Writing In Retirement Blog

Are Good Intentions Enough?

Yesterday real-life got in my way of writing this blog. The rush of Christmas activities and obligations ate into my writing time. It didn’t help that my WiFi suddenly went offline for an entire evening and early morning – just the times I prefer to write. Of course, I had good intentions to sit down to have a productive session writing, but then again I had no firm idea as to what I should write about. All that mulling around in my head different ideas and soon the Christmas cards needed addressing; the cookies needed to be put into tins; and oh my, it was time to go to the nursing home for my weekly visit. Where does time go?


So the blog did not get written. I had good intentions to get it done, but are good intentions good enough? Does it take you off the hook for not writing? Is interference by real-life a valid reason for not writing? I think it is. After all one has to manage one’s life, as well as indulge in your passions. Balance is the key to a satisfactory life is it not? Or am I just making excuses for being disorganized and lazy?

It is the bane of a writer’s life to think that if they just did a little more, sacrificed more, wrote more – their written words would be brilliant. I am not so sure that this isn’t an excuse either. One just has to do what you can do. Sure there may be regrets, but other parts of your life should be paid attention to along the way, because no matter what –  you will have regrets about something.

Writing, for me, is a reflection of life. So how can you write about the foibles of life if all you do is push words upon a paper and have no experience behind those words? Taking part in life’s experiences whether getting out my Christmas cards, cleaning the dishes, visiting a friend – all of these things make me a more balanced person. So it’s the time of year to enjoy oneself and take a bit of a break from the weekly hassle of deadlines. Permit yourself to take a break. Happy Holidays Everyone!

Christmas Tree

Comments are always welcome.

My Letter to Santa

Santa letter

Hello Dear Santa,

It’s me – Marie?  The one who had my roof fixed last year so the reindeer wouldn’t fall through the roof when you came. Remember me? I hope you are well and all ready to make your long pilgrimage this year. Rest up, because as I have learned as I age, you need all those little naps to get through the hard days.

I have to say I did enjoy all the presents you brought me last year especially the shirt with the peacock on it. That was a nice ‘tip of the hat’ to my one published endeavor. Thank you for all the movie tickets and of course, the candy and cookies were wonderful too.

This year I have been a very good girl. Writing a blog post every week; writing various poems and stories for my writer’s group, and even posting on Facebook so all my friends could see what I had been doing.  I’ve been reading too and studying about the craft of writing.

For Christmas this year I would like peace on earth, a new President, some surprises, and most of all – this year I have a special request, Dear Santa.  I’d really, really would like a great idea that would stick in my mind. An idea that I could fashion into a fabulous story – maybe even novel length? I promise I will do the work. Outline the plot, build the characters, work out clever scenes that progress the story. I’ll show not tell. I promise I will edit it so that the story will be brilliant.  One last request concerning this Christmas wish – Please, this time when I send out query letters, let one of those agents recognize that the story shines and that it is worthy of being published.

I would ask Dear Santa that you also bless all my writer friends with bright ideas and ease of writing about those ideas.  I know they all struggle as I do, and it would be wonderful if they too could have success with their writing.

Belle has been a very good dog this year too; she asks me to ask you for some good treats for her.

Thank you, Santa for all the wonderful Christmas presents I have enjoyed over the years. I know I will appreciate any of the presents that you bring this year.

Merry Christmas, Santa!



P.S. I’ll leave out some cookies for you and some carrots for your reindeer.

P.P.S. I’ll make sure Belle doesn’t eat the carrots – she loves them too!



The Annual Christmas Letter: Six Tips

For many years now, I have written a Christmas letter to enclose with my Christmas cards. I’ve tried to make the letters interesting. I’ve written funny letters and sincere ones. Lately, I’ve been enclosing a story I’ve written along with the letter. This year I did a poem to include in my card.

Here are a few tips I’ve come up with to help you write a decent Christmas letter.

Reading letter

Your initial Greeting should be positive and reflect the season. Something as benign as Season’s Greetings from the Staight Family works well.


Keep the letter short. Condensing a year’s worth of events in a short letter can be difficult. You just need to hit the highlights and be brief. I refer to my calendar which helps refresh my memory as to the important events of the year.


Be aware of who will read your letter. Letters that go out to business or casual acquaintances do not need to include all your family’s antics. Whereas, if your letter goes out to good friends and family, you can include some of those interesting stories. But even then – keep it short.


Avoid Bragging! Reading braggadocios Christmas letter seems to be the number one way to put off people. You can write letters that forthrightly tell your accomplishments during the year, but embellishing your achievements is not necessary.


Be creative. Dry letters that give just the facts can be tedious and boring. I try to pick a theme such as a favorite Christmas song or story and write from that perspective. As an example, last year my roof was damaged by Hurricane Irma, so I wrote a parody of the song ‘Up On the Rooftop.’ You can also make a Top Ten List or do a parody of a story inserting activities and highlights of your life in the parody. One of the letters most commented on by friends, which I sent out was ‘ghostwritten’ by my dog telling her perspective of what had happened that year. I purposefully had terrible spelling and capitalization throughout the letter. Friends seemed to get a kick out of trying to figure out what the dog was saying.


Make it personal. I always sign the letter in my handwriting and often enclose a short comment to each person.


Christmas letters should be friendly and informative. They are a wonderful way to record your family history. I keep a file of the letters. It is amazing how often I refer back to them to confirm when I traveled to England or when a favorite relative died. Good luck writing your Christmas Letter. Better get to it because Christmas is 22 days away!


Comments are always welcome.


Key for Writers: Commitment



Commitment is the stuff character is made of: the power to change the face of things.


I keep a jar of fortune cookie sayings on my desk, and I pulled out this one just now. It gave me a start as I know it was the right saying for the right time. It got me started thinking about commitment to writing. It’s a real key to writing.

Sometimes when facing a blank page, when you feel your well of words has dried up. When you feel like nothing will appear on the page. You just have to sit down and face that blank page and begin to write. One of the definitions of Commitment is – to engage oneself.

That’s what you have to do. It’s not that you have to think about stuff, it’s rather that you have to ‘do.’ Put one word after the other, and things will begin to percolate, and before you know it, the words will appear and with it ideas that will make sense.

If you are looking for a magic pill that will make you a writer – forget it. What it takes is everyday commitment to write. That’s the way you learn to put together the elements that make a story. It also is the way to get past ourselves – the many excuses we use not to put down the stories that circulate in our brains. The ‘someday stories,’ the ‘someday book,’ the ‘someday I will submit this story to a publisher’ stuff can be cured by the commitment to do.

We are soon to see a New Year start. Why not get a jump on that and write down your goals of commitment to writing?  It’s doing that get you somewhere.

Comments are always welcome.

Thoughts on Thanksgiving

It is hard to believe that Thanksgiving is just around the corner. It is one of those holidays to which we all look forward. Not just because of the food, or the football games – although that is a delightful part of it – but for the fellowship with families and friends. Oh yes, there is always one relative we would rather not sit next to, but then again perhaps they feel the same with us! It is the one day we put all that aside and enjoy the bounty which blesses all of us. To that end, I have written a cinquain poem (a five line poem) about Thanksgiving and then followed that with a prayer. Happy Thanksgiving to you all! Enjoy your blessings.  Marie

eating-healthyCinquain for Thanksgiving


 Gratitude, Harvest

     Gathering, Eating, Praying

 Fullness, Kindness, Happiness, Love




A Prayer for Thanksgiving       ThanksPrayer

Dear Heavenly Father

Bless the elements of this planet and help us be good stewards of the earth, air, fire, and water.

Bless the creatures of this earth whose bounty and beauty we enjoy.

Bless this country in which we live. Help us to mend our differences and live in peace with our   neighbors.

Bless this gathering of souls that we might break bread and be merry.

Bless this abundant meal and the hands that have prepared it.

Let us express our gratitude freely on this Thanksgiving Day.



Comments are welcome.

