Tag Archives: challenges

I’ve Never Experienced Writer’s Block, I’ve Never Experienced Writer’s Block, I’ve Never Experienced Writer’s Block, I’ve Never Experienced Writer’s Block…

Imagine acquiring a literary agent. This agent quickly finds a publisher for your first book. You’re given deadlines to complete various parts of your manuscript. Things are going fine until your well-oiled machine slams into a concrete wall. Sound familiar?

Oh no! You’ve run into that immovablewriters_block_400 force known as writer’s block. This will send the average author screaming toward the hills.

Are you picking up what I am carefully placing down for you…?…Okay, good, let us continue.

What once was on schedule has now begun to slip behind. No big worries so far, but pandemonium may lie in the future if this problem is not corrected…sound familiar yet?

Guess what kids?  We’re now in the future which has been carefully renamed the present. Your publisher with much foreboding is insisting you complete the remaining pieces of your manuscript. You assure said publisher the remaining chapters are complete and will be sent next week after your final edits.

Your next move is to write the remaining few chapters.

Next week has come and gone and your publisher is threatening to cancel your contract. Your agent is also threatening cancellation and possible law suites to follow. Now, I ask again, does this sound familiar? If it does, you’re in a world of trouble and should have paid more attention to your deadlines.

As for me, I’ve been unable to coerce an agent so far. I have come close, but we know that close and three dollars will get you a cup of coffee. Until that day I’ll rely on small presses; they’re wonderful to work with.

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If You’re Gonna Write Then Write…If You’re Gonna Read What You’ve Written, Then Maybe you Ought not Write

bad-writerWriting is an interesting activity…actually it’s moreover a way to circumnavigate reality. It’s the only place I know where you can exist in the past, present, and future simultaneously.

That being said there are different ways this can be accomplished. Now, I want you to imagine the first short story you wrote. I will use my first key board to virtual paper to relate my first writing experience.

I snuggled down in front of my computer to write my first short story. Fearing I would never have the patience to pen a novel, I felt right at home with a less lengthy narrative. As soon as I had a story line (more or less), I happily began to write in earnest, knowing the story flowed well and was full of action to keep any reader’s attention.

It took several days, but I finished my masterpiece and prepared myself mentally to knock out another. Of course, I decided I should take a quick look at the tale I had just woven in case there might be an errant mistake.

I finished the first sentence, pleased as punch that this scrumptious piece of literary work was mine and mine alone. I then moved onto the second sentence. By the time I finished the first paragraph, I wondered if I was reading the same manuscript.

Not to be deterred, I continued to read. Once I completed this 6000 word atrocity, I knew there were one of two ways I could proceed–rewrite the story or push my computer out of the window and never speak of this again.

This story was so badly written that I had to thicken my skin just to be able to absorb insults I hurled at myself. I decided to continue writing and despite the trashy comments I heaped upon my work, I managed to publish 3 novels. Do us both a favor and don’t read any reviews from a guy named Lynn Steigleder; he’ll say nasty things and give away the ending.

If you take anything away from this blog…make it this…don’t read your own work, it’ll just clutter up your writing and give you things to do that you’d rather not do.

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Did You Say, “Do It Again.”…No!…Anything but That…Will You Ever Learn?

writing-a-novelConsidering my last four blogs, I see the first three find me whining about the insidious woes of having to write, rewrite, and edit my books over and over again. You would think I was the only author who had such a burden to carry on my poor little shoulders.

Well, maybe I am. I may be the first author in history to have had such a challenge on a novel that was challenging to write, challenging to rewrite, challenging to edit, challenging to rewrite again and challenging to finishing editing. It was also challenging to read it the 30 or so times that I was required to read said novel, ensuring that all was properly done. I should add this was accomplished with the help of a competent publisher/editor.

In my fourth blog, I reveled in the completion of this challenging novel.

Quite a feat, don’t you think? Of course you do, if you have the same high opinion of me as I do…now let’s take a moment to sort out my recent comments. If this was really me and the delusional financial strategy I have simmering in the recess of my brain even possible, I’d have it made. I could buy myself for what I’m worth, sell myself for what I think I’m worth, and realize enough profit to purchase a professional sports collective.

