Making Connections

Untitled-1Lately John F. Kennedy’s death has been coming up.

On House of Cards the character Claire Underwood talked about how visiting the site where Kennedy was shot with her father influenced her decision to go into “public service” (a term I feel compelled to put into quotes because if you know the show and the character, the only person she is serving is herself and maybe her husband–but a discussion of that character and how the writers have developed her is for another post).

My former professor Sharon Warner wrote about her experience for her “About” page on her new website.

My friend Cindy Sylvester read a story, “Stairway to Heaven”  at our DimeStories 4th Year Anniversary Showcase celebration last Sunday.  One of the main characters was born on the day Kennedy was shot.

My friend Marisa’s mother went into labor the day Kennedy was shot. (Though she was actually born 5 days later.)

~  ~  ~

Judith Barrington includes an exercise in her book, Writing the Memoir: From Truth to Art that I recommend (here’s a pdf of pages 148 and 149):

Think of an event of historical or cultural importance that you remember (assassination of President Kennedy; the first moon landing; the end of the Berlin Wall; John Lennon’s death; an outstanding sporting event; the March on Washington; the Roe v. Wade decision; the AIDS epidemic; the Gulf War; etc). Write personally about how you witnessed or heard about that event and how it impacted you.

I haven’t gotten around to writing this exercise yet, but I did make a list of Big Events from my lifetime.  Make your own list or feel free to pick one from my list (or one of the ones Barrington mentions) and start writing. Even if you’re not writing memoir, think about how a character you’re working with experienced these events:

  • Elvis’ death
  • The day Reagan was shot
  • The day the Pope was shot
  • John Lennon’s death
  • Mt. St. Helen’s eruption
  • Ghandi’s assassination
  • Chernobyl
  • Columbine
  • Break up of the Soviet Union
  • Rodney King beating
  • World Trade Center bombing (the first one)
  • Air Florida Flight 90 crashes into the Potomac
  • September 11
  • Largest shopping mall in America opens (on 78 acres in Minnesota)
  • Civil War in Rwanda and subsequent genocide of 800,000
  • NAFTA
  • Kurt Cobain suicide
  • Nicole Simpson / Ron Goldman murders, police chase of OJ Simpson, and subsequent trial
  • Columbine
  • Oklahoma City bombing
  • Unibomber arrested
  • Heaven’s Gate mass suicide
  • Matthew Shepard’s murder
  • Yitzhak Rabin’s murder
  • Space Shuttle Challenger disaster
  • Fukushima
  • Princess Diana’s death

That’s just a handful of the disasters and tragedies I came up with (with a little help from my friend The Internet).

And that, my friends, is it for my March madness, aka “Fridays with Jenn”. Hope your March was fruitful!

How We See Things

“We see things not as they are, but as we are.”
~Anais Nin

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At the Taos Pueblo

Last summer I had the opportunity to attend the Taos Summer Writers’ Conference as the official videographer and was able to take a class.  I signed up for Beginning Fiction with Demetria Martinez, mostly because the class was described as primarily generative–more writing, less reading and critiquing.   In other words, it was an opportunity to do a lot of writing, and enjoying of Taos.

One of the best writing exercises Demetria offered was this:

Describe a kitchen from the point of view of someone who is grieving.  Do not use the word “grief” (or any of its forms).

and then,

Describe a kitchen from the point of view of someone who is in love. Do not use the word “love” (or any of its forms).

I don’t know about you, but I tend to write too much in my head, and these exercises, even for a nonfiction memoir writer like myself, are very useful.

And if these don’t work, go take a walk!  Here in Albuquerque it’s a beautiful Spring day!

Looking (Up) for Inspiration

moi

This is me being busy busy busy

I was supposed to do a post yesterday, you know, “Fridays with Jenn”. Only I forgot, got busy writing (revising), working on DimeStories projects, web projects for clients, more revising, cleaning the kitchen.  I was in workhorse mode, not create mode.  And I didn’t feel inspired.

And then Sam did a post and I was off the hook.

This morning Sam told me that she didn’t feel like doing anything.  She was having a case of the I-Don’t-Wannas:  I don’t wanna do laundry, I don’t wanna clean my room, I don’t wanna write…  She asked if I would write a blog post for Writers’ March.    I said “Sure,” but mostly out of guilt since I hadn’t done my duty yesterday.  I still wasn’t feeling inspired.  Because isn’t that what we need to write?  Inspiration?

