Tuesday, December 22, 2009

List of tasks for the new year

* go through this blog and see what's pertinent for novel

* some of the ideas were good - follow up on them - i.e., where are those letters?
* keep up the Miss Daily Writing Habit habit - remember: excellence is a habit

Friday, December 4, 2009

Our little array of just desserts

Found entry, from July 24, 2009:

On our counter is one last pice of raspberry pie, a plastic bag with two remaining strawberry wafers and one cocnut almond cookie, and two slices of leftover angel food case.

Are we too polite to eat the last ones; or have we had enough sweets?

Now, in December, are we better at cleaning our plates, finishing off the chip bag (if it's within reach and didn't fall back in the cupboard)?

Half a Thanksgiving pumpkin pie is on the counter. I finished the Good 'n Plenty. The tiny pink and white box is ready for recycling.

Maybe we are just rich...with sweets.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Tripping the bannister lights fantastic

Last night I wound 3 garlands of lights around the railing going upstairs, and on the mini-balcony. This will work well for our mini Romeo and Juliet series, in which I swoon and ask where Romeo is.

Romeo is at the bottom of the steps, as is Mr. Darcy, his first foot on the stairs, holding up his hand. I swoop down, something of a cross between a bat in jeans and a slightly over age Juliet. Just slightly.

The lights, blue/green, red, and yellow are merry and it's our first time for them. We leave them on all night.

I think about how lovely it would have been to raise children in this house, to provide them this holiday fantasy of warmth and comfort. But yesterday is gone. We enjoy them now.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

I dream of fruit

Last night I opened the freezer and on the top shelf, eye level, was a large clear bag of precious jewels of fruit: black raspberries, peachy cantaloupe, red raspberries, green grapes, strawberries. We harvested the fruit in the summer, and I forgot we had these jewels.

This was a dream, but how true it is, isn't it, that we forget our treasures?

Last night we put up the snow fence, in the dark. I have on a lime green tank top, a white long sleeve sweater, a green cardigan, a yellow hooded sweatshirt, a gold jacket, and a red overcoat. Two pairs of gloves. Not that it was cold. At least I didn't have a purse.

In the dark, standing high on a step stool is my husband, swinging a sledgehammer to drive in the fence rails. He looks like a coal miner. Is it deep enough, he asks, and I shine a light on the ground. We stretch the orange plastic fence along the rails.

It takes one hour to harvest our coal. The fence is up, it is straight, and if we're lucky, little snow.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

What I want when my heart lights up

When something good happens to me, and my hear lights up, the first thing I want to do is write about it.

Writing centers me, I get centered with writing, writing comforts me, provides me solace, is my friend.

If writing is ilfe or death, what would you write about to save yourself?

To plummet my depths, I need to write.

All I have to do is write about it. That's what I tell myself, when I'm tensing up and feel I have to be ... "on." All I have to do is write about it. Nothing else is required.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Relive the day

I want to relive last Thursday, the day of my son's graduation. It was one of those milestones that has a radiance, an aura, that transcends the ordinary.

He is full of stories.

He stands with one hand behind his back, eats with one hand on his lap.

He is meticulous about wearing his cover, inside and out.

I've made a pan of brownies, and after we're in the car, his fingers wind under the foil, until by the end of the day, the brownies are gone.

I know what a field plate is: it's what they get in the field: if luck, 3 oz of ham, a spoon of potatoes. he's hungry: he's tried Brussels sprouts. Well, okay, 2 Brussels sprouts.

He wants Steak and Shake, followed by mint oreo shake. And Burger King. He says they are set to deploy in 2011.

We visit the Patton Museum, and I buy a "My Son is in the Army" decal.

Poignant, that's what it is.

This is too short - too short, but sweet, for my daily writing habit.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Personal mission statement

I was watching a politicial "debate" yesterday, and the candidates were asked what was their personal mission statement? One candidate said it was service to others and to the community. The other candidate said to be the best at whatever he was doing - best dad, best grandpa.

I think "dedicated to fostering my creative life and to fostering the creative life of others. We are more that we think we are" about covers it for me. This is my service, my mission!

Tomorrow we leave to see my son graduate from military training at Fort Knox!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Theater dreams

What we did last weekend:

Measured west windows for storms
Trimmed shrubs (at 2 houses)
Cleaned gutters (at 2 houses)
Bought insulation
Made up guest room for visitors

I have theater dreams: dreams in which I am expansive, expressive, and emotive, the three e's. I want to believe everything will be "all right," whatever that means.

I look down the sunny street and see my father among the gold sun-lit leaves. He passed away 8 years ago.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Name Withheld Upon Request

I haven't been keeping up my daily habit too well.

