. Or something really important, like the RETURN key. That would have been difficult to live without. (Because, sorry F10, you’re dead to me now.)

Yes, it’s a risk I’m willing to take. Because I’d rather dodge bird droppings all day than retreat to a ‘safer’ place like Corporate America.

It’s easy to let one little thing send us off the rails. But as my mother likes to

A favorite quote, snagged from Facebook.

A favorite quote, snagged from Facebook.

remind me: no one said it would be easy, just worth it.

That’s true of all the best things in life – the things worth working toward, worth holding on to. Like my life here in the Dominican Republic and my dreams and goals vis-a-vis my writing AND my new business.

I’m not about to let one obstacle, one challenge, derail my current path – because I know it’s the right one. And I won’t do myself the disservice of giving up on it.

Nor would I give the naysayers – yes, we all have those in our lives, even if they mean well – the satisfaction.

Sorry, little birdie, you just don’t have that kind of power over me.

Now, please excuse me, while I get back to work. We can’t control the world around us, but we can control our reaction to it and our own actions. I know the way forward. It’s forward, one step at a time.

Although, first, I’m just going to disinfect this keyboard one more time…

Nothing grants perspective quite like a gorgeous sunset at the end of a long day.

Nothing grants perspective quite like a gorgeous sunset at the end of a long day.

My R+F Journey: Confessions of an unlikely skincare consultant

Liz & I toasting to our twin Rodan + Fields businesses.

Liz & I toasting to our twin Rodan + Fields businesses.

Why, HELLO, sun damage...

Why, HELLO, sun damage…

My last name may be Italian, but my complexion is 100% Irish. Translation: the tropical sun is not my friend. As 40 approached, sun damage was all I saw every time I looked in the mirror. Because my skin is also sensitive – and my one attempt at erasing that damage a very painful failure – I resigned myself to living with those brown spots and freckles forever.

Then one day, I started to notice my friend Rosemarie’s posts about Rodan + Fields on Facebook. Finally, my curiosity got the best of me, and I reached out to her.

Rosemarie told me her R+F story. Not only about how REVERSE had done what no other product had been able to do – get rid of her own brown spots – but also how the business opportunity was changing her life.

When we had that conversation, a light bulb went off for me. At the time, I was struggling to get my freelance writing career off the ground. Not only was it not taking off as strongly as I hoped, but it was also cutting into my personal writing time – the very thing it was meant to help me support.

Rosemarie’s story inspired me. But the kicker was when I discovered Liz, my best friend from college, was also interested in Rodan + Fields. Liz signed up for her own micro-franchise, and a week later, I did, too.

Let me say that I’m the LAST person you would expect to launch a skincare business. I’d splash some water on my face and consider myself good to go. The only thing I did remember to do on a quasi-regular basis was moisturize, but even that was sporadic at best. But that nonchalance was catching up with me, as evidenced by the aforementioned sun damage. Suddenly taking care of my skin seemed important.

The best 40th birthday present a girl could ask for! Thank you, Liz!

The best 40th birthday present a girl could ask for! Thank you, Liz!

When I received my REVERSE regimen in the mail, I was nervous about trying it for the first time. But as soon as I did, I fell in love.

Because of my sensitivity, I eased into it – using it every 2 to 3 days to start and gradually building up to daily use. Because of this, I expected my results to be gradual. But almost immediately, I started noticing subtle changes in the tone and texture of my skin. And as my freckles and brown spots slowly fade away, I’m loving my brighter and more even complexion.

My favorite part about this opportunity? I don’t need to SELL anything. My ‘job’ is simply to share my story and my passion for these products and this business. And that’s pretty easy when you truly believe in the brand. After all, it’s what sold me.

A recent media mention in Cosmopolitan focusing on the Rodan + Field's business model.

A recent media mention in Cosmopolitan focusing on the Rodan + Field’s business model.

Sure, I looked at the business model, the product philosophy, the compensation structure, the recognition the company’s received, the media impressions and the overall size of the anti-aging market. And let’s face it: the opportunity to partner with Drs. Katie Rodan and Kathy Fields, the Stanford-trained dermatologists who brought Proactiv to market, IS pretty exciting… But what sold me was Rosemarie’s story. Her results. Her success. Her passion.

