Archive for the ‘writing’ Tag


I have lost my voice. On March 2, I was hit by lightning while walking across a parking lot. As a result, because of extensive nerve and muscle damage, I no longer have full use of my right hand. I am typing this post left-handed. It is a rather slow and tedious process.

There was severe weather in the area. We were having a full-out thunderstorm with driving rain. I had my umbrella up. At one point, there was a simultaneous thunder boom and lightning flash. Part of the lightning stroke arced over and hit my umbrella, what is called a side flash. I smelled something burning, felt an electric shock in my right hand (the one holding the umbrella handle) and saw sparks shoot out the handle of the umbrella. My first thought was: “Did I just get hit by lightning?” Other than a damaged hand and a singed umbrella, I was otherwise unhurt. I’m fairly lucky.

I am adjusting to a one-handed life. I’m reminded of an old Mash episode where Major Charles Winchester operates on a young soldier and has to amputate his right hand. When the soldier wakes up, he lashes out at Winchester for cutting off his hand. It turns out the soldier is a concert pianist. I feel a little like that soldier.

I am a writer by trade. My life has been on hold this past month. Other than for a story submission to NPRs Three Minute Fiction contest, I have not done any writing. I have deadlines and commitments. I have an article to write for the Illinois Times. I have various writing projects I want to pursue. I have spent the past month bemoaning the loss of my voice.

Just like the soldier in the Mash episode, I have to adjust. As Major Winchester gave the soldier piano scores for the left hand, friends have offered me voice alternatives such as Dragon. I have been resistant to change but am finding I need to open myself to it. I still have a voice. I just need to learn new ways of expressing it.

It feels as though I’ve been granted a new lease on life. This event has marked a turning point in my life. My life has been steered in a new direction. Full of my new-found knowledge about lightning, I am putting together a lightning presentation. I am working on storytelling programs. In fact, I will be telling spider stories for students in the young naturalist program at Lincoln Memorial Garden.

Most importantly, I have realized writing is what I want to pursue. It is what I am. I was happiest while pursuing a freelancing career last year until the work dried up. I was let go from the temp job I was working because I am under medical restrictions. I don’t want to put myself in that position again. I want to be responsible for my own income, not fattening someone else’s pockets.

I recently purchased the May issue of Shambhala Sun. The lead story is about embracing change. I am a Buddhist. A major tenant in Buddhist philosophy is the concept of impermanence. Everything changes. Nothing lasts. By embracing impermanence, recognizing that change is an inevitable, painful part of life, it allows one to come to terms with change. Rather than finding change frightening, one can find within it peace and understanding. With that understanding, one progresses along the path to enlightenment.

Change. It’s a big part of my life right now. According to my hand specialist, it may take up to six months for the nerve damage in my right hand to fully heal, if it ever does. Nerves grow at the rate of one inch per month. We won’t know the full extent of the muscle damage until the nerves heal.

There is a lesson here for me. Nothing happens without reason. I just have to be open to it and accept it.



It is mid-February and by this point I should be halfway through my horror novel. I’m not. I have not even begun. Well, not exactly. I have written the opening sentence. What, you’re asking? What happened to the writing goals I set out at the first of the year? Life happened.

I started a temporary position the third week in December. With no new writing projects in sight, it was a simple matter of economics – keep a roof over my head or live on the street. Having been there, done that once already, I wasn’t willing to do it all over again. Between the mind numbing job, a lingering illness and my mother’s health issues, I have not written anything.

I should amend the above sentence. I have written some things – a few jokes for my upcoming comedy routine, a poem and, did I mention, the first sentence of my novel. I have also become involved in a collaborative group writing project (the details which I can’t disclose as yet) and extended my writing services to a local theater group. In the past, I would be berating myself for failing to meet my goals. The newer, mature version of myself accepts this happens and sometimes the down time reveals your true path to you.

I have been questioning whether or not I was meant to be a writer. Sure, I call myself a writer. But I don’t write. That’s a little like saying you’re reading a book but you’re still on the first sentence. However, the mind numbing job made me realize I don’t want to do it for the rest of my life. If there is a hell, hell is scheduling fingerprinting appointments and repeating the same words over and over and over and over and over…well, you get the picture.

The past week I’ve realized what made me happiest was writing. The perks of being my own boss and working my own hours weren’t bad either. Yes, I recognize I may still need to work to support myself until I land enough work to keep me afloat, but I’m seeking writing positions. I am applying for a journalism position in Alaska and offering my writing services to local businesses. It took the job to make me realize that, yes, I am a writer and this is the path I want to follow.

To that end, I am applying the following 25 Things Writers Should Stop Doing (Right Fucking Now): If this doesn’t motivate me, nothing will.





My Evolution as a Writer

I’ve always had a book in my hands. My earliest memories are of walking across the street to my grandmother’s house with a stack of books. “Reada, reada, reada,” I’d say, and she’d pour me a glass of Vess cola and we would sit at her red and white chrome kitchen table and she would read to me. My mom still loves to tell me how if my grandmother skipped a word, I’d make her go back and start over. She fostered and encouraged my early love of books and reading.

 I was reading on my own by the time I was five years old. I remember going to the library and seeing the Wizard of Oz books. They were shelved in the adult section and I wanted to check them out. However, the head librarian didn’t believe me when I told her I knew how to read. She made me sit down and read the books out loud to her. I read every one the library had.

 As I grew older, my tastes expanded. I checked out biographies of women sports figures like Shirley Muldowney (I wanted to drive funny cars when I grew up, and still do), Alfred Hitchcock and horror novels. I cut my teeth on horror novels. My early love of horror fiction influenced and continues to influence my writing. My current work in progress is a horror novel.

 I was the only reader in my family. I read constantly. When we would go to southern Missouri to visit my aunt, uncle and cousins in the summer, I would take three brown grocery sacks full of books with me. My dad would always stop on the way out of town and buy us comic books. I always wanted horror comics. My first “novel” was my version of the “Exorcist.”

 When I exhausted my book supply, I would read the collection of miniature books my aunt kept in a bookcase behind glass. I was probably the only one that read them. To this day, I wonder what happened to them. I would have loved to have had them.

 Reading and writing went hand in hand. I absorbed the flavors of my favorite writers, mimicing their writing styles. I didn’t have a shortage of books to choose from. On our weekly Saturday outings to town, my dad would let me buy one book at our local Ben Franklin five and dime store. He would buy me Harlequin romance novels at IGA when he went grocery shopping. I still have the very first romance novel he bought me. One year, IGA offered a collection of children’s literature as a premium. My dad was so proud when he brought the first book home to me. I still have every book.

 One of my most prized collections is my Hardy Boy books. I am probably the only girl who has never read Nancy Drew. When my grandmother would visit her daughter in Bloomington Normal, she would always bring me back a Hardy Boys book.

 I don’t know when I had my defining aha moment when I said to myself, “I can write better than (fill in the blank).” I do know I’ve only wanted to write horror fiction. Not to be smug about it, but I think my current book is way better than anything Stephen King ever wrote. Luckily for me, I didn’t confine my reading tastes to horror. Somewhere along the way, I’ve learned how to write dialogue, how to plot, how to create characters, how to tell a story.

 Did I learn this innately through reading, or by practicing the craft of writing? Why am I a writer? I don’t know. Writing for me is like breathing. I just do it.