With Sam’s case of the I-Don’t-Wannas I could see clearly what her problem was.  She needed a break. And it’s fine to take breaks.  Just like our bodies must sleep, sometimes we need a day (or two or more) where we don’t “have to” DO anything.

Jill Badonsky addresses this need (and many others) in her book about optimizing our creative selves THE NINE MODERN DAY MUSES AND A BODY GUARD.  The nine muses represent a different aspect of our creative process, and Lull is the muse that Sam was summoning without realizing it.

Sometimes in the creative process, the next right step is to let go, pause, and give time for our vast resources to connect and spring into new ideas.  Surrender to the natural cycle of creativity. Fill with new sensations. Meditate. Turn your attention to mind-stimulating activities. Let go of trying to control things. Trust in the process. Celebrate the creative rejuvenation of rest and pause. Say thanks.  ~Jill Badonsky

Finding inspiration, however, was a little harder. Until I started looking at some TED talks this morning and ran across a video my friend Cynthia posted on her blog by Gavin Pretor-Pinney who runs the Cloud Appreciation Society

“Cloud spotting” he says, “legitimizes doing nothing.” He reminds us (well me at least) that inspiration can be found in the every day, that looking up at the clouds is about being present and letting your imagination wander.

May you find inspiration in your every day life!  and if you need a break, need time for your ideas to percolate and need to quiet the stimulation caused by our busy busy lives,  well then call upon Lull.

 

Day 14: Preconceived Ideas and Notions

Your Thursday post by Jennifer Simpson

I’ve been mulling this post for a week. I had all kinds of (preconceived) ideas about structure, about how you have to let the story be what it needs to be, tell the story in the way it needs to be said…  and then I read this great article in the New York Times:

I’ve been trying to lie about this story for years. As a fiction writer, I feel an almost righteous obligation to the untruth. Fabrication is my livelihood, and so telling something straight, for me, is the mark of failure. Yet in many attempts over the years I’ve not been able to make out of this tiny — but weirdly soul-defining — episode in my life anything more than a plain recounting of the facts, as best as I can remember them. Dressing them up into fiction, in this case, wrecked what is essentially a long overdue confession.

Here’s the nonfiction version.

continue reading “Writing About What Haunts Us” by Peter Orner online–>

Not so much about structure but sometimes you just have to let the blog post be what it wants to be…  or else it won’t feel authentic.

I am in no way suggesting that all you fiction writers and poets write creative nonfiction, but what I am suggesting is that sometimes the real-life “truth” doesn’t fly as fiction (and vice versa).  Experiment.  Take one of of your fiction pieces that is really a true experience from your life heavily disguised and write it as nonfiction!  And that nonfiction piece that’s not working, write it 3rd person as fiction, change the gender of the main character–have fun with it!  What you just may find is that even if it doesn’t work, you may learn something about the story that you didn’t know before, gather some insight into the characters, a greater understanding of why, and your fiction/nonfiction piece will be richer for that knowledge.

7-7-2010_003UNRELATED WRITING PROMPT:  find a photo of yourself or someone in your story–  if you’re writing fiction, use a found photo (google image search can be fun for that) or deeply imagine a photo of a person in your story.

Describe the person in the photo, the physical details like hair and eye color, face shape, height, body type, stature, mannerisms.  Where and when was the photo taken?  What does this photo mean to you? What does the photo NOT tell you about this person? What does this person want?  What is in his/her way?  What do you NOT know about this person? Then go beyond the photo itself:  what was happening before or after this photo was taken, outside the edges of the frame….

Day 7: Shameless Plug? or Inspiration?

Hopefully a little of both…

Before you dig in too deep with your Writer’s March goals, I’m going to suggest starting with writing about why you write

Last summer I had the pleasure of attending the Taos Summer Writers’ Conference as a graduate student intern–the last time I will be able to do that since I’ve now graduated. At The Conference I signed up for Seattle-based writer Priscilla Long‘s week-long class, “The Art of the Sentence, the Art of the Paragraph.” (PS there are still spots left in Priscilla’s class for the summer 2013 Conference)

Two great things were sparked by in-class writing exercises: one, an essay that while it has not yet found a home (rejected by 6 of the 12 journals I’ve sent it to) was a finalist for the A Room Of Her Own Orlando Prize for creative non fiction and two, the I WRITE BECAUSE project.

