Fear of Writing Gazette
An email newsletter for writers and closet writers published by Milli Thornton.
The Gazette is a light-hearted publication, devoted to bringing together the far-flung Fear of Writing family. It uses articles about—and photos of—real Fear of Writing participants to let you know you're not alone out there . . . a “writing family scrapbook,” so to speak.
Milli uses Mail Chimp to run her mailing list for the Gazette. She chose this service because they have a high reputation for frowning on Spam. She also wanted an easy way to share images and photos with her subscribers.
WHAT READERS ARE SAYING
I look forward to getting the Gazette. It's fun to read, Milli!
—Claudia Errington, Woodland, California
The Gazette is good. I forwarded it to Gail (Moonlightwriter). I'm sure she'll enjoy it. Keep up the good work!
—Sharon Forrest, Smithville, New Jersey
I love the Gazette. I clicked on the link to your Website and looked at the pics. WOW!
—Colleen Welch, Santa Fe, New Mexico
—Dan Griffith, Space Coast Poetry Club of Brevard County, Florida
You've done a great job on your Gazette! Brava.
—Sandra Moore Williams, author of Faces: What You See is What You Get
Love the Gazette!!!! It's awesome!!! That pic of our group is great!!!
—Lainie Dulaney, member of the 2/26/05 Fear of Writing Clinic, Canyon Lake, Texas
Selected Feature Articles
OUR NEW COLUMNIST: Walt Nickell, “Fear of Writing a Novel”
Catherine Greti: A Written Collage
The Reinhardts: A Writing Family
Lainie Dulaney: Does Family Make the Perfect Fan Club?
Deirdre Nielsen: Dear Murphy
What a Hoot! Canyon Lake Fertile Material Writing Circle ... A Classic Moment
Quote of the Month
ADDITIONAL FEAR OF WRITING MAILING LISTS:
FERTILE MATERIAL CHAT (Write a group story online—it's fun!)
FEAR OF WRITING CLINIC (workshop)
Excited exclamation point courtesy of cybergifs.com
This is a great thing. I'm excited for those of us writing novels to have a place to go for encouragement, information and support. Awesome. And fun too!
—Claudia Errington, Woodland, CA
Over the years, he has published short fiction and poetry in both national and smaller literary magazines. What is the 800-Pound Gorilla in Walt’s writing life? The novel. While he’s written three novel-length manuscripts, he has not yet published a book.
“Whatever small amount of writing talent or ability I have,” Walt says, “I am delighted to possess it. But in all honesty, sometimes I truly wish I did not have this desire, this physical need, to write. I’m not as young as I once was, and now any night I go to bed without having done some type of creative writing, I feel I’ve completely wasted the day. I want to leave something of myself behind, and when I’m not writing, I have the distinct fear that when I am gone, there will be nothing other than my children to show that I was ever here.
“That thought disturbs me on an incredibly deep level, and I’ve recommitted myself to living a life with writing as one of the central components. I plan to do everything in my power to ensure there is something of myself that extends beyond my lifetime.”
Walt lists his hometown as Blackwater, Kentucky, the fictional area where many of his stories take place. He has been happily married for nearly 25 years and has three sons. His youngest son, Benjamin, has Autism. Ben’s personal story has generated a great deal of interest and he now has his own Web page located at:
Through the motivation provided by editor Milli Thornton's deadlines for the Fear of Writing Gazette, Walt intends to provide exclusive insight into his writing process. He has a new novel that is just now in the planning stages. He will be writing regular columns detailing his progress on this novel from initial idea to completed first draft, and perhaps beyond.
Excerpted from Fear of Writing Gazette, Vol. 3, Issue 5, 08/29/05
CATHERINE GRETI of Menlo Park, California, is a visual artist who has, in years gone by, used the writing prompts from Milli's book to inspire ideas for her collages. She recently picked up the book again and found she was ready to write. The article below is an excerpt from an email she wrote me about her new creative process.
Milli, I'm on a roll. I went to the second-hand bookstore and found a great journal. I also got a pretty calendar book to put daily things in. At the same time, I’ve been reading your Website and also picked up Fear of Writing to start at page one.
