A Room of Her Own

26th Trial: One must escape to create–I pull from Virginia Woolf’s quote a useful writing tip.

Weekly hours spent writing or in the pursuit of plot: 4 Hours

Weekly Choice of Tea: Sweet Macha

Biggest Success: Embracing the life of Carol K. (Grandma Perin)


“A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.” -Woolf

I am not unappreciative of where Jamie and I live now, though the windows are painted shut and spots of possible mold intersperse the ceiling like a lethal starry night. The age of the Havisham-house is thick in the air, and Jamie and I share space with each other, our lovely dog, and a roommate of spectacular artist talent!  This is his home, and his space to work on his art. Where, among the dust and walls with ten-layers of paint, could my own personal creativity flourish? I attempt the impossible. I bite the bullet and sit down at the small desk in the corner of our small room, and write. I look at it with disgust typically, and my pen is useless within a half and hour. The attitude of my surroundings is not conducive! I have tried! Yet, tried in vain.

For me to have a successful time writing, I must scoop out $5 and go to a coffee shop in town. “Smelly Cat” is a room of my own, a space where I can focus and feel the juices flowing. I have found that not only a coffee shop makes a writer of me, as this week I house sat at a luxurious, clean, newly modeled home. I spent the majority of the evenings by the fireplace with Christmas music filling the background. I wrote an hour a night, gladly and progressively. What a relief! How simple the concept has become:   fill a space with the objective to calm you, soothe and caress your imagination, and give your mind the ability to think not on toxic fumes that leak from the walls, but instead on its limitless ability to create. The absolute cure for writer’s block as well! I constantly had Boo Radley’s toys or nose in my space where I read and wrote, and I found that there was plenty of room for her as well.

Boo and VilletteBoo Radley

I would like to end this post not with my acknowledgement of Woolf’s yet-again impeccable ability to hit the nail on the head, but with a tribute to a wonderful woman. Jamie described her grandmother as stubborn and unbending, and as Jamie laughed when she described such qualities, one comes to embrace them. Grandma Perin was a rock in Jamie’s heart, a kind and hilarious woman, who followed the Cleveland Cavaliers with the enthusiasm of a professional scout (of whom I believe she was in a past life). Her kids, her sports, and her home seemed to be her life. Today she passed peacefully, and Jamie and I are happy to think of where she could be now, of what adventures await her. Sending out love and hope to Grandma Perin!

Dumbledore: “To the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure.”

Peter Pan: “..to die would be an awfully big adventure.”


The Effect of a Pause

25th Trial: CHANGE. I have decided on a change, personally and professionally! So much different weights are now placed on my shoulders. What is next? Where will I go? Will it all Succeed? Will I put aside my literary passions in a desperate pursuit of other future goals or will it be these passions in the end, that I have left to live on?

Weekly hours spent writing or in the pursuit of plot: 2.5 Hours

Weekly Choice of Tea: Sweet Tea. Tapping into the roots that I have developed here in the South

Biggest Success: Last weekend I spent a ridiculous amount of time watching Glee and The 100 episodes. I got so fed up with my addiction, that I have taken a 4 day break from them both.

A speaker came to Jamie’s work to discuss public speaking and self-presentation. Jamie then came home so animated from it, knowing well that I could benefit from the same information. As it happens, I come from a wonderful family-line that is popular for filling any silent space. A pause in conversation can only be wanting. And yet, is not a pause the most powerful thing in observation? In understanding? In absorption, healing, and dramatic effect? As a doctor, do I pause to make sure patients understand what I say, or understand myself what was just asked? Not only do I bring consideration of a pause to my professional life, but also in my methods of being a writer. How can you write of silence, inactivity, and the static background between sentences? I challenge myself today so create a pause in the next few pages.

But let me take this one step farther.  I do not pause enough to consider what will happen after the current chapter that I am on.  When I started writing I realized that I am going to take this chapter by chapter, however I can’t do that for the entirety of the novel. How choppy it could then turn out, and how easily I could lose the breath of certain morals that should flow throughout it. When I sit down to write, I must preserve an hour at least a week to consider the future of the storyline (I know, a simple concept that has sneakily evaded me until now).