In truth, my last novel was a bear to bring to print as I’m sure you, too, have experienced. But obviously, we’re gluttons for punishment, because you know what we’re going to do?…that’s right…turn around and jump smack dab right into the middle of the fire, again.

So sharpen your pencils and grab a chunk of aloe plant, cause here we go!

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Just Because you Think You’re Right, Doesn’t Mean you are…Then Again, it Doesn’t Mean you Aren’t, Just That you Have Some Real Problems, Man

frustrated-kitIf you read my blog last week, I was firmly in the midst of beating an unruly manuscript into submission. I was mistakenly lulled into believing that this was a factual thought on my part.

Being an optimist, I am frequently pulled into situations that leave me believing that things are going to be alright. Boy, when am I going to learn?

Now as far as being an optimist goes, I think that’s something I’ll hold on to. Thinking everything is going to be alright has its merits and disappointments.

Case in point: Manuscripts you have tricked yourself into believing you have conquered; as if there were such a thing.

My editor and I had crossed wires and we were both speeding the opposite direction down different highways. Things became more misconstrued as we continued to travel.

Finally, we slammed on brakes realizing our conundrum. We jumped on board the same vehicle and I can now tentatively say, we’re on the same page.

This book, just like last week, is my latest offering, “Terminal Core,” which is headed to the printer even as we speak.

I feel as though I have read this book in its many forms 30 times or more. In fact, I just completed the novel last week, the week before and probably the week before that.

The one shining star in the middle of this bedlam is after the proof comes from the printer, I get to read it one more time.

As crazy as this seems, it’s all a part of the process known as…ah…well…I’m not sure whatcha call spending months to pen a novel, months to rewrite and edit said novel, send to a publisher, then spend large amounts of time with an editor thrashing out the final details.

I guess the best way to describe it would be blocks of fun, with intermittent periods of horror.  Remember, the underpinning and solid foundation of  success (at least in my case) leads me to rely on prayer.

Give it a try sometime if you take a mind to; it just may surprise you.

Don’t be afraid to jump in with both feet, it’s really not as bad as I described. Actually, it’s a lot of fun and I feel fortunate God gave me this task to contend with each day.

Now, where’d I leave that fountain pen?

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Werds r Not Diffacult to Spel; u Just Need to No How it is Dun

schoolWhy? All I want to know is why? No one seems to know and no one seems to care, but as a writer, I have a very small pool with which to draw from.

I’m talking about words. So many that we use are worthless or at best, lazy, and we’re the culprits that allow them to get away with this travesty of literary injustice.

For instance: The letter “X.” The majority of words that begin with the letter “X” are pronounced as if they began with a “Z,” such as Zylophone, Zanadu and Zanthophyll. The only word that needs an “X” is x-ray, so let’s do the prudent thing and change it to Z-ray. Problem solved and a 25 word alphabet introduced.

Let’s investigate a little thing called phonics. Phonics is spelling the word as it is pronounced. Hmm…we seem to have a problem before we get started. Shouldn’t phonics be spelled fonix? I think we’ll stop our fonix studies right there.

Why do we spell some words in such a ridiculous fashion? It’s like we’re going around our elbow to get to our thumb. Case in point, why do we need a “B” on the end of thumb? Or for that matter, words that end in “EAU,” we can save two letters by just using an “O.”

Why is the word “minute” meaning sixty seconds on a clock spelled the same as “minute” meaning something very small?

How can I read it if I’ve already read it?

If we’ve got the letter “F” to make an “F” sound, then why do we need “PH”?

Could we exchange the suffix “IGHT” for “ITE” such as lite, nite, frite and the like.

Do we really need a “L” in could and would?

These are just a few examples of the dilemma I face each day. Can someone please pull me from this endless pit of mindless letters lest I sink further into the depths of literary despair?

Alas, exhaustion overtakes my very soul. Please allow these concepts to abide within your heart for a wayward letter is a terrible thing to waste.

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Spread the Word!

As many of you may know, becoming a published author can be a daunting task at best. Once I achieved this uphill struggle I thought I would careen down the other side into the world of sales with this fantastic novel I had created.

Not so. It seems that there are more than eight hundred new titles coming out each day. This translates to well over a quarter million every year. We may have over three hundred million people in the United States and six or so billion in the world, not all of which who read, but no matter how you slice it, that’s a lot of books vying for not so many eyes.