By the time I got to the “letting the dog out to play” part of your book I was so active with my two journals that I refer to them all day long and jot down ideas, thoughts and things that happened. The interplay is glorious. Sometimes things are flooding in so fast I have to write them up on the computer.
Oh, it is all so exciting and it’s putting me into new habits. Habits of noticing more, of writing things down, of making a record. The habit of writing longer will come from this, I am sure.
Already I came in from my walk one day this week and made an outline for a book I want to write. Now I believe I know what it is to get into writing!!!!! I mean I really feel it now, after seeing the results of “letting it out.” The dog story made no sense to me when I first read your book four or five years ago. Now it does.
Thanks to you for being a mentor, a friend, and for pointing me in the right direction.
“When I compose a collage, I may go through agony and be ready to quit when suddenly there is a breakthrough and it all comes together. At this moment, I know why I love to compose images!” —Catherine Greti, from her Website
Editor's Note: This quote from Catherine's Website sounded so much like having a fear of writing breakthrough, I couldn't resist! You can visit the collage section of Catherine's site at this link: Collage by Catherine Greti.
Excerpted from Fear of Writing Gazette, Vol. 3, Issue 2, 04/13/05
The Reinhardt Family at Books & Java in Canyon Lake, Texas. From left to right: Dana (12), Jake (8), and their mother Michele.
Michele, Dana and Jake are members of the Canyon Lake Fertile Material Writing Circle. Michele, being a smart mom, is encouraging her kids to have fun with writing. Here we have the results of a Friday evening writing session in the very creative Reinhardt household. Jake & Dana each chose their own Fertile Material prompt from Fear of Writing.
So what if your date gets splashed with ketchup! Of course she'll get really mad. Well, she might hate you, but it's just how life is. So what. You can get a new date!! And, if she hates you, just get another and another! Just like I said. You can get a new date. It doesn't matter if you're a millionaire or any of that stuff, right?
"You're right," said Braden and Rease.
Jake Reinhardt, age 8, Copyright © 2005 - Scarlet Woman - page 211
Hello. My name is Miniver. I live in a huge mansion with many other animals. My life is perfect except for one thing—Zeus. Zeus is a mutt. Always rampaging around the house, knocking over lamps, tables, and chairs. One time, he almost completely demolished the house because he was chasing a moth! One day, I thought, "I am going to have to get rid of that mutt." And I did! Here's how it goes...
He made me mad by knocking over my favorite lamp that I would always sit under. So, at night when everybody was asleep, I went over to the fish bowl, carefully put the eight fish into the flower vase, and spilled the bowl of water and knocked over the table. I went to sleep on the window sill. The next morning, I woke up to a loud and shrill scream! When I opened my eyes, I found that Zeus had knocked over another lamp. My owner, Mrs. Helen Carter was selling Zeus to a lovely family! Now my life is much, much more simple since Zeus is gone. Wait! What is Helen doing? Why is Zeus back? Oh no!!!!!!
Excerpted from Fear of Writing Gazette, Vol. 3, Issue 3, 06/04/05
People have told me I'm good at writing—but they were all friends who love me, so I can't really count on them for truthfulness when it comes to my gifts. That's why it was so refreshing to experience the reaction of a group of strangers.
At the Fear of Writing Clinic in February I discovered that what I'd formerly perceived as laziness was actually a fear of finishing my work, which is born from a fear of rejection. Identifying my problem has helped me tremendously.
Doing the workshop exercises was exactly what I needed to push me into the universe of creativity. I thoroughly enjoyed the writing prompts and had a grand time crafting a short story. In my previous writing attempts, I'd always been rather serious. However, due to the nature of the Fertile Material prompts, the humor in me was awakened.
Imagine my pleasure when my new workshop friends rolled on the floor laughing at my story. My heart swelled with pride and excitement. I couldn't wait to get home and share this nugget of creative gold with my family.
I cooked a great dinner, anticipating the laughter, smiles, and nods of approval. Imagine my shock as the announcement that I intended to read my creative masterpiece fell upon uninterested ears. Seeing the bored faces of my husband and four children, I realized I'd better preface my reading with a rule from Milli's workshop:
"No critiques allowed!"
My oldest son, Raymond, who is a Journalism Major in his second year of college said, "Dad, did you notice how she looked directly at me when she said that?"
As I began my story, I could swear I heard groans from the audience. However, I pressed on. Not one laugh. Not even a giggle. Nary a smile. My ego was quickly deflated.
Finally, after they realized I was waiting for a response, my husband said, "That was nice, honey."
I looked at my scholarly son—who of course knows all there is to know about everything—and told him he had my permission to critique me. I guess I was starved for some sort of comment about my work other than "That was nice."
It took less than two seconds for Raymond to respond. "Too dramatic. Way too many adjectives. Your characters border on the ridiculous."
So much for acceptance from your loved ones.
After that terrible experience, one would think I'd put down my pen for good. Not so. Milli and the Fear of Writing crew have come to my rescue. The weekly writing circles that followed the clinic are great—a place where I can share my work with an appreciative audience, practice my skills, and learn from everyone involved. Thanks, Milli!
Editor's note: Lainie attends the Bulverde/Canyon Lake Fertile Material Writing Circle in the Hill Country of Texas.
Excerpted from Fear of Writing Gazette, Vol. 3, Issue 5, 08/29/05
Dee Nielsen, also a verbal storyteller, is a member of the Bulverde Fertile Material Writing Circle held weekly at Chicki's Coffee Shop here in the beautiful Hill Country of Texas. She wrote this story several Tuesdays ago, during a group session.
"Dear Murphy" by Deirdre Nielsen
Based on the Fertile Material prompt 'Dear Murphy'
(pg. 197, Fear of Writing, 2nd edition)
I’m not bad looking for 56; at least I think so. Though when Bert died three years ago I thought my world had fallen apart. But you know I had to re-emerge into the world, couldn’t stay at home and dry up. I do pretty well on my own, though I miss things like snuggling in bed and having someone to warm my feet on at night.
My doctor advised getting some exercise, something aerobic. Well, I can’t be doing with lifting weights or yoga, none of that getting sweaty stuff. So I decided to go dancing, can’t beat it, dangly earrings, spangles and painted toenails. I feel like a new woman.
Nine months ago I literally waltzed into Murphy Lowell. Cute as a button, retired army and keeps what hair he has real spiky. He is a sweet-natured man with darling manners. But, there’s always a but isn’t there? It’s a pity about his critters! Good heavens, for someone who is ex military he sure has a strange way of dealing with his animals. They completely run his life.
I am afraid now that I am single I like my world neat and clean and his furry friends are driving me crazy! I have had enough and want to save his future love interests the horrors of his world. Please read below my Dear John letter:My Dear Murphy,
I really have enjoyed being your friend this past nine months, but I am afraid this is as far as it will ever go. Your animals are driving me bananas, speaking of which:
1. Mimi the monkey!!
I mean, catch a grip, what woman, scented up and dressed for a night out wants to be-
a) Groomed- By that I mean fingers poked through the hair, looking for lice.
b) Pawed- I don't need a hairy hand going down my bosom after my necklace. I wouldn't allow you to do that, so why should your monkey get away with it?
c) Slobbering Mick Jagger Kisses- If you only got to kiss my cheek then Mimi shouldn't be allowed to force a lip lock either.
2. Angel, the dog!!
Big misnomer here, demon maybe, what possessed you to call him Angel, you imbecile!
Who would want to –
a) Sit on the sofa, afraid that a stinky bone was buried there and hope that your nether regions don't get bitten.
b) Be the recipient of horrific gaseous emissions
c) Be the unwanted attention for gross amorous attention
Please note, I don't allow any of this from you. . . .
3. Polly the parrot!!
I know you picked up the said bird on your travels and she has an emotional attachment to you. But, keep her in her cage, dammit! Her eccentric behaviors are-
a) Screeching pretty Polly, in the ear at mega decibels while simultaneously pooping down the back of your best silk blouse.
b) Biting the earlobe HARD, I may say when she is trying to remove diamond earrings.
c) Swooping silently from nowhere and landing with talons entangled in my hair. Note, this does nothing for my palpitations and acid reflux.
So Murphy, if this isn't enough, your house is a disgrace. If it's not dog hair, it's monkey pee on the sofa. If it's not birdseed in my hair it's a rancid bone entangled in my sweater. Which encourages Angel to attack said garment and shake it to shreds.
