To Writers Who Have Yet To Write

Lately, several people have told me they want to write. They want to take a class or something before they can actually begin. Bless their hearts.

“Don’t wait!” is my advice. I put off writing for decades because I thought you HAVE to outline before you write. Sure, if that floats your boat, go ahead. Outline.

When I threw that idea away is when I began to write.

Classes are great. Learning how to construct a plot or a succinct and powerful sentence is an accomplishment and you have to learn to do it at some point. Same with comma placement and when to use a semicolon. You’re going need to use all those skills eventually. And a bunch more you thought you had or never even heard of.

But what classes can’t help you get over is your fear of putting yourself on the page. There is an inner barrier to cross. It pops up when you think you want to be writing and instead go do some other task that needs or doesn’t need to be done right at this minute. When you finally sit and stare at a blank page and the thoughts tumble in your head, but your fingers on the keys or holding the pen freeze. The words don’t flow like a dream, like you desperately need them to.

Your fear is in the way.

Fear of feeling feelings you’d rather forget.

Fear of writing shit.

Fear you can’t say things eloquently.

Fear your thoughts won’t form into coherent statements.

Fear someone else will read what you wrote and won’t get it. Or even worse, laugh.

Even fear you might actually be good at it.

It’s time to get over yourself. As a writer, you can’t take yourself too seriously. On the other hand, you have to take yourself seriously.

I took a fiction writing class in college. I’m not sure I learned anything from the actual class. But I did learn about that barrier that kept me from the world I was trying to create. I was afraid to live in that world. Maybe I was afraid of what I would find or that I would love it so much I wouldn’t want to leave it. (Yeah, I’ve been to both those places since I started writing. Several times.) I never got very far with the story and it was a good 40 years before I attempted to write anything again.

So, if you have the desire to write but haven’t been able to bet started, here’s my advice: Put your ass in a chair, activate the implement of your choice and put down words.

Goo goo gaa gaa. It might come out as baby talk. When you were a baby, you learned speech by making noise with your mouth. You listened to the noises other humans made. You learned to control the sounds and mimic what you heard. You learned the sounds had meanings and using them had consequences like getting what you wanted. Then you learned how to string the sounds together to express your ideas. And a few years later you learned the symbols to put the sounds on paper.

And here you are. You found your voice as a baby by using it. You’ll find your voice as a writer by writing.

Don’t wait. Sure, take a class. Wash your windows and iron your sheets.

Just write something first.


Podcast Update

A post or two ago, I told you I had interviewed for Word, a podcast on KJZZ, an NPR affiliate in Phoenix.

The link is just below. I come in at about 17:30. (Does anyone else dislike the sound of their own voice?) But the segment before it is great, too, an interview with the woman who is Municipal Liaison for the Phoenix AZ NaNoWriMo region. Following, the host talks with people at the Local Author’s Fair.

Word Podcast from KJZZ featuring me.

Thanks for tuning in!

Tim Agne/KJZZ
Theresa Munroe is participating in NaNoWriMo for the 12th year in a row.

NaNoWriMo 2019

This is my 12th year participating in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). Crazies like myself set the goal of writing 50,000 words in one month. Not just any 50,000 words, but arranged in a novel or a series of short stories. Or whatever. I figured in all I have 10 separate manuscripts. Three have been published by me. Two are in advanced revision stages. I know several will not see the outside world as a published book.

This year, I’m being a NaNo rebel and I’m advancing last year’s story instead of starting a brand new one. The Briefly Visible Life of Theodora Mott is what I’m hoping will be slightly autobiographical in that the main character is a person of size, as am I. In other words, it’s about a fat woman. An #OwnVoices sort of thing. There will be/won’t be/may be other similarities to my life. It’s set in Arizona. My published books have scenes in Arizona but are mainly set in other states.

Here’s a link to my NaNo Projects page that lays out my projects over the years:

Something special about this year is that I was interviewed about NaNo by Tom Maxedon at KJZZ, a public radio station here in Phoenix. I also participated in the Local Authors Fair at the Barton Barr Central Library in downtown Phoenix. Here’s a link you read and/or listen to. There will be a podcast later this week.

