Odyssey of a Novice Writer

Aspiring novelist. Avid reader of fiction. Reviewer of books. By day, my undercover identity is that of meek, mild-mannered legal assistant, Kate Loveton, working in the confines of a stuffy corporate law office; by night, however, I'm a super hero: Kate Loveton, Aspiring Novelist and Spinner of Tales. My favorite words are 'Once upon a time… ' Won't you join me on my journey as I attempt to turn a hobby into something more?

ALPHABET SOUP STORIES: A is for Adelaide

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Adelaide inhaled the calming nicotine, then tapped the cigarette against the glass rim of the ashtray. Smoking was a filthy habit and one she should give up. But not this weekend, she thought, bringing the cigarette once more to her lips.

Sitting on the edge of the canopied bed, she looked around her old room. All these years and it was still the same: lace curtains, pillows dressed in pink ruffles, and furniture painted white. A timeless testament to the girl who never was.

She frowned, grinding the finished cigarette into the ashtray. Why hadn’t Mama changed the goddam room into a den or a sewing area?

But Adelaide knew the answer. The room was her mother’s bitter monument to what should have been.

It had been twenty-five years since the confrontation. At the time, giving in to a tempest of tears, Adelaide had sworn she’d never come back. In response, her mother regarded her with icy eyes and turned away. Twenty-five years of bitter silence.

It was her father’s call, heartbroken and in the middle of the night, that finally brought Adelaide home. “Please, Addie – the service is tomorrow. Come home – just don’t bring her.”

Her. Even after all this time. She has a name, thought Adelaide, she has a goddam name!

Still, Adelaide came home. For her father’s sake.

Liar! You came for Mama. In spite of everything, you came for Mama.

Reaching into her purse, Adelaide fumbled for the crushed packet of cigarettes, dismayed to find it empty. Tossing it onto the pale pink coverlet, she wondered if she should make a quick trip into town. Instead, she walked over to the framed photograph sitting on the bureau. Taken the day of her parents’ wedding, it set the course for the relationship between her mother and father.

Her mother, beautiful in pale blue, wore white gloves and a wide brimmed hat that dipped slightly over one eye. Glacial in expression, she stared resolutely forward. Beside her, Adelaide’s father gazed raptly at his wife. She was his glorious Varina, the center of his life.

It would always be that way.

Varina Douglass, the original steel magnolia, possessor of soft words and even softer skin. Beneath the softness, however, was a hide tougher than that of an armadillo. She conquered her small town with exquisite manners and fastidious propriety, reigning ruthlessly over the Clayton County Junior League, the Ladies’ Garden Club and the First Baptist Church. She was the arbiter of what was right, coolly reminding transgressors tempted to stumble, “That’s not our way; it isn’t seemly.”

She imposed her will on everyone, especially the unhappy Adelaide, who was forcefully dressed in ribbons and bows. Even as a young child, Adelaide knew that frills and flounces were not for her, and yet her mother persisted. Adelaide would be the debutant her mother had been, the girl with many beaux. Adelaide would be popular, would marry, would bear several beautiful children that would be a credit to all Varina held sacred.

So many ‘woulds’ – and the biggest of them all was that Adelaide would live up to her mother’s code of what was seemly.

There were early indications that Adelaide was not her mother, indications Varina steadfastly ignored – at least until the afternoon she entered Adelaide’s room without knocking, surprising the two girls in bed.

No soft words then; instead, a sharp slap.

“What’s wrong with you, Adelaide? Some behaviors are evil,” said Varina. “You’re a freak – an affront!”

The ‘freak’ soon left home, never to look back. Except… maybe sometimes… Holiday calls, her father always answering, saying her mother couldn’t come to the phone. Cards and letters returned unopened – Adelaide had a drawer full of them.

It was always about you, Mama, always about what you wanted.

But I loved you… in spite of everything. Why couldn’t you love me, Mama?

Turning away from the photograph, Adelaide picked up her purse. Maybe she would go into town and get those cigarettes. Later, after she returned to Chicago, she’d make an effort to give them up. It would please Janet, who worried the habit was killing her.

It’s time to let go of killing things.

Walking past the front parlor, Adelaide heard quiet voices. It was one of the ladies from the Junior League, speaking with her father.