In class, Priscilla had us write to the prompt, “I write because….” Twelve of us sat around the table and furiously wrote for 12 minutes. What amazed me was the commonality, that 12 people from different walks of life, different life histories, living in different parts of the country, at different ages, could connect on so many of the basics about why we are driven to do this writing thing. And how many of us like the sound of pencil on paper.

Maybe more importantly the exercise reminded me of why I’m doing this thing that is so often seemingly unrewarding.

Goals are good. Measurable goals even better. But understanding the why: why is it important to you, what is your mission, what part of your soul does attaining this goal feed? those are the things that will keep you going.

(and for a twist, if you’re curious, I wrote tongue-in-cheek “Why I DON’T write” post.)

And so, I invite you all to read about the exercise, then set your timer and go!

PS: did you know that you can get these blog posts delivered as emails right into your inbox.. on the sidebar you’ll see a tab that says “Write with us!” and you enter your email and we’ll send you prompts and inspiration every day throughout March.

 

Revising is Reading

One of the best things you can do for your writing, as most of us already know, is to read.  Not only should you read authors you already admire, it’s a good idea to read authors you’re not familiar with.  Ask friends (not the ones who read dime store novels) for recommendations, read reviews, join Goodreads….   Contrary to popular belief, “the news of …[publishing’s] demise has been greatly exaggerated.”**  Books are everywhere!

Now I’m not suggesting that you just curl up under the covers or in a sunny chair and lose yourself in a book. I’m suggesting you look critically at the way the author put words to paper to create something that resonates (or not) with you. How do the transitions work?  What about the pacing, the ratio of scene to exposition and reflection? Look at the plot, what is the inciting incident?  What does the character want?  What is in his/her way? Are the obstacles formidable?  Are the obstacles believable?

How does the book or essay or story begin?  How does it end? (My friend and writing mentor Judy Reeves has a great post on her site about Beginnings & Endings, including some of her favorites.)

I’ve been reading books, specifically memoirs, that deal with grief, looking at how other authors write about their loss.  I’ve found that it is a challenge, to write about it deeply and authentically, but without overdramatizing– like Gail Caldwell’s Let’s Take the Long Way Home. I appreciated the way she ended each chapter with a reflection on the events. I marveled at Joan Didion’s prose style in The Year of Magical Thinking. I also read Megan O’Rourke’s The Long Goodbye which was not my favorite–her writing seemed to move away into the personal, and delve more into the research, the psychology of grief and the tone shift didn’t engage me. On a whim I picked up Tolstoy and the Purple Chair,  by Nina Sankovitch. I loved the idea of reading her way through grief after she lost her sister. Sankovitch did a fantastic job of connecting the books, the story lines and characters, to her own life…  but to me, she didn’t think deeply enough on the page, about her grief, for me.

And, because my committee chair / adviser suggested I need to work on pacing, and should re-read Tobias Wolff’s This Boy’s Life I am working on that now…. What I’ve always admired  about this memoir is Wolff’s elegant way of writing what Philip Lopate calls the “double narrative.” What the narrator thought then and what the narrator thinks now. Wolff can even do this on several levels– what he thought then, what he thought years later, and what he thinks now, a kind of triple narrative!  It’s impressive.  Now I am looking at the pacing, how he moves in and out of scenes, the ratio of scene to exposition to reflection.

You don’t necessarily need to read books that explore the same subjects you’re dealing with (though it is good to know your market, and your competition), reading critically can be a great way to stimulate your own writing.

What books do you look to for inspiration? for narrative structure? for voice?


**my twist on a quote attributed to Mark Twain

Day 16: Revising is Asking Questions

The brain loves to answer questions and figure out puzzles. I find this approach especially helpful for revision work:  ask questions of your character or of yourself.

But you have to be careful to not overwhelm your brain with really big questions, triggering the amygdala–the flight or fight fear response which when activated shuts off access to the cortex where the thinking happens. In fact, according to Dr. Robert Maurer (One Small Step Can Change Your Life, Workman Publishing, New York) writes:  “….the mere act of posing the same question on a regular basis and waiting patiently for an answer mobilizes the cortex.”

