TRUE Writer’s Block: What to Do Now, After Your Muse Has Really Left (Six Months and Counting)

Folded Dreams, a follow-up novel to my venture into the world of self-publishing, managed to get to about 45% edit-worthy completion. I wasn’t completely satisfied with my work at that point, but I was proud to have at least made it that far! And then, as often happens of course, I hit an annoying bout of writer’s block – so I pouted for a few days, then decided I’d really show my Muse how childish an old fossil can get, and “cut off my nose just to spite my own face”…

Thanks to!

Translation:  I  did what I believe a serious writer should never do for more than a few days at a time – I took a stupid vacation from writing. A couple of weeks should do it, I thought to myself. Just two weeks.

That was about the end of November or first of December, 2016.

As fate would have it (or “Never Disrespect Your Muse”), on the 8th of December I had a pretty serious stroke. Not a “major stroke”, mind (the kind that leaves one totally blind and unable to control one’s bodily functions), but bad enough to have to start from scratch to re-develop the ability to walk and use the muscles on the whole right side of my body to cough and spit toothpaste into a sink, and the dexterity I needed to dress and to even simply keyboard.

Writer’s block just became very real and much more complicated than ever, indeed.

It was necessary for me to leave my home and move in with one of my children; but I was determined to be ready when my muse again visited me, so I had my computer and flash drive book files brought over here to my son’s house.

A couple of weeks ago, I woke up with the urge to write. I thought about perhaps starting that book on stroke recovery which my therapists at Brooks Hospital had suggested. But, no – I wanted to get crackin’ on my novel again. After all, it’s nearly a year over-due for publish.

I plugged my flash drive into my lap top and began reading the existing chapters to the novel, “Folded Dreams”, you know, to refresh my memory as to where I was heading with the story. I really enjoyed re-reading what I’d written so far, mostly because I didn’t “recognize” it…

In fact, I had forgotten nearly the entire thing. Gone. Just. Like. That.


Since that day, I’ve pondered the story, pounded my brain and perused all of my files on story-line notes and research to find anything I recognize. Nothing. Zip. Zilch. the only ‘discovery’ I’ve made is the continued enjoyment of reading a story which, each time I open it, seems like the first time reading someone else’s work. You see, I only vaguely remember having read it at all, no matter how many times I may have done so…that’s how Swiss-cheesey my brain is.

I don’t know how long this phase of recovery will last. I would like to believe it is only temporary, even if ‘temporary’ lasts for a long time yet. All I know is that THIS is true writer’s block, the likes of which can discourage me to the point of throwing in the towel…for good and ever.

But I won’t, even if I have to change the plot to include the protagonist having a stroke and losing herself completely.

Take THAT, Writer’s Block!!


To smile, to cry, to say goodbye… ‘a smile in one eye, a tear in the other’

I read a book last week, perhaps you saw the post. The title quoted the author’s wife, who observed:

“…a smile in one eye, a tear in the other.” – Ralph and Ginger Webster

I understand the concept. Life has a way of coming at you so quickly that you haven’t the time to make a decision what emotion to dwell on.

Hopefully, our emotions are worked separately throughout life. We smile, we cry…and in the end, we say goodbye. It doesn’t always happen that way…sometimes birth and death happen at the same time. If we’re lucky, we survive with only a scar around our hearts and more sweet memories than sad…or bad.

Sometimes, old memories are so overshadowed by a dull ache, that the urge to run away from the pain never really relinquishes its grip; even I, an incurable optimist, succumb at times. You would think that having 10+ children and more than 50 grands would cure my melancholy for once and for all. For the most part, it does.

But now my children have gone on to live their own lives, with kids of their own. I expected this. I told my babies as they were growing up that becoming an adult was just the natural, inexorable way of things – that they wouldn’t always need me right there with them. For many, many years I even told them that one day, when I got old, I planned on running away, because once they had grown and gone, I knew I would be lonesome, what with so much quiet and all.