If I were to add all of my royalty checks together, no doubt I could purchase a large case of bubblegum; however, man does not live by bubblegum alone.

I have been marketing to book clubs, bookstores, magazines, newspapers, radio and television, social media and if I’m not mistaken, I even tried to sell my mother a copy.

I’ve done book signings, book fairs and numerous other activities designed to sell books. For the most part “Rising Tide” has received exceptional reviews. Even considering the four thousand emails I have sent out on behalf of “Rising Tide,” sales are still lagging.

Being blessed with a hard head I simply refuse to give up and because of this I’m always searching for new ways to market my book. This is where I’ll humbly ask for your assistance. I am starting a grassroots movement to further promotion. I am not asking that you purchase a book (although that’s up to you) but that you would spread this message to friends, family, and coworkers and ask them to do the same.

Use email, word-of-mouth, social media (Facebook, Twitter etc.) or any other method you would like to incorporate. As a further incentive I’m offering one free copy of “Rising Tide” to the first one hundred book clubs (i.e., one copy per book club) who contact me through my website www.lynnsteigleder.com. I’ll require interested book clubs to supply a contact name, email address, mailing address, and name of book club.

The following is two sample chapter excerpts from “Rising Tide.” I hope you enjoy them and spread the word!

                                                                               Thank You!

CHAPTER ONE

• • •

Day Five

Ben awoke to a voice echoing throughout the chamber.  “Topside to Ben, come in, Ben.” The transmission repeated. “Topside to Ben. It’s time to rise and shine, sweetheart.”

He moaned and rolled out of the sack. He didn’t have far to roll. The space lived up to its name; it was the size of a tin can. Two bunks, a dry toilet, and a panel to monitor life support, position, and temperature along with numerous small storage bays made up the  interior of the Orion.

He reached for the COM and yawned. “This is Ben, Topside, go ahead.”

“Good morning, Ben. So glad you could take time out of your busy schedule to join us.”

“Good morning, Marty,” Ben said, rolling his eyes.

“Ben, it’s time to begin system’s check. You’ll be on the surface in just under thirty hours.”

Ben moved to the control console, yawned again, and rubbed his eyes.  “Roger,” he said. “Beginning system’s check.”

He knew this was necessary, but why wake him at four a.m. every morning for the same thing? Couldn’t they do this a little later in the day?

“How are you feeling?” Marty asked. “Your vitals look good from up here.”

“Good overall, just a little dizzy,” Ben answered.

“It’s probably the nitrogen,” Marty countered. “We changed your breathing mixture again last night.” He paused. “Ben,” Marty continued, “don’t forget to check your interior hatch control also.”

“Everything’s operative,” Ben said.

“Good,” Marty replied. “Topside out.”

Orion out,” Ben replied.

The one thing Ben loathed more than Pete’s cooking were the rations onboard the Orion. These things must have been around since the First World War, he thought. Unwilling to dive into another cardboard-based meal, Ben sat down on the edge of his bunk, hung his head, and closed his eyes. In this position he could sense the capsule’s movement intensify. He moved back to the COM.

“Topside, this is Ben. What’s with the bumpy ride?”

“A tropical storm,” came the reply.

He waited for further explanation. None came. Ben stiffened. “Is that it?” he said. “Why so tight lipped?”

“Ben, this is Marty. A tropical depression formed yesterday morning. We’ve been waiting to see how it plays out before we filled you in. I didn’t want to cause any undue alarm.”

“Well?” Ben questioned.

“The forecast calls for slow strengthening,” Marty continued. “According to our radar, they may have been wrong. The next update is due soon. Just hang tight. I’m confident that it won’t be a factor in getting you to the surface. If it’s any consolation,” he said, “they named this one Benjamin.”

“I don’t care what they call it,” Ben said. “Just keep me in the loop. It’s my butt in this can, not yours.” He started to say more then thought better of it. “Orion out,” he finished.

In this environment, hours seemed like days. Ben thumbed through the rations again and decided on a prepackaged breakfast bar. He sat down, unwrapped the bar, and took a bite. The Orion lurched violently, tossing him into the port wall. “What the—” It lurched again, throwing him to the opposite side.

The intercom brought him back. “Ben, can you hear me?”

Ben pressed the COM button. “What’s going on up there?” he screamed.

“Ben, it’s not up here, it’s down there. There’s been an explosion in the habitat.”