Michael Ondatje, author of The English Patient, uses small questions….”I don’t have any grand themes in my head,” he says…. he takes a few incidents–“like [a] plane crash or the idea of a patient or a nurse at night talking”–and asks himself a few very small questions such as “Who is the man in the plane? Why is he there? Why does he crash? What year is this? Of the answers he says, “Those little fragments, fragments of mosaics, they add up and you start finding out the past of these characters and trying to invent a past for these characters.” (Maurer, 46-7)

Another way to trick your brain into working FOR you and not AGAINST you is to get your brain into the transient hypofrontality mode. This state of mind is achieved when doing mundane or repetitive tasks, when your brain is in a state where it can percolate your ideas and make new connections. As a creative non fiction writer I find this especially helpful when I’m working on reflection–what did I think about that event then, and what do I think about it now…  This transient hypofrontality is a relaxed congitive state that can be achieved by doing tasks that set your mind at rest:  a long walk, doing a repetitive task like chopping vegetables or washing dishes.  Or take a bath, meditate, do yoga…  and let things come together in interesting ways.

The good new is, the frontal lobes of highly creative people are thinner than average allowing us creative types to achieve this hypofrontality state more easily according to Dr. Rex Jung, MD / PhD.  Learn more about Dr. Jung by listening to the show, “Creativity and the Brain, Making the Connection” over on KUNM.

 

Day 9: Retyping your Revision

When my adviser suggested I retype, as in start a whole new Word document, and actually re TYPE all the words I’d just written, all the PAGES– 196 of them–I thought for sure he was crazy.

“Troglodyte,” I muttered under my breath. Clearly he didn’t understand the power of computers; he would have probably suggested I use an actual TYPEWRITER if he knew I owned one.  I mean the beauty of word processing is that it offers tools every writer loves:  the File–Save As,   the Copy/Paste, the  Cut/Paste, the Search-and-Replace, Spell Check,  not to mention the Undo!

And then something happened.  I got stuck. I didn’t know what to work on next, where to begin…  and so in frustration, and rather than stare at the computer screen for hours, toggling between the chapter called “Big Messy Chapter 4”, Facebook, and email, I decided to give it a try, the re-typing thing.  Maybe I would feel like I was doing something other than stare. Maybe some sort of muscle memory of writing would take over and I could just write again.

I stacked my earlier drafts on my desk (not the one pictured above), created a new Word document, titled it “Starting from Scratch,” and began typing.  From the very beginning.  As I typed I looked at the comments from my professor and my colleagues. When I saw a section wasn’t working, I didn’t re-type it.  When the comments were something like “say more” or “not clear” or “and what do you think of that NOW” I would try to answer those comments as I retyped.  Sometimes a re-typed sentence would become a paragraph of NEW writing.   Sentences that needed restructuring got restructured.  Paragraphs that were not in the right place, were typed into the proper section.  And the best part, the person typing the new draft, was the person who had learned from the earlier draft, who had a different take on it, who was wiser than the person on the page.  In this way I deepened the reflection, and looked for smarter, more creative ways to say something.

I can’t tell you how it irks me that this is one more thing my adviser was right about, but now I swear by this method.  I use it for almost every revision.  And I’ve thought a lot, and for me there are a couple of reasons why this works.

First, if you’re as obsessive about polishing prose as I am, each time you “touch” a sentence you look at it for improvements. You change a word, you move a phrase, you make it better.  And by re-typing an entire poem/essay/short story/ book you take the opportunity to examine every single sentence at the letter-by-letter level.

And most importantly:  we’ve all heard some version of the advice, “you have to be willing to kill your darlings,” a quote attributed to everyone from William Faulkner, some dude named Sir Arther Quiller-Couch, and more recently Stephen King.  But the truth is:  it is painful to “kill your darlings,” to hit the delete key and disappear those perfectly forms bits of prose that either leapt from the tips of our fingers fully fledged, or were toiled over for days, weeks maybe, years even. It’s like ripping a little piece of your heart out.

BUT…  if you re-TYPE, you don’t have to Select/Delete. You don’t have to CUT those words out….  you just don’t bring those words into the new document.

So set aside your doubts and give it a try then let me know how it works for you.

Day 2: Writing is Revising

I’m in the final stretch–completing my MFA in creative writing, with an emphasis in creative non-fiction.  That means I have to complete a book-length project, turn it into a committee of advisers (by the end of March) that I have selected, and defend it in a public meeting (on April 13). I don’t want to go into details on what THAT means to me, suffice it to say it sounds like a special kind of hell.

When I entered the MFA program at the University of New Mexico I had 180 plus pages of a manuscript, Reconstructing my Mother.  I thought I was ahead of the game: I knew what I was writing about, and I knew the story. I’d  lived the story.  I thought I’d take some classes, write a couple more chapters, clean up the ones I’d already written and I’d be done.

WRONG.

I had a lot of revising to do.

I used to think that revising meant line editing:  changing a word here and there, re-arranging sentences, correcting typos…  That kind of revising had worked well for me in the past when I wrote press releases and marketing content.  It still works well for me in those arenas.  But in writing creatively, there’s a lot going on with the story under the surface, and sometimes to get at what that story is entails more than just polishing the prose.

As I’ve worked through this program and seen other writers develop their stories, essays and poems in workshop, I’ve discovered a few things about revising that I now apply (sometimes painfully) to my own work.  I’ve seen fellow writers submit the messiest drafts I’ve ever seen: disjointed story lines, essays that go off on tangents, poems that wander in the ether.  And I’ve seen those same writers cut whole scenes, add new scenes, focus the theme, and follow the tangent to another story altogether, creating something beautiful.  I’ve seen them revise those messy drafts, and sometimes even polished drafts into something entirely different than what they started with, sometimes only a whisper of the original piece remains.

Over the course of the month, for Fridays with Jenn, I’ll share with you some  of the insights on revising that I’ve learned, because writing is revising.

Revising is Re-VISIONING the work.

I started out writing my memoir, Reconstructing My Mother thinking it was about, well, my mother, who died when I was 13. That I, as the main character, was on a journey to discover who she was “as a person” not just as my mommy.

Then, I began volunteering at the Children’s Grief Center as a bereavement group facilitator.  During the training I learned about grief, and more specifically about grief responses in children.  Then I took a course from Professor/ Writer Daniel Mueller on Trauma in Literature and we read the book Trauma and Recovery by Judith Herman.  I became enamored with the idea of grief as trauma.

Herman writes:  “Traumatic memories lack verbal narrative and context; rather, they are rendered in the form of vivid sensations and images” (Herman 38). And so, healing occurs in rendering the trauma into a cohesive narrative, into a story. THIS is how I would tell my story, I thought to myself.  And I even got all artsy about it. I was going to start with a poem I’d written to reflect the imagistic nature of traumatic memory, and through the course of the book the images would take form.  The structure of the narrative would actually mimic the healing journey.  (Even now that idea sounds appealing.)

During this past year of “dissertation hours” over and over again as I submitted pages to my committee chair, Professor/Writer Greg Martin, he would ask for the same thing over and over:  “What was it like in your house after your mom died?”

And I would say, “It sucked,” and leave it at that. I did not want to write about that time. I didn’t want to go there emotionally. Besides, it was so long ago–what did it matter? I thought.  I appeased him sprinkling in details here and there, a scene here and there….  I would weave these stories from the past, these interludes, into the overarching arc of the story:  the story of the hero (me) who goes on a journey to reconstruct her mother.

Then I wrote an essay about volunteering at the Children’s Grief Center.  “That is the narrator who needs to tell this story,” Greg said, a  comment I had to put on the back burner for a while until I figured out what he meant.

I struggled to figure out what went where, which pieces matched. At one point I even cut up pages and sections and laid them in piles all over the floor of my writing cave.  As I tried to wrestle all my scenes and scribbles into one giant thing, I realized that only way to see what I still needed to write, was to tell the story from beginning to end.  I would see what was missing, and what fit together with what.

And lo and behold, the voice, the person that began re-writing was the same narrator who volunteered at the Grief Center.  That narrator had a different perspective on things.  That narrator was a bit wiser than the girl who came into the MFA program clutching her 180 pages.  I saw the pieces in a new way.  And oh, yeah.  I was missing this big chunk of writing about the time right after my mom died.

Most of the writing from those initial 180 pages is now unrecognizable.  I’ve gutted those long passages of what I call “logistics” writing, the “I stood up, took seven steps to the table, set my cup down, then I sat down and …”  kind of writing.  I’ve worked on getting to the action sooner, and reflecting more deeply.  I’m a better writer now, I hope.

And the writer, the person I am today has a better understanding of how losing my mother has affected me.

And now the book, Reconstructing My Mother, is as much about me reconstructing myself as it is about my mother.  And for now, it’s not in some artsy fartsy form–it follows a basic, linear timeline.  Which for now, for THIS draft, works.

My advice to you:  don’t be so rigid in the way you think your poem, your essay, your short story is going to be told.  Be willing to explore all the possibilities.  You may end up writing a story different than what you thought you would write and you may learn something about yourself.  And even if you end up telling the story as you had originally imagined it, my bet is that it’s better rendered than had you not gone off on the journey of re-VISIONING the work.

Are We There Yet?

Wow. A month of committed writing.  In that time the trees have started to turn green, my allergies have kicked in full force, and I feel like I made significant progress in this thing called writing life.

I think I’m supposed to say something really significant on this last day of March, but for me, it is not the last day of my Writer’s March…   it is the beginning, at least the beginning of a new chapter (I think it’s called April).

What I’ve learned (or was reminded of) this month:

1. Five hours a day, every day is too much!  Perhaps this will change if I have more “business” of writing to take care of, but the actual writing, the getting inside my head, digging around in there for treasures to put down on the page…  can’t do it consistently for five hours a day.

2. I’m okay with number 1.   You see the old Jennifer would have allowed one day’s failure to slow her down. She would have gone back in to her head thinking, mostly beating herself up, and not writing.  And even though the five-hour-a-day-goal includes actual writing, staring at the computer screen, journaling, staring out the office window, and reading as long as it’s in service of the writing, the new Jennifer can say What the heck was I thinking? She can re-assess and re-envision the goal and make it not only attainable, but sustainable.

3. I can accomplish a goal even if I don’t do it in as big a way as I had envisioned (like in five hour a day increments)….  in other words, I finished the second draft of my comps!  I took the thin 11 page initial draft, and exceeded my advisors mandate to make it 22 pages, instead growing it to 25 pages. Hah!  as my friend Nari pointed out (via Facebook) “That’s about the longest piece of writing (aside from the book-length memoir as a whole) I’ve heard of you doing, Jenn. You deserve an apple.”

4. Albuquerque New Mexico is the smallest town I’ve ever lived in. Just last week I went to a poetry open mic event called Fixed and Free (it takes place on the fourth Thursday of every month over at The Source).  There I met a woman (Teresa)  who when asked how her writing was going said, “Great! I’ve written 23 poems this month. I’m doing this Writers March thing.”

I said, “I”m ‘Thursdays with Jenn!'”  I couldn’t wait to tell Sam that Teresa was finding success in this group process and couldn’t wait to get home to write another poem.

5. It takes a village…  to do just about anything.  Really, we can’t and shouldn’t expect to do things on our own. It is in allowing other people in to support us that we can accomplish great things.

And so I leave you with this last thought inspired by this card from my Attitude Is Everything deck…

On the flip side it says:

“I Identify the people who pull me up and show them an attitude of gratitude”

I am grateful for so many people, but I’ll keep this to the people who have been supportive of my writing life:

My sister.  She loves to tell people I’m a writer. Admittedly sometimes that feels good, and sometimes that feels intimidating, but it’s nice to know she believes in me. Makes it just a bit easier to believe in myself.

My dissertation advisor/ writing mentor Greg Martin.  Even if he doesn’t end up being a character in my memoir, he will always be a super important part of my development as a writer–maybe even as a human being.  Writing, after all is just about life and while I’ve learned about story structure and having obstacles that are formidable, I’ve also learned to take a closer, more honest look at myself…  of course this wouldn’t apply if I’d only gone the fiction route…

Sam Tetangco…  what can I say.  It’s not just this blog, it’s the friendship and the times spent writing together.  I’m inspired by your dedication, and your positive attitude, and your wisdom.

Randi Beck…  again… more than the blog, the daily compost, I’m inspired by your talent and your enthusiasm!

Cynthia Patton.  We met in 2005 at the Taos Summer Writers’ Conference.  We’ve kept in touch, supporting each other through our memoir writing, and a lot of messy “life” stuff.  You joined the Writers March and although you did not comment on my posts, I could count on you to read them and respond privately, offering support and suggestions…  YOU my friend are a much better writer than you think you are.

Merimee Moffitt, my co-host for DimeStories and my entree into the world of poetry (it’s a scary place!).  Anyway, I am grateful to you for your support, and if I’m stuck here in Albuquerque I am glad you are here to be my friend.

Sorry, I’m gonna lump the rest of you together:  My San Diego writing pals:  Judy Reeves, Amy Wallen, Jill Badonsky and last but not least Karin Zirk.  I’m still not where I am, but I wouldn’t have gotten here without you.

My MFA program colleagues:  Cassie Lopez,  Tanaya Winder, Elizabeth Tannen, Suzanne Richardson, Nari Kirk, Melanie Unruh…  Here I am… I couldn’t have survived it without you.  (and the rest of my colleagues in the program who’ve read and critiqued my work, making me a much better writer and reader).

So how did the Writers’ March work for YOU? and who are you grateful for?