So, an update on the garden: picked the last of the sweet corn yesterday. Some corn borer invaded the late corn. It's not a pretty sight, to be husking corn over the burn pile, and see me discover a worm, I am sure. Probably a squeal and a hop are in order, a kind of corn borer dance.

Since we last met there has been a trip to the emergency room, the Hancock County Fair, a few birthdays, a class reunion, a few more recipes!

I like writing about things I don't want the public eye to see, they are too deep, too personal! Blah blah. I want to withhold my name, upon request.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

the business of writing

Miss Daily Writing Habit has a recurring idea to cut out the prints from Naomi Lewis' Fairy Tales to Read Out Loud and frame them, hang them in her writing room, and order another copy...for reading, of course.

She hasn't been writing profound thoughts or writing much. It occurs to her that writing is a kind of business, in terms of the discipline and product! Where's the product?

Started Seal Wife.

Planted lavender.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Miss DWH wants a good story

Miss Daily Writing Habit begins reading Kathryn Harrison's The Seal Wife and immediately picks up subterranean currents in her head. For instance, she seems fascinated by neighbors.

What the book jacket says about the writer gives her energy: she has written novels, essays for The New Yorker and Harpers.

Again the recurring question: what if Miss Daily Writing Habit devoted genuine time and energy to writing?

Call this: one writer's journey into writing, into her craft. Delving where no writer has gone before.

Burbs and blurbs, or maxims and taxims

Harold Bloom: we shouldn't read to understand history or politics or culture, but to understand the human condition.

We all get frustrated department: Nelle Harper Lee (To Kill a Mockingbird) spent eight years working on a novel, and when she couldn't get it "to come together" she threw it out her apartment window. All the pages landed in snow. (Her editor told her to get outside and pick up the pages, she did, the rest is, as they say, herstory.)

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Return to spin

Yesterday I return to spinning. Since the all women private gym I attended closed, it's been nada in the exercise department. Now I go to the student recreation center - it's institutional, but it has good fans. (Four oscillating large fans are mounted in the ceiling's corners.)

What is the drive to write about experience? Oliver Sacks, for example, who devoted his life to studying and helping people...then wrote about these experiences. What inner, undefined purpose (besides the obvious ones) does this serve?

Short note today, sorry -


Wednesday, July 8, 2009

process vs product

So, the blog is about my writing process, it is not "the book" or "the novel."

The blog and the book--the bell and the candle--they are two different things, just like the policy and the policy process are two different things.

Yesterday I pick up a swing for my granddaughter. It's a tire cut in the shape of a pony, with a red white and blue tassel.

Willing Suspension of Disbelief

I pick up the audio book Three Cups of Tea and also K. Harrison's The Seal Wife and J. Harrison's Legends of the Fall, books I didn't get through in my earlier foray back into reading.

Generally I like non-fiction for audio books, which I listen to on my commute to work. I don't, or am unwilling to, suspend my disbelief in that environment. Not sure why!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The left arm does the work

What if writing is like my golf "lesson": I make it too hard, I try too hard, just need to realize that one thing: the left arm does the work, leads. It's not an act of praying over the club, both hands clasped together at the waist, swinging with both arms, eyes closed, please hit the ball, make it fly above the ground and not be a pantie waist effort, help me be not klutzy this once.

I want my writing to be about more than a domestic comedy. I recall that my favorite books have a backdrop of cultural/societal change: How Green Was My Valley, Dr. Zhivago. I want it to be a book I'd wanna read, a page turner, a truth.

Stumbled over these two writers with a different process:

From Writer's Almanac: David McCullough would find something he wanted to learn more about, go out and see what was written about it, and if there wasn't much or it wasn't good, he would write it himself....To research Truman and Adams, he not only read their letters and visited their homes, but he imitated their daily rituals, read the same books they read, and reenacted pivotal events in their lives.

Robert Heinlein took up writing because he needed money and it was safer than stealing and easier than working.

But maybe mostly they learned to golf with the left arm doing the work.

Monday, July 6, 2009


I read over my last blog entry and it's so long! Who wants to read it, including me?

Again, I wonder if I settled down and concentrated, what I'd get done, what truths I would realize.

I write until I feel relief: ***oh I have something.*** like a leaf swinging gracefully down a tree.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Cooking escapades

We don't need no Julie and Julia.

Last night Mr DWH flames some olive oil, readies vanilla beans, sears some scallops, adds butter - yo ho, caramelized scallops with vermicelli and rice! Mr DWH scans a recipe quickly and moves on. I study it, repeatedly, constantly picking it up and worrying it.

We are into oil spatters right now - last weekend we tried the new french fry slicer. It didn't work, but the oil was ready. Hand sliced fries are probably much better, anyway.


