Posted on: Mar 1 2014

The absolute most important thing is to get started. Many great stories never get told because the writer never makes it to that crucial first step of getting started. Initially, don’t get so wrapped up with organization or doing things the way you think might be the traditional way in starting to write a story…just start writing. Get a spiral notebook or a three-ring binder filled with writing paper and go at it. Go at it full throttle, little by little or anything in between. Just start writing today. You can organize it later.

In the beginning it is not important to have a perfect title to your story. You can have a working title and change it as you like. Your finished product should be copyrighted as soon as possible. If you are planning on showing any part of your developing story to anyone as you work to complete it, then you should copyright what you have now and file additions to it or file a new copyright when you finish.

Be confident in your ability to write. If you have the courage and start writing, then you are now a writer. You own that title as a writer and no one can take it away from you. Like anything else, there are levels in the profession, from being a beginning writer to a seasoned writer. No matter what level of a writer you are, you are among an elite group of individuals who have the courage to write. Never kid yourself, for it does take courage to write your thoughts and feelings down even if at first you are the only one who sees it.

Don’t worry about your level of education. You could be totally illiterate and still have a great story that you can write. There are plenty of educated, well-spoken and well-written individuals out there who can review your writing project for mistakes in spelling and grammar and even offer suggestions for added material and enhancements who could never, on their own, write a great story like yours. Never be intimidated by those more traditionally educated than you or lose the confidence in your abilities to start writing and finish your creative works.

I am not saying that you should not always be striving to learn more and better yourself at every opportunity. Just don’t get hung up on not being as educated as you would like and prevent yourself from moving forward and writing your great story. Never, and I mean never, let the opinions of others or your initial lack of confidence get in the way of you successfully writing your story. Besides, you are probably much smarter and more confident than you realize.

When you first start writing, don’t worry about what others think of what you have written so far or where you are heading with the story. No matter what, you will always be your harshest critic. It’s OK to get some outside opinions/critique as you progress forward, but you are the only one who knows where you are trying to go with the story, and even you can get a little lost along the way. At this stage if you get too concerned with what others think it could lead to disaster. You will have plenty of time, later on, for opinions, grammar and spell checks, editing and professional critique before entering the market place with your finished product.

Before you get started or along the way, it is always a good idea to read a few books on legal matters related to writing content and copyrighting. You may even possibly consider consulting with an attorney who has experience in literary matters or copyright law. To help avoid some potentially problematic issues, keep your writing focused completely on your own original material and not borrow or modify another person’s written material. As best as possible, be careful when using character names, names of businesses, copyrighted items and things of such. If you are considering writing about someone else’s life story, etc…definitely get a professional legal opinion before moving forward. In my opinion, especially if you are a new writer, keep it as simple and less complicated as possible.

Don’t get all wrapped up in proper writing structure. Just start writing and keep writing. Just like a vacation or a journey, it is always good to have a plan with a beginning point and an ending point. But sometimes with writing you have to start somewhere in the middle and work back to the beginning in order to get to the end. You can always change things along the way as you work toward the completion of your journey.

Although not necessary in starting, it is a lot easier if you can be structured in your approach…even to follow the guidelines of a reputable writing plan/program. If you can outline your story and write from the outline points it can be a little easier to get things done. Once you get the meat and potatoes of your story down you can always use a good content editor or ghostwriter to pull it all together.

It can be helpful to join a local writer’s group or attend writing seminars and workshops. Just keep in mind what I have said before about not being concerned with other people’s opinions, including other writers, and to not let anyone discourage you from pressing on and finishing your story.

Be proud of the fact that you have had the courage to start writing when many others have not. But, when you start writing, do so with passion and the intent of completing what you have started.

Having a good finished product should be your goal. Unfortunately, writers have a tendency to finish something, go back and make changes and go back again and change what they changed before back to what it was in the beginning. This quasi-insanity can go on and on for quite a while. Making good edits and modifications are important, but at some point you have to go with what you have and walk away. Besides, you can make more edits and changes in the next edition.

Always know that you are never alone on your writing journey. Whenever needed, use the resources available on for consultation, ghostwriting, editing, acquisition, publishing and distribution. Good luck and happy writing.

