Jan 17

Snowless in Seattle?

I took a snow walk today. Actually, I went with my husband, our neighbors, and their two dogs, Dillon and Sammy. (I invited Lily the Cat, but she declined – something about needing to attend to her third beauty sleep in her daily series of twelve.) We threw snowballs and snapped pictures of each other dressed up in pants and sweaters and coats that made our arms stick out and our legs look fat. I regretted not dragging out my grandfather’s Flexible Flyer sled, if nothing more than to say that I did.

As we crunched our feet through the snow making footprints that may or may not last through the next day or two, it occurred to me how much writing is like a footprint in snow. I know if I don’t capture my ideas soon after they come to me, they quickly go away and don’t leave much more than a brown, slushy suggestion of thought. I remember once reading about a man who wrote all his little thoughts down during the day. He then tossed his captured ideas into a shoebox every night. At the end of a year, he pulled out all his scraps of paper, and the volume of his words were enough to complete a book. A clever man!

The snow will leave Seattle. My footprints are doomed.

Nevertheless, a cup of hot chocolate laced with a bit of Bailey’s after our walk helped me feel better about our disappearing footprints and all the thoughts I neglected to capture today. Sometimes to remember the urgency of words, a writer just has to take a day off and play in some improbable snow. Today I experienced life and truth and a snow walk with our friends and their doggies.

Tomorrow I write.

Jan 15

Drifting toward a story

Orthodoxy has never been my strong suit. Complex outlines and detailed character sketches, although vital for some, only serve to annoy me. Rather than a reasoned, calculated story approach, my writing takes more of a slash and burn course. I don’t spend much time in discussion with my muse. I simply turn off the “editor in my head” and let the words be what they will. This may not be the best approach, but it seems to end up consistently as the Auburn McCanta Theory of Words and Work.

In Natalie Goldberg’s grief-saving book for writers, Writing Down the Bones, she tells us that when our writing feels good, there is a vitality that sings and an honesty that makes her want to cry. I know what she means. For me, I need to let a story just come and sit down with me for a while. We need to become acquainted with each other. I allow my characters to approach me as they choose. No hurry, worry. I spend a lot of time just being with a story, its characters, its tone. Then, when the time is right, the story tells itself to me … and I write it down.

Of course, that doesn’t mean I don’t spend hours upon hours researching, “Googling,” and considering various paths and structures. On the contrary! I’m a research dog and love the process. Still, when it comes time for telling the story, you’ll not find an outline on my desk.

Oh, there’s one other thing I should mention – I also spend a good deal of quality time at Starbucks with a Mocha in one hand and a dream in the other.

Sep 22


Sunday is my day to read, gather clouds, make wishes, light candles. It’s my Starbucks-Grandé Latte-No-Foam-Please day. It’s also my day to think. To rest my fingers from the other days of sitting at my keyboard tapping out strings of words that may or may not make the cut for my next book or treatise or corporate-commissioned bullet list. I guess it’s good to rest once a week. My cat, Lily, an improbable tortie, rests probably 23 hours a day. She needs her rest after spending her one awake hour a day snuggling on my lap during our morning coffee and paper reading event. It must be exhausting, poor thing.

For anyone who may happen across this page, I welcome you. If you want to comment, please feel free. Ask me questions if you wish. I’ll try to answer … or I’ll be honest and tell you that I don’t know. I’ll do my best to respond with comments on the process of writing, the missteps, the possibilities, the ah-hahs that come in the middle of the night. In the meantime, know that I think of you (whoever you are) as I’m writing my next book. I’ll confess, though, that I’m hardly a good source of knowledge. I’m just a simple person with a desire to write things.