A Glimpse of Danika: an Unexpected Day with a Homeless Woman

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On the morning of December, 4, 2016, my wife, Beth, and I went on a bicycle ride through our neighborhood. As we crossed a nearby park on a paved bicycle trail, we passed a woman standing next to a picnic table under a Ramada. On the table were a suitcase, sleeping bag and two canvas bags. Moments later, Beth braked and then turned to me.

“Do you think we should offer to help her?”

Trusting Beth’s judgement more than my own I replied “I was thinking the same thing, but I’ll leave it up to you.”

Beth turned her bike around and I followed her back to the picnic table where we both stopped.

“Excuse me, but do you need help?”

“I’m all right, thank you, but I could use some food. I won’t take money unless you have work that I can help with, and I would only use that money for bus fare or an emergency.” As we spoke to her, we learned that she called herself Danika. She was very articulate and polite.

Beth offered to bring food and Danika dictated a specific list of needs: flour tortillas; unleavened bread; grapes; and Passover wine. “I will understand if you don’t bring me the wine,” she commented. “I would only use it for Passover.” After finishing our bike ride, Beth drove to the grocery store. While she was gone, I sent her a text: “Maybe she would like to help put up Christmas lights?”

Shortly thereafter, Beth returned to the park with the groceries. As she spoke more with Danika, she discovered that she was headed to the library next, a 1.5 mile walk from the park. She would stash her belongings behind bushes for safekeeping so that she would not have to bring them along. She used a computer at the library to check her email, search Craig’s list for work, or catch up on current events. She also used that time to charge her Government Issue cell-phone. With no service contract, it was useless as a phone, but it worked adequately as a flashlight and allowed her to listen to music.

We decided to meet Danika at the library and offer more help. When we arrived, she was sitting out front talking animatedly with a sharply dressed woman. It was clear that the two women had made a connection and when we approached her, she matter-of-factly said:

“Do you mind coming back in a while so that I can finish my conversation with Audrey?” Danika can be rather blunt.

“Okay,” Beth replied, “we’ll just go into the library for a while.”

When we returned, she had just finished her conversation.

“How would you like to help me install Christmas lights on my home?” I asked.

“While you’re there, I can wash your clothes and you can shower if you’d like,” Beth chimed in.

“Can I wash my sleeping bag, too? It got wet from the rain a few days ago and it’s still damp. I’m worried that it will get moldy.”

“Of course.”

“That would be wonderful.”

“Our van is right over there,” I said, pointing. “Let me help you with your bags.”

“Thank you.”

The three of us carried her meager belongings to the van and then drove home. Once there, Beth began washing the sleeping bag while Danika unpacked her clothes. Meanwhile, I retrieved the Christmas lights from storage and untangled them while I waited for Danika. She joined me a few minutes later.

 “I’ve never done this before, so I apologize if it doesn’t turn out well.”

“Don’t worry, I’ll be happy with whatever I get. I’m just glad to have some company.”

As we worked together, I learned a little more about her life. She was from Los Angeles, and was abandoned by her birth parents at an early age. She had a brother and sister, whom she didn’t know. Although she was adopted, her birth parents were an occasional part of her life, which appeared to cause more harm than good by reinforcing memories of abandonment. Despite having an adoptive family, she carefully avoided discussing them.

She managed to graduate from high school and take a few community college classes, but frequently ruminated about her abandonment, eventually turning to the bible for comfort. She read scripture voraciously and that became a focal point of her life. Her new obsession with scripture made people around her uncomfortable and she became increasingly alienated. In January, 2016, she chose a life of homelessness, placing her fate in God’s hands.

The conversation flowed naturally and instead of feeling like I was helping a homeless person, I felt like I was merely spending time with a friend. After stringing lights, the last of the clothes were still not dry, so we offered to either make dinner at home, or take Danika to a restaurant of her choice. In her typical blunt fashion, she suggested The Cheesecake Factory, a fairly upscale restaurant famous for their cheesecake.

Having not showered in three weeks, Danika then retired to the bathroom. It took so long that I wondered if something had gone awry. After all, we knew almost nothing about her.

“Do you think she’s okay?”

Beth shrugged “I hope so.”

After showering, Danika decided to dress for the occasion. Because she and Beth were of the same build, Beth selected some of her clothes for Danika to borrow while her clothes continued to dry. A top priority for Danika was that they be warm, so she ended up with black leggings, a grey, long sleeved t-shirt, and a cream cardigan sweater. Beth even let her borrow a colorful necklace and silver earrings.