My last baby is now 25. My one child left is now a man. He went off on his own a lot of years ago, too. I’m happy that all my children are content. I’m sad that they’re gone. And I can’t even call my mom when I’m feeling blue, because I said goodbye to her and my father fifteen years ago.

Can I run away now?

Connecticut held me tight, once I moved away from North Carolina, for even though we lived a hundred miles or so away from real mountains, we had beautiful, high hills..and when the snow covered them in the winter, it was a balm to my heart. But, ahhh…those Smoky Mountains!

I fell in love for the very first time in my life as a young girl, there, in those ancient mountains. Married him, too. But he was a Vietnam Marine Corps veteran and battle fatigue and shell shock…PTSD…took him away from everyone, including me. Only the mountains could hold him, but eventually even they weren’t strong enough to battle a weakened heart, and God called him home. He was barely 50 years old.

My nowadays husband spent his 22 married years in the Smokies, too. And he lost his wife there. She was only 42.

I miss my old mountains. But I’m not sure where I want to run away to any more. If I was all alone, without a husband, I’d probably go back home to the mountains, but I wouldn’t want to go where my husband had his wife. I wouldn’t want to intrude on those memories. And my memories are my own, as well.

Mama and Daddy are buried there, too.

I always love to visit my Smokies, to breathe the clean mountain air and hike from one mountain top to another. All quiet and whatnot. Peaceful.

I still have my memories, whether I turn back time in my mind here in Florida, or if I go home in the flesh to do it.

But I miss home.

Going home sounds like such a good idea, even if I must face having a smile in one eye and a tear in the other.





….not so young….










…and then.



Going Home…

...gathering up the courage to plop your fanny down into the icy water...pushing off, knowing that the next icy cold plunge would take your breath away. Then climbing back up to the top and doing it all over again...

…gathering up the courage to plop your fanny down into the icy water…pushing off, knowing that the next icy cold plunge would take your breath away.
Then climbing back up to the top and doing it all over again…


Just a thought…”

One may not be able to turn back time, but “going home” always brings back memories. Hopefully good, sometimes bittersweet…but always worth the effort.

* * * *



Once upon a time… and no regrets.

Once upon a time I was young. I had energy and my body was sound – so sound in fact, that when I was in my early 20’s I began training to go into body-building competition.

But life happens, as so often occurs, and while I looked the part of a champion…or at least a contender…I just hadn’t the time to pursue that particular dream, what with three small children. I didn’t stop training, I only let the dream of competing go.

No regrets.

Once upon a time I had the opportunity to chase another dream: to sing. I was, at first, the female lead singer around which a rock band was formed. Although the band didn’t even last long enough to gain an official name, I did make my one and only demo record during the experience.

No regrets.

After that band went “kerpoot!” I jammed with a number of country western bands throughout our town and finally helped start The Country Classics in St. Petersburg, Florida, back in the mid-1970’s…again, lead female singer. We gained a moderate following and more than once I was invited to guest sing either backup, harmony or duets with a number of other bands.

I had a blast.

Once upon a weekend when we were performing, another band came into the bar. They approached us early on, saying that they had heard I was one of the best performers of Loretta Lynn’s “Coal Miner’s Daughter” in the area. I don’t know about ‘one of the best’, but I was never able to leave the stage without at least 3 encores of that song, so yeah, I guess I was good. I could mimic that song like I was Loretta herself.

As it happened, that band was part of Loretta’s entourage and they were looking for a replacement singer to open for her on tour that summer…and they asked me, but they had to have an answer by the following day.

Having inherited my voice from her, the first person I called was Mama. She was thrilled, and more than happy to keep my daughters while I followed my dream, at least for the summer.

My husband at the time, lead male vocals and bass guitarist, said, “Is there a place for me?” There was not. They wanted my voice, but they already had their band. He never congratulated me, never said he was proud of me. He just pouted. But he was my husband, and I felt it wrong to choose this opportunity over him.

But they wanted me! I had that recognition! In my mind, I had made it, whether I followed through or not. I declined, but with profuse gratitude. I came away from that experience standing much taller than my 5’2″ stature dictated.

No regrets.

