An Exercise in Character

Last night, while trying to write, I was having difficulty describing a character’s appearance. Trying to figure out ways to improve my descriptions of characters, I thought of an exercise that might help me develop this skill but I need your help. Each day this week, I am going to describe someone famous, it may be a historical figure, an actor/actress, a singer, etc. and I want to see if you can figure out who I am talking about.

The first one is a historical figure who lived during the 1800s.

He looks directly into the camera defiant yet with kindness still in his weary looking eyes. The lines etched in his forehead tell the story of the stress and emotions he has felt during his life. The turmoil of his time in office has been deeply etched into his long angular bearded profile. His lips are set in a determined position. You can almost hear him swear to see his task through to the finish. His age is also seen in the color of his hair and beard. They still have a youthful dark color and yet streaks and strands of gray can be seen. His great responsibility and burden have made him old before his time.

So, please comment below and tell me who you think it is.  I’ll be interested in seeing the reaction to this exercise.

Writing as a Journey

I found out today that the story I submitted to that contest was not chosen as a finalist. I’m not surprised, it was my first ever attempt at competing in a story contest. My first rejection and I know it won’t be my last. I thought I’d be somewhat upset but I’m not because deep down I already knew how to improve and expand the story. Maybe I was hoping it wouldn’t get chosen. Perhaps, it can be made even greater than I feel it already is. Who knows, but what I do know is that it won’t be my last submission to a magazine or a website or a contest. This literary journey that I’m on is just beginning. I have too many ideas banging around in my head needing to be put into words and I just have this feeling that this journey is going to take me to a place in my life where I am supposed to be.

And I’m still working on the earworm interpretation. I’m facing another instance where nothing I write sounds right or fitting. I’ve written and rewritten pieces of paragraphs only to second myself and delete them. I guess what I’m saying is that I respect my readers and don’t want to present you all with some half-assed attempt just to post something. I’ll keep working on it though and hopefully be able to move forward with it. That is what I’m learning about writing, you can’t set a timetable to it, it will happen when it happens. Inspiration will strike when the time is right.

My Dad and Music

“My name is McNamara, I’m the Leader of the Band,
And tho’ we’re small in number we’re the best in all the land.
Oh! I am the Conductor, and we often have to play
With all the best musicianers you hear about to-day.


When the drums go bang, the cymbals clang, the horns will blaze away,

MacCarthy puffs the ould bassoon while Doyle the pipes will play;

Oh! Hennessy Tennessy tootles the flute, my word ’tis something grand,

Oh! a credit to Ould Ireland, boys, is McNamara’s Band!”

            -“McNamara’s Band” Shamus O’Connor and John J. Stamford

I was going to attempt to do my first so-called earworm interpretation today for my entry but I had something pretty special happen today that I want to share with you. Today is my birthday and I woke up this morning with the song “McNamara’s Band” in my head. This song needs no interpretation. I know it was my father reaching out from the beyond to send birthday love to his youngest daughter. He died in 2010 and one of my favorite memories I have with him is when I was a child. My family had a vacation house in New Hampshire and we would drive there almost every weekend during the summer. It was a good two hour drive from our house and, during the drive, my dad would sing a regular list of songs and we would join in. “McNamara’s Band” was one of these songs. I wasn’t even ten years of age during this time I would be singing away while my teenage brother and sister would roll their eyes and either look out the window or pretend to fall sleep. I wasn’t aware of it at the time, but now when I look back I see how this was my bonding time with my dad. And I think it’s where my absolute love of music came from, the fun and love of those times in the car driving to and from New Hampshire. So, waking up this morning with that song in my head brought a lump to my throat and I said a soft “thank you” to my dad. Thank you for reaching out from beyond the grave to wish me a happy birthday. Thank you for the wonderful childhood memories. And thank you for instilling in me my love of music.

The Dreaded Blinking Cursor

The dreaded blinking cursor on a blank page, the bane of every writer. Flashing over and over like a ridiculing little so-and-so, daring me to type something I will actually keep and not delete. Yesterday, it won. I sat for over an hour, unable to think of anything meaningful to write about. That happens a lot to me when I sit down to write a short story or a poem or lyrics. Inspiration hits me and I get this rush of giddy excitement, I feel like I’ve come up with the next big “thing” and then I will sit down to write and nothing sounds right. Nothing sounds the way it does in my head. This invariably leads to frustration and I’ll sit there looking at this taunting flashing cursor until I just give up and walk away from it. Recently though, I’ve had a bit of a breakthrough. I’ve started to try to figure out ways to break through the block. I’ll go at the idea from a different direction or change the point in the story where I choose to begin. In other words, I’ve tried to be less rigid in my writing. I’m learning that the first idea I come up with isn’t always what I am going to end up with and that’s ok. Sometimes, what I end up with is far better than the first idea ever could be.

Late last fall, I entered my first short story contest. It had an assigned theme but that was it. The sky was the limit as far as everything else in the story. I slept on the theme for a day or two and thought I had come up with a great idea. I sat down to write it and once again nothing sounded right, nothing seemed to fit what I wanted to convey to the people who would be reading my submission.  Determined to submit something though, I persevered. I sat down and wrote and rewrote and changed the entire story several times until it was honed it into something I was excited about submitting. I submitted it and am still waiting to see how I did. That’s another lesson I’ve learned patience is not one of my virtues. Even though I know rejection is a big part of being a writer, I want my first piece to do well. So the struggle continues but I’m up for the challenge. I’m excited to see where my writing takes me and what stories I will create over the course of my writing career.

Introduction to an Introvert Part 2

“…what I know for sure is that speaking your truth is the most powerful tool we all have.”

-Oprah Winfrey

Like millions of people on Sunday, I watched “The Golden Globes” and saw Oprah Winfrey’s speech. Not surprisingly, it was very inspirational and motivational, because let’s face it, it was Oprah Winfrey. The line quoted above is the one that struck me to my very core. Speaking your truth. That has been my resolution for this year, to learn how to articulate my truth to the world. Being able to speak at all has always been a challenge for me because of my stuttering. Since I was little I’ve expressed my truth through the writing of poetry, lyrics, journaling, and short stories. Most have been just for myself but some have been recorded and/or published. This blog is my first attempt at embracing and immersing myself in the scary world of expressing my truth to the world. For better or for worse, I am going to try to post something every day for a solid year and see what happens. Whether it is something personal or a reaction to something going on in the world, or a piece of creative writing that I choose to share, I want to put myself out there. As an introvert that is a concept that elicits a great deal of fear in me but it’s also a year where I’m going to continue to face my fears and force myself out of my comfort zone and into new territories. So, here’s to facing my fears and speaking my truth, strap in it’s probably going to be a bumpy but interesting year.

Can 20 degrees feel warm?

“The climate of Barrow is Arctic. Temperatures range from cold as shit to fucking freezing.”
Steve Niles, 30 Days of Night


The biggest news here today is the end of the Arctic cold that has been blanketing the East coast of the United States for, let’s be honest here, way too long! I’ve grown up in New England, so cold and snowy winters are normal for me but over a week of below 10 degree weather was just too much. I had to laugh today when I took my dog outside and thought how warm it felt and how nice it was to not have to wear 18 layers of clothing, then I realized it was still below freezing. It’s all in the perspective I guess.  Thursday’s supposed to be almost 50 degrees here, I’m going to be breaking out the shorts! I don’t know about others but it feels like I’ve accomplished something making it through this taste of Siberia. It kind of feels like a man conquering nature type of feeling. She can throw days of cold and nights of endless howling wind at me and I will prevail!  I realize that’s a tad over dramatic but, what can I say, it’s how I feel today.  And as long as I have a cup of hot cocoa and a good book to read, I can make it through any winter weather.

Introduction to an Introvert

Greetings from an Introvert and welcome to my blog. It’s strange to say but I find myself at a loss for words because there is so much I want to say. They say the journey of life begins with a first step, my journey into the blogosphere begins with a first thought or in my case a first image.

For the moment, I see this blog as a labyrinth. I still haven’t nailed down what will be covered here because I have so many interests. I picture this blog including everything from personal entries about my life to history and science and music. It will be a winding journey through my mind and life, filled with all kinds of twists and turns but heading towards where it was always meant to go. And I hope to take you, the people who read my blog, along with me. It won’t be a smooth journey, there will be stumbles and missteps but that is part of life’s journey. You make mistakes and you learn from them and continue on your path.

I have been wanting to write a blog for a while now, so why now? Why start one in 2018? I have always had difficulty expressing my thoughts, ideas, and opinions because I have had a severe stutter since I was 5. I have tried to find my way to fluency through various speech therapies as well as participating in an experimental treatment where Botox was injected into my vocal folds, and yes it was as unpleasant as it sounds. It didn’t work, by the way, all it did was make my voice sound like Minnie Mouse for 3 months before it wore off. I feel like I’ve had so much to say during my life but have been unable to verbally express about 90% of it. So, I’m hoping this blog will be my outlet where I can express all those thoughts, hopes, dreams, fears, etc. that my stuttering has prevented me being able to do.

So, I hope I’ve made you interested enough to hang around and take this journey with me, I have some things planned I hope readers find interesting enough to come back to check out.