MWA Newsletter Fall 2017 Print

Editor's Note

By Barbara Morrison, editor

Welcome to the autumn issue of the MWA Newsletter. One of the things I love about autumn is that sense of a fresh start. The rhythm of the school year has stayed with me, reminding me to shake off the lazy days of summer and get to work. 

As you renew your commitment to writing, let us know if there is anything MWA can do to help you achieve your writing goals You can contact any member of the board via marylandwriters.org/board.php or email info@marylandwriters.org.

One way to promote your work or build your publishing credentials is to submit your news and/or articles to this newsletter.

Members are encouraged to submit to the newsletter announcements of awards, publication, or author events (readings, workshops, etc.). Members may also submit questions for our writers’ advice column or an entry for our Why I Write column. We’d also love to see your articles for possible inclusion: things like interviews with writers or guest speakers, reviews of writing craft books, how-to advice, member profiles, member surveys, and other subjects of interest to writers. 

Send your submissions to newsletter@marylandwriters.org. Submissions must be emailed; no hard copies will be accepted. Please include a brief bio (75 words maxumum).

Happy writing! Please let us know what else you might like to see in this, your newsletter.

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President's Report

By Eileen Haavik McIntire

This year’s Baltimore Book Fest is past, and again MWA’s Baltimore Chapter arranged for the MWA Booth, this time in a prime spot between the tour boats and the Visitor’s Center. Our booth was fully staffed with four or five members promoting MWA and their own books in shifts through three blistering days.

More fall book festivals are coming up, so it seems a good time to provide a few tips on how to actually sell a few books at your exhibit. Selling is an active process. Unless you are a big name author, sitting behind the table in the gloom of the tent, hoping for someone to stop is not going to get you a sale. Worse is reading behind your table. 

Get out in front, chat with passersby, ask them if you can tell them about your book. At the MWA booth, I found it easy to ask passersby if they were aspiring writers. Amazing how many people are working on a novel.

Once someone stopped at the MWA booth, I could tell them about the benefits of MWA, point to my mystery books and then quickly move on to the books of the other authors present and introduce them. Ask the visitor what he or she likes to read. Chances are, there’s a book on the table that fits their tastes. Introduce the author and step back. You may not sell your book then, but you wouldn’t, anyway.

When you’re standing in front of your table, keep to the side to leave it accessible to passersby. Don’t block your table as you chat with fellow exhibitors.

Generously point out books of the other authors. Don’t steal an interested visitor away until that visitor is ready to move on. At one book festival, another exhibitor physically grabbed a visitor to our booth and pulled him over to her booth. Need I say how rude that was? Be considerate and generous to your fellow exhibitors.

Don’t forget that festivals are great places to make connections and find out more above the benefits of other writing organizations and vendors and to meet people who might be able to help you or you might be able to help.

Following these suggestions may not make you a bestseller, but they will enhance your book festival experience.

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MWA Conference

From Brain to Bookshelf

The 2018 Maryland Writers Association conference will be held March 23rd & 24th at the BWI Marriott. Our theme, From Brain to Bookshelf, will bring a myriad of workshops and opportunities for you to enhance your career. 

Joining us this year as keynotes are two amazing men who have made careers from the craft we love.  

Michael Hauge, a script consultant and story expert, has worked with some of your favorite stars, Will Smith included. 

John Gilstrap, a best-selling thriller writer, delivers realistic details in the stories he pens (or types). 

So yeah, we have keynotes. What else do we have?

On Friday…

Michael Hauge will bring a full day Story Master writing intensive for screenplays and novels. 

Topics covered will include:

  • The primary goal of all story
  • Turning plot structure from a complicated concept into a simple, powerful tool you can easily apply to every story
  • The power of desire, need, longing and destiny
  • The essential conflict all characters must face
  • Novel structure vs. movie structure
  • The single key to creating character arc and theme
  • The secret to creating unique, believable and fulfilling love stories
  • The most effective process for adapting novels into film

MWA’s own Barbara Morrison will present a four-hour workshop on Sharing Our Stories.

Everyone has a story to tell, and writing a memoir is a great way to share yours. One way to make your memoir stand out from the crowd is to apply the techniques of fiction to writing nonfiction. In this workshop, appropriate for both beginners and experienced writers, award-winning memoirist Barbara Morrison will help you begin writing yours. After looking at different kinds of memoirs, we will combine in-class writing exercises with instruction on subjects such as creating dynamic scenes and structuring your story. 

The Maryland Poet Laureate, Stanley Plumly, will present a three-hour workshop on Writing Better Poems. 

Bring a single good poem of your own (not a bad poem you wish were good).

On Saturday…

  • Two keynote meals
  • More than twenty workshops and panels to choose from
  • Agent / Editor Pitch Appointments available to MWA members
  • Special 30th Anniversary celebration
  • Read and Critiques available! 

Registration opens November First!

Want to stay up to date on the conference details? Find us online at MarylandWritersConference.org.

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MWA Annual Book Awards

The 2018 MWA Novel Contest is closed for submissions. This year’s entries look interesting and span literary, historical, mystery, and sci-fi genres.

Now comes the fun part! MWA members get to read and rate the novels, which are offered at a reduced price. It takes a village and we need every member’s help! Scoring period is OCTOBER 1, 2017 – FEBRUARY 28, 2018. Time flies, so please log in to marylandwriters.org and get reading.  

Awards will be announced at the MWA conference, March 24, 2018.

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Chapter News

Annapolis

The Annapolis chapter meets on the third Wednesday of every month from 7:00 – 8:30 p.m. in Room 205 of the Maryland Hall, located at 801 Chase Street, Annapolis, MD 21401. For all the latest news and information about the Annapolis chapter, visit our website at https://annapolismwa.wordpress.com/ or contact us at mwaa@marylandwriters.org.

Our program for the upcoming quarter:

  • October 18th: Open mic night. 
  • November 20th: Debut Novelist Panel
  • December: No meeting scheduled for December 2017.

 

Baltimore

MWAB continues to have exciting monthly sessions. We meet at the Cockeysville Recreation Center across from the Cockeysville Library on the last Thursday of the month from 7 to 9 p.m. The Cockeysville Recreation Center is located at 9836 Greenside Drive, Cockeysville, MD 21030. 

Directions: From the Baltimore Beltway I695, take I83 North to Padonia Rd or take York Road North. Take the Padonia Road exit or turn right on E Padonia Rd. Turn left onto Greenside Dr. 9836 is on the left, across the street from the Cockeysville Library. For more information or to be added to the mailing list, contact Dr. Tapendu Basu, tkbasu@verizon.net.

  • October 26th: Bill Jones will conduct a Mining for Memories workshop
  • November 30th: Barbara Diehl will present Over in a Flash, a flash fiction workshop
  • December: No meeting scheduled for December 2017.

 

Carroll County

The Carroll County chapter meets the second Saturday of the month, ten months of the year, at 1:00 p.m. in the large meeting room of the Finksburg Library 2265 Old Westminster Pike, Finksburg, MD 21048. 

Our upcoming speakers are the following:

  • October 14th: Donna Drew Sawyer, author of Provenance and winner of the 2017 MWA novel contest for historical fiction, will help us to construct 3-dimensional characters for our own writing.
  • November 11th: Mauled Men, Drowned Dames and Crispy Critters: A Body Disposal Primer for Writers with author Jeanne Adams. 
  • December: No meeting scheduled for December 2017. 

 

Charles County

The Charles County chapter meets the third Wednesday of every month, 7-8:30 p.m.. We are currently negotiating a new meeting place. Please check the chapter website for updated meeting location, mwacharles.wordpress.com, or email mwachc@marylandwriters.org.

  • October 18th - "Fireside Chat" - We will meet and share works-in-progress, help each other with sticky problems, etc. A a writing exercise is also planned.
  • November 15th - Katie Brewster will teach us how she does acrostic poems. 
  • December - No official meeting, though we are planning a Christmas party and book swap.

 

Howard County

The Howard County Chapter meets on the third Thursday of every month at 7:00 p.m. at The Owen Brown Community Center, 6800 Cradlerock Way, Columbia, MD 21045 (except November and December). All MWA members are invited to join us!

  • October 19th: Critique Workshop

Because of the holidays we do not meet in November or December but will be meeting again January as we begin another year of interesting programs.

You can contact us at: mwahoco@marylandwriters.org and please feel free to join us.

 

Lower Eastern Shore

The Lower Eastern Shore chapter meets the second Tuesday of every month at 6:00 p.m. at Salt Water Media in downtown Berlin, Maryland. We don’t have speakers or topics. We just get together and hang out—a cheese and crackers and wine sort of thing in which we talk to each other about what’s going on and let the conversations just meander where they will. Often, one or two members will offer up a reading of whatever they’re working on. Informal and casual and light and relaxed: after all, that’s how life at the beach works. 

Lower Eastern Shore Chapter President Stephanie Fowler was invited to be part of Medium.com's pilot audio program. The longform nonfiction website sough her permission to have a professional voice actor record her essay "No Accident" for their premium subscribers. Here's a link to the story.

https://medium.com/@stephaniefowler/no-accident-e5206dfd9a2f

 

Montgomery County

The Montgomery County chapter alternates meetings between the first Wednesday evening or Saturday morning of the month at the Mid-County Community Rec Center on Queensguard Road, Silver Spring. Please see https://mwamontgomery.com/ for specific times and dates.

  • October 11th: Critique Session - participants to bring a 2-3 page story or 3 - 4 poems to have critiqued.
  • November 11th: Herta Feely will do a presentation on editing and revising.
  • December 13th: Open Mic at Zed's Café in Silver Spring. Participants will read their work.

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Member News

Dr. Roger McIntire launched his latest book for parents on September 20. This book is targeted at grandparents and is entitled Grandma, Can We Talk?  It offers tips for Grampa and Grandma on getting along with and helping the grandkids. Dr. McIntire’s parenting books receive excellent reviews from parenting organizations, teachers and counselors.

Last December Andrew McDowell signed a contract with Mockingbird Lane Press to publish his YA fantasy novel, Mystical Greenwood. It is intended to be the first book in a trilogy, entitled One with Nature. The novel is currently in the editing process, and updates will be posted at https://andrewmcdowellauthor.com/. Andrew McDowell has been writing since he was a boy. He studied history, literature, and creative writing at St. Mary's College of Maryland, and won 2nd place in the creative nonfiction category of the 2015 MWA Literary Contest. He is interested in multiple forms of writing, including novels, poetry, and drama writing.

A. L. Kaplan is pleased to announce that her first novel, Star Touched, has been published by Intrigue Press and is now available from your favorite bookseller. In this story, eighteen-year-old Tatiana is running from her past and her star-touched powers eight years after a meteor devastates earth’s population. A. L. Kaplan’s stories and poems have been included in several anthologies and magazines. She is the Maryland Writers’ Association’s Chapter/Board Liaison and served on the Howard County Chapter board for several years. A. L. holds an MFA in sculpture from the Maryland Institute College of Art. For more information see: https://www.Alkaplanauthor.com.

David Taylor is thrilled to announce the release of the second book of his trilogy A Tale of Four Planets as both an ebook and paperback by Virtual Bookworm. He says that it has been an especially exciting experience trying to pioneer a science fiction epic where, as in the real world, violence does more harm than good, no matter the source. Please note that all royalties from sales of both book one (Sessions With the Seer) and book two will be funneled to disaster relief for Puerto Rico. For more information see: A Tale of Four Planets, Book Two.

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Teen Writing Club Program

Teen Club Anthology Coming Soon

This fall the Teen Writing Club program run by the Maryland Writers’ Association will release its third anthology in three years. Emerging Voices includes poetry, short stories, and novel beginnings from twenty-two members of the teen clubs. It was editing by three of our volunteer leaders: Christina Lyons, Jeneva Stone, and Mark Willen.

The teen club program is now in its ninth year, with a dozen clubs serving more than one hundred young writers in Anne Arundel, Baltimore, and Montgomery counties. MWA’s goal for the coming year is to increase teen club presence throughout the greater Baltimore area and in other counties not now being served. If you like working with young people and would like to share what you’ve learned about writing, please consider volunteering. 

Most clubs meet twice a month at a local library in a modified workshop setting. Each is led by an MWA volunteer or by a team of two volunteers. In addition to reading and providing peer feedback on members’ poetry and prose, clubs usually work on prompts and other exercises, talk about writing problems, and occasionally host a guest author. Leaders have considerable discretion to determine the format of their clubs, as well as the location and schedule. And the existing leaders have come together to provide a strong support network to share ideas and suggestions. 

If you think you might be interested, please email teenwriters@marylandwriters.org for more details.

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Announcements

Pen in Hand

Pen in Hand is the official literary journal of the Maryland Writers’ Association, edited by Dr. Tapendu Basu. It is published biannually in January and July and distributed online through Star Chapter. Printed copies are also made available. Members are asked to submit poetry, short stories, flash fiction, memoir, nonfiction  (including erudite reflection on current events), and artwork. Send submissions to peninhand@marylandwriters.org. The deadline for the next issue is December 1, 2017.

All submissions are subject to the editor's discretion (i.e., not all submissions will be published). He will edit, organize and prepare the content and arrange for a cover design. Submissions must be emailed; no hard copies will be accepted. Please include a brief bio (75 words maximum). All photos must be formatted as follows: jpeg or png, max. 300 dpi, black and white. Photos may be resized for publication at the editor's discretion. Title, medium, date, and artist name must be included in all submissions. Please include a brief artist bio (75 words maximum) and an artist statement describing the work (500 words maximum).

The print edition of the January issue of Pen in Hand is available  on Amazon and other online bookstores. The retail price is $7; MWA President Eileen McIntire suggests chapters use it for prizes and to sell at MWA events for $5. Contact peninhand@marylandwriters.org or your chapter officers for copies to use at MWA events. Pen in Hand, January 2017Pen in Hand, July 2017

 

Writing Retreats Led by MWA Members

The First Chapter: A Retreat for Prose Writers
Led by Pat Valdata

Saturday, October 21, 2017, 9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
University House at Salisbury University

$60 early bird rate by October 1; $80 after October 1

This retreat uses a mix of discussions and writing exercises to help generate ideas for prose writers who would like to begin a novel or memoir. The course will cover writing as a practice, developing characters, and producing a first chapter. Participants will learn how to develop a writing practice that will help them begin a book and maintain enthusiasm while writing it, techniques for portraying fully developed characters and how to use the scene as a basis for writing the first chapter of their book.

Pat Valdata is an award-winning novelist and poet with an MFA in fiction writing from Goddard College. Her books include two novels, Crosswind and The Other Sister (2008 Árpad Academy gold medalist), and two poetry books, Where No Man Can Touch (2015 Donald Justice Poetry Prize) and Inherent Vice. Pat teaches online creative writing courses for the University of Maryland University College.

 

Time to Write Writers’ Retreat
Led by Barbara Morrison

Friday 21 September to Sunday 23 September 2018
Pinewoods Camp, Inc.
80 Cornish Field Road
Plymouth, MA 02360

$90 tuition, room and board inclusive

Join us for a weekend of writing in the woods. You’ll have opportunities to critique each other’s work using guidelines that inspire constructive and positive suggestions. Evenings might include readings and games in front of the fire. Most of all, you will have plenty of time to write. Pinewoods is a rustic camp located in a beautiful 25-acre pine and beech forest between Long Pond and Round Pond in Plymouth, Massachusetts. There are lots of trails for walking, two ponds for swimming, and the whisper of pine trees to inspire you. For more information see: http://www.bmorrison.com/events/

Barbara Morrison, who writes under the name B. Morrison, is the author of a memoir, Innocent: Confessions of a Welfare Mother, and two poetry collections, Terrarium and Here at Least. Barbara's award-winning work has been published in anthologies and magazines. She provides editing services and conducts writing workshops.

 

Signings by MWA Members

Judy Colbert, author of Maryland and Delaware Off the Beaten Path, Peaceful Places Washington, DC, and the cookbook Chesapeake Bay Crabs will be signing her latest book, 100 Things to Do in Baltimore Before You Die, on:

  • Saturday, November 11, Rheb's Chocolate, 3352 Wilkens Ave., Baltimore 21229, from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, November 18, Barnes &  Noble, 4300 Montgomery Rd., Ellicott City, 21043, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • Tuesday, December 12, Women's Club of Roland Park, 4500 Roland Avenue, 21210, 7- 8 p.m.

For more information, see www.JudyColbert.com.

 

Contests 

The Baltimore Science Fiction Society announces its Jack L. Chalker Young Writers’ Contest. The contest is open to young people between 14 and 18 years of age as of May 29, 2018. Submissions must be in the field of science fiction or fantasy and no more than 2,500 words.  Deadline is March 31. For submission guidelines and other information about the contest, e-mail ywc@balticon.org.

Calling all screenwriters!  The Baltimore Film Office at the Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts is now accepting entries for the 13th annual Baltimore Screenwriters Competition.  Applicants can submit screenplays in the feature or shorts categories.  The top entries in both categories win cash prizes, and feature winners also receive all access passes to the 2018 Maryland Film Festival and passes to local movie theaters.  The deadline for submissions is Wednesday, January 24, 2018 by 5pm.  The application and guidelines are available online at baltimorefilm.com. For more information on the Baltimore Screenwriters Competition, call 410-752-8632 or visit www.baltimorefilm.com.