Taking such a pause from the current chapter will satisfy novel planning, something I desperately need to work on. However, this does not mean to fill the writing hours with pauses filled with episode-watching on Netflix. I love watching episodes—a little too much! Lately it has been Glee that captivates me. No, I never watched it while it played on cable TV, and the fun high-school drama and breath-taking vocals give me a world to escape to. I have also been watching The 100, which is much different from the carefree world of Glee. It is a show that has recently proven to break my heart with abominable characters that do not act as I have trusted them to. I even went to bed crying after watching an episode, swearing never to watch it again! This series has recently taught me a valuable lesson:  do not escape the world you are in, nor are creating. Some storylines fail you. They cannot be trusted! I only want to be in the world before my eyes, and the world I intend to create. That, I can control.

I am reminded by Austen’s quote, “Let other pens dwell on guilt and misery”. Alas! WWAD (What Would Austen Do). Some pictures from my Inner Eye, developed during my Austen-days in the Lake District!


When a Chapter Ends

21th Trial: I have no trials pertaining to my writing, as my struggles have been solely lugging moving boxes to our new place and minimalizing my lifestyle. Live big, dream big, and apparently horde big.

Weekly hours spent writing or in the pursuit of plot: 0 Hours

Weekly Choice of Tea: Chamomile

Biggest Success: Beginning a new chapter! (not in my novel, though!)

I deeply apologize for not writing to you all last week, my days have not been my own! I was finally able to take a break from cleaning, packing, and moving these past couple weeks and go to the Renaissance Festival. How one day at that place can amuse and inspire!! The English accents, the royal garb, and of course, the Jousting were elements to make quite the enjoyable day. I looked at the armor they wore, and immediately remembered my tour at the Tower of London. “Yes, they made that piece larger for Henry VIII because at that time he was infested with Syphilis,” was what the tour guide said, and it was that very voice that sounded in my mind as I sat in the chilly fall weather, grinning happily into my cup of tea. The day came and went, I ate my cinnamon almonds and looked longingly at Celtic jewelry. All around me people enjoyed the fantasy of a different time, and I myself felt a shift in space and time. Not just because I was sitting next to crowns, canes, and capes, but because I am ending one chapter in my life.

Jamie and I have moved out of our apartment and in with a friend. I feel as though cleaning out the closets only gives the opportunity for something new and fresh. Boo Radley (my dog) for one, has a yard now, and a neighborhood to run amuck. One of the last thoughts as I left the apartment was that this was the start of so much, a start that is now to be carried elsewhere. I began my novel here. By those long windows the sun and trees watched the first word written, and now I will not have that comfortable space to write and create the way I did. I know that it means I will just have to find a new place, however the ending of a chapter is always to be mourned, admired, and remembered. When a chapter ends in my novel I celebrate, as if I jumped another hurdle to the finish line. I also marvel at its completion, like I never thought I would be at this place, at this time, at this new height. I am at a new place, beginning a new chapter. It’s the start of a great one, I can feel it. And it will be the beginning of chapter five. Stay tuned 🙂


The Goldilocks of Dialogue

20th Trial: How much dialogue is too much? It is often that we say little more than we should and/or spew a great deal extra than should be allowed.

Weekly hours spent writing or in the pursuit of plot: 2.5 hours

Weekly choice of tea: Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Spice Chai (pumpkin has come to Trader Joe’s!)

Greatest Success: At the White Water Center, I kicked away my fear of heights and accomplished the ropes courses and went rafting!!! It is a place in Charlotte where the USA team trains for the Olympics, and is open to the public. So a whole day was dedicated to outdoor adventures! Just a couple fun tid bits from this weekend:

There are so many times that while writing an interaction between two characters that I sit back and wonder, how on earth is this dialogue going to end? Do I continue down a casual road, such as person sits, stands, talks, pours tea–or just get straight to the point? There is such a talent that I am realizing with long dialogue. A whole paragraph of uninterrupted speech in which unrevealing occurs, but does not show absolutely everything, is a beast within itself! I admire the cool mysterious dialogue of Raymond Chandler, who wrote The Big Sleep, where after every word spoken the reader feels as if they are standing at the edge of a cliff, in absolute suspense of what it could mean and what it will result in. And on the other hand, the whimsical entertaining discussion of tapestries and who-wore-what-lace in Austen’s repartee has its own significant effects. In both circumstances, the dialogue is not too much or too less. I am Goldie Locks, tasting for what will be just right when it comes to the feel of my novel. And if anyone has ever read Goldilocks, you will hear the dialogue debate within my mind. This sentence is too short! This subject is not right for discussion! This soup is too hot!