Above is me at the Local Authors Fair with Zook’s Corner. I only sold one book, but damn it, I said hello to people first. And it was fun to talk about the book and Mennonite culture with a few folks. I was exhausted the next day. Hit me up for a bookmark.

As far a NaNo 2019, I feel like I’m struggling a bit this year with Thea’s story. It’s overall been a poor writing year for me. I made very slow progress on Book 3 of Lilyland but it picked up in September when I started going out writing with a group of other people. But then, I realized something I absolutely had to change, so I had to go backward. And now with NaNo here, it’s stopped. For a month.

Anyway, about Thea, I hope to get her story in gear. She has some exciting things ahead to knock her out of her (dis)comfort zone. Internet fame. Romance. And a dog or two.

Reading and Writing Notes

The first annual Women’s Fiction Day is this Saturday, June 8th! Women’s fiction is about the emotional journey of the protagonist, how she grows and changes throughout the story. It can include elements or romance, suspense, paranormal, sci-fi, fantasy, and more as long as the emotional journey is the reason for the story.

Today I finished We Hope for Better Things by Rachel Bartels, a fellow member of the Women’s Fiction Writers Association. It’s about three women from separate generations of one family and the racial issues of their times that influenced their lives. Four stars. I was lucky and snagged an Advance Reader’s Copy (pre-pub) copy at work.

Next, I’m on to giving Nora Roberts another try. I picked up Whiskey Beach from the Library the other day. I’ve tried her once or twice before and could never finish a book. Same with Daniel Steele and Nicholas Sparks. I’ve never been one to fall for what’s extremely popular.

I’m also reading The Recovering by Leslie Jamison. It’s another advance copy I picked up from the library I used to work at. Ms. Jamison is a recovering alcoholic. I’m still at the beginning and she’s talking her drinking experience when she was a student at the Iowa Writer’s Workshop. Evidently, she was in good company, past and present.

I’ve lost that urgency to write that I had for about the first 10 years of my writing career, if you can call it that. I still write almost every day, but am easily distracted and fairly unproductive when I sit down at the computer. I’m back to Lilyland 3, tentative title Frame by Frame, Shot by Shot. I lost focus on Lily and Charlie’s relationship and my muse pointed that out to me by means of something related to editing. I’m currently rewriting part one and hoping to greatly reduce the word count.

Onward and upward!

Meet Temple University Press’s new acquiring editor, Sarah Munroe!

A little over 4 years ago, I published a post here, “Congratulations, Mrs. Munroe, It’s a Poet.” It featured some poems by my daughter Sarah that she had published on Tumbler. During that time, Sarah has acquired her MFA in Creative Writing from West Virginia University. A few months ago, she became an acquisitions editor and Temple University Press in Philadelphia.

Here’s a link to the press’s blog that features an interview with her. That she never told me about.

As a classic underachiever, I’m proud of my kids navigating social systems to do what they love.

While my daughter is a literary maven, my son, on the other hand is an expert on craft beers.

It’s wonderful how my kids help keep the world supplied with two of my favorite things in life: books and beer.


I is for Ice.

I is for ICE. The frozen water thing, not the immigration enforcement squad.

I take ice for granted. I’ve always had ice in my life. I especially enjoy cold drinks that go well with ice. Pepsi. Ice Coffee. Sweet tea. Chocolate milk. I use it on bruises and bumps and headaches. Yay for ice!

This icy delight is a Ginny Weasely at Four Peaks Brewing Company in Tempe, AZ.

I enjoy the ease with which I acquire ice. My life was transformed the first time I used the ice dispenser on my very own refrigerator. What a gift! It’s a rare day when we have no ice in the house.

We even use it to cool down the pets’ water in the summer. In my post about Heat, I failed to mention here in AZ the water pipes aren’t buried very deep and when it’s hot out, the water from our faucets is hot. We say, “Who used all the cold water?” around here.

Of course, ice is used for recreation. Skating, hocking, curling, ice fishing. Here in the desert, there are two ice rinks less than 5 miles in two directions from my house. One is where the Arizona Coyotes play. I laughed when I heard there would be an ice hockey team in the low, hot desert.