Posted on: Jan 14 2014

January has always been a month of reflection for me, at least for the last 26 years. I was raised by my mom and my grandma for most of my younger years, until the stepfather came into the picture. That is a whole other story for another time. In January 1987 my grandma suddenly got sick and died from complications from a surgery. No one had died in my family since my grandpa on January 19, 1969. I had been in Acapulco, Mexico, on vacation with friends the week before my grandma got sick. She went into the hospital the day before I was scheduled to fly home. I should have tried to come home that day, but I didn’t.  When I got home I went to the hospital to see her. My mom had left about an hour before I got there. My grandma was very happy to see me and I was very happy to see her, too. She seemed OK. I gave her a statue of a man and woman in an embracing dance that I had bought for her during my travels. I remember her showing it off to a nurse who had come in to check on her. I did not spend as much time with her during that visit as I later wished I had. I kissed her goodbye and told her I would be back later that evening. I had only been gone from the hospital about 20 minutes before I got a telephone call that something was wrong and that I needed to immediately return to the hospital. I rushed back and ran to my grandma’s room. A doctor and two nurses were around her, frantically working on her as she nervously moved around with monitors beeping in the background. I ran to her side and held her hand and told her everything was going to be okay. I remember how scared she looked when they placed a breathing mask over her face. That would be the last time I ever saw her soft eyes. She was put on life support that day and by the next day some of her organs were failing, including her kidneys. She had swollen up and looked unrecognizable. There had been a slew of relatives and friends who had stopped by, and many still remained outside the room. My mom had made the difficult decision to discontinue life support and let my grandma peacefully go. No one wanted to be in the room when they finally shut down the life support machine. I would not let my grandma be alone during this time. Before the machine was disconnected, I rubbed her forehead, kissed her cheek, and told her that I loved her. I was holding her hand when the machine was turned off. Even though it seemed like a long time, it was only a few minutes before she took her last breath and left this world. I was 23 years old and had just lost the one person, who in her eyes, believed I was wonderful and could do no wrong. She meant a lot to me, and was a big part of my emotional security in life. I experienced a lot of depression and deep feelings of loss most of that year. My mom was obviously experiencing a lot of grief also. She had a close, but at times difficult relationship with my grandma, beginning as a child and especially when she got pregnant with me when she was 16 years old. I know my mom had wished that she had resolved things with her and maybe spoke some words that needed spoken before my grandma died. I am sure she always thought she would have more time. In the months that followed I was too wrapped up in my own grief to be consciously aware of the grief and loss my mom was experiencing. The months crept by as September arrived. The leaves were gradually beginning to change colors. I was slowly getting back to feeling somewhat normal. One afternoon I got a telephone call from a friend of my mom’s that I will never forget. She told me that my mom, who was only 42 years old, had been in to see her doctor, for what had originally been thought to be bronchitis. It turned out to be cancer in her left lung. But soon it was discovered that the cancer had not originated in the lung. She had ovarian cancer that had spread throughout her body. She had surgery to remove the lung and a hysterectomy, followed up by chemotherapy. She was out of the hospital and back home. I thought she seemed to be doing okay.  I look back now and know that I was very naive or maybe I was just in complete denial of what was going on. This denial could have been fueled by my mom’s strength and confidence that she would be okay and pull through this. She was only 42 years old and a single, divorced parent with two young sons, ages 8 and 11, who had no one but her to depend on. Their father had not seen or spoke with them in years. My mom only lived an hour and a half away from me and I often wish I would have went and saw her more those last few months in 1987…her precious last few months. I stopped by to see her on my way to a Halloween party that year. She seemed to be doing good, considering things. On Thanksgiving, she did not feel like cooking and I was not much of a cook, so I bought a packaged meal from the local grocery store. The meal was pretty good. My mom did not look as well as she had the week before. She looked more tired and run down. Toward mid-December she was back in the hospital. When I went to the intensive care unit that first day, she did not look as healthy as she had before and her color was not quite right. I remember feeling really scared and almost in tears, when being a little delirious from medication, she grabbed my hand and told me not to call my grandma because she would worry too much. The medical staff got her color back to normal and she seemed to be doing better and was coherent as always before. She would remain in the hospital the rest of December 1987. My two younger brothers and I shared a very nice Christmas with her at the hospital. I always thought she would be coming home.  I only recently looked at the video of that last Christmas with her and realized just how sick she looked. I was so young and in denial of all that was going on around me. On New Year’s Day in 1988 my mom’s best friend convinced me that she was not going to survive this battle. I brought both of my young brothers to the hospital to see her. They had no idea just how sick she was and always assumed that she would be coming home soon and life would be back to normal. As they stood by her bedside she was able to talk with them but was not her normal self. I was in the room but stayed in the background while they shared this time together. For the very first time I was engulfed by the harsh reality that she was dying. I remember feeling helpless that I couldn’t do anything to fix this for them. My brothers said goodbye to her and left the room and went in a waiting area with friends and family. I remember then, doing what to date has been the hardest thing I have ever had to do in my life. I took them one by one on a walk down the halls of the hospital and tried to explain to them as best as I could that their mother was going to die soon. Little did I know, just how soon. My 8-year-old brother Jason seemed confused, but composed. I don’t think he really comprehended what I was telling him. My 11-year-old brother Jamie had a better grasp of the severity of the situation and became very upset. Jamie did not understand why the doctors could not help her. Nothing that I could say or do could help either one of them. I did not know what to do other than to try and be strong and not show my emotions. I did this for many years with them and now know that this was a big mistake…for them and me. My mom did not want to die and leave my two brothers all alone. I hope I was able to give her the peace she needed by assuring her that I would take care of them and raise them to be good men. My brothers were in the waiting room with my friend that New Years Day in 1988 when she died holding my hand. I was 24 years old and my life and the lives of my brothers would never be the same. I kept that promise to my mom and took my brothers into my home and raised them to be good men. When I look back, I think we raised each other over those years. They are both college graduates, own their own homes, have good careers and happy lives with their new families. I don’t see them or talk with them as much as I would like. Maybe this year will be different. I am 50 years old, and I am still suspicious of January because of the dark days and inner cold that it has brought into my life in the past. However, I am hopeful for the days ahead and accept that there are unexplainable reasons why things happen in our life. I am forever thankful to God for gracing me with the wonderful people who have came in and out of my life and allowing me the great experiences that I have had over the years.