On a short, different note, I am influenced more than I realized by what I am writing. I admit that I am a leech, taking in my surroundings and relying on the people I meet to propel my story forward. My imagination to this point has had to work very little. However, one scene I wrote that was not from my neighborhood–you could call it the “meet-cute”–was with my character hearing piano music from a neighboring household. The gorgeous melody will then naturally begin the strings of romance! Now you can understand my astonishment when I was leaving my apartment to take my dog on a walk, when I heard from another door the beautiful sound of a piano! I stopped, stunned by the situation. How brilliant! Not only do I take from my surroundings, but now my story seems to take form around me! And the music was indeed beautiful, just as I imagined in would be. I am happy to say that my story does not leave me, and reveals itself in senses and physical manifestations, as much as I will perceive it to.

Embracing Austen

19th Trial: When burdened with hitting a wall in your writing, seclude yourself in an area conducive to writing. But more importantly, when you feel that you have hit a wall, pick up a writer you aspire to and let their language guide you

Weekly hours spent writing or in the pursuit of plot: 1.5 hours

Weekly Choice of Tea: Turmeric and Ginger

Biggest Success: Embracing Austen Dialogue

Currently, the novel I am reading is Mansfield Park by Jane Austen. Though I have seen the BBC version of the book a many, many times, I am always pleasantly surprised with the development of her characters in text. I love the general summing up movies produce, and they typically do a faithful job giving the character their due respect when it comes to character qualities; however, I know Fanny (main woman in the book) so much more faithfully now, and I see the absolute necessity in reading the thoughts behind her dialogue and actions.

Reading Austen does not just fulfill my understanding of her stories displayed by British Broadcasting. Oh, how better and improved my dialogue is! Last night I sat my book down as Jamie asked me a question.

“So, what movie do you want to watch tonight?”

I responded, “Whichever would oblige you most, my dear.”

“But I want to know what you’re interested in watching.”

Again, I responded “Quite right, my love! Shall we progress further through the episodes, or view a movie not yet seen before?”

This was a rough summation of the conversation I remember, however I felt as if the attitude of Henry Crawford radiated into my own dialogue as he would talk to Fanny. I could not think of how to replace words such as ‘oblige’ or ‘progress’ or ‘quite right’ at the moment I said them. I laughed at myself naturally, but honestly, I marveled at how improved I seemed by the novels I read!! I sincerely attribute British authors to a portion of the success I will hopefully feel when this novel is finished! And I am happy to announce that chapter four is closely being finished. This coming week should be QUITE productive! The picture featured above is where Jamie sits to design and work on her website, but little does she know that while she is away, I take down the electronics and make it my space!

Jagger and Me

18th Trial: Time well spent is to be honored!

Weekly hours spent writing or in the pursuit of plot:  3 Hours

Weekly Choice of Tea: A Wisconsin Blend

Biggest Success:  A shift in Mentality

Tonight I write by candle light, with hot tea and a dog at my feet. I have lately been remiss in expressing my state of being, my true state at least. How lucky am I, to have those around me care enough to bring to light how wrong my line of thinking has been the past few blog posts? I had no idea how I came across to my readers, that calling my hours spent in writing as ‘feeble’ and a ‘failure’ were showing a state of me rejecting my own passion, and were simply depressing! Let me with haste correct my mistake! For as I am allowing the time to write waver and falter, I am writing weekly. And though it may take me longer, am I not making a dream come true? How easy is it to see small progress as small, irrelevant, and of little weight? You can now see my mistake—I am writing. I AM WRITING. I am on chapter four, and my story continues to develop.


Look at that little squirrel taking a bath. So small, and so impact-full in its ridiculous cuteness and dependancy. The small qualities in our life fill up the time between work and obligations, and it is that that is most exciting. So consider this my turn in mentality, my shift in perspective. We all just need to perceive what is around us as out-of-this-world big, and make large what is small, make great our successes and our abilities to grow. I went to Ohio this past weekend and met that small squirrel, who I called Jagger after recently going to see the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. So much of that museum was educational, in the origins of rock and roll, in the art of Les Paul, and in how incredibly alike my Aunt Peggy reenacts Mick Jagger on stage. She has a talent I took for granted! And, Mick Jagger is English. Something more British always helps one’s perspective!

And so here I am, successfully squeezing in time to write on my drive home, and that one hour was an hour towards accomplishing my dream. There is nothing minimal or restricting in that. You go me!

writing in car

Creating Character

13th Trial:  Social Media. I have recently acquired a smart phone to use as my main phone. Never again will this happen. I absent-mindedly pick up my phone and by the time I put it down I opened at least three apps. This is the downfall of civilization. Or a type of it for that matter. And here I am, blogging.