 

Podcast Opportunity

The So What's Your Story Podcast, produce in Berlin, is always open to having guests. Our show airs weekly on the local NPR affiliate (WSDL) and is available on iTunes and Sticher Radio. Reach out to Tony@RussoDigital.com if you're interested in being on the show. Subscribe and learn more at http://www.sowhatsyourstorypodcast.com/.

 

MWA Novel Exchange

After months of painstaking work, you’ve finished your novel. It’s been reviewed in 25-page installments by your critique group and you’ve revised and polished and revised again. Now you need a fresh set of eyes, a savvy reader who will look at the novel as a whole and give you constructive feedback.

That’s where the Novel Exchange comes in. It’s a virtual critique group that functions as a matchmaking service, helping you find a suitable reader for your manuscript. And you’ll do the same for them. 

It’s a bit more complicated than that, of course, but you can get all the details by writing to Mark Willen at mark.willen@verizon.net.

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Writer's Toolbox

Tips for Writing Effective Dialogue

by Tom Glenn

People talking together is surprisingly difficult to convey persuasively in fiction. Here are some suggestions. 

  • In speech attribution, use “said.” “Said” (or “says” if you’re writing in the present tense) is preferable to any other verb of speech except, occasionally, “ask.” Others, like murmured, grunted, joked, sneered, insisted, mused, muttered, allowed, or wondered, etc., call attention to themselves and feel like overwriting. The exception is using words like this for comic effect. “Hiss” is a special case. It should be limited to quotes that contain lots of s sounds, e.g., “Stop sniveling and slithering around like a snarly snake,” she hissed. Besides, “hiss” sounds comic.
  • Eliminate interjections—words like well, um, oh, and ah. With rare exceptions, they take up space and add nothing.
  • Keep eye movements and sighs to minimum. How often have I read: She sighed and looked away. “Must you go?”
  • Keep conversations clipped and brisk. Beware of pauses, hesitations, too many gestures or too much action by the speakers. Never, with rare exceptions, have one speaker repeat what another has said. Telescope the speeches. Allow speakers to express themselves in incomplete sentences.
  • Eliminate as many modifiers as possible. Adverbs like slowly, loudly, softly, gently, and rapidly are especially toxic to good dialogue. Let the words in the quotation tell the reader the speaker’s tone of voice. And use action by the speaker to show how the speech was delivered. My favorite example: She slapped me. “Get out and never come back.” Nary a descriptor in sight.
  • Alternate quotation attribution. The four standard attributions are: (1) the common attribution, the ubiquitous “she said,” (2) action before the quote, sometimes shown in the paragraph before the quote, (3) action after the quote, and (4) no attribution when it is clear who is speaking. Constantly vary them. Use quotes with no attribution only in conversations between no more than two characters and no more often than three times in a row—lest the reader lose track of who’s speaking.

The following is an example of a short dialogue annotated to show each of the four attribution methods:

I heard a sound from someone who was presumably in the barber chair.

“What’s that?” [Action before quote]

“Oh,” Harold said, “that’s my customer. Guy named Saul. He says I should return the dog.” [Common attribution]

“He’s right. A deal is a deal.” I waited. “There’s honor at stake here.” [Action after the quote]

“There is? Whose honor?” [No attribution]

In the background I could hear the customer named Saul saying, “Your honor, Harold.” [Common attribution]

“Listen,” Harold said, “it’s a busy morning and I have to go.” [Common attribution]

“Harold, you and Agatha promised—” [No attribution]

“Good-bye, Bradley. I’m sorry. I truly am.” [No attribution]

(From Charles Baxter, The Feast of Love, New York: Pantheon Books, 2000, page 55.)

A few simple rules. But as in other aspects of writing, sometimes simplicity is the best policy.

Tom Glenn’s seventeen short stories and four novels came primarily from the thirteen years he shuttled between the U.S. and Vietnam on clandestine combat support missions before escaping under fire when Saigon fell. In March 2017, the Naval Institute Press published his newest novel, Last of the Annamese, set during the fall of Saigon.

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Help! Advice for Writers

By Wendy Sand Eckel

Question: I have finished my novel and recently completed a thorough edit. I’m in a critique group and have received good feedback from them. I think it’s time to pitch the book, but I’m in a paralyzing panic that it isn’t good enough. I’ve worked on this novel for over three years. Help!

Answer: First of all, congratulations on finishing!

And know that you are not alone in your panic. Exposing your work to the outside world can evoke an overwhelming fear of rejection and failure. But the best way to land an agent/publisher, is to write the best book possible. Which is why I’m suggesting you do one final edit, an edit unlike the others.