Yes, it’s true what they say about Rodan + Fields changing skin and changing lives. I know, because less than three months into the business, it’s already changing mine.

Are you ready to start your R+F Journey?

Still a work in progress, but well on my way to the best skin of my life!

Still a work in progress, but well on my way to the best skin of my life! (The crows feet are next on my hit list. Lucky me, we have a Multi-Function Eye Cream for that!)

Counting My Blessings

I took this photo over a year ago off my favorite spot on the beach to hunt sea glass. A year later, and we're living in the house, behind which this was taken.

The Universe moves in mysterious ways: I took this photo over a year ago off my favorite spot on the beach to hunt sea glass. A year later, we’re living in the house, behind which this was taken and I walk this beach every day.

When I sat down to write this morning, I wasn’t feeling all sunshine and happiness. In fact, I was as close to my breaking point as I’ve been in what feels like a long time. (Even though, in reality, it was probably only a week.)

I’m not going to go into the gory details. We all have challenges in our lives and I don’t need to bore you with mine.

Suffice it to say that, as I started pushing my pen across the page, I felt…overwhelmed…by just about everything. But I can’t let it get to me. I’ve come too far in my journey for that.

Shenanigans at our friend Kerri's wedding. Katie - stunning in red - with our friend Maureen on the left and yours truly kicking up her heels...

Shenanigans at our friend Kerri’s wedding. Katie – stunning in red – with our friend Maureen on the left and yours truly kicking up her heels…

Even if I was feeling inclined to wallow, I can’t. Because my friend Katie arrives in a few short hours. That alone makes today a GREAT day. The next week is going to be filled with belly laughs, high adventure and, per her decree, plenty of ‘frolicking’. I’m excited to introduce her to my life, the love of my life and this beautiful country and culture that I’ve adopted as my own. I’ll be doing both her and I a disservice if I don’t throw off this funk. So I hereby promise not to let anything put a damper on the next seven days.

I know exactly what I need: to change my perspective. Instead of dwelling on those negative thoughts – itemizing what I don’t have and what I haven’t yet achieved or accomplished – I need to count my blessings. Celebrate what I DO have. Because those blessings are numerous and bountiful. Too numerous to even count, really.

Here I sit, under the gnarled branches of a massive sea grape tree, not twenty yards from the Atlantic Ocean, listening to the symphony of the waves crashing on the reef and on the shore like an old school round. As I watch, the harbor pilot guides a giant cargo ship through the narrow channel into the Puerto Plata harbor with practiced ease.

It’s going to be hot today, already close to 90 at 9 a.m. But from where I sit, there is such a beautiful breeze that it feels fresh and cool. There’s a dog at my feet that adores me so much that she’s curled up here even though she has a whole yard to play in. I can already taste the perfectly ripe flesh of the avocados that Freddy has promised to bring me this afternoon.

Home sweet (borrowed) home.

Home sweet (borrowed) home.

Freddy, in case you’re wondering, is basically my new best friend. Partially because he keeps me in mangoes and bananas and whatever other fruit happens to be in season, but also because he and his brother take care of this oceanfront property where the love of my life and I are lucky enough to be housesitting.  It is home for us in a way no other house has been for me, other than the 150-year old farmhouse where I grew up. I know it will only be temporary, as the owner has it up for sale, but we will enjoy it as long as we can. The fact that we’re here at all, makes me have to pinch myself. Because I dreamed about living here the first time I walked by – on my first trip here to the Dominican Republic last January.

Funny, isn’t it, how the Universe has a way of granting wishes we don’t even realize we’ve made.

I am blessed to be able to do what I love – CREATE! When I allow myself the luxury, anyway. Even here – far from the trappings of my former corporate existence – I find myself being stingy with my inner artist. I convince myself I have other obligations that must come first. But do they really? And I am forever finding excuses why I can’t sit down and write or create when that’s exactly what every fiber of my being is straining to do.

The why behind this is complex, but I’m working on it. Well, working on working it out and getting past its arbitrary barrier, anyway.

