Tuesday, April 27, 2021



For reasons I can only describe as ignorance of consequences, lack of vision, lack of understanding how publishing works, and a touch of ego, I never considered a pseudonym when I first sought publication.

It seemed a needless complication, because one’s legal name is straightforward and pseudonyms suggest expectation of an illustrious publishing career. In addition, a pseudonym says you are hiding, which means you have something to hide.


I now wish I knew more back then. Pseudonyms are more than a form of protection, (because most who write never get the harsh bright lights of mass recognition anyway) they are distinct public personas and thus “brands” of sorts, and many find this very helpful creatively.


A pseudonym is employed when writers write in divergent and incompatible genres. Think kidlit and erotica, or kidlit and politics, or kidlit and most genres not kidlit.


A few years ago, I met a much-published writer who wrote in three distinctive genres. She used one pseudonym for her mysteries, another for her erotica, and her legal name for literary novels. She is by no means a household name in any of her three author identities. But she did admit her strongest income stream was from her erotica writing. No surprise there.


She said the different names helped her stay creative and focused. I understand, and no longer find this practice a wee creepy, like I used to.


Add to this consideration the matter of privacy, barely possible at the age where the Interwebs give your home address to anyone who will pay a few dollars, (and even free) as another name has a layer of security, albeit a thin one.


I never considered it, and even my social media presence (such as it is) is all-public. Easy, as I’m not famous. But if you are just starting out and foresee seeking mass recognition, think about it and see if a pseudonym will make you creatively better focused and feeling more secure. If you choose to go that way, have fun with the choice of pseudonym because having fun on this journey is what will keep you going.

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

My Kryptonite*


* The definition of kryptonite is Superman's ultimate weakness, or anything that causes someone's ultimate weakness. An example of kryptonite is the one food a person is seriously allergic to.

{This word was added to the dictionary in September 2018. Kryptonite referred to a mineral from the planet Krypton that had an extremely harmful effect on Superman.}


Well, no Superperson, me. But to each humble mortal a Kryptonite must needs be.


Mine is rather odd, as it is not a thing but a lack of a thing. The thing I must not lack if I am to be producing original writing (or thought, craft item, or a genuine smile) is caffeine. Put it another way: I need my coffee or black tea, and you may report me to the authorities as a bonafide addict. But while you snitch on me, I should add that it is my only addiction, if that makes a difference.


It gladdens my heart to read studies that confirm caffeine consumers live (on average) longer. It staves off Alzheimer’s and increases IQ by a statistically significant measure. Not such a terrible dependency as such goes.


I also stick to two-three cups a day, always before four in the afternoon. Well, almost always. If I have to drive later or stay awake, I break the before-four rule. Thus, I do my best not to have to drive later and also excuse myself from activities that ask me to be perky after dinner. If you’ve ever asked me to come to a lecture at such late hour, now you know why I said ‘no.’ On the other hand, if you asked me to meet you for coffee in the morning hours, now you know why I almost always said ‘yes.’


Confessions time over. I have to get back to my coffee now.

Tuesday, April 13, 2021



Reflections on First Drafts


There is a notion floating in writerdom that first drafts are garbage, bad, something to be overhauled, repaired and refurbished  beyond recognition.

In other words, “a sh---y first draft,” as Anne Lamott put it in her book about writing, Bird by Bird.  (She has a whole chapter called Shi—ty First Drafts.😳) It’s a brilliant chapter, as is the whole book. It’s part of her battle cry against paralyzing perfectionism, and in that sense, I concur.


But here is where we part. I have a much-published writing friend who said it differently, and I’m in his camp. “The first draft is where all the important stuff happens: Characters created, their actions emerge from an unformed blob of earth, and a rough shape of a story materializes. The rest is akin to a fine sculpturist working on refining the shape to make a beautiful polished marble figure.” 

All my stories changed some in revisions. But THE STORY was there in the first draft. So were the happiest creative moments, most of which I experienced while first drafting. No matter how many missed plot turns, absent descriptive ambience or typos, (to be worked on in revisions) these first drafts were not garbage. They’re the real deal.


Junk? Na-ah. First drafts are jewels in need of TLC and a fine polishing cloth to shine.

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Literary Characters from One’s Real Life


Question: How many of your story characters are from your real life?

Answer: All of them

Answer: None of them

Answer: All of the above


My late father, a man who lived an astonishingly rich life and also possessed great writing talents, was often urged to write his autobiography. He refused, saying autobiographies are always exercises in self-justification, and in many instances also in self-beautification. He preferred fiction because he thought it more honest.


After penning quite a few fictional stories, I find that I agree with his assessment of fiction. The writer’s truth is in them, though it is not “just as it was in life.”


I trust these truths, and would even go so far as to call them self-evident,* at least in a roundabout way. *(With apologies to the brilliant wording of the United States Declaration of Independence)

Yes, even cute animal picture book stories are really people you know. Think of Aesop’s fables.

Now you got it.