Start by printing out your entire novel, stack it neatly, and set it aside. In the mean time, try not to think about it. Reread one of your favorite books. Ask yourself why it’s a favorite? For me, I like a protagonist I can root for, a book with a lot of heart that makes me feel a range of emotions, and a satisfying ending that lingers. 

Once you have gained a reasonable amount of distance from your novel, reserve a block of time, make a cup of tea or coffee, or even pour a glass of wine, find a comfortable spot, and read your book as a first-time reader.

Keep a piece of paper next to you. Note the pages when the following occurs:

  • You got distracted and started to think about what to make for dinner.
  • You skipped a section.
  • You put it aside at the end of a chapter.

(Note: chapter endings should make you want to keep reading. Don’t end a chapter with your protagonist shutting off the light and going to sleep or your reader will do exactly that.)

When you have finished, there are two important questions to answer:

Is the first page compelling, rich with foreshadowing, tension, and a taste of fabulous writing?

Did your heart swell with pride when you reached the last page?

***(If you’re up for it, try reading the dialogue sections aloud. The cats won’t mind.)

Do your final tweak and launch that baby into the world.

Happy Writing!


Send your questions to newsletter@marylandwriters.org.

Wendy Sand Eckel is a clinical social worker turned writer. She is the author of Murder at Barclay Meadow, Minotaur Books, 2015 and Death at the Day Lily Café, Minotaur Books, July, 2016, the award-winning Rosalie Hart mystery series set on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Death at the Day Lily Café was recently chosen as best cozy mystery of 2016 by Suspense Magazine. Her literary novel, Three Skips of a Stone, won the Maryland Writers’ Association 2016 best novel contest and is currently represented by Ken Atchity of Atchity Entertainment. Eckel is a trained life coach who loves encouraging and supporting her fellow author and aspiring writers. 

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Why Do We Write?

Catch of the Day

by Janet M. Ruck

A great blue heron balances on one leg while a gaggle of Canada geese flies in V-formation above my head.  And while they may notice me as I amble round the lake for my morning walk, what catches my attention are the humans who fish.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been fascinated by people who cast their lines into the water. Standing by the lake’s edge, they look so peaceful as they wait, patiently, for a bite. Rain, sun, crowds – none of it seems to matter as those who fish block out the world to focus on what may be their catch of the day. 

How I’ve envied them! Their “Gone fishin’” signs hanging on the office door when they are on vacation have always left me wishing for something that would give me such enjoyment.

Since I’m squeamish about impaling struggling bait on a hook and even more so about pulling a larger thrashing fish off the hook, I realized early on that fishing was not for me. 

But I’ve got writing. 

Capturing an idea on paper or screen is a lot like casting a line with a worm on its end. Sometimes it will grow into a large squirmy form taking shape on the page while I scribble furiously to catch it before it gets away. Then there are times when the idea remains a small writhing blip on the screen that refuses to be more. 

Yet, no matter the outcome, the sheer act of being there and sitting with my thoughts gives me the satisfaction of having claimed my place in the world that day. 

In that space of time, I have much in common with the satisfied fisherman sitting under the shade tree. We have owned our moment; any outcome is a bonus.

One day as I strolled around the lake, I overheard a conversation within a small group of fishermen. Two of them had packed up their gear, saying: “Good luck, Buddy,” to one who stayed. It appeared as if they hadn’t had any luck and were departing for the day. What they were doing, though, was leaving the entire lake, full of fish, to the man left standing.

I thought that maybe luck isn’t the magic ingredient. What counts is timing and perseverance.  As in life, 90% is in just showing up. He or she who sits patiently with a line in the water is more likely to catch something. 

It’s a lot like writing. If I stay with it just a bit longer, perhaps my luck, or my persistence, will reward me. 

As I learned under the watchful gaze of the waterfowl who share my early morning meander, sometimes it’s not wise to give up because I haven’t caught anything - yet.

 

Janet Ruck is a career coach, trainer and writer. A lifelong journaler, she enjoys laughing and injects humor into situations where possible (and appropriate). Her philosophy is embodied in the quote by late humorist Erma Bombeck: “When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say ‘I used everything you gave me.’” 

 

Editor’s Note: Take a few minutes, contemplate, and if you’re so inclined, write a few sentences that explain why you write. Send your brief essay to newsletter@marylandwriters.org, signed or unsigned, and we’ll publish selected results in upcoming issues.

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