“Marty,” Ben said, “what about Pete?”

“I don’t know, Ben,” he said. “I don’t know.”

Another blast ripped through the Orion, cutting all power and knocking him to the floor. Ben lifted himself off the deck and found it was impossible to stand. He crawled to the COM panel.

“Marty! All systems down! All systems down!” he repeated.

“Ben, your umbilical has been severed. You’ll have to power up onboard support.”

“Understood,” Ben responded. “What next?” he whispered.

The mere push of a button would begin the conversion, but now even the simplest task was proving nearly impossible for Ben with the capsule bouncing violently.

He located the switch and managed to convert all outside life support to onboard systems control. The battery backup kicked in. The lights flickered and then burnt steadily, not as bright as usual, but it was better than the complete darkness that had momentarily filled the cabin. One look at his gauges told him he was still eighty feet down, too deep to blow the ballast and surface.

The Orion continued to bob up and down. Ben pushed the COM button. “Marty, why am I not stabilizing?”

“Ben, the tropical storm has been strengthening rapidly for the past few hours. The blast bounced you up almost sixty feet. You’ve gotten close enough to the surface to feel part of what we’re getting up here,” he said.  “We’ve got twenty-foot seas, going to thirty.” There was a long silence.

“Give it to me straight this time, Marty,” Ben said.

“Ben, the storm’s going to get stronger, maybe a cat five, or worse. On top of that, with the new protocol in place, everyone on board the platform moves into the Ark. We’ll lose our COM link,” he said. “You’ll be on your own, Ben. I’m sorry.”

The Ark was a self-sufficient life station positioned beneath the drilling platform. It could support up to thirty people for a maximum of five days. With limited propulsion it could even be cut loose and move away from OZ if necessary, tethered by a one-inch, two-mile long cable that could be winched in when the “all-clear” was given.

“Great,” Ben said. The chamber lurched again, this time slamming into one of the oilrig’s massive legs. “Marty, I’m still tethered to the sea floor. I’m too close to the rig. I’m gonna have to cut loose from the cable and float free before this thing beats me to death.”

“Ben, do not blow your ballast. Repeat. Do not blow your ballast. You’ll need another sixteen hours minimum to complete your decompression cycle.”

“Roger that,” Ben said. Beads of sweat gathered on  his forehead.

“What about Pete?” Ben asked.

“As close as we can determine, the storm wrenched the habitat’s life support umbilical loose, allowing the atmosphere to escape,” Marty said. “Once the pressure reached a critical level … ” his voice trailed off. “I’m sorry, Ben; no one could have survived that implosion.”

Orion out,” Ben said. His mind was blank, his body numb. He disengaged the quick connects from the cable and began to drift. The oilrig’s stabilizer scraped the side of Orion, seemingly to say goodbye.

Marty transmitted one last time. “We’re moving to the Ark,” he said. “Good luck, Ben. Topside out.”

Overwhelmed, Ben didn’t answer.

CHAPTER TEN

The jolt knocked Ben to the floor. “Talk about a rude awakening,” he said. He rose and popped his head through the hatchway. The scene was surreal. A large vessel had planted itself firmly into the side of the Orion. Neither vessel was moving. It’s as though they’ve been fused together on contact, he thought. There was a man hanging over the side clutching the rail. Another leaned over and pulled the first man up. Within minutes three faces were peering over the side of the ship at him.

“Ahoy!” Ben yelled.

“Ahoy,” came the response. ”Can you leave your vessel?”

“I’ll have to blow the side hatch,” Ben said.

“Very well,” a voice replied. “We’ll ready the lifeline.”

A boom swung over the edge of the ship and began lowering a line with a survival harness attached. When the harness touched the water, Ben dropped into the chamber and made ready to make his escape. With his hand poised over the switch, he thought of the capsule filling with water and taking him to the bottom along with it. Before he had a chance to change his mind, he slammed his palm down.

There was a brief delay, and the hatch blew free from its mooring. Ben lunged for the opening, but he wasn’t moving. His boot had become wedged under the console’s toe kick. He fought off panic and reached for his boot to free it. It wouldn’t budge. He removed his foot from the boot. He looked toward the hatch expecting to see a wall of water.

