Early influences

A couple of my early favorite authors were and still are Mark Twain (AKA Samuel Clemens) and Rudyard Kipling. I think Twain still has the best comment on Pacific Coast weather: “The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.”

Probably my favorite work of Twain is Letters From the Earth. His ascerbic social commentary does my heart good. My friend Carol Allen was kind enough to share a bit of his newly released autobiography at a writing workshop last Saturday. I’ll have links up soon for these and other recommendations to make it easy for you to browse and buy. Check back, as I’ll also share a bit from that workshop and from the California Crime Writers Conference I attended the previous weekend in Pasadena, California.

I just reread “Rikki-Tikki-Tavi” from Kipling’s The Jungle Book. You’ll find it about the two-thirds point of that wonderful short story collection. I enjoyed it as much now as when I was young. Timeless. A tale of a true warrior, a lesson in duty, persistence, and confidence.



I am most creative when I trust myself, my inner resources, what I really want to manifest. Giving myself permission to express myself freely, to go where my characters and stories go and grow as they will. I set structure and expectations as milestones while staying open minded and ready to change directions.

At times I have found creativity an elusive resource. Of course it is in myself (for me) and in you (for you), but we often lose touch with ourselves. My favorite treatise on creativity – specifically about writing, but applying also to other arts – is Zen in the Art of Writing: Releasing the Creative Genius Within You by Ray Bradbury. This 1990 compilation of Mr. Bradbury’s essays has a wonderful preface that I highly recommend.

Hugh MacLeod’s Ignore Everybody: And 39 Other Keys to Creativity offers several prescriptions for clarifying, nurturing, and protecting your passion.

I got my favorite statement on writer’s block from Stephen J. Cannell at a Sisters in Crime meeting: “The only cause of writer’s block is a desire for perfection.” Mr. Cannell said perfection was not a consideration for him, since he had dyslexia. It shouldn’t be a consideration for any of us, except – perhaps – in spellchecking a final draft. (BTW, he pronounced his surname CAN-ul. I am grateful to him for the many entertaining TV series he created in his long successful career.)

I have found meditating, noodling around, doodling, and writing for the trash can all good methods of initiating movement in my work. Exercising my physical and emotional bodies also raises my energy level. I get my energy moving when I do stuff I love. I get a lot out of gardening, rock climbing, puzzles and games like chess and go, and running with my dog. What it really comes down to for me is figuring out what I have a burning desire to say.

Let me know what gets you going.