An Innocuous Older in the Youngers’ Court

Grandparents, ~1930s

Grandparents, ~1930s

According to Ashton Applewhite in This Chair Rocks:A Manifesto Against Ageism, at 5:10 tonight, when I enter my writing class, I will be an “Older”.

Older is a relative term; not of bucket into which a person is placed. There are times–increasingly rare–when I might be considered a “Younger”. Tonight will not be one of those times. Tonight, I will be surrounded by Youngers.

In fact, I suspect I’ll be the oldest in the room, perhaps even surpassing my instructor. I will not ask. I don’t want to know. Because that is not what matters.

What matters is, at this older age, I’m returning to the classroom to be taught the fine art of fiction writing. I’ll put pen to paper, or fingertips to keyboard, and spew letters, words, and paragraphs, onto the page, hoping they bring insight, first to me, and then to my readers. Finally, I’ll wait for my generational peer, my professor, to place her mark upon my page.

I wonder, are the Youngers feeling this same trepidation? Are their hearts jammed against the base of their throat? Do the Youngers question their ability to form a coherent thought worth sharing? Do they wonder if they have any opinions at all?

For a woman who’s become expert at straddling the gray, seeing many sides of polarizing issues, and playing the peace-maker, the idea of creating characters who take a stand, speak out, and claim your attention, even for a moment, is intimidating.

Then I think of the novel, A Man Called Ove, by Fredrik Backman. Ove’s character was beautifully annoying and abrasive. He was strong-willed, opinionated, and endearing. And I think, maybe, during this MFA program, I’ll create a character as memorable as Ove.

That’s why tonight, despite my nerves, this Older will join the Youngers, and start my journey to getting my Master of Fine Arts.

For those of you who have supported and encouraged me on this journey, thank you!

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Posted in Reading and Writing, Self Confidence | Tagged , , ,

Fridays #FromTheDen

In an effort to keep the world in tune with the State of New Hampshire’s issues, here’s this week’s photo.

Throughout the state, my contacts report that teachers, students, business people, all walks of life are getting caught in the act of money laundering.


For more, here’s the original Drug-Infested-NH-Den post.


Addiction and suicide are serious issues.  If you’re in crisis, you can call the Suicide Hotline at 1800-273-8255. If a loved one is in trouble, NAMI, Alcoholics Anonymous, and Al-Anon Family Groups, are ready to offer help.

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From the Drug-Infested #NHDen

New Hampshire has a real problem. We call it the opioid crisis or the heroin epidemic. I’ve even seen the word “apocalypse” used. Our communities, health care workers, police, first responders, and families are working together to find solutions.  I won’t make light of the responsibilities they shoulder.

On the other hand, I do want to have a little fun with the whole “Drug-Infested Den” comment.  Let me share with you a few issues that citizens of New Hampshire face every day.

For example, just the other night, my husband was out in our car port, minding his own business, when this moth comes staggering in from nowhere, slams against the ceiling, and bam, lands on the roof our car.  My husband stared at the moth for a few seconds and, having assessed the situation and declared it safe, called for me to check out our nocturnal visitor. Not a wing fluttered. A half an hour later, he was still there, spaced out, and unmoving. “Let him sleep it off,” my husband said.

Sure enough, the intruder was gone in the morning.

True story.

What’s worse, check this photo out.

I swear these turkeys were organizing.

One day they’re running for the woods, the next they’re streaming over our rock wall and spilling into our gardens and onto our lawns, eating every grub in sight.

In the city of Concord, fences are being built,

and vandals take kids’ bicycles and destroy them,

 probably selling them for parts.

Despite the ferocity of our two dogs…

…we had to get another.

This one’s a watch dog.

So stay away, folks.

Give us time to get our house in order.

I think we’ll start in the den.


Addiction and suicide are serious issues.  If you’re in crisis, you can call the Suicide Hotline at 1800-273-8255. If a loved one is in trouble, NAMI, Alcoholics Anonymous, and Al-Anon Family Groups, are ready to offer help.