Apparently, Danika had a small stash of make-up in her suitcase, and this was the perfect time to use it. She had not been to a restaurant in a long while. Once again, she disappeared into the bathroom for a considerable time to apply makeup.

Eventually, she descended the stairs and then paused at the bottom to pull on her calf-high, black, faux-leather boots that she had recently purchased at a local supermarket with money that she had saved. Afterward, she stood and announced “I’m ready.”

I was stunned by her miraculous transformation, but said nothing until after we had ordered our meal at the restaurant, at which time I could hold it in no longer. “Danika, you are the most beautiful homeless person I have ever seen.” She smiled broadly and thanked me.

During dinner, it became evident that Danika was a very bright and resourceful woman. She knew of several shelters, assistance programs and other options available to her, and had taken advantage of them whenever she was overly hungry, sick, or beaten by the hard life that she’d chosen. It also became obvious, from the tears that occasionally streamed down her cheeks, that she was tormented by demons that might be better faced head-on instead of smothering them with scripture.

Ultimately, Danika ordered more than she could eat: bread; an appetizer of hot wings (which I shared); and a main course: herb crusted filet of salmon, asparagus and beets substituted for potatoes. After months of light meals on the fly, it was impossible to eat it all in one sitting. We requested take-out boxes for the remainder so that she could eat it later.

After returning home, an awkward silence filled our home as Danika prepared for homelessness once more. She returned the jewelry to Beth and washed her makeup off so that it would not soil the layers of clothing necessary to protect her from the night-time cold. She carefully folded and packed her clean clothes into her suitcase but did not pick out any clothes to change into.

Beth informed me later that she struggled with the situation as the shirt and sweater were among her favorites. Ultimately, she decided that keeping Danika warm through the chilly Phoenix December nights was worth the sacrifice. Soon, Danika was ready to return to the park where we had found her. “You don’t have to take me back, I’ll walk,” she insisted, to which I replied “Nonsense. I’d be happy to drive you.”

In truth, this situation broke our hearts. How could we return this wonderful, kind person to homelessness? We could easily take her in. Our children had moved out. We had plenty of space and resources. Nevertheless, Danika was on a mission. She had placed herself at the mercy of God and was bound and determined to follow His guidance. This was an important journey of self-discovery for her, perhaps the most important thing she would ever do. Unbelievably, we both felt that it would be inappropriate to offer her more than we already had. Besides, she could have mental health or other issues that we were untrained to deal with.

Beth gave Danika our email address, said goodbye and then hugged her. Although I was driving her to the park, she hugged me as well and then thanked us both. Afterward, I loaded her belongings into the van and drove back to the park where we had met her less than twelve hours earlier.

As I helped to carry her meager possessions into the park, Danika stopped next to a colorful children’s jungle gym with a small roof sheltering a raised six by six foot platform. “I’ll sleep here,” she said, “The sprinklers won’t soak me in the morning.”

I set her suitcase and two canvas bags full of food on the second of three stairs and then watched in disbelief as she unrolled her sleeping bag across the vinyl-coated steel mesh. As she prepared for the chilly night ahead, I felt that it was time to leave.

“Danika?”

“Yes?”

“Please remember that you are not alone. If you need anything, don’t hesitate to contact us by email. If you need a safe place to leave your things, you’re welcome to store them behind the large pillar by our front door.”

“Okay.”

“Well, good night, and God bless you.”

“God bless you, too.”

With that, I turned and walked away. I held back tears on the drive home, feeling as if I had just said farewell to a daughter. When I arrived back home, Beth’s eyes were tearing up as well. I embraced her and we hugged each other tightly, both of us wondering if we’d done the right thing.

The next day, I contacted a friend who cares for battered women. She provided a list of organizations to contact. One in particular stood out: the Salvation Army’s Project Hope, a mobile outreach program that provides housing, food, bus tickets, resume writing, interview clothing, work clothing, furniture, bedding, proper identification, and referrals to other community agencies.

I printed out their information and delivered it to Danika later that day. The following day, I contacted the Salvation Army and informed them of Danika’s location and situation. Now, it will be up to Danika to remain homeless or find purpose in her life.

***

Update: On December 7, Danika vanished. I hope that a Project Hope driver convinced her to accept their help and then delivered her to a safer and better life, however, I may never know for sure. Either way, I hope that our few hours of kindness made a difference that she will not forget and that someday, she will be able to help someone in a similar predicament.

***

Image courtesy of Paul Goyette, Flikr.com

Danika’s name was changed to protect privacy.

Why I Ride

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“Motorcycles are dangerous. I know of someone who died from head injuries/lost his leg/is a vegetable.”

Yes, motorcycles are dangerous. I figured that out in the 90s when I moved to Phoenix, Arizona and experienced frightening incidents with traffic routinely. Certain that my days were numbered if I continued, I reluctantly donated the motorcycle to my older brother and retired from riding. For the next twenty years, I didn’t give motorcycles much thought.

That all changed when a homeless man stole an acquaintance’s 49cc Honda Metropolitan scooter. Although he never got the scooter running, he damaged it extensively with a claw hammer and screwdriver while trying. Why would a homeless man even have those tools?

In the process, he made such a racket that neighbors eventually peered through window blinds to investigate the commotion. Shortly thereafter, the police arrived, and reminiscent of a Charlie Chapman film, gave chase to the homeless man.

Sometime later, the police returned the scooter to its dismayed owner, who relied on the diminutive machine to commute to college. With no insurance, tools or the knowledge necessary to repair it, he found other transportation. For the next few months, the broken scooter gathered dust. I am a sucker for potential, however, and that broken scooter soon caught my eye.

I bought it for a song and fixed it like new, spending much more money and time than I could justify. During its return from brokenness, I fell in love with that quirky and admittedly cute machine.  When I finally tightened the last screw, fired up the engine, and twisted the throttle, the feel of the wind in my face and the purr of piston and valves between my legs reawakened a dormant passion.

Before I’d even sold that scooter, I convinced my wife to allow me to buy another for my sixtieth birthday: a 2011 Yamaha Zuma with a top speed a shade under 60mph—with a decent tailwind. “It’s all the motorcycle I’ll ever need,” I promised.

That Zuma transported me to heaven as I drove it hundreds of miles over the next few months. I had not been so happy in years. However, its limitations soon became apparent.  After an ambitious hours-long ride to the top of South Mountain and back, I needed a nap to recover.  It was one of the harshest motorcycles I’d ever ridden. The suspension was bone-jarring stiff and to make matters worse, the small size and limited power restricted me to pothole ridden surface streets. The more I rode, the more painful it seemed. It wasn’t long before I reminisced about more capable steeds:  motorcycles that formerly carried me thousands of miles through fifteen states.

Nonetheless, I feigned contentment, that is, until I encountered a website proclaiming “Tour the PCH on a Motorcycle!” The Pacific Coast Highway: a two lane strip of asphalt hugging the western U.S.  coastline from Seattle to San Diego. As adrenaline coursed through my veins, the scooter quickly lost its appeal.  I longed to ride farther, and longer, to see the world again as I once did: as a free spirit awash in the natural elements.

Shortly thereafter, I found myself at RideNow Powersports in Chandler, swinging my right leg over one motorcycle after another. Eventually, I spotted a perfectly outfitted model: A Suzuki V-Strom 650 Adventure bike.  A-d-v-e-n-t-u-r-e.  Now, that’s what I’m talking about. I salivated as I the word reverberated through my mind. After noticing that it was the previous model year and on sale for 40% less than the current model, I was sold. Much to my wife’s chagrin, I drove the V-Strom home the next day. “Motorcycles are dangerous,” she reminded me.

I think about that all the time. Have I lost my marbles? I’m 60 years old, not twenty. What the hell am I doing riding a motorcycle? Loving it, that’s what. Once you’ve spent time on a motorcycle, it becomes a part of you—a rung on your DNA ladder.  And when you put on your leather jacket, sporty helmet, and gloves that fit like a second skin, you are twenty again. I rode and rode. As I did, I had plenty of time to think and here is what I realized…

We are lulled into a false sense of security by fractions of an inch of glass or steel separating us from catastrophe as we drive our automobiles. Oblivious to the dangers surrounding us, we distractedly text, converse on cell phones, joke with friends, tend to our children, or sing along with the radio.

We fly on jet airplanes at tens of thousands of feet at insane speeds approaching that of sound. Any number of events could end our lives in the blink of an eye. Can a jet even land safely anywhere but a major airport?

When I ride, I acknowledge danger constantly. One wrong move, one animal crossing my path or debris falling from a truck could be the end of me. I am connected with my mortality, my fragility, my vulnerability. It doesn’t make me fear, it makes me feel alive. What I am experiencing is real and involves all of my senses. Riding is completely immersive requiring both hands and feet to brake, shift, apply the clutch, throttle or turn signal while keeping a close watch in both mirrors and ahead for potential trouble.

On the other hand, I hear everything from the sound of transmission gears and rev of the engine to the muted or aggressive exhaust note in response to my bidding. I accelerate or brake more swiftly than all but the most exotic automobiles. The wind in my face communicates my speed without need of a speedometer. I feel the temperature drop when I pass green fields and the heat of the engine when the wind shifts. My panoramic view is unhampered by steel beams or tinted glass and the only music I hear is that which I hum in my head. Despite the fact that only gravity holds me on this machine, I feel more grounded than ever.

Roads that I’ve traveled uneventfully for years suddenly come alive. Every crack, pothole, change in texture, and whether the road widens or narrows becomes a life-threatening concern. Animals scampering in the brush along the road side—jeopardizing my existence should they leap unexpectedly in front of me—never escape my watchful eye. A bird swooping across my path could render me unconscious or at the very least, knock the wind out of me, and a single well-placed bug splat on my visor could rob me of vision.

I notice much that I previously missed:  the vastness of the desert southwest, the raw beauty of Arizona sunsets, the intimacy of a winding mountain road on which I lean so sharply that my foot pegs nearly scrape, the sheer delight of flawless new asphalt, the luxury of having roads to myself while everyone else eats dinner, sits glued to video games, or vegetates to a television series.

Riding makes me appreciate our world like nothing else, and when the ride is through, I can hardly wait for my next adventure. One thing that I especially enjoy is the fact that more often than not, fellow motorcyclists will wave at me in acknowledgement of our shared passion. I wish that more people could share such a connection.

Already, I am planning my first road trip: 1700 miles from Phoenix, Arizona to Fort Collins, Colorado and back. I’ll witness some amazing scenery from a viewpoint that can’t be beat. Until then, wish me safe journeys and please, be watchful for, and considerate of motorcyclists. If you encounter one of us, feel free to open your window, extend your hand into the wind to share a bit of our world, and then wave.

The Little Man and the Crowd of Miseries

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Once upon a time, a little man lived in a ramshackle cottage on a weed-choked lot not far from a castle. Every day, the little man opened his door to find a huge crowd waiting. As the door swung open, they all shouted “Huzzah!” Then, one by one, they shared their miseries with him.

The little man was very popular because he was a good listener. He also possessed a great talent for transforming suffering into anger and riling the crowd. Fueling their rage filled him with a sense of power and purpose, which he greatly enjoyed.

The crowd spent the day together roaming the countryside, complaining, swearing, and shouting, always with the little man at the lead. At the end of the day, however, the little man returned home exhausted.

When he looked back upon each day, he realized that they were all the same: nothing accomplished, nothing changed. Many days he felt too tired to fix himself dinner, or he drank himself to sleep and forgot about dinner entirely. His life depressed him, and surprisingly, he felt lonely. After many years of the same routine, his health began to fail leading to frequent headaches, illness, and fatigue.

One morning, the little man awoke with a realization: No one is holding a crossbow to my head or a broadsword to my throat forcing me to do this.

Rather than continue his downward spiral, he instead decided not to open the door. Every so often, he peered through wooden shutters at the crowd gathered outside. They gazed at the door expectantly, talked among themselves, and shrugged their shoulders in confusion.

“Where is he? Why won’t he come out?” After a time, they began to leave, and by noon, everyone was gone. The little man breathed a sigh of relief. Finally, I’m alone.

Slowly, he opened the door to the most beautiful day he could remember. He left his home and strolled through the nearby wood. Bumblebees droned and Peacock butterflies circled lazily in courtship over his head. Celandine, Primrose and Bluebells painted the earth in shades of gold, yellow, and blue at his feet and the repetitive ballad of a Song Thrush whispered in his ears.

He followed a meandering path until it ended near a breathtaking waterfall. A beautiful little woman sat at water’s edge admiring the splendor. The snap of a twig underfoot caused her to turn in his direction. Upon seeing him, she smiled invitingly. Immediately smitten by her charm and good looks, he joined her in reverie.