“Poor Adelaide, home at last. How is she, Robert? Such a terrible thing for a daughter, losing her mother.”

Slipping quietly from the house, Adelaide’s eyes filmed over. The truth was she’d lost her mother a long time ago.

©2015 All Rights Reserved Kate Loveton and Odyssey of a Novice Writer

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Note: With this story begins a series of short tales I hope to write, each tale named for the character in the story. The entire series will be called the Alphabet Soup Stories. I hope you like this first entry.

The story is also written in response to the Three Word Wednesday challenge (found here) to write a tale using these three words: bitter; glorious; stumble.

Variety is the Spice of Life

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It’s hard to be faithful. Isn’t variety the spice of life?

That’s what Jake had always thought – at least until he’d met his Angela.

When he first laid eyes on her, he knew he had to change his cheating ways. In the past, he’d wasted his time on bimbos, the kind of girls who were good for only one thing (although it was a very good thing!) and not much else. But his Angela was different.

Chaste, sweet, faithful. Angela was the kind of girl a man brought home to meet his mama.

Angela, Angela… an angel she was! An angel fate had sent his way. Resolving to be worthy of her, he decided to straighten up and fly right. Angela wasn’t the kind of girl to put up with a boyfriend’s wandering eye.

The problem was that Jake was a randy fellow who’d always had an eye for the girls. He knew the odds he was up against, but he was determined. So, when a pretty girl walked past him, he resolutely looked the other way. If a soft thigh brushed up against his during a subway ride, he’d swallow painfully and move aside. The enticing scent of female mingled with perfume would produce from Jake a string of muttered “Our Fathers,” the prayerful mantra which Father Benedetto had once assured the much younger Jake would douse teenage lust.

But Lord have mercy!

Did He have to create so many beautiful women?

Everywhere he went, they confronted Jake. Gorgeous women, dressed in tight skirts, their plump thighs beckoning.  Women wearing soft sweaters that barely covered large, bouncing breasts. They haunted him, these wonderful women, issuing invitations he couldn’t accept. Yes, they were everywhere! In the park, in the office… in his dreams. The world was like a supermarket stocked with female delight – and he was unable to shop!

Not if he wanted to keep his Angela.

Desperation began to nibble away at his routine and so he decided to vary it. He’d leave the house earlier and earlier in an attempt to miss the pretty girls who gathered at the bus stop in the morning. He stopped waving to people on his street, afraid he’d be enticed by a nubile neighbor. He walked quickly, purposefully, to wherever he was going, fearful he’d give in to temptation if a blonde in an extremely short skirt asked for directions. Jake took to looking down at the pavement wherever he went, ignoring everyone and everything around him.

That’s how he ended up in the hospital, legs in traction, several ribs fractured. He never saw the car heading his way, so busy was he looking down instead of up.

Fortunately, the nurse who tended him had the face and the figure of a marine. There’d be no fervid flirtations over nightly sponge baths. He sighed, relieved. He could still be faithful to his Angela.

He looked over at her, sitting by his bed, reading a magazine. His Angela.

“Mr. Barone? I’m Dr. Bainbridge, the orthopedic surgeon,” said the tall, handsome doctor, entering the room. He extended his hand to Jake.

Angela dropped the magazine and stood up quickly. Intercepting the doc’s hand, she shook it and smiled brightly. “Hello, doctor,” she said, her eyes sparkling, “I’m Angela.”

All those months, trying to be good. Jake really had been too busy looking down. He was looking up now. Just in time to see the car that was about to hit him.

© 2015 All Rights Reserved Kate Loveton and Odyssey of a Novice Writer

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Author’s Note: This story is written in response to Linda G Hill’s ‘Stream of Consciousness Saturday’ challenge. Linda’s challenge was to let your imagination fly, using one or both of the words ‘very’ or ‘vary.’ I had no idea what I was going to write about when I tried this exercise, but this is what I came up with. I hope you enjoy it. Linda’s challenge can be found here.

The Cruelest Month

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“Humans are right. April is the cruelest month.”

“What’s wrong, Snagthistle?” asked Thornbriar.

“My numbers are down. You know how He gets when we don’t meet our quotas.”