Weekly hours spent writing or in the pursuit of plot: 6.5 hours

Weekly Choice of Tea: Bombay Chai

Biggest Success: Swimming Lake Wylie without a partner (the water is dark and I can’t stop imagining snapping turtles, whether they exist in Lake Wylie or not…its scary being alone!)

This must be nothing more than a sequel to last week’s article. It has to be. I am not burdened by the struggle I imagined I would be–how to write, what to write, oh writer’s block–my nemesis! Grant it, do not suppose I am not challenged by these common obstacles. Lately, however, I am overwhelmed by the absolute quantity of material that surrounds me. Even in the discovery of new persons in my life–Charles and his trains or Brian with his solar Pyrography–I am reminded of who I have known for years. Think of all of my friends, their successes and their trials. Think of all those I have become intimate with, by sharing my emotions and my thoughts. Consider for a moment my family and their knowledge, strength, and of course quirks. I have thought a lot about those who have still such a strong hold on my heart. And even professionally and spiritually, those who have built worlds and given me motivation.

Many such people seem fragmented within me, and within my imagination. Their morals and ethics remind me of who I want to be, who I do not want to be. I am fortunate in my friendships and in those I love. For I am surrounded by a world of animation, happiness, and color. I am enjoying reading Mansfield Park, where Austen very much emphasizes a world of indulgence on one end, and a very humble, thankful meditation on the other. Fanny Price is a character in the book who is better by those in her life–the ones that tear her down and laugh at her are just as important as those who love her and protect her. The adversities and the trials I face, along with the care and sweetness of those around me, create my character, and more importantly, give my book genuine faces and realistic qualities. Here are just a couple photographs of my dear friends and family!


A World Built on Inspiration

12th Trial: Work out, or Write? Work out, or Write? Not. Enough. Time.

Weekly hours spent writing or in the pursuit of plot: 2.5 hours

Weekly Choice of Tea: Turmeric and Ginger (again)

Biggest Success: Seeing the stories that surround me every day

I would like to introduce you to my very dear acquaintance, Charles. You can hardly be surprised when I tell you that writing did not fare for the better this week, but I feel so much ahead from where I was. And not because I spent the measly 2.5 hours writing, but because a character’s loose sketch within my imagination now has more defined lines and darkened shadows. In other words, a faint prospect has now a foundation and a personality. I have known Charles as a patient for some time now, an adorable older man of 89 years that always brings a smile through the doors. It wasn’t until I decided to stop by his ‘shop’ and see the model trains he always talked about, did I realize that all this time he is worth a novel in himself. I wish to introduce you to Charles, as you may all expect to see him again within the pages of my story (which again, if I have more weeks of 2.5 hours writing, none may live to see).

He has a small house for his hobby of creating a railway with moving model trains that carries loads from different parts of North Carolina. Of course, these loads and the quarries they come from have to be within your imagination, and the imagination of this place is truly to be witnessed. He began building it in 1955. He used plaster and other materials to build mountain sides; dyed fabrics to the shades of Fall’s leaves; took old photographs of his travels to Yellowstone National Park to make craters and ravines; used old cans to create bridges and openings within a mountain for the trains to pass through. All the model trains are operable, and have a destination and an origin. One weekend a month everything is unveiled, and a 24 hour functioning railway starts up where it left off last month. Charles and a work crew of about 6-7 people who have admired his work make sure the tickets accompany the trains, and that everything runs smoothly. Everything you see has been hand placed and made by Charles alone.






Charles tells me this is his hobby. This is no more of a hobby that an artist works to create a masterpiece. Within every mapped region is Charles’ story, the places he has gone and seen and been impressed by, while the names of the women he has loved are the titles of shipping companies or furniture storage units. He says America was built on the railway. He remembers chasing trains as a young boy with his father. Charles has visited all 50 states by car, because “flying is for birds”. I am so much better for the people’s lives that I touch, because they touch mine even more. Charles is such a strong character, and he is someone you pass at a grocery store, or a man that discusses his hobby for model trains. Just look around you. The stories that surround us every single day are breathtaking.


The Importance of Thoughtful Action

11th Trial: Should one detach reality from its descriptive tense in a setting, as one alters a living character to protect their identity?