The little man married the little woman, and they moved into the cottage together. Lush grass and pristine gardens replaced weeds and perfectly groomed thatch sealed the leaking roof. The cottage became one of the loveliest in the kingdom. People came from all around to see it, but most days, the little man and woman were not there—they were busy exploring all the wonders that the world had to offer.

*** We are victims of life not by design, but by choice ***

Image by Ron Adams, Flikr Commons

Together or Alone?

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This morning, I pondered the differences between my two novels: Detour from Normal and The Road to Amistad. Joined at the hip in many regards, these novels are nonetheless as different as night and day in a certain respect: one is about being alone and the other is about being together.

In Detour from Normal, I was thrust from normalcy into a life of cold, heartless professionals and the tragically mentally ill. A normal person in my place would feel frightened and alone, and many of the experiences I described are from a solitary perspective. Instead of feeling terrified, I felt at peace, and at times, blissful. A mysterious process had freed me from judgment, expectations, worry and fear.

That mindset allowed me to befriend people who were toothless, foul-smelling, crippled, rude or unable to communicate—people I would never associate with before. My best friend was a drug addict recovering from his eighth relapse who had lost his job, savings, car, home, wife and family because of addiction. Through different eyes, I found these people funny and interesting, and for those among them who felt frightened and alone, I became their guardian angel. It was an immensely freeing experience and I could not help but imagine what the world would be like if everyone could live life as I did then.

The Road to Amistad explores just such a scenario. People from all walks of life were spontaneously freed from their mental prisons and introduced to my world overnight. Unfortunately, their changed mindset more often than not led to heartache as family and friends demanded the return of their absconded loved ones.

A few managed to avoid that struggle and find a unity of spirit with others like themselves. Friendship and trust thrived regardless of former walls that separated them. They were magnets to each other, formed strong friendships and accomplished great feats together. None among them ever felt separate or alone.

Nowadays, it is difficult for me to tread the line between alone and together. I have a wife, children, friends and a full-time job. There are many rules and walls that impede me and I have limited time and resources.  It would be easier to abandon my vision and rejoin my former world, but I don’t want to close doors—I want to open them. I don’t want to be alone—I want to be together. I want to be part of something big.

I hope that you will read both Detour from Normal and The Road to Amistad and open your mind to possibilities that are ours for the taking. If my message rings true, press the button; twist the throttle; swing; jump; do whatever it takes to begin your own journey, and as you go forth, spread the word so that you may do it together instead of alone.

The View from Utopia

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In 2011 as I suffered from medically induced mental illness, I dreamed of a place I came to call Utopia. At the time, Utopia became very important to me, so important that I felt the place must really exist. For years after my recovery, I searched for it to no avail. Imagine my surprise when, by accident while on a family vacation in the summer of 2013, a real estate brochure gave me a crucial clue.

Recently, I flew from Phoenix, Arizona almost to Canada to see a view I’d only ever seen in a dream over four years ago. I wasn’t exactly sure of the exact spot so, based on studies of Google Earth, I planned on visiting several. To my surprise, it ended up being the first location that I chose. As I stood looking out over this view, it moved me to tears. I couldn’t believe that the place I dreamed of was in fact real.

Dreams play an important role in my life. My first book, Detour from Normal, has several real dream sequences and my next book has an equal number, all based on real dreams.

If you’ve read Detour from Normal, I hope that you will appreciate this view as much as I do. Had I arrived sooner, it would have included the snow on the mountaintops and ski runs that I describe in Detour from Normal. As a bonus, I also spent the night in the ski resort at the base of those ski runs.

I’d tell you where this place is, but I’d rather you learn more about it from my next book: The Road to Amistad, which is nearing completion and is targeted to be published in late 2015. It is a fictional memoir sequel to Detour from Normal written in the same style. I hope that you will once again join me and allow me to take you to places that you never imagined.

Sashi and Alisha Come to Life

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A few years ago, I dreamed of a small disabled child rescued from certain death by an elephant. In the dream, the child and elephant become best friends and share many adventures. When I awoke, I rushed to my computer and recorded the dream. Months passed. In early spring of 2013, my youngest daughter, Hailey, announced that she wished to volunteer for a month in Nepal. Not being ones to stand in the way of our fearless adventurer, we scraped money together for the trip and allowed her to sign up. In June of 2013, our 16-year-old daughter flew unaccompanied around the world to Nepal.