It was a huge revelation to me when I realized ice is actually a luxury that most of history, and I imagine even today, the world, has not experienced. Or at least not as a regular thing. Although ice houses to store ice nature made in the winter have been found all over the world including the ancient world, it took a lot of work to get ice from a river or lake into the ice house and then out again to be used to keep food cold or make a drink cool. I imagine you had to be well to do or somehow situated that ice was part of your work.

I chose this photo simply because I like the color.

In the movie Castaway, Chuck is shown at his welcome home party examing ice and fire, two of the many modern conveniences absent on his desert island. I had been awakened to the wonder of frozen water before I saw that movie, but all the same, I liked that the film recognized it as something we take for granted.

The ice comment comes in around 1:12.

Now, I think I’ll have some ice cream while I cogitate why my J idea will be.



H is for Heat

I live in the Valley of the Sun–aka Phoenix, Arizona. Heat is our first middle name. Our second middle name is Wonderful Winters.

Today was our second day in the high 90s. Mother Nature blew by the low 90s and gave us 97 degrees. A friendly reminder of what is ahead for us. Sweat and high electric bills.

Summer. Triple digits. Triple yuck.

At least I don’t have to shovel heat. I don’t slip and fall on it. It doesn’t take up room in parking lots when we get a lot of it or make ruts in the roads because it wasn’t plowed correctly.

The sun will soon be the enemy, relentless, mean, blinding. Already I can’t be directly in sunlight for too long, pasty white girl that I am.

We talk about heat, complain and joke about it. Endure it. Survive it. We wonder at the start of summer how hot it will get and for how long. We pray for days that are not hotter than average. I don’t think “average” has been recalculated for quite a few years because it’s almost always hotter than average. it’s rarely cooler or colder than average around here.

Here’s a post from a few years ago chock full of hot Arizona memes.

Laugh. Enjoy. Shake your heads and ask “Why?”

If you live here, remember it’s not too early to put those oven mitts in your car.




Better late than never.

G is for Gas.

This will be short and sweet.

  1. For some reason, there is a bit of a gas (as in gasoline, petrol) shortage around here, Phoenix, AZ. So of course, that drives up the prices. Like 60 cents in a month. Yeah.

But that reminds me of inflated produce prices, too. I blame that on Trump’s threat to close the border with Mexico, even though it didn’t get closed. But the idea of it can make prices go up. Greedy bastards.

2. Dog gas. Because today is Dog Farting Awareness Day.

Yup, there’s a day. I think it’s a tongue-in-cheek kind of thing to put a positive on basic dog awareness and the misinformation spawned by fear. Click on the link.

CoCo La’Tay

I only know my CoCo has had fewer bad farts since I put her on Iams.

And that’s my post for the day.


Yesterday was my birthday so I didn’t submit my F word so I’m doing it today. Actually, The F Word was a word I was contemplating discussing for this letter, but…

F is for follow-through, which is not my strong suit. I was tempted to not do this anymore, to cease and desist this nonsense. But I decided to persist so I am writing this short post to declare my commitment to this self-imposed project.

Some people aren’t great at beginning things, but go strong once begun. I’m pretty good at starting new projects, but not completing them. Sometimes. I have 10 years of NaNoWriMo projects and three published novels that say otherwise. I also have clean dishes to put away and clean laundry to fold. Is housework the same thing? I’m going to say no.

I’ making this short so I can go contemplate what word I will be using tomorrow for G.


Because E is for Eletelephony, one of my favorite poems as a kid and an adult.

The photo is a page from a Childcraft book circa 1957. You’ll notice the illustration is by Walt Disney. Way before the Disney mega-entity is what is today.

Once there was an elelphant

Who tried to use the telelphant–

No! No! I mean an elelphone

Who tried to use the telephone–

(Dear me! I am not certain quite

That even now I’ve got it right.)


Howe’er it was, he got his trunk

Entangled in the telephunk;

The more the tried to get it free,

The louder bused the telephee–

(I fear I’d better drop the song

Of elehop and telephong!)

–Laura E. Richards

About the poet: