Here you will find everything to do with writing, whether it is my writing or what I'm learning from reading books on writing.  Reading, vocabulary, and grammar are the tools of the trade. The very best people to learn from are the ones who are seasoned writers who teach writing. You would be wise to enlist them as your mentors, as I have.

To continue with my notes on WPM (The Writer's Portable Mentor), I'm reading through the second chapter and again, I liked her idea about keeping a Lexicon (your own specialized dictionary) of words that are "juicy and hot". I have been collecting words for many years using a variety of notebooks. From Word Smart, to 30 Days to a Better Vocabulary, and on and on, my vocabulary has grown (but don't ask me where those notebooks are). And I know that reading a lot will definitely improve your vocabulary and build a strong core of words to use when writing.

I just started reading a book for writers that I think may be a bit different from the usual. It is called "The Writer's Portable Mentor: A Guide to Art, Craft, and the Writing Life" by Priscilla Long.

The first chapter advises us to write daily. Certainly something I've heard before, but I am actually more excited about the way she said this than I have been with past writing books. If any of you have read Julia Cameron's "The Artist's Way", she recommends writing daily. But it is more to get rid of the annoying voice in your head that spills its guts into your brain and blocks the creative you. Her advice is to write and write and never go back to read it, just forget it since it is sewage. I did it for awhile (I read "The Artist's Way" in a group setting, twice) but didn't feel like it helped me.

When I decided to finally get my writing out there, i.e., put it into book form, print it, and have it available for sale, it was a fairly easy decision for me to make to self-publish. With a BA degree in English, and having worked in the computer industry as a Senior Technical Writer, and having written umpteen stories and even completed a couple of books, not to mention having read scores and scores of books since I was old enough to hold a book in my own hands, including books for children, young adults, novels, fiction, and non-fiction, I figured I was fairly well qualified to edit my own writing. I just had to figure out the steps involved in getting my first novel print-ready.

So your best friend just published her first novel. And even though you have been writing 'all your life' and she just took it up oh, about a year ago, her book was purchased by a big-time publisher and all of your books are stashed away in a drawer.

Although Roger Ebert slammed 'Authors Anonymous', I enjoyed it mostly because it accentuates the absurdity of people whose egos are blown out of proportion to the reality of their success as writers. It shows how writing and publishing a book can be a crapshoot; maybe your book will be a success and you'll make a ton of money, maybe it won't. Does it matter if you are intelligent? No. Does it matter if you have a degree in English? No. Does it matter if you have credentials as a writer up the wazoo? No. It is all just a roll of the dice; maybe you'll get seven, maybe you'll get snake eyes, or maybe you'll get a two and a three.

If you are a true writer, you care about language because this is the main tool you use to develop your craft. And you really need to keep developing it so that you become a better writer.

When I was painting full-time, that was my goal, to become a better painter. I have occasionally held art classes in my studio. I naively thought that all the people who came to my studio for lessons wanted the lessons for the same reasons that I took lessons and read art books; to become the best I could be at my craft. I quickly realized that this was not the case. Someone even brought an outline of an image that she apparently received from a former teacher that she traced and then painted. It was kind of like completing a paint-by-number. That was what she was looking for from me. So what did I do? I gave her a piece of yupo paper (a glossy, synthetic, wipe-off-if-you-don't-like-it piece of paper) that allows you to be free and experiment. She hated it and never came back. I was not the teacher for her. And I learned my lesson. Not everyone wants to be the best they can be, some are content with being just OK. But that's another story.