All is well at Goose Lake

Hi everyone,

Yesterday I wrote a new poem for the age 3-7 crowd, submitted it, and received notice of acceptance, so my muse was there when I needed her!

Last night our daughter Robin, son-in-law Tim, grandson Kris, grandson Tyler, and Tyler’s special friend Josie all came over for a pool party with brats, beans, and potato salad. It was a pleasant evening on Goose Lake.

Just before dusk a hummingbird moth flew up to sip nectar from a large cluster of Impatiens growing beside the pool. I took pictures from three fee away as the moth calmly darted from one blossom to another, its two-inch proboscis flicking into one throat after another as it quenched its thirst. IMAG1474


Hi everyone,

Yesterday went off as expected. Almost. My goal: compose one poem. I was writing it in response to an invitation to participate in an upcoming anthology. I didn’t reread the specs but from memory I knew that it was to be suitable for grades 3-7.

I waited for something to occur to me and sure enough something did. I worked on it for half an hour, didn’t like the way it was feeling, and discarded the idea. I chose a second idea, worked on it for half an hour, didn’t like the way it was feeling, and discarded the idea.

A third idea came along and I liked it. I started it as a ballad, rhyming abcb and using 4-3-4-3 beats per line. But I began lapsing into couplets and they felt better. I discarded the beginning and settled into writing a poem in couplets. I was shooting for six to eight lines and aleady knew my ending. But after six lines, the ending came too fast and needed more preparation.

Eventually the poem was complete at 18 lines divided into three 6-line stanzas. I called it done on the seventh draft. Just before sending it off to the requesting party, I decided to read the specs one more time. The poem was to be for ages 3-7, not grades 3-7. I’d spent the entire day writing for the wrong audience.

Yesterday’s effort now goes into my unpublished file to wait an opportunity to use it. Today? I think I’ll write a poem.

Ready for my muse


Hi everyone,

A beautiful Tuesday morning. I have no meetings. Today I’ll get my full twelve hours in. First on my agenda is to start on a new poem. At the moment I have no idea what it will be about, but something will come. It always does. I’ll sit with coffee, a pad, and a pencil and be ready when the idea arrives.

A friend in Springfield sent me this quote.
“What day is it?” asked Pooh.
“It’s today,” squeaked Piglet.
“My favorite day,” said Pooh.

I wish you all a good day too.


How long does it take to get published?

David 2013

Hi everyone,

A retired teacher called me yesterday to tell me about a 16-year-old girl who is working on a fantasy novel that is, according to the teacher, an incredible story. She wants to be a good advisor to this talented young woman and was seeking input. She asked if I would sit down with the student, and I declined.

I hope this doesn’t make me a bad person. Published writers receive many such requests and most of us sooner or later have to make decisions about how to respond. In my case I’m sympathetic because I well remember that as a writer starting out I would have given anything to have a “real” writer read my work and tell me what I should be doing to improve.

The honest truth was, is, and will be: The qickest way to get published is (as with Carnegie Hall), practice. Write and write and write. Hours and weeks and years of writing go into getting published. We all know someone who got there quicker, and I hope that the 16-year-old novelist is one of those fortunate ones, but the first rule of getting good at anything remains: practice.

In Malcom Gladwell’s 2008 blockbuster, OUTLIERS: THE STORY OF SUCCESS, he postulates that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to achieve stardom in any field. If you do the math, working at something for one hour a day, 365 days a year, would require 27.4 years to reach 10,000 hours. Double that to two hours daily and it would take 13.7 years. Make it three hours per day and you might get there in a mere 9.14 years.

Of course there are other factors involved and I dare say that many people become outstanding in their field before reaching Gladwell’s lofty peak, but the point remains: if you want to get better at something, practice.

So when people ask me to read their work and tell them what to do to improve, I usually ask how long they’ve been writing and what else they have written. And my usual advice is: practice. Write more. Keep writing. Don’t sweat these early efforts. Develop your writing muscles. Become familiar with the routine of writing. Read about writing. Think about writing. Take classes in writing. Join writing clubs. Attend workshops. But write. Write until you hear your own voice coming back to you in your words on paper. Go through the routine of submitting your work, licking your wounds when rejections come, and telling yourself that you’re not going to let failure get you down.

I hope that budding novelist hits the big time with her very first effort. But if she does not, and it takes her 9 years of writing 21 hours per week, she’ll only be 25 years old when she “suddenly” breaks through into the publishing world. It’s like going through high school and college with a year of graduate work thrown in. Plus, all along the way she can tell people that she is a writer. And it will be a true statement.

Mysteries from the deep


Hi everyone,

Goose Lake isn’t very deep. As far as I know you could walk all the way from end to end. A car drove off the road into the lake a couple of years ago and the woman driver died. Her tragic death wasn’t from drowning though. The water didn’t reach the tops of her car seat.

However we do have some huge fish in the lake and now and then one breaks the surface with a dorsal fin that makes you want to yell, “shark!” I never seem to have my camera out at the right time. Here’s a recent effort that gives you a glimpse.