Steps In Between

Celaine Charles ~ My journey as a writer ~ Author site:

Write Every Day ~ By Guest, Pamela Hobart Carter

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Pamela and Celaine reading poetry together for the Seattle Star, June 2018

I am proud to introduce my amazing writer-friend, Pamela Hobart Carter, as my guest-blogger today. She has written a witty and thoughtful article about “writing every day.” Please read, like, and share her work. Links to her websites and writing work are at the bottom. As always, I appreciate your follower-support. ~ Celaine 🙂

***Thank you, Pamela, for your help while I take a much needed vacation. I will see you for our upcoming Poetry Reading, August 13th, in Seattle (all are welcome, info at the bottom), and I will see my incredible readers back here the following Sunday.***

Write Every Day, by Pamela Hobart Carter

“Do you write every day?” my friend asks me.

Sometimes I say, “Yes.”

After reading Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way, I became a faithful writer of morning pages. After a friend introduced me to a timed writing group and I read Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones, I became a faithful attendee of timed writing sessions, and writer to a clock when alone as well.

To my friend I elaborate about the usefulness of these habits and how much I wish I’d known about them as a teenager and in college instead of procrastinating as if it were a highly-paid gig.

We drop into the captivating subject of the creative process.

Sometimes I say, “No,” not to be contradictory. My habits change. When I quit teaching four years ago to write full-time, I put aside the morning-page routine. I was spending hours at my desk each day; what did I want with my often unfocussed or journal-style writing?

I say sometimes and usually because over her years of increasing memory loss, my friend has asked me, “Do you write every day?” at least twenty times. Once she asked me twice during a single lunch visit. It is her style of friendship. She is curious about me and supportive. She is curious about the world, about art, about opinions—a chronic question-poser. Each iteration is fresh for her. Her caring curiosity persists.

She goes on, “Because John D. MacDonald says you’re not a writer unless you write every day.” My friend and her husband were fans of MacDonald’s. (This website has some nice stuff about how John D. MacDonald wrote. I have only read a couple of his novels although MacDonald has featured in almost every follow-up to my friend’s question. Note to self—check the second-hand store today for MacDonald novels.)

Once in a blue moon I dread the question, uninclined to have the conversation about what I am, according to MacDonald, and how I practice my writing. I keep my answer short and shift our conversation to books or movies or plays, family or politics.

I decide I disagree with MacDonald (who took Sundays off). There are many ways to be a writer. Whether or not I wrote yesterday, I am a writer. Ann Patchett claims to think through her entire next novel’s plot before writing it. That’s a lot of days thinking. Many writers sneak their writing into available corners, early and late, at lunch breaks or on weekends. They are writers. In my teaching days, summers stood for the opportunity to dedicate focus to writing. School days, finding time was never a sure thing. I have told my friend this answer too.

But the hours must be found and spent. The stories never land on paper, the poems never meet the ear of an audience, and the essays never stir the muck unless writers devote those hours to planting words.

A benefit of being asked the same thing repeatedly is the opportunity to rethink answers, to ponder the question over a long period—here, the latter years of our friendship. I’ve decided to treat my friend’s repeated question as emblematic. I’ll interpret every day as habitually. The question is a reminder of the necessity of creators to consider process on a regular basis. For myself, I might mix up the questions. I might add: How do I choose what to write? When do I know I am finished? Why do I do this at all? The question is also a reminder to consider what defines us, regardless of whether we are writers. Do I ______ every day?

I am back at morning pages this calendar year. I missed them. That daily dip, first thing, does root me to my cause. Most days I write specific assignments to maximize my time on this planet. During April, I wrote at least one American Sentence each day in honor of Poetry Month. In February I wrote a short short story each day (not that it was Flash Fiction Month). Recently, I worked my way through the exercises from Ursula K. Le Guin’s marvelous Steering the Craft as my morning pages.

My friend is dying. I will miss hearing this particular question about my life and how I’m living it pitched to me from her interested face, showering me with love.

What question will you ask to show your love today?


Celaine and I met at the Pacific Northwest Writers Association conference dinner for literary contest finalists in 2017. My lovely friend, Janet Yoder, ( a nonfiction finalist, invited me. I was not up for any prizes. At our table was poetry finalist Celaine Charles. She and I talked. We’ve crafted a friendship through poetry: overlapping at Creative Commons Poetry Celebrations put on by The Seattle Star, following each other’s literary adventures via Facebook, and reading each other’s poetry and prose posts.

Come one, come all! 8/13/18 7-9PM is The Seattle Star’s next Literary Event and Open Mic, all ages, at St. Andrew’s bar and Grill. My most recent poems. My websites.


Categories: Thoughts on writing...

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10 replies

  1. Pamela, as always, lays it out straight and clear. Writers write. That’s it. How they do it depends…no one method makes it happen. Nice piece, Pamela.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Jack, thank you! For a time I helped teachers implement a science program. This involved visiting 60-some classrooms. I came to see how many teaching methods are effective. Out of the batch, only one teacher disappointed. The experience opened my awareness to multitudes of methods in other fields too, and has since helped me select what is useful from presentations, readings, & c…

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Pamela, as always, lays it out straight and clear. Writers write. How they do it depends on who and what they are. No dogma, just writing.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks so much for sharing this really great post!!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Did publishing a novel make me a writer? I questioned that much like I questioned being called professor when teaching as an adjunct without the PhD behind my name. I guess thinking about myself as a writer came about after an internal battle in which writer won. So, I write, not to maintain the title, but because it’s what I do.

    Thanks, Pam for the help with that.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Dave, Wow! You are welcome! I’m glad “writer” won the battle. Even if fallow for a period, the writer is still a writer, the way a teacher is a teacher regardless of proximity to a classroom or doctoral degree. Yesterday a poet-doctor friend said she thinks poets are working no matter what they are up to because it is all about accumulating observations and experience. Then she extended it to all kinds of writers.

    Liked by 1 person


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