Fear is a big part of it. Fear of taking that first blind step off the cliff – even though the Universe has already made it abundantly clear it’s here to help me fly. I just have to take that first step.

There is also fear of failure. For some reason, it feels safer to let a dream be just that – a dream that we never really try for. Because in pursuing it, we take a risk. That risk is seeing a cherished dream crash and burn. So, rather than risk that failure, we never try. Of course, following this course of action (or, more precisely, inaction) we sabotage any chance of success.

If we can get past the fear, there’s still doubt to contend with. For me, that leads to second-guessing the Universe. Not quite able to believe my good fortune in being here and living this life, I question whether I deserve it. No matter how much positive reinforcement I receive!

But I’m working through all of that. Really, I am. I have started to listen closely for the messages the Universe sends, and then I do my best to follow its instructions. They always lead me in the right direction. The challenge is in both hearing through the other noise out there, and being willing to accept the good that comes my way. I work hard, too, to keep up my end of the bargain. For every step I take in the right direction, the Universe rewards me ten-fold.

So, yes. I could sit here and wallow in self-doubt, self-depreciation, self-pity and fear. But I won’t. Because I BELIEVE – in myself AND the Universe. I choose to embrace the positive. When I do, positive things happen. The Universe is generous like that.

Even now, when I’m experiencing a crisis of personal faith, I will keep positive. I’ll listen for the Universe to guide me, but at the same time keep putting one foot in front of the other. The Universe likes momentum.

I’ll fill one more page, line by line and word by word. I’ll reach out to one more contact. Never forgetting, always appreciating, the blessings I have already been shown. And always ready to receive whatever good the universe decides to send my way.

Because I BELIEVE…

…in myself.

…in this path that I’m on.

…in the power of the Unverse to help me dream big.

…in the ability of the Universe to make wishes – whispered in my dreams and carried away on the night breeze – come true.

Yes, I BELIEVE.

As I type these last words, rain drops have started to fall. For some, that may not be a good sign. But here, where it has been close to three months since we’ve had rain, every single drop is a blessing.

For me, it’s yet another sign that the Universe is listening.

Maybe I should have told Katie to pack an umbrella…

Mother Nature's Blessings: A gift from my friend Julie Gates.

Mother Nature’s Blessings: Photo credit to my friend Julie Gates.

Feliz Año Nuevo: Here’s to a healthy, happy and prosperous New Year!

That beautiful tropical vista I was talking about, at sunrise.

That beautiful tropical vista I was talking about, at sunrise.

When I drew back the curtains this morning, I couldn’t help but smile. Before me was a tropical vista that just doesn’t get old. Palm fronds swaying with the breeze against a backdrop of blue sky and even bluer ocean. Yes, 2015 is going to be a great year. I can feel it already.

Not that 2014 wasn’t pretty darn fabulous. It was, in so many unexpected ways, quite possibly the best one yet.

I’m not saying it was entirely without ups and downs. It had its trials and tribulations, I assure you. But these days I choose to live a positive life. And to do so, you can’t dwell on the negatives. They’ll consume you if you let them.

The defining moment for me happened a month or so ago. It was right after Thanksgiving and I was missing my family like crazy. I could feel the old doubts and fears creeping back. Past failures, would-haves, should-haves and a list of to-do list items I’ve so far left ‘un-checked’ started swirling in my head. I was dangerously close to feeling sorry for myself. But this vista before me – the same one that helped me greet 2015 and that is before now as I write – helped me pull myself back from the abyss.

That day, I started to take stock of the past year. And much to my own surprise, I found I had a lot more items to add in the ‘accomplishments’ column than I initially thought. 2014 has been a very busy year. Busier than I remembered, even.

The love of my life, on one of our many adventures.

The love of my life, on one of our many adventures.

