Welcome to THE WRITER'S WHIMSY - My online journal!


Making Time for Julia Cameron’s Artist Date

As part of our August blog theme about breaks and celebrations, I posted this essay at SMACK DAB IN THE MIDDLE BLOG.  

Many years ago a poetry teacher introduced me to Julia Cameron’s book The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity. It’s a structured program that guides the reader through steps to becoming more creative. There are two basic tools that Julia asks the reader to commit to doing during the program. One tool is to journal first thing each day – Julia calls it Morning Pages. The other tool is called the Artist Date. Here is the basic Artist Date concept:

…An artist date is a block of time, perhaps two hours weekly, especially set aside and committed to nurturing your creative consciousness, your inner artist. In its most primary form, the artist date is an excursion, a play date that you preplan and defend against all interlopers. You do not take anyone on this artist date but you and your inner artist, a.k.a your creative child…

Excerpt from The Artist’s Way, page 18

I’ve put myself through this program twice now – and both times The Artist’s Date has been one of the most rewarding aspects. At first it’s daunting and sounds so decadent, especially, I think, to people newly claiming their position as a creative being. For me in the beginning, I wanted to be taken seriously. I felt that I needed something tangible to show for my efforts, to show that I was worthy of the title of writer. A play date sounded decadent, fun. How could I be taken seriously if I was out having fun? But I trusted the process and started taking myself on Artist’s Dates. Eventually it began to make sense to me in the vein of the old adage of “all work and no play…” And the best part was that my writing time didn’t suffer, and it was actually enhanced by the dates. And not just by virtue of taking time away – the experience of the dates themselves opened me up to additional creative thinking, which transferred to creative doing/writing when I did get back to my desk.

I’m at the point now where I take this creative break naturally and regularly. Some weeks it may be a grand date such as a splurge on art supplies, seeing a movie all by myself, or a trip to a museum. Other weeks it might be as modest as doodling with markers, a browse through an antique store, or a walk outside with my camera. The only consistent factor is that I do take the time for my Artist Date. It’s one of the best habits that I’ve formed over the years, and one that rewards me every time I do it.

I wish you luck on your own creative journey and finding the type of breaks that work best for you.




Better Than the Ice Cream Truck: When the Bookmobile Rolled Into Town 

In June I posted this essay at SMACK DAB IN THE MIDDLE BLOG

I hope you enjoy.


It sounds like the start of a bad joke: The Midwestern town where I grew up was so small…How small was it? You ask. So small there was no library. No joke. The closest town with a library was 8 miles away, so definitely not walking distance. I’d get there with my family occasionally, but it wasn’t on our regular route. But every couple weeks during summer, something magical happened that was better than the ice cream truck arriving: the bookmobile rolled into town.

With my book bag over my shoulder and library card in hand, I would step up onto the bus and into that wonderful mobile world of possibilities. Maybe there was a limit to the number of books each child could take, but in my memory the bookmobile lady encouraged me to check out as many books as I could carry. The only catch was to return the books the next time the bus came through.  

I would load up, return home, and begin working my way through my pile of books. While the other children played outside, I spent time with Stuart Little, Encyclopedia Brown, Katie John, Ramona the Pest, Pippi Longstocking, the cast of Charlotte's Web, the kids from How To Eat Fried Worms, and more in my effort to read each book before my deadline. And when the day came, I'd load up those completed books and return them to the bookmobile in exchange for a fresh set, and start again.

There were plenty of other excellent outdoorsy things to do during those stretches of summer – and I did my share of them. Yet as a kid, I could not have imagined a single summer without books and reading. Thank goodness I didn't have to. 


Permission from the Universe to Write

This is a short essay that I wrote recently for Smack Dab in the Middle Blog on our May theme about permissions.


Whether it’s a learned work ethic from my Midwestern upbringing or something that comes naturally, I’m the type of person who feels the need to get my work done before I can play. It’s something about myself that I like – for the most part. I enjoy working hard and looking forward to something fun to do later. When it came to writing, though, I struggled. Because writing was fun and it was always something I looked forward to doing after my work was done. The problem was, the “real work” never seemed to be done and so the fun of writing constantly took a back seat.

Then one day, I either looked at my horoscope or received wisdom from a fortune cookie. It said, simply:

Expand your definition of work.

Five small words, but the message was huge. If I expanded my definition of work to include my writing, then writing would be something that I needed to attend to, not something that was relegated to any leftover time I might have in my day. It felt as though the universe had given me permission to write  – and when the universe speaks so clearly, I pay attention.  

Writing isn’t my top priority or only priority, but now it is one of my priorities – something that’s both a joy and hard work. Thank goodness for this small message that helped me change how I think about writing and how I write.


Smack Dab in the Middle Blog is written by a group of middle grade authors who work together. If you'd like to visit our site, click here.

Thanks for visiting!


My Final School Visit of the 2014-2015 School Year

In early June, during the last week of school, I visited Treasure Coast Elementary School.

I visited Mrs. Mulcahy's kindergarten class and we read This Old Band together.

Then students asked me a few questions.

This student's question was, "Where did you get the idea for This Old Band?"

Here is our group photo. These students were going to be moved into first grade later this very day.


They presented me with this very nice thank you note. I'm the one who is thankful to Mrs. Mulcahy, her kindergarteners, my friend Mrs. Hammler who invited me to come visit (and took these excellent classroom photos), and The Vero Beach Book Center for helping us with book sales. 



2015 Progressive Poem - Day 23 is here!

Greetings! I've been followng along this month as the poets have been sharing this writing project and what an interesting, twisting journey this year's poem is on. Yesterday was Pat's turn at Writer on a Horse and today it's my turn to contribute a line to Irene Latham's 2015 Progressive poem. 

How I arrived at my line:

After Pat’s riveting, “hidden sentries,” and “bitter taste of impulse” rushing into the fisherman’s lungs, my first thought was that this guy is in grave danger - he has to fight, breathe. But then I watched (of all things) the new Pandora jewelry Mother’s Day ad – the one where blindfolded children seek their own mothers from a line-up. Whether or not you appreciate the ad is a question for another venue – what struck me was that the children were using senses other than sight to connect with a close family member. And it started me thinking…What if? What if, in this danger, the fisherman’s senses become heightened? Since he’s been restrained, what if the girl comes back to help him? What if she can communicate with him through nothing more than the swish of her tail? What if the sentries weren’t out to harm him, but willing to help if only he would be calm? And my lines came into focus. Here they are:

Her flipper flutters his weathered toes

–      Pearl’s signal –

Stop struggling.

The Sentinels will escort you

I decided to leave my line open-ended for Tricia to guide where she believes the poem needs to go. 

Since this is a free verse narrative poem, I also decided to format it so that the organization of the words on the page compliment the meaning. Seeing it this way helped me focus on specific details and lively actions and phrases that help tell the story, and helped me choose my lines. Maybe the format will be different tomorrow when Tricia takes over, but for today I am enjoying the look of our poem along with the words and their meaning.

Here is the poem to date with my line at the bottom:


She lives without a net,

walking along the alluvium of the delta.

Shoes swing over her shoulder,

on her bare feet stick

jeweled flecks of dark mica.

Hands faster than fish swing

at the ends of bare brown arms.

Her hair flows,


in wild wind

as she digs

in the indigo varnished handbag,

pulls out her grandmother’s oval

cuffed bracelet,
 strokes the turquoise stones, and steps

through the curved doorway.







hair first





She                  glides               past                 glossy              water

hyacinth to shimmer with a school of shad,

listens to the ibises

roosting in the trees

of the cypress swamp

an echo

of Grandmother’s words, still fresh

in her windswept memory;

“Born from the oyster,

expect the pearl.

Reach for the rainbow

reflection on the smallest dewdrop.


The surface glistens, a shadow


above her head, a paddle


she reaches, seizes. She’s electric energy

and turquoise eyes.

Lifted high, she gulps strange air – stares

clearly into
 Green pirogue, crawfish trap, startled

fisherman with turquoise eyes, twins

of her own, riveted on her wrist–

She’s swifter than a dolphin,

slipping away,

leaving him only

a handful

of memories

of his own

grandmother’s counsel:

“Watch for her.

You’ll have but one chance


to decide. Garner wisdom from the water

and from the pearl

of the past.”


In a quicksilver flash,

an arc of resolution, he


into the shimmering water

where hidden sentries restrain  

any pursuit and the bitter taste

of impulse rushes

into his lungs.

Her flipper flutters his weathered toes

–      Pearl’s signal –

Stop struggling.

The Sentinels will escort you


I'll look forward to tomorrow, when Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect adds her line. 

Thank you, Irene, for such a fun project to contribute to during National Poetry Month, and to the poets who go where the words take them! 

This week's Poetry Friday is being celebrated tomorrow with Renee LaTulippe at No Water River.

Thanks for stopping by!