Amazingly, there was none. The cabin was bone dry. The water had been nearly halfway up the hatch when he’d blown it, but it wasn’t filling the cabin. He looked closer and couldn’t believe what he was seeing. It was as if a piece of glass had been placed across the hatchway. The sea level remained constant, drawing a straight line across the opening, but no water entered in.

Ben pushed his hand into the impossible then pulled it back. It was wet. He twisted his boot free and laced it back onto his foot, still mesmerized by the sight before him. He shuddered, then, thinking more clearly, decided that he’d better get out before whatever was holding the water back changed its mind.

Ben emerged at the surface and started to swim toward the harness. He strapped himself in and gave the thumbs-up. As he was lowered onto the ship’s deck, a lone figure approached. He was tall, fiftyish, with a neatly trimmed, slightly gray beard, and a uniform complete with cap that almost appeared military. He saluted and extended his hand.

“Welcome to the Morning Star,” he said. “Captain Evans at your service.”

 
 

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To Burn or Not to Burn?

I’m a reformed smoker but in no way am I a nicotine Nazi. I know how hard it is to quit and I know how enjoyable it is to inhale the toxic fumes. While I don’t want to share a phone booth with someone who’s smoking, I’ve always been of the opinion that “if ya got’em burn’em.” Actually, I don’t want to share a phone booth with anyone, smoking or not. By the same token…or maybe a different token would be more appropriate,  when I used to drink I’d tell people I would never go to AA, and I quote “cause I ain’t no quitter.”

I penned a short story that somewhat parallels the first part of this paradox. Just like quitting smoking, the protagonist had to endure several tasks that he did not want to do. (It took me quite a few tries before I succeeded so don’t give up.)  In the end, he actually had to take a life to prevent that life from being taken in a much more gruesome manner….how ironic to have to choose such a thing as to end a human life in a more humane way.

Holding firmly to the cigarettes and the premise of irony,  I’ll do an about-face and mention having visited many cities in the forty-eight continuous states, each one with its own idiosyncrasies.   We now travel to the Midwest…. I like this particular city, the food, and the people being very friendly. The convention center has a large covered area in front as a courtesy to guests so that they may enter the building unscathed during periods of  inclement weather.

Now of course this space was designated non-smoking which was meant to promote a healthier environment but considering the lines of buses emanating diesel fuel, breathing cigarette smoke would have been preferable to the glut of hydrocarbons floating under that enclosure. Like I mentioned earlier, all cities have them. My city of origin built an eight hundred thousand square foot convention center and neglected the lack of hotels to house attendees.  It gives us something to talk about and a chance to laugh at ourselves which tends to come rather easy for me.

And now for the second part of the paradox…I got nuthin. I know I said I was no quitter and that I’d never attend AA. I haven’t written anything that remotely follows along those lines. I did quit drinking which blows the paradox theme out of the water. It is true that I didn’t  attend AA. So now that you’ve found me to be a fib wielding scoundrel it would serve me right if you were to stop reading this post right now!

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They Don’t Mak’em Like They Used To

How many times have you heard “Boy, they sure don’t mak’em like they used to.” ?  And I’ll have to say, I’m certainly glad they don’t.  Take for instance your average house–in the good ole days bricks were laid right on dirt with no foundation.  It makes for a nice Dr. Seuss look-alike dwelling but hardly better than the concrete foundations of today.  True, some of the craftsmanship in the ornate trim work has been lost, but I’ll trade that for a roof that’s not constructed from 2 x 4’s.

How about the one, “I sure would like to live back in the olden days.”  I don’t know…would I rather drink a bottle of liquor or have a shot of Novocaine to have that pesky tooth pulled? Four men holding me down and a forty percent blood alcohol level with little pain relief tells me that things are a lot better today than a hundred years ago…at least in the dental profession.

Oh!  I forgot one more thing…did you want to eat tonight?  Well, just in case you did, better clean up the ole rifle Tex.  Times a wastin’ and we’re all out of firewood…and don’t forget to draw some water from the crick.

Now on to the world of writing. The quill pen was commonly used by 700 A.D.  The first pens were made from bird feathers.  The major problem with these writing implements was their longevity.  After about a week the writer had to once again chase a bird down and unceremoniously jerk another feather from its wing.  This lead to a larger than normal population of flightless birds who attempted to evolve into penguins, but falling way short, died ostracized from their bird brethren and featherless reminders of man’s insatiable appetite to write with things that don’t last.

