Thursday, April 2, 2015


Gentlemen, it’s been a wonderful day. 
But I have to get back to writing now.

Time Capsule

How did I start writing?  I’ll share. 

I was that quiet teen in the corner writing in a notebook.  I had moved around so many times in my life by then that I had become accustomed to being that quiet new girl.

Don’t get me wrong.  I had friends, and we regularly exchanged notes and stories, critique, exchange back, then write more.  We all grew up and apart, which is not uncommon. Or I would move again and we’d lose touch.  But I could not stop the writing. 

It called to me at night, with a good set of colored pens and empty paper tablets wooing me to fill up those ruled lines into the dark hours.  Then one year I finally got a typewriter for Christmas (I just aged myself, didn’t I?!).  I still used a lot of paper when away from home, though.

We Have To Stop Meeting Like This

Keeping a journal was my therapy, trying to figure out the who’s and why’s of my life so far. I began to notice how some of my ideas and passions regularly showed up in my dreams, along with people I interacted with or made an impact the most that day.  So for fun, in the mornings before school I made a habit to recount my dreams on paper.  I kept a dream journal for many years, to see if there was a relevant connection with my dreams and real life (there is, by the way!)

How does this pertain to writing?  Much!

That was a good story – I mean dream!

I would not have realized the good habit of daily descriptive writing and exercising the creative muscle if I had not started journaling!

Keeping the Log
Keeping company to that therapeutic outlet, I read a lot – mostly romance and nautical adventures (my first love was the sea!) Over the years I noticed in every historical adventure, romance, epic series and good ole explorations there would be two things the captain would guard the most to his heart.  Was it his grog?  His women?  His ship? 

No – those two items were his log book and his musket.  The gun for obvious protection against the mutineers that we know will appear sooner or later.


But every captain – even Captain Bligh – always insisted on taking his log when set adrift, or he staunchly defended against its theft.  WHY?? Every single day, before the infamous mutiny, he was required to write in the log where he was, who he interacted with, reporting any round robins, red skies, red flags, or even red stars to navigate by.  He could justify based on the details of that log his decisions to discipline his crew, then to re-hunt Fletcher Christian for many years later.   Bligh also escaped some heavy duty disciplinary action from the British Navy for losing his ship based on his detailed entries. I’m sure he blew out some steam into the harrowing ordeals he faced as well and managed to keep alive for months in the open boat at sea.

We also know what happened to Fletcher Christian and the mutineers because of some of his own log writings and tales later found on Pitcairn Island. What a story (and movies) that whole true journey of youthful lust, hate and revenge that turned out to be – from a diary!

Why defend some written diary entries to the death?  It’s our naked souls there – the ugly truths of our lives, secrets we’d rather keep hidden – however naughty or stifling they are.  

Or it can be your 

It’s all good!   It’s all story fodder!  Captured details & photos!

Oops…Had I really done that way back when?

I have to wonder just how much is truth behind the full-figured hit, Bridget Jones Diary; or a journal to an unwanted child in Waitress. And what was the ideal behind using a fake diary as a criminal setup devise in the new psycho-thriller, Gone Girl?  These novels used the premise of a diary in different ways to keep the yarn going (and going well!)

Best Friends

No one knows you like your diary – they are the soul mates who read the script, nod their head and reenact your life on blank pages.  Like best friends, they listen and help sort out thoughts, hand you a tissue, become that shoulder to cry on when no one else offers or cares.

Sometimes you just have to write out your own selves onto paper.  It can be poetic or shockingly raw to the extent it even surprises the writer – a revelation of what issues you are obsessed with.

What trouble did you cause this time?

What first pours out of our pens first flows through our veins like ink, bringing tears and fears with it?  The dark reaches of our controlled and uncontrolled urges.  A wish to fulfill.  Maybe the need to feel loved and needed.  There’s also fear or longing for death of self or someone you thought you knew.

You already know this character so well. Even if it’s about someone else in the story, it eventually comes back to you - somehow. 

Write like no one is reading
Journaling is freeing.  Like the sayingdance like no one is watching’, for writers it equates to ‘write like no one is reading’. 

Stephen King advised, “Write the first draft for you…… can always edit later.”

Right there you forgo the edits. Forget the rewrites. No need for outlines or synopsis.  Stop beefing up the story or flipping it just for a moment.

You do that already in your diary....
there’s a potential draft 1.  

In your journal you can dress up or down for the occasion, or not dress at all.  It’s not like standing naked for all to see and know you.   No one has to know right away, not until you’re ready.

Is that tight enough for you, Miss Scarlet?

You don’t need to impress anyone else in your own personal book, except yourself.   Without the pressure of deadlines and “Wow ‘em” plots, you can waltz around in the book any way you wish.

Oh …..Am I still in mourning?

 Just Getting Warmed Up
A writer can get comfortable with real selves in a diary, take off the civilian shoes, pull up a blanket and look at life and observations on the page.    

You have already been practicing, making stories out of your own troubles in the diary first, triumphs of those you love.  Writers write what they know, right?   You did not acquire all that knowledge overnight.

Oh Ashley!  Kiss me like how I wrote it!

You write it to immortalize incredible physical, mental attributes, or the great or foul deeds people have done to you.  Or..... what you have done to other people.

The details are juicy,incriminating,

shocking,natural and 

……admit it…….sexy.

That’s good practice, foreplay for the real deal – your novel!  Read your old diaries and see some stories unravel; I guarantee there will be quite a few things you had forgotten  and maybe want to forget (but your readers will salivate to read about!)

You need to be kissed, and kissed often……..and by
someone who knows how!

Tales of revenge will emblaze the pages, shocking the readers that someone could be that sadistic to another soul.  And you know it to be true! 

What did you write about me in your diary this time?

In journals, a writer exposes characteristics and interactions 
without an intentional plot.
 Things just happen to people.  

Another writer basically put it this way. But add an intention plot around characters you inadvertently already created - and there’s a story. 

Closet Writers

Consider your present work in progress.  How much of that character’s life (or characters) was influenced by your personal experience in life?   Be honest.

Take an argument you still seethe over and rewrite it into dialogue.  Okay, change the names, but you have a story brewing right from the start.  For your novel, try writing out the whole real fight as if a dialogue in novel.  You already wrote out the emotions in your journal.  Write the same thing in a different kind of style.

As God as my witness I will never be without
ideas to write again!

Now you can filter and share it with other writers to get approval for putting our blood, sweat and tears onto the web limelight for all to see.  You’ll write blurbs to sell it, have blogs to dip your toes in the literary life, and profiles explaining who you are as if that should explain why the story was written.  

Whatever the syntax it is, the idea for the story still started in your head and heart.  From cover to cover, those stories are hemmed with love – or hate -  from deep within.

Take pen in hand and begin a sojourn with the real character. - You.

Fiddle-dee-dee!  They have nothing on me! 
Oh wait – they have my diary. My bad.

Frankly, we might give a damn!

Some famous writers have kept journals for many of the reasons described above, even swore by their journals for transcending the craft of writing. 

Henry David Thoreau
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Anne Frank
Virginia Wolf
Oscar Wilde
Susan Sontag
Anaïs Nin
Madeleine L’Engle
Allen Ginsburg
Victor Hugo

There are cases of lifting tales from the diaries of others, such as (rumor has it) Margaret Mitchell’s reading and unauthorized usage of her Aunt Sarah’s diary that was the whole idea behind her novel, Gone With the Wind, winning her a Pulitzer Prize!

How absolutely scandalous and extraordinary! 

 ME?  Stolen?


  1. Nice twist ending - and I love all the Scarlett O'Hara pictures! When I first started getting serious about writing, I used spiral notebooks for journaling and first drafts, but then I got lazy (?). Now everything is on my laptop, but you make an interesting case for picking up the notebook again.

  2. You're making me wish I'd kept a journal all along. Perhaps it's time. :)
    In gratitude,

  3. Gah. I'm terrible at journaling, but this makes me want to start and stick with it.