Monday, January 21, 2008

Right off the bat, I want to say how lucky I am when it comes to friends. I'm married to a man I consider my very best friend. I'd rather spend time with him then with any other person on the planet. But, when he's busy or I need girl time, I have a group of 4 friends who provide all the quality girl time and support any person could hope for. Four friends I can count on to be there for me, no matter what. My closest friend, DeVona is that female friend that everyone needs. Just by being my friend, she makes me a better person. She's much nicer than I am and she's content sometimes never getting a word in when I'm on a roll or tirade about something and I forget to let her talk during our conversations. A saint, she is. And then there are the other three -- Suzanne, Amy, and Melanie -- who provide me with literally hours even days of entertainment and general all-around female camaraderie. The five of us "get" each other. We recognize each other's faults, we understand our quirks, we realize that we are very different people, but we love each other regardless. And thankfully, because we all live and work very close to each other (in fact we met at the university where we work), we are able to spend lots of time together. We regularly "do" happy hour on Friday evenings to end the work week, we go shopping or out to dinner, we get together for a massage-and-pamper-us day, and we even boldly go to the local adult entertainment store (and that is a blog entry all its own!). With our spouses and families, we have picnics, Christmas, 4th of July/Canada Day, and birthday parties, and we often get together for no reason at all other than it's been a couple of weeks since we've done so. We even enjoy listening to each other karaoke. And none of us can sing.

And one night a year, we have a sleepover. A slumber party. A girls-only night of p.j.'s margaritas, chick flicks, girl talk, gossiping, and, well, female bonding. On those nights, we've compared breast sizes (I lost), complained about men, danced, and tried to sing the "You put the lime in the coconut" song in Chinese. Every year it's something new and fun, but every year I am also comforted to recognize the familiar friends I know. Mel continues to try to teach me how to use my remote control, Suzanne is the first to fall asleep, Amy brings the shrimp ring, DeVona spoils my pets, and I just enjoy the heck out of having all of them at my house.

After coffee (with Baileys), breakfast, and laughingly going over the events of the night before, my friends head home the next morning. And each time they leave, I am reminded of just how blessed I am. Folks in the know say that we are lucky to have one great friend in our lifetimes. I have four. Thank you, ladies. You're the best.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The overwhelming world of online writing sites

Per my resolution to read and learn about writing in 2008, I've been wandering around the internet google-searching writing topics and reading sites here and there. During my creative writing class, a recurring weekly assignment was to find, read, and write reviews on various online or print literary journals. This quickly became a favorite assignment as I stumbled upon many interesting and entertaining sites. On many online journals, the quality of the writing is astounding. Provocative, edgy, captivating. There are journals for every genre, style, and ability. These sites are usually a joy to read through. Of course I have a few favorites and still more are bookmarked. I continue to investigate sites not only for my own reading and learning pleasure (via or, but to narrow down sites to which I may one day submit my own writing. The possibilities there so far seem endless.

Also, I've found several general websites dedicated just to writers and writing. The and Poets and Writers site ( are a couple of my favorites. The articles on the sites range from interesting (tips, advice, informative) to entertaining (interviews with successful writers, personal anecdotes from writers). A particularly useful part of both sites to me has been the forums--where other writers share the ups and downs, ins and outs, and the many ordeals and successes of the world of writing. Both forums are chockfull of writers in all stages of careers who ask questions, offer encouragement, provide advice and just generally support one another. It feels good just to be a member of each of those forums. I feel like a writer when I'm there even though I haven't contributed much to either except an introductory post in the "New Member" sections. But I'll be a force to be reckoned with on those forums before you know it. Well perhaps not a force. More like a nudge. There are many other good websites and forums for writers out there...again the numbers seem limitless....but I'm sticking with these two for now and browsing others when I have time.

