Internal and External Storms


Wind sweeps raindrops across my windows — the prelude to El Nino, as we call it in Southern California, (Spanish for baby boy): a severe weather phenomena that occurs every ten years — the result of unseasonably warm ocean water miles off the west coast of the U.S.

Well, let it rain, I say.

Once green hillsides are as dry as straw, the air filled with pollutants and electric expectations that make it hard to breathe. Cutting water consumption can only do so much.

The monster storm will not fix our drought. It will leave behind mudslides, houses crumbling off hillsides, fallen trees, flooded streets. Weeks and weeks of cleanup. But despite such biblical predictions, we need the rain. Rain makes everything better in Southern California, even if it destroys the landscape first.  


So, why is this gigantic weather pattern called El Nino? Minutes of research and the answer is: El Nino (child, or baby boy) refers to the infant Jesus Christ and is used because the current usually begins during the Christmas season.

Interesting and creative.

Weather affects the creative mind, don’t you think?

I sometimes see it in my writing — the altered dispositions, the range of emotions — my own feelings projected upon characters as moods are brightened or darkened, lives lived under clouds, relationships turned stormy.

When the mercury rises, the character’s blood can boil internally or externally. Sun melts hearts; rain fills the fictional world with tears. All sorts of things happen while fingertips fly across the keyboard with El Nino on the horizon, the sky filled with slow-dancing clouds.

Sometimes I wonder if those beloved pieces of European literature were written during long winters and ravaging storms, perfect times for introspection. Are seasons to be credited with such masterpieces? Why not?


Cold, literal or figurative, makes for great art via our internal barometer, producing striking works that stand outside the mapped territory of … normal. Because normal, while safe,  has no place in literature, now, does it?

~ So, tell me your thoughts, dear blogging friend. On this stormy subject or anything else.  

Images courtesy:,,

The Real Power


I’ve been glued to the Internet for the past few days, reading everything available on the unrest in Romania. Amazed by what can be accomplished when people come together in large numbers, peacefully marching, unified behind a tragedy, demanding answers, demanding transparency. Demanding an end to corruption.

The tragedy in question was a nightclub fire on October 30th responsible for 32 deaths and counting, and hundreds in critical condition. A tragic event, but was it enough to bring tens of thousands of people in the street.

No, not on its own, of course.

inside the club

inside the club

This was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. The club was not up to code (one exit, no alarms, no fire sprinkles, flammable soundproofing materials in a place not designed for pyrotechnics) because that’s how things are done when money is paid under the table.

Add to this a slow emergency response and hospitals unable to accommodate patients, add to this a prime minister who has been indicted on charges of tax evasion and money laundering, among other things (and who didn’t survive a no-confidence vote), and there is a huge problem.

So, Romanians took to the streets in every major city.

As a result the prime minister resigned — a good first step, but is it enough? My heart says no, but I’ve been gone for so long. I don’t really know how real reform would look like in Romania. However, I do remember the 1989  revolution when the Romanian people toppled a dictator.

So, people do have the power. The real power. They just forget how to use it until an unfortunate event brings them together.

Images courtesy:, jamaicaobserver,

Shut The World Away


I’ve been trying to shut the world away for a minute and write.

It’s not easy, of course. Distractions abound, habits ingrained so deeply, the mind constantly drifts away from the task at hand, wondering about social media, email.

I was just reading someplace that Maya Angelou never wrote at home. She had a beautiful house, serene garden, plenty of room, but she preferred to go someplace quiet where she’d be difficult to reach.

No wonder her writing sang, and she produced a plethora of works.

Staying focused is a struggle.

But this discipline is non-negotiable for writers. It’s essential for anyone serious about completing work. It doesn’t matter if we have to trick ourselves into focusing — like Maya Angelou did, to a degree. If we’re going to complete works that matter, we have to stop chasing shiny objects and do the work.

Half-finished paintings don’t make it into museums.

Half-drawn blueprints don’t make for well-constructed buildings (or any buildings).

Half-finished songs are soon forgotten.

And half-finished manuscripts don’t make for much of a story.

Paraphrasing from an article I’ve read some time back above, but everything resonates. 

So, absence is presence of mind elsewhere — in the story slowly coming together. Sometimes, the only way to focus is to turn off the noise, shut the proverbial door. Live in a different world where the story lives.

 As The Seekers sang in A World of Our Own:

Close the doors, light the lights/We’re stayin’ home tonight/Far away from the bustle and the bright city lights/Let them all fade away/And we’ll live in a world of our own.

~ When life and worldly forces pull you in so many different directions, how do you stay focused?

Image courtesy:

Forever Entwined


The relationship between reader and writer is complex and forever entwined.

Sure, a writer can write without a reader, but if her words remain unread and unexplored, do the words mean anything? I suppose it depends on what we write — journals, novels — but I would imagine those words mean less if they linger in literary oblivion.

Different from speech, writing is a personal form of communication. While the writer should not preach or try to persuade ad nauseam, we are human; much of who we are comes through in a novel. And for $2.99 or some such, the reader steps inside the inner sanctum to explore at will.


Before I started writing seriously, I viewed the writer as someone who worked for my pleasure. Now I know is for the pleasure of both, reader and writer. One cannot offer pleasure without feeling the same.  No matter how hard she tries. It would come across fake; the trust would be broken.

That is the opposite of what the writer is aiming for when constructing the novel.

What a reader takes from a novel may not be in accord with the writer’s intention. And that’s perfectly all right. A reader’s view is directed by his experiences, his interpretation of the words may be different to that of the writer or another reader who has had a different life experience. It’s what makes the whole process beautiful.

I once heard mystery writer Harlan Coben say he has no books until he has readers. I didn’t know what to make of it until my book was sent into the worlds of Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and I started hearing back from readers.

Though I controlled the text as it took shape, I was no longer in control of how the reader might interpret it. And the more I heard back the more I delighted in the fact that readers cared enough to interpret away, to ask questions about my characters.

That is so much more than a writer can hope for. It really is what keeps me going back to writing, even on the occasional, devoid-of-inspiration day.

Whatever your creative passion, how does hearing back from your audience feel?