There have been so many more dreams that I followed, once upon a time, but for whatever reason, few ever reached fruition as a career. Even so, I have succeeded at all of them…just like reaching the level it took to be invited to tour with Loretta Lynn.

No regrets.

And now I write. I’m no best seller, but I know I have talent. And if I never sell more follow-up novels than the 50 copies of the precursor, Folded Dreams – the Beginning, sold, I will still feel I’ve succeeded.

Once upon a time I dreamed of writing a book, and having writ…no regrets.



Storms of Life_HolidayFL_Copyright2016-07-12-MDPullenClapper

Life can bring one storm after another, accompanied by both destruction and newness. But storms, in and of themselves, are neither destructive, nor creative…it is, rather, the way they are viewed by man, that dictates such perceptions.

Storms are, by their very nature, a study in ambiguity and contrast.

Where trees may be uprooted, waters erode and hail beats down, there behind it comes new growth. Even the destruction of homes by hurricane, tornado or flood, is followed by rebuilding…and usually the new construction is improved over the old so that it may withstand future storms.

Life’s storms, in the form of ill health, consequences of poor choices, divorce or death, is very much like Nature’s version…in both destruction and new construction.

Illness feels horrid. We can either remain sick and give up, or we can discover the cause for it and either treat it if it can be, or learn the work-arounds. We can make our mistakes and whine about the consequences, or learn how to avoid a repetition from them.

When the storms in our hearts are the result of death, we can lose ourselves in sorrow, anger and bitterness…or we can learn to appreciate the life that we yet have…and hope in, what some call superstition, but what many of us know as Hope and Faith.

There is so much that mankind is still ignorant of, with regards to the “is that all there is?” of life. Life is…and storms are…energy, and energy cannot be destroyed. This is a fact of physics.

Let us reroute our energies when the storms of life assault us. Let us acknowledge the destructive forces as merely a part of birth or rebirth. After all, if not for the destructive forces of nature, the very soil that supports life on earth would not exist.

Just sayin’.


On Folded Dreams, Waking Up Dead…because Mama always said, “I wish you’d stop being so morbid.”

If you have read “Folded Dreams – the Beginning”, you will have seen those words. That’s because the protagonist, “The Child”, and “Mother” are loosely based on me and my own mother. I suppose Mama would consider my unusual interest in death and the ‘hereafter’ from such a young and tender age, as being morbid. After all, children should be all about life and the future and giving their parents a hard time, right?

Mama was more full of life than most people I’ve ever known. She was filled to the brim with passion…her smiles and laughter were a joy to behold and could tame the most angry beast that could take up residence in a person’s heart…and her indignant, righteous rages (for 99% of her blow-ups were due to righteous wrath) could still the heart of a murderer and make him run for the nearest church, recognizing a dire and immediate need for sanctuary!

It was not until the year before she passed away that I found out Mama had her own particular spiritual belief system, regardless of what her church taught. Oh, she was a true believer…a true Christian…one of those few, rare souls who actually strove to live the way Christ taught, even in the face of the cruelties, meanness of spirit and spitefulness of mankind. But even though she respected and honoured her denomination, in her heart she also had her own understanding of the deepest mysteries of life.

I would not have known this, except that we had a very short conversation about the…odd things…that I had witnessed in my nearly half century (at the time) of life. In one indirect sentence, she told me that she hadn’t really thought I was as strange as she had led me to believe, all those years. She didn’t say, “I do wish you’d stop being so melodramatic and morbid. Why must you always be so  facetious?” No, during this conversation…one of the last we ever had…she merely clicked her tongue, cocked her head sideways and said, “Stranger things have happened to more people than you could ever know….to people you would never imagine.”

I think that writing the “Folded Dreams…” books (and basing “Mother” on her), and “Waking Up Dead!”, is my way of thanking Mama for finally letting me know that ‘pooh poohing’ my oddities as a child was simply her way of protecting me from a world that wouldn’t understand, and rarely acknowledges that there is more to life than those things that are visible. It made it much easier to let her go, once I knew we held the same faith.

(Thanks, Anne, for nudging my memories…)