“His Eminence realizes suicides and murders dip in spring. The monkeys taste hope with April’s arrival.”  Thornbriar shuddered.  “Wretched month!”

“My numbers were good last April.”

Thornbriar nodded. “I remember: the Ebola Spring. A bumper crop of souls!”

“I can’t make those numbers again. There’ll be hell to pay!”

Feeling moisture, Thornbriar smiled. “Cheer up, Snagthistle! It’s starting to rain!”

Snagthistle glanced up, fervently hoping that somewhere rain was falling on someone’s parade.

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Word count: 100
Author’s Note: This story is written in response to the 100 Word Challenge for Grown-Ups. This week’s prompt: the word APRIL. You can find the challenge here.
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Boys Will Be Boys

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From the start, Enid realized there was something not quite right about Ralphie, but her husband, George, always looked the other way, saying “Boys will be boys.”

Later, psychologists attributed the worsening changes in Ralphie’s behavior to George’s sudden, unexpected demise; the ever watchful Enid knew better.

But even Enid wasn’t prepared for the sight of Ralphie sitting at the kitchen table, knife and fork in hand, canary feathers scattered about.

Warily she walked past the empty birdcage, her late husband’s words ringing in her ears: “Boys will be boys.”

“We should get a new pet,” sighed the monster at the table, dreaming of boa constrictors and the sleeping baby in his mother’s upstairs bedroom.

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Word count: 114
Author’s Note: This story is written in response to Lillie McFerrin’s Five Sentence Fiction challenge (found here). The challenge is to write a piece of fiction in five sentences using the word “changes.”

Wednesday Whine: Of Books, Blogs, Sisters & April

images (9)Can it truly be Wednesday again? I guess so – at least that is what my calendar says. As I sit here, Starbucks iced vanilla coffee in hand, I am wondering what happenings I might share with you from the past week. Well, let’s see…

Because I’m always interested in what books others are reading, perhaps I’ll tell you what I’ve been reading this week.

I just finished M. C. Dulac’s newest book, Midnight in Dublin.

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Ms. Dulac came to my attention when I started following her blog and began reading her deliciously spooky and atmospheric tales. When she mentioned she had a new book coming out and offered to let me read a copy, I jumped at the chance. I will be reviewing Midnight in Dublin in the next week or so; I hope you’ll look for my review. In the meantime, if you get a chance, please check out Ms. Dulac’s website (here) and enjoy the fine fiction that she’s posted.

I am currently reading – and have just about finished – Philip K. Dick’s DoAndroidsDreamOfElectricSheepCoverDo Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? The wonderful sci-fi noir film (and one of my top ten favorite movies) Blade Runner was adapted from this terrific novel. I can honestly say that I’ve never read a story by Dick that I haven’t enjoyed. This novel is no exception. I like the sad, somber darkness of the tale. Who says sci-fi can’t move you? This one is very effective, and if you haven’t read any of Dick’s work, I highly recommend it.

Next on my agenda is a book I’ve been meaning to read for some time, Julia 91vTBDj3mmL._SL1500_Lund’s Strong as Death: A Love to Live For. Julia is a fellow blogger (you can find her blog here). As I understand it, Julia’s tale is a young adult romance with a dark twist to it. I look forward to sharing with you more about this book in the coming weeks. In the meantime, you’ll want to check out her blog which is full of good stuff.

Aside from reading, I’ve been enjoying the appearance of spring. Finally! It seemed to take forever to get here.

Spring

The photo above was taken Monday from an office window; since then, only two days later, the buds on many of the trees are in full bloom, the grass needs to be cut, and the world (or at least my world) is full of vivid, emerald green grass and bright yellow forsythia. The weeping cherry trees are cotton candy pink, the birds are singing and Kate Loveton is – once again – in the land of the living.

It is a beautiful thing!

Speaking of beautiful things, how many of you have a sister (or sisters)? I haveimages43IS01H9 one sister. When we were younger, we never really got on very well. We seemed very different in outlook and personality. It wasn’t until we were getting well into our thirties that we began to see each other for pleasure and not for the sake of ‘family.’ I think the death of my dad had a lot to do with that. When he became very ill and, especially, when he was facing the end of his days, my sister and I began to realize that life was precious – and so are relationships with those who share our past history. We began to make time for one another. We’d go to wine festivals together, take the occasional trip to New York, attend concerts – even attend the occasional Star Trek convention. (Go ahead and laugh – I dare ya!) We did fun things – not just the obligatory family gatherings.