Do you really think any woman wants to kiss you after you let Mimi
French Kiss you?
For the sake of your love life you need to get rid of the beasts, or put an ad in the paper for a female version of Crocodile Dundee.
Okay Murphy, this woman's gone looking for another Tarzan (one who leaves his animals in the jungle).
Your Bitten, Torn, Shredded, Nit-free friend,
Excerpted from Fear of Writing Gazette, Vol. 3, Issue 1, 03/11/05
At left: Participants of the Fear of Writing Clinic in Canyon Lake, Texas 2-26-05
A fond hello to my dear writing friends back in New Mexico! We shared much laughter and writing fun in the Santa Fe, Albuquerque and Taos writing circles, where we used the Fertile Material over a period of approx. three years.
It's taken me another year, but I've finally started a writing circle in my new stomping grounds: Canyon Lake, Texas.
I harvested the 2/26/05 Fear of Writing Clinic for founding members and we started the writing circle exactly three days after the workshop ended. We meet at Tye Preston Memorial Library, in their spacious meeting room in the back.
Highlights from the first writing circle:
*Michele's sixth grade daughter, Dana, attended, wrote a short story with us, and even allowed her mother to read the story to the group. Well, that was the hard part for Dana, but we all loved her story! Thanks, Dana.
*While reading his hilarious short story based on the Fertile Material prompt, HUMAN LIGHTNING CONDUCTOR, our sole male group member (dare I mention his name?) whipped off his hat and biker's scarf and used his fingertips to fluff out his hair . . . into a "shocking" likeness of a victim of lightning strike. This effect, added to his big, woolly beard, had us rolling in the aisles. I was wishing I'd brought my camera! What a classic moment.
*The same famous person from the lightning strike incident won a Fear of Writing T-shirt in our first prize draw for the founding month of March.
Excerpted from various issues of Fear of Writing Gazette
“It’s really important that people write without fearing the voice of English teachers past.”
—Tom Ribe of Santa Fe, New Mexico, while taking part in the Fear of Writing Clinic, April 2001
“Time is now the world's slave, but time will be set free and all of life will live within creativity.”
—Jayni Therkildsen, lifetime member of the Santa Fe Fertile Material Writing Circle
Ciao, everyone! I met a lovely writer from San Antonio this week who has an important reminder for us all. Karin Ireland is a motivational speaker, personal coach, and the author of Learning to Trust Myself: Lessons From Cancer and Other Life Dilemmas. I quote from her riveting email signature:
Don't Wait For a Crisis To Learn What I Learned:
1. Slow down. This is your life!
3. Remember to play.
4. Reevaluate your life frequently. Is it working?
5. Reevaluate your goals. Are they the right ones?
6. Take care of yourself first.
7. Say no. You probably don't have to do most of those things you think you have to do.
Find out more about Karin's book: Learning to Trust Myself: Lessons From Cancer and Other Life Dilemmas
How can YOU be featured? It's easy!
The Gazette is here to publicize anyone who genuinely takes part in Fear of Writing. And I adore photos. Please read the other articles on this page to get an idea of the kind of features I enjoy presenting.
The Gazette is for you, so don't be shy! Below are some ideas for possible features. The one rule: it must involve Fear of Writing in some way.
1. You live in an isolated place, you have fear of writing and nobody to talk to about it. Describe your fear of writing (go ahead, be intense!) and also your writing dreams.
2. You've been writing non-fiction professionally (e.g., journalism or law), but now you want to learn how to have more fun with writing and unleash your creativity. Tell me a little about your career . . . and what you hoped might happen when you signed up for the Gazette.
3. You've just tried the Fertile Material, you're excited, and you want to share your new short story with the world. Email me the story (plus the exercise it was based on) and a photo of yourself. If your story is long, send it all and I'll choose an excerpt. Please DO NOT spend time polishing your story first—half the fun of the Fertile Material is that we get to write it and then share it "in the raw."
4. You've started a Fertile Material writing circle and you have a group photo. Send along a description of where you meet or a funny anecdote about your group to publish with the photo.
My beloved Santa Fe Fertile Material Writing Circle (2002 anniversary dinner). I do miss them! - Milli
Contact Fear of Writing Gazette editor, Jenni Bartels: