Geneva’s Train

I have the good fortune of participating in an incredible group of bloggers via Midlife Boulevard. In addition to the online magazine focusing on women over 40, we have a Facebook group for support, content sharing, and the occasional joke or two! In 2016, we are spending January adding a blog maintenance tip per day. When we started the series, one of the first tasks was to define our goals.

My four-part goal included “write once in a while just for the sake of writing……not for anyone else’s message but my own.” Point being: I love writing about causes and am really enjoying writing sponsored posts, but I truly believe good writing springs from writing for the sake of writing. Therefore, I am going to plan to write once a month (at least) just to write, not from anyone else’s talking points or guidelines. My writing has started feeling so uninspired to me; I am afraid I have forgotten how to paint pictures with my words, and that would be a loss.

Keeping that goal in mind, I am using an inspiration from the SITS Girls 31 Days of January Writing Prompts (I may want to write for the sake of writing but I still needed a little starter spark!). Finish this story: A girl, sitting alone on a rock at the edge of the woods, jumps when she hears…

Geneva’s Train

A girl, sitting alone on a rock at the edge of the woods, jumps when she hears the spurt of air explode out of a can of carbonated beverage as its top is popped. The owner of the can could be her brother (opening a Pepsi), her mother (opening a Diet Coke), her father (opening a beer), or her grandfather (opening a beer).

No matter who it is, they are interrupting Geneva’s reverie. Her mind, along with every iota of her imagination, was deeply involved in the book in her hands and now the flow has been disrupted.

“Whoever it is, how can I get them to go away so I can get back to my book?” she wondered. Her brother would be a temporary irritant; if she would refuse to engage, he would probably seek an easier target elsewhere (the kittens came to mind). Her mother would want her to do something (emptying the dishwasher came to mind). Her dad would want to probe her agenda for the upcoming week (committing the stories she had written to a flash drive came to mind). Her grandfather, who had short-term memory issues, would want to know (for the 50th time) if she had seen the postcard his granddaughter (her cousin) had sent from Paris.

WHY was it so hard for the people in her life to give her train of thought its due? Trains of thought did not always stay on track.

Sometimes, trains of thought stayed parked at the depot, unable to depart because there just wasn’t enough fuel to send them on a trip.

Sometimes, trains of thought became so overburdened with the weight of their heavy cargo that they lumbered along, clogging up the track for the other trains carrying lighter, more streamlined loads … the trains with logical agendas and contents that others were expecting.

Sometimes, trains of thought flew along the track, light as air, having been dispatched to someplace new to Geneva, awaiting a load of ideas, fantasies, or outlandish plans.

This time, her train of thought faced a split track. The track of her book placed her within an arm’s reach of a protagonist named George, feeling a new and exhilarating lightheaded magic. In the book, he had already planted a garden, tamed a bucking bronco, and headed off a confrontation between two enemies. Wasn’t it her turn yet?

The other track led back to chores, an inquisition, or a boomerang into the old routine. Back to her regular life, and that stop was growing more mundane by the day.

Unable to contain her curiosity any longer, she sighed, shut the book, and turned.

What she had not guessed was that the can was being opened for HER.

“Sparkling water with essence of mint?” asked George.

And with George’s arrival, the train bellowed with the beauty of imagination and Geneva gave in to a flurry of delight, realizing that her dream had not been derailed.

Geneva's Train

Notes from “Editor Elf”

elf for health 2013

I am enjoying my second year of being an “Elf 4 Health.” Our assignment for Wednesday of this “Elf Week” is to “share expertise.” Let’s go with what I love discussing: writing!

Notes From Editor Elf

  • To proofread, read your piece out loud. That forces your brain to pay attention to each word. It also helps you determine if your piece sounds “natural” instead of stilted.
  • To proofread even more effectively, read your piece backwards. That breaks up the cadence of the sentences and (again) forces you to pay attention to each word.
  • Spellcheck is a good thing, but it in no way is the only thing. (I for instance once referred to “United Health Plan” as “Untied Health Plan,” on a business letter, something that would not be caught by spellcheck.) That’s why there are strategies like reading backwards and out loud.
  • Great writing does not necessarily take great big words. Simple trumps “fancy,” almost every time.
  • Read often. Read things you normally would not gravitate towards. This helps acquaint you with new vocabulary words, new ways of phrasing passages, and different angles from which to process the written word.
  • Read in different ways. If you always read books on paper, consider an audiobook. If you are a kindle person, reacquaint yourself with the feel of paper in your hands. If you are an “only” paper reader, take a whirl with an e-reader (it’s pretty cool how it holds your place for you and can adjust the font to be easier on your eyesight). Enthusiastic readers make more effective writers.

And although as a grammar curmudgeon it pains me to say it, if hang ups about grammar and rules are keeping you from committing thoughts to paper, just write. Sharing your thoughts (with yourself, with an audience, with your cat) takes precedence.

I agree with Maya Angelou, who said, ““There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”

(Before I wind this post up, I’d like to give an elfin shout-out to my partner elf for this two weeks, Alison! I have quickly become intrigued by her blog, her social media presence, and her enthusiasm for faith, family, and fitness. Check out her blog, Daily Moves and Grooves, here.)

What’s your story? Tell me a little in the comments!

Be My Guest! Be My Guest! Be My Guest!

Honestly, when I hear “Be My Guest,” I immediately think of the song from Beauty and the Beast!  I think it was technically “Be Our Guest,” but it’s one of those songs that stays in your head for an awfully long time!!

From now through March 31, though, there are a few days left to participate in Be My Guest Month, a month of mutual blogging intended to encourage us bloggers to reach out to each other and “share our space” along with our ideas. 

Lauren Novo graciously agreed to “guest” on my blog and invited me to guest on her blog on the last day of Be My Guest Month, March 31, 2010.  (You can read her blog here.)  We also decided to choose a quote that we would both base our last blogs on, and to invite all of the other “Be My Guest Month” bloggers to do the same!

Here’s the theme: 

“Every Problem Has a Gift for You in its Hands.” 

Now go out, find a blogging friend, find those gifts tucked away in those problems, and write about them!!