We also began to accept one another and embrace each other’s differences. Now the road we travel together is a lot less rocky and a great deal more fun. It is, as I said, a beautiful thing.

We are annual ticket holders to Baltimore’s theater season. This past Sunday, we went to see Wicked at the Hippodrome Theatre. It was a phenomenal show, and we greatly enjoyed it.

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Wicked has a wonderful libretto, but I love the words from the song For Good particularly – the lyrics have always moved me – and I have to admit that both my sister and I had a tear in our eyes as we listened to the Wicked Witch and Glinda the Good sing together:

I’ve heard it said
That people come into our lives for a reason
Bringing something we must learn
And we are led
To those who help us most, to grow
If we let them
And we help them in return
Well, I don’t know if I believe that’s true
But I know I’m who I am today
Because I knew you…
Like a comet pulled from orbit
As it passes the sun
Like a stream that meets a boulder
Halfway through the wood
Who can say if I’ve been changed for the better?
But because I knew you
I have been changed for good.

I believe that as I grow to know my sister better – not just as my sister, but as a friend – that she has changed my life for good. I feel that way also about my closest of friends, those friends whose lives I’ve somehow stumbled into and wonder, “How did this come to be?”

Kismet?

Maybe. Whatever it is, it’s a beautiful thing.

On that note, I’ll end my Wednesday Whine, which really isn’t a whine at all. It’s spring and I’m happy. No need to whine when you have good books, lovely friends, a sister to share your life with – and the beauty of April to remind you that once again life is new and fresh and its beauty surrounds you.

It’s good to be a part of it.

Three Weeks in Heaven

Kate Loveton:

Taylor Eaton is one of my favorite writers of flash fiction. The story that follows is poignant and lovely, and I wanted to share it with you. Well done, Taylor!

Originally posted on Little Write Lies:

3 Weeks in HeavenThe colors in heaven are nothing like the colors anywhere else. That was the first thing I noticed. The colors. Kaleidoscopic and rich, they – more than anything else – served as a constant reminder of where I was. At times I had to steady myself and focus my mind on anything but the overwhelming hues. They often gave me the impression of being trapped in an eternal carnival – everything too bright, and loud, and partially terrifying.

I spent my first week in heaven in a constant state of nausea. I’d say the colors were to blame, but a sliver of my soul knows that I was struggling to accept what my presence there meant: that I had died.

Every time I met someone else in heaven, they’d pat my shoulder, their hand guided by sympathy, and say: “I remember that feeling. Don’t worry. It will pass.”

“Thanks,” I’d…

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Book Review: Death in a Dacron Sail by N. A. Granger

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The intrepid and inquisitive Rhe Brewster, last seen solving a murder in Death in a Red Canvas Chair, returns for new sleuthing adventures in N.A. Granger’s latest mystery novel, Death in a Dacron Sail.

And what a return it is!

Rhe is a busy woman. In this latest adventure, she is continuing to work as an adjunct police consultant in the small coastal town of Pequod, Maine, while continuing her part-time work as an emergency room nurse. She juggles furiously to keep all the balls in the air, but sometimes even the best juggler drops one now and then, and Rhe is no exception. Her college professor husband seems troubled yet Rhe seems to lack the will to confront him, her son has challenges unique to children with ADHD, and Rhe is in the early stages of a pregnancy her husband never wanted. What more can happen to this woman?

Plenty. And it begins when Rhe and her brother-in-law, Chief of Police Sam Brewster, receive a call from one of the town’s lobstermen that a finger has turned up in his lobster trap. Forensic investigation reveals the finger likely belonged to a young girl. Proof comes later in the form of a body that washes ashore: a girl, wrapped in a Dacron sail, and missing a finger. While trying to determine how the girl died, Rhe is given a file detailing several unsolved cases of missing girls, one of them a friend from Rhe’s childhood.