Yesterday Miss DWH promised a first line of a book. This morning she grabbed Lost Letters of Jane Austen, Volume I and here it is:

I am leaving again. I am throwing away the remnants of my past into a black plastic garbage bag with yellow handles, which sits on the painted hardwood floor like Santa's bag. Maybe it has presents in store for someone.

And I examine the presents, each with its own story.

And then there's this: ...the overriding question of my life at this point seems to be: will I find love? Maybe I want to find myself in a Jane Austen novel, unfinished. I seem to have moved past the heroine's age even in the autumnal Persuasion, although I am always a sucker for a good love letter.


And here is my epigraph, my book's guiding principle:

For one human being to love another; that is perhaps the most difficult of all our tasks, the ultimate, the last test and proof, the work for which all other work is but preparation.
--Rainer Maria Rilke


Baby, Miss DWH is cookin' now!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Disappearing act

Miss DWH is fascinated by ordinary people who disappear - not the ones who are thought to be victims of some ruthless, violent crime - but the ones who seemed to have changed their mind about who they are and where they want to be. And they cannot be found.

She used to imagine that if she left for a trip and didn't come back, what would the investigators deduce about her from what she left behind? And where would she be? There was a time when driving out to California in a little red sports car, her long blond hair flowing behind her, was appealing.

So it is she arrives at the first sentence of her novel.

You know of course some of the best first lines of novels:

Call me Ishmael.
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a singe man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.
Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy it its own way. (My favorite)
It was the best of times, the worst of times.
This is the saddest story I have ever heard.
We started dying before the snow, and like the snow, we continued to fall.
I write this sitting in the kitchen sink.
They say when trouble comes close ranks, and so the white people did.
In the town, there were two mutes and they were always together.
So tonight Miss DWH will find her first line, in a box, in a drawer, in the woods, in the eggs - and she'll be back.

Until we meet again
Miss DWH

Tuesday, June 30, 2009


Mr. DWH is recuperating nicely, thank you.

A word about Mr. DWH:

He describes himself as a regular Joe who just works harder than anybody else.

That's what he says: I'm just a regular Joe. He shrugs his shoulders a big when he says this, a bit like a Clydesdale settling in at the plow. I just work harder than most.

This Miss DWH has found to be true. He seems to have near boundless energy when there are things to be done, ideas to be had, fun to be generated.

He says he wants the people around him to have happy lives, that he wants to help them achieve their goals, and that is the way he wants to be remembered.

More on the 'morrow,

Miss DWH

Monday, June 29, 2009

Family Surgery Waiting

Friday we wake up at 4 am. I'm not sure if I'm going to Easter sunrise services, driving to Florida, or to Chicago. But no, wait - it's to the hospital for Mr DWH's surgery.

During the big surgery, I'm in the hallway reception area, looking through a window at the stark chairs lined up in Family Surgery Waiting, whose space defined by bright red pillars. I see four women, all with long tresses in different arrangements, playing cards. Through the window I can see one player's hand - all low red cards, diamonds and hearts.

Behind them a young woman with olive skin and dark hair stands and adjusts her striped tube top. In a few moments she stands and adjust it again. Same place, her thumbs beside her breasts, and then she shimmies like she's getting dressed.

A resident in pale green scrubs comes into the hallway and looks up and down, as if he's looking for a rising tide. He doesn't see it.

It's about 11 a.m., time for Mr DWH to be finished. The time for meditation is over.

I hold my buzzer like I'm waiting for a reservation of fancy scalpels and tongs. When I'm called in to slot number 37, there is adhesive and band aids and a little blood on the sheet covering Mr. DWH's gurney. There are pencilled in numbers, too, 16 1/2 on one side and 32 on the other. Who knows what they mean. A doctor's ruminations?

Tony and Debi, the nurses in recovery, stand at computer screens and enter bp, heart rate; it's the after dinner dance of drop down menu, click; drop down menu, click; drop down menu, click.

I lift the straw to Mr DWH's lips and later he says this is what he remembers most about this trip, me delicately positioning the white straw so that he can sip. We have been through three surgeries now and about three trips to the emergency room. I am getting better at these trips. I am a "faint at the sight of blood" person. I have never told Mr. DWH this.

We all have our secrets.

Until we meet again --

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Coming closer by going away

One way I move closer to my book and my creative self is by going away.

Life is full of such ironies, isn't it?

We go to Chicago for two days and being in the midst of towering buildings with filigree and arched windows energizes me. I could stare at the river from our 27th floor for ... a while, anyway.

We have dinner on the 95th floor of the John Hancock Building. As the city lights up at night it's as if we are in the heavens, looking down at the stars.

I'm at peace, for the first time in a long time.