See, I learned a new language. (Spanish, of course. And while I’m far from fluent, I can communicate better every day.) I not only discovered paradise in the Dominican Republic, I moved there. I met the love of my life. I watched my nephew walk down the aisle with the love of his life. I helped celebrate my Aunt Kathleen’s 60th Jubilee. Finally, after carrying the book around for more than a decade, I worked my way through The Artist’s Way – healing and awakening my creativity every step of the way. I picked up a paintbrush again after a very, very long hiatus. I wrote a few poems. I went kayaking for the first time. I ‘hoed’ out the accumulated detritus of (most of) my past lives. I started freelancing again (and might even have some income to show for it in 2015). I dragged my mother first to the Dominican Republic and then to Ireland, the latter of which was fulfilling a lifelong dream for her. I started this blog (although I continue to be negligent in posting). I even lost 20 pounds.

Well, before I went home for the holidays, anyway.

And, after years of telling myself I couldn’t, I started writing fiction. And I have two (really horrific) first drafts to show for it.

The fact that they are utter shite is beside the point, really. I learned so much in the process. And I proved to myself that I could do it. That, along with the fact that it was more fun than I ever imagined, made my little experiment a roaring success. And I can’t wait to do it all over again. Novel #3 is burning a hole in my head as we speak, eager to spill out on the page.

So, yes, that’s on the to-do list for 2015. As is taking up a hatchet in one hand and a scalpel in the other to have a go at its predecessors, who are currently aging like a fine wine. I make absolutely no promises that either will ever see the light of day, mind you. But it will be good practice for my future experiments in fiction. Because now that I’ve started, I have no intention of stopping.

So, yes, 2014 was a very good year. I’ve had so many adventures. I’ve explored. Made new friends. Learned anew how to forgive, to heal, to fully appreciate life. There have been challenges along with the triumphs, but the laughter has far outweighed the tears for the first time in a very long time.

Every day I am filled with gratitude and more of a sense of prosperity than a fat paycheck ever provided. And every day, I count my blessings.

As I look ahead at 2015, I don’t just think it will be filled with unlimited possibilities. I know it will. Because I’m no longer afraid to live life to the fullest. No longer afraid to take a few risks. No longer afraid to imagine the life I want for myself – nor afraid to actually live it. I know that when I take that leap of faith, my wings are strong enough to carry me over the abyss of fear and self-doubt.

I’m very familiar with that abyss. After all, I lived in it for years. Believe me, I have no desire to ever, ever go back.

What’s changed? Me. I’m not the same person I was a year ago, when I looked ahead at 2014 with trepidation and fear, unsure what my next step would be. In the last 12 months, I healed, I learned, I loved…and for the first time in a very long time – maybe ever – I am truly living and loving life.

The best part? I’m just getting started.

I hope you’re ready, 2015. Because I know I am.

Here’s to a healthy, happy and prosperous New Year!

Feliz Año Nuevo, amigos!

Look Who Remembered How To Blog

IMG_5232

This deserted stretch of beach is located on the north coast of the Samaná Peninsula, just east of Las Terrainas. With places like this to explore, is it any wonder I’ve forgotten to blog for a few months?

Ok, ok. I know. It’s been awhile. Months as a matter of fact. Sure, I’ve teased you with photos and vague Facebook statuses. But I’ve deprived you of all the juicy details of the adventures I’ve been having in paradise.

Sorry about that.

In my defense, I’ve been busy. Busy having all of those adventures I’ve been teasing you with. Busy exploring my home-away-from-home (a.k.a. the Dominican Republic). Busy studying Spanish. Busy spending as much quality time as humanly possible with the love of my life, who I had the fortune to meet eight wonderful months ago. (Thank you, universe!)

In short, busy living every moment of every day to the absolute fullest.

One thing, though, has kept me the busiest of all. Writing. True, little to none has trickled down to this blog. But rest assured, I have been writing.

And I haven’t forgotten about you. Really I haven’t. You, my dear readers, have kept me motivated, inspired and scribbling away even when all I’ve wanted to do is…well, anything except actually write. And I plan to repay you for being the best friends and family a scatter-brained writer could ever have.

I know exactly what you’re thinking right now. How on Earth could she possibly repay me for being so awesome?! (Well, at least that’s what Liz and Julie are thinking, I’m sure…) Well, I plan to do it the best way I know how: by sharing my random observations and crazy adventures. Because I assure you the last few months have been anything but dull. And I know you’re dying to hear all about it.