In 1795, Nicholas Conte developed the process used to make pencils.  Now at long last the world could write to their hearts content.  It soon came to the attention of these ecstatic writers of the word that mistakes were inevitable.  I want you to follow me close on this.    In 1844, Charles Goodyear patented the process to make erasers more commonplace.  This brings in a bit of thought provoking thought that would provoke the average thinker.

How did the human race tolerate and manage such a stressful situation with fifty years of mistakes and no foreseeable solution?  Answer:  The war of 1812.  On a sad note, the pencil sharpener was not patented until 1897.  No further information is available on this bleak period of history.

To sum up:  You can push that button and watch as the magical computer comes to life allowing you to start that great American novel you’ve always been meaning to write or start rubbing two sticks together and the next time you go out for dinner make sure you bag a duck, cause you’re gonna need something to write with.

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How to Write a book…or not…but maybe…I don’t know

How to write a book…hmm. The title of this post (while trying to interject a bit of humor) is not that far fetched. I have no doubt that for every author still breathing and for those who no longer do so, that there are as many ways to pen a novel. Some start with a rough idea while others adhere to a strict outline starting with the first letter of the preface and ending with the “d” in “the end.”

To more understand my approach to writing I need to share a little of my personal makeup with you. I am the most organized person with an unbelievable knack for disorganization. The only thing I don’t procrastinate doing is procrastinating and writing. That being said it should come as no surprise as to my style of writing.

To put it into context, imagine it’s nineteen sixty-five. I’m sitting patiently at my writer’s desk, my ink stained fingers gingerly tapping away nearly thirty words each and every minute averaging a mere eighty mistakes.  I make sure that I double space between sentences and swoon at the satisfying ding as the carriage slides to the left, awaiting its next command.

A basketball sized spiral of not used but destroyed typewriter ribbon lay on my desk. It mocks me in the fact that its residue covers nearly as much of my skin as not. I raise a hand to swat the glistening ink mass and then think better of it. Remembering the last confrontation with my smudge empowered nemesis I lower my hand, not caring to add to the carnage already inflicted upon  my person. I sense a menacing leer as my hand touches the desktop. (I’m talking about the real top of a desk.)

A mound of trash begins to gather in a circular pattern on the floor after pieces of paper are repeatedly ripped from the typewriter carriage, crushed  and tossed into the waste paper basket until it spills over the edge…and this is just the first chapter!

That would have been me nearly fifty years ago. My twenty-first century equivalent would push a button and stare at a blank screen, with a vague idea, and begin to type letting the story write itself.  Of course my ultra efficient thirty words a minute with only eighty mistakes is still an important part of my proficient writing style. (Thankfully without the mess.)

The way I write is as comfortable as an old shoe, as I hope yours is for you. Ya know, for every work I could have completed in nineteen sixty-five I bet I could have managed five or six today.  I guess that makes me a novel writing machine.

Happy Noveling!

Lynn

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Legacy

What legacy will you leave?  In the eyes of humanity, will it be an insignificant contribution unworthy of the slightest consideration or a grandiose event, celebrated yearly, to commemorate your life and the many you inspired–some merely by your presence?

I would like that it be said of myself that I loved God with my all, that I was a loving husband and father; I was true to my friends; I traveled through life with a smile; and I helped those in need. WOW! Talk about a tall order! It would seem as difficult to accomplish this goal as the latter in the first paragraph of this article–yet would reap the same reward as the former…How odd, to do so much to attain so little…or is that really the case?

I guess that depends on where your priorities lie.

As an author of fiction I seek to entertain; however, I also feel the importance of choosing my words carefully. After something is in print, it’s there forever and regret has the tendency to loiter where it’s not wanted.  When asked about my writing style or what  my books are about, I  pause and think a moment because I really don’t know. I  coined the phrase SCI-FADSTERY which means Science Fiction, Fantasy, Adventure, and Mystery (and usually some romance here and there).

With the numerous genres I utilize, it gives me the opportunity to write in a manner that I deem acceptable or to delve into a realm that may seem more inviting but in truth clouds the story that I wish to tell.

I’ve heard people say in many different situations, “It won’t matter in a hundred years”…but you know…somehow I think it will.

Lynn

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