Back at work, I notice two habits I have that are counterproductive to my creativity:

1) panicky at the items that need to be done
2) creating lists of tasks that should be done but I don't wanna do (not like list below of my book projects)

Well, love your hat and see you Friday.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Bat exorcism

Saturday is a day of small towns: Williston, Graytown, Lindsay, Berlin Heights, Vermilion.

We stop at a graduation party near Williston; Miss DWH gets hit in the face by a basketball, throwing iced tea from a transparent plastic glass on her left shoulder, as if she's making a wish; we travel to pick up my mother, unnerved by a bat that has flown into her house; then on to Vermilion, for the Fish Festival Parade of Boats with Lights. You'd think the decorations would be nautical, but no: there's Snoopy in his doghouse while "Red Baron" plays, and what looks like Moses Parting the Red Sea with a cross at the bow of the boat.

We stop at Granny Joe's for ice cream. Granny Joe's has a historical marker: it was formerly a funeral parlor and one of the first buildings in Vermilion, a low happy yellow house with a white porch.

And then back to do a bat exorcism.

The bat has sequestered itself in a roll up shade and emerges when Mr. DWH rolls down the shade. It's wing span is longer than Miss DWH's hand outstretched and when it flies towards her she thinks of earlier in the day, when she looked up and a basketball was a foot from my face and then slam, dunk. She can't watch.

Mr. DWH hits the bat with a broom three times and still it flies. Finally he pins it on the floor and it bares its teeth. He flings it outside.

It's hard not to think of a bat as some embodiment of evil or a harbinger of bad things. But there it is, it's just a bat.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Lemon Pucker

When Miss DWH arrives home last night she has a Lemon Pucker in hand. It's a lemon fizzy frozen drink from a small locally owned ice cream store in Haskins called Buzzys. Sometimes she and Mr. DWH buy a treat and walk down the street to the ball field and watch the little-leaguers.

But this year they haven't had time to do this. They have planted their garden, and when Miss DWH gets home last night, Mr DWH is circling his pond with his lasso - er, pond skimmer. He's wearing a white short sleeve polo shirt and navy slacks, looking very dapper.

Goodie Goodie gumdrop, Miss DWH says. She is so mushy sometimes. You are home.

Thursday, June 18, 2009


This morning Miss DWH cannot find Mr DWH to ask help make the bed? or say goodbye before going to the office. Then she spies him outside, in grey shorts and t-shirt that says CHILL. He's in the garden, watering the corn he heard growing yesterday.

Miss DWH opens the garage door and steps out and he comes running, holding his covered coffee cup. Hustle hustle hustle, she laughs, because it's much too lovely of a morning to be hustling about before it's a requirement.

And what of the book progress? Miss DWH carries it with her, in a black faux leather bag from Target that has worn handles. The bag gets heavier, but the book doesn't get weightier. Instead there are two pairs of shoes - kitten heels for the office, tennis shoes for walking at lunch.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

How goes it, how goes it not

Saturday Miss DWH feeds chickens for the first time. The neighbors have asked her to put her weeds, sticks, and shrub cuttings through a hole in the fence she can't see. She's afraid of burying the chickens with her thorny greenery and cajoles Mr. DWH into helping her.

Later in the dark, Mr and Miss DWH watch fireworks at the state park.

Mr. DWH sends a note: This morning, I checked the status of our garden. I believe we are seeing spouts of corn peeking out of the soil.

As for the book, how goes it, how goes it not; how goes it, how goes it not.

Miss DWH has a fascination with letters, where writers divulge their deepest, most confidential selves. Once upon a time, in a land far far away, she spent Sunday afternoons moodling and writing these letters, herself. Strange things came from her, unexpected, surprising.

  1. Collect these letters
  2. Collect my first line - where did Miss DWH hide it? "I am throwing things away..."
  3. Collect my epigram - Rilke
  4. Collect old stories and entries, useful as bits and pieces in Lost Letters of Jane Austen
  5. Junk the useless journal entries, built when tired and guaranteed to crash when weight is put upon them
  6. Write about throwing things away
  7. Write write write

Friday, June 12, 2009

In the garden

Last night Mr DWH cups his hand to his ear and says he hears the corn growing. The tomato plants are up.

Miss DWH doesn't know what exactly is planted in her garden or what's going to come up or what exactly it is, even. She wants to "pigeon hole" it sometimes. The end product would be better if she could learn to live more comfortably with ambiguity, a bed sheet that conforms to her body.

Miss DWH shares her name with an organizational expert! This strikes her as wildly funny, for she tries to be organized, which is useful, but not at the cost of creativity. Sometimes it's good to be wild.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Planting a garden

Last night Miss DWH and Mr DWH planted the vegetable garden. Banana and bell peppers, tomatoes, green beans, personal seedless watermelon, cucumbers, and sweet corn.