Weekly hours spent writing or in the pursuit of plot: 5 hours

Weekly Choice of Tea: Iced Peach Tea

Biggest Success: Meeting a man named Brian at Smelly Cat Coffeehouse

I have mentioned before that I live in an area very conducive to a town in a novel. I need nothing more than to walk out my doors and write of the life that happens every moment, the detail in all the cracked brick that holds up small businesses and artist shops, and the effect of the bright air of summer. Not only am I lucky in my surroundings, and the happenings of the town, but in its people. I have already told you of the wanderers of Noda, such as the man in the sweater with ornaments dangling from it. One in particular I have made friends with, at least he remembers my name. His name is Brian, and we met at the local coffee shop as I sat writing with Boo Radley (my dog…not the recluse neighbor of Lee’s novel..though inspired by!). He was the most intriguing person I had met yet—he rode up on a double seated bicycle and parked it next to my table. His seat was under a large umbrella that was secured to his bike by means of a hockey stick, and at the front of the bike sat a four leaf clover made of wire. He got off the bike and went into the coffee shop, for presumably, coffee. Upon closer inspection there was a saber inserted above the back wheel of the bicycle. He shortly returned outside and sat near me. I continued to write, but could not help but watch him and his mannerisms. How else can characters inspire me? No I am not a creeper, stalker, starer! I know, a picture lasts longer.

He unpacked his bag and had a few pieces of rectangular wood and a large lens from a projector. He then looked up at the sky and waited for the cloud to pass. Once the rays were directly above him, he began burning the wood with his lens. I was astonished! I had never seen it before! And so began our friendship. He described it as Solar Pyrography, and he does it solely as a hobby. He was currently working on his trademark, which was a hand vertically over a maze symbol.


To him, the hand means action, the maze means thought. He said you cannot have one without the other in civilization. If you have just the hand, you are no better than a bully dictator that only uses brute force. If you have just the maze, you have a mind without a body, and therefore little effect. The only was is Thought and Action, essential together for they are disastrous apart.


While none of this does not scream of something more british, as most of my blogs emphasize (though I have started reading Mansfield Park, thank you very much!), this is an incredible example of the influences I find right outside my door. Action and thought. Cannot one create an antagonist based on that concept alone? My new trial is a difficult one–can I separate my reality from my novel? Should I even try?

“I have found a million and one things to do with a hockey stick that doesn’t involve hockey.”   -Brian

A Story by Any Other Name

5th Trial: Describing what I am writing about to others, which is so easily explained by my own inability to see far into how on earth I am going to get my character’s from here to the end of the novel.

Weekly hours spent writing or in the pursuit of plot: 2 hours– a low point! The sacrifice was well worth it, spending it at Perin Plantation, a home back in country side Ohio

Weekly choice of Tea: Iced peach tea

Greatest Success: Sharing the weekend with the wonderful grandmother Perin and holding a beautiful baby named Amelia

I have been writing at a local coffee-house called Smelly Cat this past week. It has adorable small red tables with tin flower pots, where the bright yellow flowers bring a feeling of quiet meditation with them. Which is important, because the streets surrounding Smelly Cat bring many characters with it. Just Friday I had a man screaming across the street “Bless you!” to anyone that sneezed within his ear shot, as he sat by his possessions in plastic bags, wearing a thick red sweater with ornaments dangling from it. I, of course, was sitting next to the person that had an allergy to something, and was in the middle of that strange dialogue between them. It was at this place too that I had two separate people ask me very similar questions:

“I see that you are writing, what are you working on? Oh, a story? Of what?”

“I heard you say you were writing a story. What will it be about?”

I of course avoided both questions, shrugging my shoulders, mumbling that it is something we all have yet to find out. I find it humorous that I give myself no credit as to the direction of the novel, one because it is true. However, I am realizing that stories seem to take its own direction, whether you intended it or not. For instance, at the start of chapter two I had the brother character being present and moving the scene alone, initially not intending him to come out until later on. I find that I like his placement there, and wonder if this is an effective approach to writing a novel: give it little restraint, and it will unfold just as beautifully, though differently. Didn’t Shakespeare teach us that? That a rose is still a rose, given a different name? My story will not lose its overall meaning, its ability to create that which I want it too, if I allow it to change an intended course. I have had a title in mind for a while, and yet that may change too. And so for anyone who wants to know such similar questions as asked above, just know that my story will be what it will be, and will smell just as sweet!

“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet,” -Shakespeare