This is no powder puff story. It involves young children and the grisly grimes perpetrated against them. Granger handles the most harrowing parts of the story with discretion and grace. If you’re looking for sensationalism, you won’t find it here. What you will find is a mother’s compassion for the suffering endured by the girls as well as their parents. The reasons behind the commission of the crime remain a mystery to Rhe and to us. But evil is like that: it doesn’t always make sense. Sometimes, it just is.

One of the key strengths of this author is her ability to make you care about the characters she’s created. We feel Rhe’s sadness for the girls whose cases she is investigating. We experience her confusion as her husband’s affections go from lukewarm to freezing cold. We feel her fondness for her protective and good-hearted brother-in-law, as well as her mild distaste for the newspaperman she once dated and who still pursues her. We even begin to thaw toward the officious FBI Special Agent Bowers as Rhe’s own feelings toward the callow agent start to mellow.

What surprised me this time around is that the relationships I took for granted in the first book took a more serious and startling turn in the second. Rhe’s husband, particularly, surprised me; he surprised Rhe as well.

In the end, this is Rhe’s book. She resonates with the reader. Bright, funny, energetic, it’s a joy to tag along with her as she fearlessly unravels the crime. Even so, Rhe is no superwoman. Adept at solving mysteries, she’s not quite as perceptive when it comes to figuring out what’s happening on the home front. That’s a nice piece of reality; it’s true we often miss what’s occurring right under our noses.

I’m glad Rhe is back, once again solving crimes in Pequod, Maine. This is one reader who can’t get enough of her.

Death in a Dacron Sail can be purchased from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

The first book in the Rhe Brewster Mystery Series, Death in a Red Canvas Chair, is also available for sale at both Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

You can find my review of the first book as well as a brief interview with N.A. Granger here.

Wednesday Whine: Potpourri

images9JS326CTHappy Wednesday, everyone!  Or as we say in the United States, “Happy Hump Day!”  Those of you who live outside the U.S. may not be familiar with the term; I’ll let you draw your own conclusions as to its meaning. Makes it more fun that way!

I’ve set aside the wine glass and opted for coffee this evening in an attempt to stay awake long enough to write this post.  If I begin to doze off, do wake me.  But please be gentle!

Last time we met, I shared with you Heather Costa’s blunt advice on how to get on with one’s writing. Many of you seemed to think the advice was good and enjoyed the post. Complaints? Well… I did hear from Buckingham Palace. Seems the Queen was not amused by my photo of her. I was roundly chastised for my Yankee impertinence. So much for my ambition to one day have tea with the Queen. Now I won’t even get an invitation to fight over doggy biscuits with the corgis. (Heather, why didn’t you tell me the Queen was so sensitive? And who knew she’d be reading my blog!)

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Regarding Ms. Heather, I’ve spent much of this week making arrangements for her visit in August. There are plans for us to attend a ballgame at Oriole Park where I shall attempt to teach her the finer points of America’s Favorite Pastime. I’ve also booked a two-night stay in New York City where we girls will shop ’til we drop and sample all sorts of interesting libations while gazing out on Times Square.  We also have tickets to see the show “Phantom of the Opera.”

I don’t have any worries that Heather will be ready for New York; I do wonder if New York will be ready for Heather. I can assure you that some humorous blog posts will likely come out of this visit – if our lawyers manage to keep us out of jail…

Last week I posted a photograph of my writing room with the caption “Where is Kate?” After thinking about that photo, I figured it was now time to show Kate. Seemed like a brilliant follow-up to me. So I asked Mr. Loveton if he would take a nice photo of me I could post on my blog.

Now, Mr. Loveton is a wonderful man. He’s sweet, charming and funny. (He also has good taste in women… ) What he’s not, however, is a good photographer. When photo after photo of yours truly emerged with my head cut off, I remembered why there were more photographs of Mr. Loveton than of Kate in our photo albums. It’s because Kate always takes the photos – by necessity.

That is also why, dear reader, you see here a photo of Kate holding up her iPhone and taking her own picture. This way we are assured her head is displayed firmly on her shoulders. image

It took a lot of courage for me to finally post a photograph of me sans sunglasses, big hat or hiding behind a computer. In February, I celebrated a significant birthday. A milestone birthday. The kind of birthday we don’t discuss in polite society! But with the help of a nifty little app on my iPhone, I was able to blur all the smile lines. This was a free app. I could have paid for a better app. A better app might have made me look like a young Elizabeth Taylor. But I’m cheap so I settled for a few less crow’s feet.

Moving right along, I want to share with you that the last week has been a very productive one for me. I came up with several ideas for new stories, completed three of them, and made a good start on two others. So, whether or not the Queen liked my post, Heather’s advice did get me moving.

I started journaling over at “750 Words.” I don’t know why I like journaling there more than in a word doc on my computer. Perhaps it is because they congratulate me for my stick-to-it-tiveness when I journal for more than just one day. They also give me cool little badges to chart my progress. After three days of journaling, they awarded me the turkey badge. (Um… I know some of you are dying to comment on that, but please try to control yourselves.)

Johnny Penguin

Johnny Penguin

Johnny Cash

Johnny Cash

Now, with eight days completed, I am considered a penguin.

I like Penguins. They know how to dress for formal occasions. People could learn a lot about fashion sense from observing penguins. Basic black with a touch of white – you can never go wrong with that combination. Ask Johnny Cash, the Man in Black. Um… well, maybe not since Johnny is no longer with us. But while he was, he understood that black is always a good look.

But back to journaling:  I have found it helpful. One of the stories I wrote this past week got its genesis from a childhood memory. The finished story was significantly different, but the idea surfaced from the memory – and that came out of journaling.

Another story came to me when I was thumbing through a book titled “Now Write!” A nifty little idea grew out of one of the exercises that I attempted from the book.  My story went far afield of what the exercise intended, but I was happy with the idea the exercise generated. It’s a rather freaky idea. I like freaky. If you read my blog fiction, you’ll see that 75% of it is freaky.

Last Thursday I was blowing my hair dry after showering (too much info? sorry!), and an old song started bedeviling me. I couldn’t get that damned song out of my head. It was on a continuous loop. But the more I thought about the song, a story started to emerge.

Sometimes you have to work hard to come up with a story; sometimes they just appear like a gift out of the blue. Have you ever experienced that?

Speaking of stories, this is the perfect opportunity to tell you that I’ve read a couple of good ones this week.

First, I finished Noelle Granger’s second book in the Rhe Brewster series, “Death in a Dacron Sail.” Noelle doesn’t disappoint with this newest Rhe Brewster mystery. I hope you’ll look for my review next week, and then I hope you’ll go to the links I’ll provide and order a copy.

7aa012c9-2abf-42a4-b878-db7880c7abf3 (2)I also read W.K. Tucker’s  short story, “Saving Grace.” W.K. Tucker is one of my favorite bloggers. I like the short fiction pieces she publishes on her blog as well as her haunting and eerie poetry, which puts me in mind of Edgar Allen Poe.

“Saving Grace” is a short story about an old woman, her dog and a surprising encounter in a cornfield. It’s a sweet story with an interesting outcome.

I learned today that Ms. Tucker has a new book of short stories available on Amazon. The book is titled “A Raccoon Problem and Other Stories.”  She describes the ten stories in the book as a mix of horror, science fiction and just plain strange. I’m intrigued. You can bet I’ll be getting a copy of this book soon.

Well, as Porky Pig used to say, “That’s all, Folks!” Thanks for joining me yet again for another Wednesday Whine.

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Anne Lamott (Author) Writes Down Every Single Thing She Knows, As of Today

Kate Loveton:

Take time to read this one. I did. I’m glad. You might be, too.

Originally posted on Kindness Blog:

61st birthdayI am going to be 61 years old in 48 hours. Wow. I thought i was only forty-seven, but looking over the paperwork, I see that I was born in 1954.

My inside self does not have an age, although can’t help mentioning as an aside that it might have been useful had I not followed the Skin Care rules of the sixties, ie to get as much sun as possible, while slathered in baby oil. (My sober friend Paul O said, at eighty, that he felt like a young man who had something wrong with him.).

Anyway, I thought I might take the opportunity to write down every single thing I know, as of today.