She has an idea that's planted itself in her mind. Another one, besides Lost Letters of Jane Austen, but maybe that will be of value or a part of the new idea. She will see.

Meanwhile, around their home and in her mind, she pulls weeds and throws them in the burn pile.

Monday, June 8, 2009

The letters

Lately Miss DWH has been thinking of her typed letters - her best writing, her truest self.

Are they a gift she can give?

Friday, June 5, 2009

Too much HGTV

The first words Miss DWH's mother says when she sees the new house is: 'But it doesn't have any curb appeal!'


Miss DWH has been unpacking her books. She comes across White Oleander, a story about basically an orphan. How she feels connected to that theme! Starting with Black Beauty... will there be an orphan in her book? She comes across Vivian Gornick's The Situation and the Story: what could be more boring that a book about writing? (not)

And she thinks of the woman in khaki slacks and black tee who had excessively heavy eye liner, like she was climbing a mountain and wanted to keep the sun from her eyes. She was a woman who tries too hard.

On Golden Pond: Last night Miss DWH 'fishes' for algae. It's sunset, quite pleasant. The green stuff evaporates away from the net like a dream she's not sure she had.

Finally, a colleague tells her, I wonder if you ever have a bad day. I mean, I wonder that. Surely your desk doesn't look like this. Shomeow I look at you and think 'everything will be ok.' Miss DWH says: but it seems like I'm not human!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

How I lost the Marilyn Monroe Look alike contest

It was just an innocent trip to the dermatologist's office, when a routine trip turned into a rather traumatic turn of events. The pearl like half globe that has graced Miss DWH's upper left lip for the duration of her lifetime grew wispy rivers of blood vessels, like a fortune teller's globe.

Unfortunately, the fortune wasn't too great.

The doc said this is usually the start of cancer, the slow growing, rarely metastasizing kind - but cancer nevertheless.

She said it should come off! A biopsy should be had! And so it did, and so it will, and now...but a band aid.

But Miss DWH feels a bit wounded, a plucked duck, different in some small but nevertheless significant way. She's lost something, some self definition.

Mr. DWH, upon arriving home, wants an explanation of how this happened, says he feels guilty for not being there.

Such is how life changes, in small ways.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Pace thyself, woman

Miss DWH is unable to pace herself. She throws herself at her work - her work being her day job - throws her time and energy, effort, and thought processes meager though they may be - and there's nothing left at the end of the day for creative synergy.

How to pace herself?

Aye, that's today's question!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Developing the character of the narrator

Miss DWH misses the comfort that comes from being some place -- home -- a long time. The pattern of the carpet in the sunlight, the vague smell of the dog long gone, the sense of "coming home." Where are her letters? She is working hard to re-establish herself in her new home, unpack books, and make sense out of her notes.

And what progress has Miss DWH made on the book this week?

She finishes Julie and Julia, and has the desire to look up Julia Child's book. But bone a duck and bake in pastry? She thinks not!

The persona of Miss DWH knows what she should expose for public consumption, and what she shouldn't. She has a confidence, a gladheartedness, and lightness of foot and thought her creator does not sometimes feel. She is not susceptible to criticism.


What if I'm creating the narrator for a book and describing the process, and not aware of it as of yet?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Your strength is your truth

The events are thus over the Memorial Day weekend: the walleye festival, baton twirlers, Johnson's Island, Marblehead Lighthouse. Graduation party. Company over for ribs. Joy in seeing Miss DWH's son carry his daughter - her granddaughter - on his shoulders, trotting back and forth on a small ridge beyond the pond. He looks a little like a happy Sasquatch. This is the same son who told Miss DWH her strength is her truth. Two girls talking.

Such is Miss DWH's writing habit: a mcquickie over lunch.

Sometimes it seems to Miss DWH that if she answers a question quickly, which she can and does but with less frequency as time passes, the answers generally don't mean anything to her.

She asks: Is she imparting wisdom? Her truth?

She notices when she talks about events, various happenings, this allows her to relieve pressure so she can sift down to the gold nugget thoughts.


Writing is floating in her little rowboat.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Search for something meaningful to say

Last night Miss DWH writes on the yellow post-it pad by her bedside: the search for something meaningful to say.

This search is a bit like having the errant important thought that disappears like a dream (see previous post). What happened in the day, what thoughts were important enough to capture in words? Did Miss DWH have an original thought in her grey matter?

How can I know what I think until I see what I say? Miss DWH thinks EM Forster said this. It's one purpose of writing for Miss DWH - she has to write it out to see what's going in the subterranean depths of hers. Too bad it moves so slowly - hard to have a quick comeback when this is your thinking process!

This is not unlike Julie and Julia, where Julie has to cook to make sense of her life.


Yesterday Miss DWH stumbles on a site that says we should write from visions, such as Faulkner did when he saw a little girl sitting in a mud puddle and from this created The Sound and The Fury. But this writing from visions has never worked for her.

Once she told her younger son, then in 8th grade, that her imagination was not her strength.

Mom, he said, your strength is your truth.

Miss DWH writes from feeling, not from mental visions.


Do-gooder department: I want certain others to know I have faith in them like I want someone to have faith in me. I practiced this yesterday. Bravo!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Easier to criticize than create

Miss Dwh has a thought buzzing across her mind while driving to work on route 75 this morning. The thought seems important - aha!

But by the time she's in the office the thought has evaporated, like a dream that dissolves upon waking. But it seems important, so she tries to reconstruct it. She thinks about famous first sentences of novels, how it must be to be her mother, at age 76 in good health and having the wisdom to look over the experiences of others with the breadth of her own life, seeing the Farah Fawcet documentary on cancer and thinking that after going through it with a loved one why see this?

Finally she lands on the thought, and it is this: it's easier to criticize than create.

This is true for Miss Dwh, anyway. Easier to criticize than create. She is trying her hand at the more difficult choice.

Monday, May 18, 2009


That night Ms. DWH is admiring the sunset ("the romantics would like it. I like it") Mr. DWH walks up to Ms DWH in the driveway, and grasping her, asks if he's told her today that he's in love with her.

She tells him this still gives her goose bumps.

Goose bumps! He exclaims. He says he hoped to give her shivers, not bumps.


What Miss DWH is not writing about - like, the neighbors

Today Ms DWH is out with Mr DWH, carrying a ladder to front yard to swipe a wasp's next off one peak of the house. They carry the ladder like Laurel and Hardy. When Mr. DWH says "now come towards me" or "walk it up," she thinks she knows what to do but it's clear that's not correct at all. She has no education in ladder scientology.

We are fumbling and struggling with this overblown, outdated, squeaky ladder and to our north a 21 year old neighbor in black tank top and black shorts continued to shoot baskets.

Clunk clunk clunk the top part of the ladder falls down. Ouch. On Miss Dwh's forearm.

The tanky basketball player goes in the house.

We do not get the wasp's nest down, although it's drowned in spray. We weed the beach (really!), watch a baseball game, and deliver tents to a gardener to protect tomato plants from frost. We watch Bull Durham. What I believe, says Kevin Costner's character. A nice soliloquy. We should all have one in our hip pocket.

Julie and Julia

But this blog is about my project - and what progress Miss Dwh makes on her book. Yesterday she began unpacking her books in her room, and she feels like she's taking her place in a hallowed tradition of writers, making sense of the world through words, her currency, being creative, having visions, and knowing she can forge ahead.

Miss Dwh has her title, sense of direction, working on the epigraph and 1st sentence. More on this later. You might think she'd be working on her characters, but no! they will have to show up in the writing.

Friday, May 15, 2009

What brings Ms DWH back to herself

Ms Daily Writing Habit is standing in Goodwill, looking at someone else's cast off books--in this case, Black Erotic Fiction , then Anna Quinlen's Black and Blue, Cormack McCarthy's The Road, others too numerous to mention--and then she feels a thaw. She is no longer numb.

This is the release from the numbness she gets, the chill and icing, from being busy! busy! busy!
No time to be quiet and reenergize, to let the cumulus clouds dissipate.

Now she is reconnected. This is what books and writing do for her. It takes a while for her to be herself.

Emily Dickinson said it: "Home is so far from Home." For Ms DWH, home can become so far from home.

Call this, perhaps, a cautionary tale!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

3rd person singular

Miss DWH is changing her journal to 3rd person - well, handwritten journal in 1st person, blog journal in 3rd person. This, the 3rd person, makes her smile, while 1st person seems too confessional, without the push of a story line, and she feels ... embarrassed.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

My space

The green and white striped bath (see entry below): everyday Miss DWH goes there to put on her makeup. She likes contemplating the everyday actions and habits that she don't especially think about. What do they mean?

The trek started because the mirror in the master bath was so far away she couldn't see herself without her glasses. Besides, the master bath has blue wall paper with an abstract black, yellow and red design that looks like vericose veins.

Now it is a daily ritual, up the steps with coffee in hand and makeup in a small blue soft sided case, bedecked in white fleecy robe and blue flip flops. She stops in her study and stands, energized by some silent ray of creativity.

This is her space.


Last night we trim trees and take the errant brush to a burn pile. The small red leaved trees are like goddesses at each end of the house, their tiny arms held out to embrace us and the house.

We set stakes for our first garden together. In the west the sun sets, the pink reflecting on the west side of our pond. The romantics would like it. I like it.

Then we try out 2 spotlights on the house, in the dark, showcasing our castle, and hidden within, the green bath and my space.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Plumbing the depths

It seems to Miss Daily Writing Habit that she is and has been overwhelmed, unable to write or think clearly about all of the events of the past year. Happy events, to be sure, but so much so fast creates big cumulus clouds in her thoughts.

Her home, and its faint smell of vanilla and cinnamon, fragrance of owners past mingling with the cherry woodwork and plastic dusty ivy; going up the steps each morning to her green and white pin striped bath;

And although she's started Miss DWH she thinks somehow it doesn't plumb her depths, whatever that may be - and doesn't want the daily mechanics of DWH to mechanize, or anesthetize, her creative thoughts.

Thursday, May 7, 2009


Looking at how Miss DWH described her project of Lost Letters (below, in yesterday's post), she thinks of the A.S. Byatt novel Possession.

Not sure if that's where she's going, past present past present, but it's an idea.

Miss DWH is moving, cooking, looking at her own "recipe" books, becoming her own master chef.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

I will act now, I will act now

The thing about Julie's project is it has a beginning, middle and end. She is specifically mastering a path forged by someone else.

Miss DWH is trying to hold her feet to the fire. Her path is unknown.

She and her husband Hemingway won't be eating any better :-)

Her project is to create Jane Austen's lost letters, many of which her sister Cassandra tossed or cut apart (leaving remnants of publicly acceptable Jane Austen commentary) and have the protagonist find these letters and tell a friend about them. The friend is a writer and documents the journey.

Only the letters are sometimes present, mixed in with other miscellany, and who known how this works, except it strikes Miss DWH as hilarious. She hopes someone else will find it funny, too.

This is the same place in the so called book she was one year ago, when she went to Florida with her now husband, Hemingway.

So the blog project is not about a beginning, middle, and end, but about action.

Miss Daily Writing Habit is taking action.

Entertainment Value

Last night Miss Daily Writing Habit picked up Julie and Julia after her head hit the pillow and before her lids closed.

Julie was making lamb and botching it (mystery meat), but Miss DWH was entertained for a time after a hard, long day at the office, making her own mystery meat.

She looks foward now to immersing herself into that shallow pool again, if only for a short time.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Lobster Assassin

For those of you who are following Miss Daily Writing Habit's review of Julie and Julia, Julie learns with some trepidation ways to kill a lobster. During one of her efforts, she puts the live lobster in a pot of boiling water, only to find the pot is too small.

She calls her husband to help and flees the scene.

This sounds like something I would do - too small of a pot for the project, I mean, and then fleeing the kitchen - and I also think this will make a hilarious scene for a movie.

Unfortunately, the book has now landed on the coffee table and I'm only 50/50 sure I'll take it up again.

Other thoughts:

Now that Miss Daily Writing Habit has made a commitment to write daily, when she does not accomplish this, she realizes she is not making writing a priority in her life. Slowly slowly the life in her ebbs away, rather like the frog left in the cool water brought to a boil doesn't know he's being clobbered. Back to the boiling pots again.

But today Miss DWH brought her portfolio with the first paragraph of Lost Letters, and she likes it. More on this later, as she holds her feet to the fire. Which probably has a boiling pot on top of it. Something is getting cooked!

Miss DWH's alter ego has developed a new habit in the morning: going to the front of the house to look at the morning mist in the distance, and pattering to the back of the house to look at our pond.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Making sense

So Julie wants to work on something that will give her life sense, and following Julia Child'sbook seems to lend order to her life.

Also, Julie and her husband will eat better.

She finds the book on her mother's shelf, and it calls her name, so to speak.

So it is a helping of her life, a tincture of cooking, and a heap about her life.

Are there things I'm not writing about, things I'm thinking about but not writing about? What might those be?

Of course...when I write about them...not sure we'll eat better :-)

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Thunker, Writer's Contract, and Length of a Paragraph

A paragraph is a strand of hair: it can wisp over your eyes at times, but is easy to lift away. It gets your attention. Keeps you going to the next paragraph. Not too long, not too short.

A long dull paragraph is a thunker: that's the sound the book makes when it falls out of my hands at night because I have drifted away.

Blogs, tweets, newspaper column paragraphs: is this the length of my attention span? I have a pretty short hair do, then.

Take Julie and Julie, for instance. What starts out as a romp through a cookbook suddenly--in the first paragraphs--becomes a long diversion into harvesting a woman's eggs for $7,500. At that point the book becomes a thunker. The strand of hair strayed into my eyes a bit too long. Not sure if I want to go back.