For two weeks in a small town not far from the Chitwan Jungle, Hailey stood beside surgeons in a teaching hospital, asking questions as they operated. The conditions there appalled her. With no air conditioning, the operating room was sweltering. Sanitizing instruments between surgeries involved a few squirts of Windex, time permitting, otherwise, they rinsed them with cold running water. Hailey’s next assignment involved teaching English to young children near Kathmandu, but first, she and other volunteers seized an opportunity to explore the Chitwan Jungle.

During her adventures, Hailey posted Facebook updates religiously. Imagine my surprise one day when a photo of her riding an elephant bareback arrived on my timeline. The synchronicity was clear. I dusted off the story and approached it with new zeal. Characters broadened and took on names: Sashi, a real elephant in Nepal, and Alisha, meaning “protected by God.”

Public speaking always frightened me. A character in my newest novel wanted to improve his speaking skills. Perhaps sharing that journey would benefit me. In mid 2013, I joined Toastmasters. I survived the first few speeches, but the requirements for the next speech stumped me. That speech involved vocal range and variety. Wondering what I might present, I thought of Sashi and Alisha. I dusted off the story once more to fulfill the speech requirements. When the time came to present, I stomped like an elephant, hissed like a snake, and blew like the wind. I spoke feebly as a sickly Alisha and thunderously as powerful Sashi. As I delivered that speech, I realized that Sashi and Alisha had come to life. At that moment, I decided to publish Sashi and Alisha.

In mid-October 2014, my editor informed me of an opportunity to pitch a children’s book to a publisher for ten minutes on November 15th. Having been through several rounds of editing by then, the manuscript of “Sashi and Alisha” was ready. I knew nothing about pitching children’s books, but was up for the challenge. To my dismay, I learned that the pitch required a full mock-up of the book–with artwork! I am not an artist by any stretch of the imagination. I’m an engineer: I create mechanical drawings with Autocad, and electronic schematics with Altium. In a pinch, I can draw something crude with Microsoft Paint.

As I wondered what to do, I realized that Nepal was a beautiful place. I searched the internet and found a treasure trove of photos of Nepal, many from the Chitwan jungle. The solution was obvious. I just needed a mock-up. This wasn’t a book to sell. I needed something convincing enough to get me to the next level. For the last two weeks, I worked long and hard downloading images, cutting, pasting, and manipulating. I’m happy to say that it resulted in an unexpected work of art that I’m very proud of. Today, I’d like to announce that I finished the mock-up! This image is one of my favorites from the mock-up. Wish me luck with my pitch on 11/15!

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In Search of a Priceless Gem

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I received a two star review a few days ago, so I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to talk about writing. I could give you my opinion of that reviewer, and why she gave me that review, but the fact is you cannot please everyone.

You also cannot shrug those reviews off. Readers are your customer. You must instead ask, “How can I do a better job?” If 20% of your readers give negative feedback, explore how you might improve customer satisfaction to lower that number to 10%. That bad review could be the best thing that ever happened to you.

Basketball players sometimes fret about missed shots. I disregard the missed shots and focus on making a swisher—a shot that passes through the hoop without touching the rim or backboard. Swishers have a pleasing sound that screams bulls-eye! Even with closed eyes, you can appreciate a swisher. On your writing journey, do not sweat the missed shots, and treasure the swishers.

Being a writer demands risk taking and dedication. Open doors you wouldn’t normally open. Ask questions you’re afraid to ask. Say yes to challenges you’re terrified of. Write at work. Write in the restroom. When your muse is on fire, never say no to it even if it is 3AM. Write every chance you get and always strive to improve.

Do not be afraid to discard a paragraph, chapter, or entire manuscript, and start over. Accept that most of what you write is garbage, but hidden in that garbage is a priceless gem. You may have to go through a truckload of garbage to find it, but when you do, you will be glad that you never gave up.

Whether it is a blog post or a novel, do not be in a rush to publish. A typical novel goes through four rounds of editing. Blog posts deserve equal scrutiny. Slow down and enjoy the ride. The finished product will reflect it. I found a university creative writing instructor, who for a very reasonable fee reviews every important piece that I write. Her assistance is priceless, and she welcomes the extra income and a chance to help a fellow writer.

After reading that two star review and making note of anything I could improve, I reread a few of my five star reviews and reminded myself why I chose to write in the first place.

 

Image courtesy of Toshio