You’ll get a taste of some of those projects I’ve been working on before long, too. I promise you that. But for right now…

Stay tuned, my friends. The Accidental Blonde is back. And, thanks to the tropical sun (and a slightly overzealous emergency highlight), she’s blonder than ever.

The Curse of the Blank Page: A tale of writing, self-doubt and purple eyeliner

IMG_3954I’m feeling a bit bored. Something I have no right to feel, really. What with the fact that I’ve spent most of the day avoiding the task at hand: Writing.

It’s not a lack of things to say – or topics to expound upon – that has me avoiding this most earnest of endeavors. So what is it then, that prevents me from taking up my pen and moving it across the blank page or, alternately, positioning my fingers above the keys on my laptop and tap, tap, tapping away at an equally blank screen?

I suppose it’s fear. Not that writing – or even depending on it to make my living – is an unknown for me. But I have this dream, and there is a part of me that fears failing to achieve that dream.

Yes, I’m familiar with all of the old adages. How the only way to truly fail is not to try, etc. etc. I’d rather not run through them all, either on this page or in my head. I can recognize the wisdom behind them. Heck, I even buy into it.

But somehow that doesn’t lessen the dread I sometimes feel when it’s time to sit down and get to the work of actually writing.

Don’t get me wrong, I write every day. I fill notebooks. But it’s coalescing these bits and pieces into something meaningful that freezes my heart. Because as long as I’m not thinking about writing, the words flow – smoothly, painlessly and, when I’m really lucky, beautifully.

It’s when I think that things jam up.

Sometimes it’s the critic in my head. Wow, is she a bitch! She delights in playing Negative Nancy to every idea – sometimes every word! – I try to put down. And she doesn’t limit herself to merely critiquing my writing. Oh, no! She likes to weigh in on all of my life decisions.

Her favorite time to chime in is when people ask me what I do, or what I’m doing these days. I barely have time to respond before she adds her two cents.

“A writer? Really! You have the audacity to call yourself a writer, ” she sneers. “That’s rich. I see the garbage you’re scribbling down. Take my advice – get a day job.”

Thankfully, her berating is only for my ears. But I’m sure the intrepid soul who was kind enough to inquire can see the play of confused emotions across my face. (I’ve never been good at poker.)

Sometimes my in-house critic doesn’t need to say a word. She doesn’t have to. Because the second I sit down to write – or even think about sitting down to write – my writer’s ADD kicks in. Now, I’ve never actually been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder. But you wouldn’t know that they way my brain scatters off like a frightened kitten when I come face to face with that blank page.

Anything and everything is a potential distraction. There are the usual suspects – the internet (although sometimes I can justify that as research…), social media, daytime television, etc. And then there are the signs of true desperation. Like the sudden, burning desire to clean out my closet. Or make a vat of chicken soup. Or pluck my eyebrows.

Wow. My eyebrows. They REALLY need some attention. Even everyone’s favorite critic thinks so. I guess she had a good look at them while I was experimenting with some eyeliner a couple of minutes/paragraphs ago.

Which might seem normal, except for the fact that I don’t really wear makeup. And I’m not going anywhere. But somehow, between one word and the next, it was something I just HAD to do. IMMEDIATELY.

So, now I’m just sitting here in front of my computer.

Wearing a shade of purple eyeliner that was obviously a mistake.

Waiting for the words to come.

Something that isn’t even possible if I’m not moving the pen across the page or my fingers across the keyboard.

Which I can’t do if, say, I’m removing the aforementioned eyeliner…

Or flossing, which is what I did to distract myself from the ghastly shade of purple I’ve now managed to smear across my face.

But despite these many, many distractions and that incredibly vocal critic, I have to keep pressing forward. Not because of any impending deadline, per se. But, well, remember that boredom we were talking about?

Well, it isn’t really boredom. No, it’s words – an inkling of an idea, a fragment of dialogue, the tender young threads of a story. They’re just under the surface, nudging against my conscious mind. Like an itch waiting to be scratched.

And there is only one thing to do about it.

I have to sit down, make my peace with that blank page, ignore the nagging voice of my inner critic, forget about eyeliner and oral hygiene, get the heck out of my own way…

And WRITE.