Fears: Postponing the Writing or Penalizing the Readers?

I’ve been working on a post re fear but this is much more extensive than I would have done! I do have another aspect to share: fear of recurring illness. I’ll keep working on that.

Two Drops of Ink: A Literary Blog

By: Marilyn L. Davis

“Don’t you ever get scared?” I ask.
“Of what?” She says,
“Of not being good enough.”
“You mean at writing?” L’il asks.
I nod. “What if I’m the only one who thinks I can do it and no one else does? What if I’m fooling myself?”
“Oh, Carrie.” She smiles. “Don’t you know that every writer feels that way? Fear is part of the job.” ― Candace Bushnell, author of Summer and the City

every-writers-checklistThere is so much competition for readers, subscribers, and followers today that I think many writers simply don’t publish for fear of being judged.  For example, what if the only kind of ice cream you ever eat is “store-bought vanilla”? Then you’ll never realize how many varieties there are: natural, gelato, gluten-free, lactose-free, no sugar added and well, you’re probably getting the point. But many people do realize their choices of…

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Life in the Last Lane: Writing Until I Exit

I am a “rebloomer” rather than a late bloomer. After the death of my mother last year I not only felt free to publish my memoir, I felt compelled to publish it.

Two Drops of Ink: A Literary Blog

By: Marilyn L. Davis

Note: While some of you in my generation may reference my title as a parody on the Eagles, “Life in the Fast Lane”, it actually came in a comment from Slug Latimer on Facebook.  I asked permission to use “Life in the Last Lane”, and Slug graciously gifted it to me. Now, if you’re the originator of this phrase, let me know, and I’ll give you credit as well.

“How did it get so late so soon?
It’s night before it’s afternoon.
December is here before it’s June.
My goodness how the time has flewn.
How did it get so late so soon?”
― Dr. Seuss

Late to the Party? Doesn’t Matter

time-flies-from-badideaindeed-wordpress-comI’ve only been writing online for about three years, so many could say – who cares what you write about, who are you, what can you offer, or other references since I’m a late arrival.

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How Scribophile Can Help Your Manuscript

Looking for Feedback in All the Wrong Places

I have a beta reader who gives me great feedback on the overall scope, characters, plot and pacing of my manuscript.  But it is always a good idea to get as many different points of view as possible.  So I went on a hunt for more beta readers, particularly those who can give me suggestions on the technical side of writing, such as sentence structure and grammar.

On some of the sites that I checked out, the feedback consisted of ‘good book’ or ‘I liked it’.

Ummm… thanks but that’s a little vague.  Are you just here to read books for free?

I need feedback from writers that are better than me, writers that can teach me things.

Hitting the Motherlode

I found Scribophile at the end of December.  It has helped me connect with some really good writers from all over…

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What’s Bogging Down Your Blog?

Thoughtful and useful information.

Two Drops of Ink: A Literary Blog

By: Marilyn L. Davis

“Let me just acknowledge that the function of grammar is to make the language as efficient and clear and transparent as possible. But if we’re all constantly correcting each other’s grammar and being really snotty about it, then people stop talking because they start to be petrified that they’re going to make some sort of terrible grammatical error and that’s precisely the opposite of what grammar is supposed to do, which is to facilitate clear communication.” ― John Green

Bogged Down with Words, Punctuation and Images?

First, I don’t like grammar Nazis. I also don’t like labeling people, however, there are individuals who read a post with the sole purpose of finding fault. The type of person I’m displeased with is the one who takes exception to a dangling participle, or is offended by an occasional exclamation point.

But they have valid points.

Maybe because I try…

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3 Simple Ways to Win the Argument With Your Inner Critic

Advice any writer in any genre can benefit from.

A Writer's Path


by Lauren Sapala

If you’re an artist or a writer—or both—then you know what I’m talking about when I say “inner critic.” It’s not just a way of describing a tendency toward self-judgment. For us, the inner critic is a loud, nasty, disgusting creature who invades our thoughts, whips us mercilessly, and sometimes decides to chain us up in the dungeon.