Some Writing Pearls of Wisdom



I gathered together some pearls of wisdom by writers about writing. I share with you these time-honored quotes to give us all a boost in our commitment to writing. So here goes…


“If you wish to be a writer, write.”



“If you wish to be a writer you must do two things above all others:

Read a lot and write a lot.”

—Stephen King


“Just write every day of your life. Read intensely. Then see what happens. Most of my friends who are put on that diet have very pleasant careers.”
—Ray Bradbury


“Exercise the writing muscle every day, even if it is only a letter, notes, a title list, a character sketch, a journal entry. Writers are like dancers, like athletes. Without that exercise, the muscles seize up.”
—Jane Yolen


“We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.”
—Ernest Hemingway


“We’re past the age of heroes and hero kings. … Most of our lives are basically mundane and dull, and it’s up to the writer to find ways to make them interesting.”
—John Updike


“A blank piece of paper is God’s way of telling us how hard it is to be God.”
 —Sidney Sheldon


“Get it down. Take chances. It may be bad, but it’s the only way you can do anything really good.”
—William Faulkner


“Writing is its own reward.”
—Henry Miller


“Everywhere I go I’m asked if I think the university stifles writers. My opinion is that they don’t stifle enough of them.”
—Flannery O’Connor


“I can’t write five words but that I change seven.”
 —Dorothy Parker


“Half my life is an act of revision.”

—John Irving


“Anything is possible if you have enough nerve.”

—J.K. Rowling


“Keep a small can of WD-40 on your desk—away from any open flames—to remind yourself that if you don’t write daily, you will get rusty.”
—George Singleton


“I can shake off everything as I write; my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn.”
Anne Frank


My Personal Favorites:

“I’m a writer, and I will write what I want to write.”

—J.K. Rowling


“I do not over-intellectualize the production process. I try to keep it simple: Tell the damned story.”
—Tom Clancy


I hope you have enjoyed these quotes. Feel free to copy down your favorites on sticky notes and keep them where you can see them.

Comments are always welcome!

Why I Am Not Doing NaNoWriMo This Year


For those of you that are not familiar with NaNoWriMo, the acronym stands for National Novel Writing in a Month. The object of NaNoWriMo is to write a 50,000 word draft of a novel during November. The whole thing started in July of 1999. Chris Baty and 20 of his friends – out of boredom – decided to try and write a novel in the space of one month. The group, having had a lot of fun, and coming out with a draft for a novel,  grew the concept. Writing an original piece of work in a month switched to November. Soon the event went international. Writers around the world participated in the seat-of-your-pants, put-your-editor-in-the-other-room challenge.

This year NaNoWriMo expects at least 400,000 people to start the month off trying to write that first draft of a novel. Not all will finish – according to the NaNoWriMo website – “Last year, NaNoWriMo welcomed 394,507 participants, in 646 different regions, on six continents. Of these, more than 58,000 met their month-long writing goal.”

Also according to their website “Hundreds of NaNoWriMo novels have been traditionally published. They include Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants, Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus, Hugh Howey’s Wool, Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl, Jason Hough’s The Darwin Elevator, and Marissa Meyer’s Cinder.”

I have participated in NaNo since 2009 and published one novel The Peacock’s Tale because of NaNo. I have at least three unfinished manuscripts and one other finished one which still has not been published – all started as NaNo projects. As you see, I don’t always finish NaNo, but I find the challenge exhilarating. I have had NaNo interrupted several times by “real life” and had to put my writing on hold; I think only three times I have finished the challenge of writing 50,000 words in November.

This year I signed up. I even had a title, but that’s where the juices to write that many words stopped. My muse just would not come out to play, perhaps because she was too busy helping me with poems and short stories; facilitating the Winter Garden Ink & Quill writing group; and writing this blog. After four days of struggling to start, I realized I didn’t have the energy to devote to this challenge – at least this year.  And you know, that’s OK, because there is always next year and in between, there are lots of opportunities to write lots of other things. In other words – my writing cup runneth over!

How about you? Are you participating In NANo this year? Good luck to all who take up the challenge! Comments are welcome.