And then there are blogs. Oh my Gosh! Blogs and blogs and more blogs. You can find blogs with subjects ranging from anything to everything.... and blogs about nothing at all, or the equivalent of nothing. I'm concentrating on writers' blogs, though, and am just now scratching the surface. A quirky blogger habit seems to be listing the blog sites of other like-minded or interesting bloggers on your blog's homepage. So when I find an interesting blog, generally on the right side (although some are on the left) is a rather long list of several other blogs. You literally can blog jump for hours on end. The problem I've found that I want to warn you about is that a couple of times I have moved from blog to blog then forgotten to bookmark a particularly good one along the way only to lose it in the string of blogs visited. A couple of those that I really seemed to relate to I've managed to find again. A couple more are still lost out there. I'll continue looking for those though. Once I narrow down a few blogs that I believe stand out significantly from the others, at least for me, I will begin my own right-side list of favorite blog sites. I know--you can hardly wait, huh? Just please take heed of my warning above.

So, that's where I am so far. This is a long post, so I'll provide more info (and my opinions) about some of the writing sites, forums, and blogs I've found in future posts. Until then, keep warm (they are predicting zero temps in SW Ohio for this weekend) and have fun.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

About me...

A couple of years ago, I decided to go back to school and earn a degree in anticipation of retiring from my regular job in 4-5 years. I have a great job and love the university where I work but I have wondered what would I actually like to do if I could pick anything….much like “what do I want to be when I grow up?” I enjoy writing and I do various forms of it in my current position (proposals, speech writing, business writing, etc), so being a writer was my first thought. I doubted, though, that it could be a serious career option.

This past semester , I gave in to my inner voice and took a creative writing class. Simply put…wow! I now know (and can admit) what I want to be when I group up. To say I was overwhelmed but excited is an understatement. I can now actually envision myself with a writing career. So, while a large part of me now seems in a big hurry to learn as much about writing as fast as I can, the rest of me knows that I have plenty of time….and a full time job and part-time education to concentrate on too. The writing course last semester created the habit of writing regularly and simply writing for fun (a very new phenomenon to me!) I’ve started keeping a writing journal and (per a requirement for the course) submitted two pieces of work to a literary magazine…one of which was accepted! So soon I can actually proclaim to be a published writer.

I'm very new at writing poetry--and not very good at it yet. The poem below was part of an assignment for the creative writing class. Obviously it's personal in nature, butI thought very appropriate for my first creative piece posted to the new blog. Enjoy....or at least offer only thoughtful, gentle criticism. I'm still working on my writer's thick skin. :)

(Sorry - I removed the poem I had placed here. I've tweaked it a little and hope to submit it to a literary magazine. Amy - thank you for your feedback!)

Friday, January 4, 2008

A new year, new goals

"We spend January 1 walking through our lives, room by room, drawing up a list of work to be done, cracks to be patched. Maybe this year, to balance the list, we ought to walk through the rooms of our lives...not looking for flaws, but for potential." Ellen Goodman (Boston Globe writer)

I saw this quote this week and it gave me pause. Like most folks, I’d given myself a thoughtful critique, made a few resolutions for 2008, both personally and professionally, and most with an eye for how to get better, do better, be better, etc. Ellen Goodman’s quote caused me to re-think those resolutions and goals and revamp them in a more positive light or to create a few new ones based on the capabilities I have, and the attributes I possess (or at least I THINK I possess them!), particularly my goals as a writer this year.

I have many goals for my writing this year and I’ll list them here for posterity. Right now, no one sees this blog except me, but putting them in writing out on the net for anyone to be able to stumble upon gives them significance and a permanency that will keep me on the right path. (Yes, I know they aren’t actually permanent as I can erase and change them at any time…but don’t burst my bubble!)

1. Read, research, and learn from books, articles, websites, and blogs about writing, writing opportunities, and writing career options.
2. Continue writing on a regular basis and expand my writing horizons with genres, voices, and styles that are different than my comfortable norm.
3. Continue adding to my expanding “List of Interesting Words to Use in My Writing” list. I’m a fan of new, different and/or interesting words and am always on the lookout for one to add to the list.
4. Learn the very necessary skill of revising, putting aside, revising, putting aside and revising.
5. Be a writer. I don’t have to wait to actually have the degree in hand to be a writer. I am a writer now and I’ll be a writer next week…and next month. I’ll just be a better writer then.
6. Enjoy my life...all parts of it.

Happy New Year to anyone who stumbles in. I hope the quote above is beneficial to you also.