1. All truth is a paradox. Life is a precious unfathomably beautiful gift; and it is impossible here, on the incarnational side of things. It has been a very bad match for those of…

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Wednesday Whine: Getting One’s Finger Out of One’s Butt

The first part of this week’s Wednesday Whine is a love letter to all of my followers: you are wonderful and I treasure each of you. It may not seem that way based on my spotty response lately to those of you kind enough to consistently ‘like’ or comment on my blog posts. Still, I assure you that your support means the world to me. In fact, here’s a kiss from me to you.

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Don’t I bear a remarkable resemblance to Marilyn Monroe? In case you’re wondering, Mr. Loveton looks a lot like George Clooney. And our overweight, miniature dachshunds look very much like killer German Shepherds. And if you believe any of this, I also have a bridge I’d like to sell you.

But I digress…

untitled (11)I’m not certain how much of my life I’ve shared with you. Those of you who have listened to me whine (something I tend to do a lot of) realize I have a very busy job working for the General Counsel of a large global company. I like my work; I find it interesting and rewarding. I also find that it takes away much of my available time for writing.  At the end of a typical work day, I tend to fall into bed, exhausted from having helped put out ‘fires’ that flared up during the course of the day. I’m not griping. I’m blessed to have a wonderful job and colleagues who bring a smile to my face. And then there’s the paycheck… which also brings a smile to my face.

Even so, the past several months were very hectic as we prepared for our annual shareholders’ and board meetings. The months leading up to them were fast-paced and busy, involving a lot of pre-meeting work. It was a pretty demanding time for me.

Here's Kate's Writing Room... Where is Kate??

Here’s Kate’s Writing Room… Where is Kate??

While all this was going on, I was often too tired at the end of a day to do more than read a few chapters of a book before bedtime – or watch a Netflix episode of my latest guilty pleasure, the now-canceled science fiction show, Fringe. I hate to admit it, but my laptop stayed shut most evenings while my writing magazines gathered dust in what used to be loosely termed Kate’s Writing Room.

Malaise? I had it big time.

I became a walking and talking encyclopedia of whiny self-justifications for why I wasn’t writing. I blamed it on exhaustion; on the dismal, wintry weather we were experiencing; on a schedule that left me little time for anything other than work, chores and complaints.

Then I was taken in hand by a member of the Stiff Upper Lip Club.

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During one of our SKYPE sessions, I mentioned (not for the first time) to Heather B. Costa that I was too tired to do much of anything. I’d stopped writing flash fiction on my blog and felt too mentally challenged to even draft a blog piece. All I wanted to do was eat cookies and watch old sci-fi shows. Oh, woe is me!

"Get your finger out of your butt and just start writing!"

“Get your finger out of your butt and just start writing!”

Dear friend Heather, staunch Brit that she is, gave me her best ‘Queen Elizabeth look’ and shook her head reprovingly. In a stern voice that would have made Winston Churchill weep, she looked me in the eye and said, “Maybe you need to get your finger out of your butt and just start writing.”

Actually, she put it a bit more colorfully than that, but you get the general idea.

Wow. Slap me again, girlfriend – ’cause I really needed to hear that message! As they used to say in my granny’s Baptist church, “Preach it, Sistah!”

Lord have mercy!

And you know what? Heather was right. (Just don’t tell her I said so… it may go to her head.)

But the truth is that sometimes, in spite of how you’re feeling and the circumstances surrounding you, you just gotta take your finger out of your butt and get back into the game.

The British understand this: after all, these are the people who once amassed an empire so great that the sun never set on it. They are also the people who stood up to Hitler when much of the world sat around twiddling their thumbs. So when Heather, staunch Brit and Stiff Upper Lipper that she is, offers me her best Sir Winston impersonation, saying, “Nevah give up, nevah, nevah, nevah,” I tend to pay attention.

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So, finger out of butt, here I am, finally regaining my mojo. I’ve started posting flash fiction again on my blog. I’m trying to catch up with my book reviews. I’m setting aside time to work on stories that I hope to submit to publications.  I even have a few projects planned with my favorite Brit.

Best of all, I finally wiped the dust off my writing magazines and I’ve found my way back to Kate’s Writing Room.

I’m feeling pretty darned good about it, too. So remember, when you experience a writing funk, you gotta pull your finger out of your butt and just keep on writing.

And nevah, nevah, nevah give up.

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