Within the first few paragarphs the writer makes a contract with a reader: come with me. We'll learn something new. Together we'll do something.

Not sure we're doing something with Julie and Julia. Am I doing something with Lost Letters of Jane Austen?

Monday, April 13, 2009


Sometimes we can be on a bridge travelling to a new land and not know it.

So it seems to me: I am crossing a short wooden path bridge to a small island (that may be connected to more lands and probably is). I didn't know I was on this bridge, maybe because I was busy looking back, who knows?

Now that I look, the land behind is large and filled with turmoil, mounds of clay, towering buildings with shattered glass...much of the glass shattered by me. The water below is calm, and the island before me has pink hibiscus and green foliage. Too bad I don't know my trees, or I'd tell you what they are.

Now I see I am crossing to some new order. Let it be wisdom.

The girl scouts have a phrase for transitioning into the new order: bridging, and there used to be a ceremony symbolizing this crossing. Maybe there still is.

But you know, the actual crossing doesn't happen like that. Maybe tonight on the way home I'll think about this, everytime I travel on a bridge.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Daily Writing Habit Miscellany

Persona. I wonder if I'm developing a different persona on this blog than from my other blog - a more lighthearted one. One who is perhaps more light-hearted and quicker on her feet. Maybe this persona will be useful in my novel. Lately I've been mulling over the persona of "intellectual," a role I may play at but not really want.

Switching zones. Practice, practice, practice. Need less time to go from work a day world to creative world. From spread sheets and access and what nots to the magic carpet. SWZ - is that like the DMZ? I need a space in between - do I need barbed wire?

Grammar stuff. Not too good in the grammar department. When writing quickly, posting, and then reading, I see all kinds of goofiness - verb tense, awkward structures, a shorthand that works for me, and probably no one else. Need to write and talk more. Remember: perfection is the enemy of good. Before, I may have been a good writer, but cautious. I was not a great writer. Can I be?

Won't be posting over the weekend, but will keep up habit (must, must) and arrive Monday renewed.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

On the trail of Julie & Julia; or, Beth and Jane

Yesterday I travel to our county library to look for Julie & Julia. I read a few on-line reviews, and they aren’t too pleasing. However, I want to follow the trail of my energy (In Which I Follow My Attempts to Write a Novel through Daily Writing Habit; or, Hold My Feet to the Fire), so I flip through the pages.

When I see the description of her flipping through a few parcels of meat, I decide to take it out and at least try to skim it.

We are traveling to Florida in a few days and I want some books to renew my pleasure in reading. I haven’t been reading much except for newspaper columns. My attention span has a few leaks. A thumb in the dike isn’t enough to control the seepage of my little gray cells.

In addition to Julie & Julia, I take out Legends of the Fall (Jim Harrison), The Seal Wife (Kathryn Harrison), The Writing Life (Annie Dillard), and Something something (Dick Francis). Fiction and non-fiction, mystery, popular, literature. Dabble drabble toil and trouble, choices in the cauldron to renew my lust for literature.

When walking in between the shelves of books, or looking at them from afar, I feel energized and enchanted. So many ideas, mysteries, magic, stories to unfold! Knowledge! I’m a child finding an Easter basket.

My new husband, whom I shall call Hemingway (a story for another day), once visited the library with me when we were dating, when I lived in town and it was a close entertaining walk for us.

What I notice is that you are very comfortable there, he said.

So yesterday I take out books and get a new library card – married, changed my name, changed my address – but I still get to go wherever I want, whenever I want, when I am on the flying carpet of a good book.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Mad World

Last night, as what seems like the rest of TV watching America must know, Adam Lambert sang "Mad World" on American Idol.

The song is filled with humor and sadness, like being at the circus but not enjoying it.

I first heard "Mad World" when my best friend Theresa recorded it on a CD for me as a birthday gift, along with other poems and songs on the CD. She gave me a portfolio book with her handwritten lyrics and pictures cut out of books and magazines. This, she wrote, was one of her favorite songs. It was the version from the movie Donnie Darko.
So I'm thinking of my best friend and how long it's been since we've seen each other and the tune of "Mad World" is going through my head, I think it's kind of funny, I think it's kind of sad

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Julie & Julia; or, Beth & Jane

Well, I have these ideas today: start a new blog called "daily writing habit," and so I do it.

And then I have the idea that my blog "daily writing habit" could follow my attempts to write a novel, like Julie & Julia - Julie trying to cook like Julia Child, a book I haven't read and may never do - but the idea makes me laugh and gives me energy.

Oh, and I do try a few recipes.