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Manuscript Review

Last Thursday, I sent the third draft of my story to an editor for a manuscript review. Note the choice of the word “story”.  Not novel. Not its working title. Just a story.

Now, self doubt and insecurities roost upon my shoulders whispering sweet insults into my ears. The title is silly. It doesn’t fit any genre. It’s too long. It starts too slow. The setting, characters, scene, etcetera, aren’t developed. Could you have put in more commas?

Instead of listening, I’m countering with my best jabs. I’ve written a 400 page novel. All 124,000 words add up to a story. I wrote, learned, revised, learned, and revised again. I did it! And I’ll revise one more time and then search for an agent and/or a publisher. Imagine.


Bellagio Hotel, Las Vegas, NV

Then, while my story gathers thanks-but-no-thanks pink slips, I’ll be writing the second draft of my second novel, Fault Lines. That’s right. A second complete second novel waiting for rewrite. Plus a third and fourth incubating. Perhaps I’ll write those too.

If I have time.

Because I might not.

In three weeks I start courses toward my Master of Fine Arts. The focus: short stories. Literary short stories. The kind where characters have strong opinions, or do strange things, or the topic is so obscure that critics say it’s groundbreaking, avant-garde, and extraordinary, and I fall asleep halfway through paragraph six.

Or at least that’s what I thought short stories were, and so I feared I didn’t have the experience or attitude for this program. Then I took two classes, and I learned the beauty of a short piece. How each paragraph, every word, must be necessary. I want to learn to write like that.

Today, the devils on my shoulders are silent. Love at First Lilt, my previously unnamed story, is under review, and when I’m writing, I’m happy.

If you’d like to hear my “literary voice”, here’s a flashback cut from Love at First Lilt.


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LAFL: Cut from Waterford

This is a flashback, cut from Love at First Lilt. Carly is remembering her mother, who died when she was a teenager.

When Carly was twelve, there came the night of the first spring full moon. It was a crisp white host held high in a deep black, star-studded sky. Her mother had packed a picnic dinner, and the two of them had set out on an evening hike.

The winter had been warmer than average and most of the snow had melted. They wore rubber boots, jeans with thermal lining, parkas, and hand-knitted wool hats and mittens. Carly’s mother carried their meal and a thermos of hot chocolate in a knapsack.

When the sun dropped below the horizon the temperature cooled. Vapor puffed in front of their faces. Her mother’s brown cheeks and the tip of her nose became rosy, and her straight, black hair fluttered behind and around her. She’d reminded Carly of Disney’s Pocahontas that night.

In silence they’d hiked to the edge of a small wood. Beneath the arching branches of an early budding willow tree, they’d laid out a thick brown blanket. After they’d eaten, Carly snuggled into her mother’s arms and they waited.

It was the father fox who stepped from the woods first. He sniffed the air, his red coat rippling in the breeze. She’d smiled up at her mother, who’d known they’d be downwind.

Her mother tipped her chin toward the old fox, who yipped toward the wood. Seven kits, tawny colored, with brush strokes of red on their ears, touched tiny paws to the dew-wet grass outside the wood. One, bolder than the rest, ran to the father and bit the tendon above his right hind foot. The others followed, tottering and tripping, until all were dancing around their dad. He nudged one forward and toppled another, and soon the cubs were chirping and chattering in a game of keep-away-from-dad.

Carly covered her mouth with her mitten and giggled, and her mother kissed the top of her head.

Whether it was the motion of kiss or the sound of the giggle, the father fox froze and stared toward the willow, a regal statue from the tip to tail. The pups rolled to their feet and watched their father. He yelped a series of loud warnings that tapered to a cry. Run, run, runnnn, he yelped, and the tiny ones scampered to the trees.

Then, only when they were all safely gone, he turned and followed.

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