That might sound extreme, but if you’re an artist or a writer, you know how accurate that description is.

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Suddenly Paralyzed but Grateful Part III

Stunned by the decision to release me from the hospital undiagnosed, weak and still mostly paralyzed on the right side from the waist down, we scrambled to get prepared. The hospital staff came through with a basic walker and needed supplies and we were on our own.

I’ll spare you the sordid details. Mark helped pry me in and out of bed and chairs, my sleep was still interrupted by mustle spasms, I learned to shuffle along shoving the primitive walker with wheels that didn’t swivel and bit by bit some feeling returned to my leg.

Meanwhile I was Googling mustle twitches, nerve regeneration, sudden paralysis, all the unanswered questions. The Hospitalist said the MRI showed some arthritis  in the spine, but how could that cause instant paralysis? My first thought had been that the sharp pain in my calf could have a been a clot that moved and pusuing that idea brought me to Spinal Infarction or Stroke, a rare occurance that could cause paralysis.

I took that printout when I saw my primary physician on October 11, hesitant to show it to him. Doctors must hate it when patients diagnose themselves! Just as I pulled it out of my purse, he said, “I think you’ve had a spinal cord infarction.”

I refrained from hugging him. Anyone who has had a serious malady undiagnosed will understand my relief.

Three weeks after the event, I AM WALKING! My right foot is still mostly useless, though I can lift my toes which helps when pulling socks on. Tasks which used to be effortless, like working the washing machine controls or lifting the coffee pot are difficult and I have an annoying tremor in my right hand, but I’ve ordered weights and started exercises to help with that.

My gratitude is boundless. I am recovering and even if I never get back all feeling and strength I am grateful. I imagine being born without a limb or with a severe disability. I think of a friend who years ago, scaling a fence to retrieve a soft ball for his kids, suffered a spinal cord injury that left him a paraplegic, or another friend whose right side has been paralyzed since a stroke fifteen years ago, leaving him unable to speak.

I think of the old adage, “I complained because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet.”

I no longer fret because Amazon won’t publish reviews I know have been submitted; in fact I haven’t checked my sales for a month. When life-changing events happen, priorities have a way of sorting themselves out.


Suddenly Paralyzed But Grateful Part II

Three A.M. I am sitting on the floor beside the bed unable to move after trying to get out of bed to go to the bathroom. It is undeniable. My right side is paralyzed from the waist down and my right arm is weak.

My husband Mark is there immediately, trying to move my right foot, crumpled against a chest of drawers. I cry out in pain. He tries to help me move but I seem cemented to the floor. Mark gives me a pain pill and the next hours are a blur.

Ambulance, ER, CAT scan, x-rays of  chest, hip, knee. Repeatedly I am asked the same questions. Does it feel like my previous stroke? Have I fallen recently? Do I use a walker? A cane? No and no and no and no. Last week I was camping with my family at the coast.

After a few hours the ER physician gives up and sends me to be admitted to the hospital. Muscle spasms or twitches start in my right leg, making it clutch from toe to knee to toe every five to ten seconds all day and night. My primary doctor isn’t available so after a few hours I’m seen by a Hospitalist, a growing trend, it seems. She is a tiny Oriental lady who grabs my sensitive ankle, yanks my leg around grinding my arthritic knee, making me cry out.

“Are you an anxious person?” she asks. “Do you take a pill for anxiety?” No and no.

I complain of the spasms. She orders a prescription and an MRI. The medicine takes over an hour to take effect, lasts for about three hours, and can only be administered every eight hours. That leaves over six hours of constant spasms. I tell myself they are a sign of nerve regeneration, but no one tells me any such thing.

My roommate has an MRI after mine and soon sees her doctor and then a specialist. I don’t see the Hospitalist until the next afternoon. The MRI shows some arthritis of the spine. No explanation of how that could cause sudden paralysis.

The spasms make my right leg creep slowly toward the edge till my foot falls over. I learn to shove my left toes under my right ankle and pry my foot back onto the bed. With great effort, by the third morning, I can bend my right knee and twitch my big toe. Progress!

The Hospitalist comes in about 3 P.M. to say I’m released. What? I have walked once outside the room, I have no diagnosis, no treatment plan except to see my primary physician in a week, no wheelchair, no walker. Not that I’m fond of the hospital, but we have good insurance and I expected not to be virtually bedfast when I go home. Before I can call him, Mark arrives with a lovely blue orchid and my Surface computer. He has driven the pickup, so must turn around and drive home to get the car.

Once again I must quit. I make mistakes in nearly every word. Part III coming soon.


Suddenly Paralyzed But Thankful Part I

Have you had an experience, a health scare perhaps, a close call, or the loss of a loved one that brought you up short and changed your priorities or your focus? I haven’t written a blog since September. Here’s why.

I was camping with family at Coos Bay on the Oregon Coast September 26-30. My daughter from Arizona was visiting and left on October 2. We had a fine time visiting around the campfire and netting our fill of crab. Ah, the good life — a reason we moved to Oregon, to be near the ocean.

Two days later, 12:15 A.M. on October 4, everything changed. I was watching TV, leaning back in my recliner, when I felt a sharp pain in my right calf. Oh shoot! Another cramp. I was prepared to stand to work it out, but the pain immediately went away.

Soon I realized something strange was going on, but my mind wouldn’t accept what my body was feeling. I was paralyzed from the waist down on my right side. Surely my foot had just gone to sleep, I reasoned. But no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t move it.

I woke my husband, snoring gently in his recliner beside me. In his half-awake state he too couldn’t accept sudden paralysis. This was just some strange temporary malady. So he dragged me down the hall to bed. And I do mean DRAGGED. It felt like my right foot was glued to the floor. Amazingly, every wrench hurt my right knee which has suffered several injuries and is arthritic. And helping me into bed, he grabbed my ankle and I screamed in pain. How could I be paralyzed and at the same time so sensitive?


Because I am still weak and shaky, I’m going to continue  later

Memoir: Linear Stories and Writing Outside of the Box

Home from the hospital — more about that when I’m able. Meanwhile here’s valuable info on Memoir writing.

Two Drops of Ink: A Literary Blog

By: Marilyn L. Davis

“A story has its purpose and its path. It must be told correctly for it to be understood.” ~Marcus Sedgwick

outside the box

We live chronologically. We factor time in  1-2-3 order. We like our ducks in a row. We know the ABC’s, and as such, our brains are programmed to track stories in a linear fashion more easily. However, a linear story can either take our readers on the journey where there’s activity, interest, and lessons along the way, or  turn them into the adult version of a typical five-year-old clamoring, “Are we there yet?!”

After choosing the scope of the memoir, the starting point and the natural conclusion, the next decision any writer has to make is how to get from point A to the end. Too many writers assume that A to B to C is boring, so jazz it up with memories of an earlier…

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Blithely ignoring rules

Rules are made to be broken, I’ve read. So why bother with rules at all? Within minutes of my last very personal post, I read that blogs shouldn’t be personal. What? Two of the first blogs I started following were entirely based on personal experience. The response to my personal blog appeared to be the most I’ve had in my short blogging life.

I’m not assuming that my personal experience or opinion is anything special, but if it’s an experience shared by others or a thought-provoking or reassuring opinion, why not post it?

Another long-established rule I consciously ignore is to write every day. I heard that admonition from so many sources for so many years that I unthinkingly passed it on to my students. The only way one improves, I said, whether playing the violin or playing tennis or painting watercolors, or writing, is to practice. If you can’t think of anything to write, write “I can’t thinking of anything to write,” over and over.

Can you imagine anything more demoralizing, more an admission of failure, than writing the same inane thing over and over? So I soon amended my instruction to start, “Yesterday I . . .” and write in detail as vividly as possible your humorous or humiliating or boring yesterday. I also provided long lists of prompts because I asked for five journal entries per week from my writing students in addition to required essays.

Now I see writing as extending far beyond forcing words onto paper or screen. I jot ideas virtually or figuratively and rummage around mentally, falling asleep and waking up composing and revising so when I sit down to write there’s plenty to work with. That’s when writing is joyful.