The Prompter Room

For Friday, July 14, 2017:


Occasionally, in times of worry, I’ve longed to be stylish, but on second thought I say no – just let me be myself – and express rough, yet true things with rough workmanship.

Vincent van Gogh, to Theo van Gogh (1882)


The Prompter Room

For Monday, May 16, 2016:


“What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything?”

Vincent van Gogh

Tomorrow and Wednesday my best friend will debut a new creative enterprise and I am so proud of her I could burst!   Chris is one of the most courageous people I know – I always think of her when I need a dose of courage myself – and the way she has embarked on this whole process doesn’t surprise me.

I will share specific details here as soon as I can, but for now I will say how impressed I’ve been as I’ve watched Chris create this new venture.  She’s faced her technological fears and frustrations to design and implement a beautiful Website.  From the start, she’s found personal, digital, and business resources that have helped her to develop an endeavor that will serve others who are unable to leave their homes or are in nursing and veterans’ homes or rehabilitation facilities.  She has navigated territories and will go to places that are literally and figuratively unfamiliar to her, all because she is dedicated to helping others.

Creating anything new always takes courage and inner strength, and my beloved BFF is my example and role model for both.  Good luck tomorrow and Wednesday, dearest Chris!


The Prompter Room

For Sunday, April 3, 2016:


“Great things are not done by impulse, but by a series of small things brought together.”

Vincent van Gogh

Five hundred words a day for 365 days equals 182,500 words, according to the calculator.  I just double-checked and the numbers are right.  That’s a book – a novel, a memoir, a biography, a history of something.  Just a few words a day, a standard notebook page’s worth, for a year.  That’s doable, my friends!

I’ve always been so impressed with the people who have full-time jobs and children who still manage to produce books of any length, sometimes on a regular basis.  Maybe this is how they do it – 500 words after the dishes are done and the children bathed, 500 words before everyone gets up in the morning, 500 words at lunchtime or on the bus or train to and from work …

Everyone has a different process, of course, and different circumstances – my little novella took a year and the total word count is much less than 180k – but when I was able to sit and write, I usually managed at least 500 words each time.  That was my goal.  Sometimes I exceeded it, other times I barely made it, but that was what I strived for.

It may not seem like a lot of words each time, and a year may seem like a long time at the start, but it’s amazing how fast those notebook pages accumulate into something substantial.  When you look back afterwards, I suspect the time will seem like nothing at all.

We all enjoy the impulses of the occasional ‘Eureka’ moment.  They’re exciting, they get us started, but something needs to get us past the initial spark of energy.  Five hundred words a day: a worthy goal that’s worth every minute.

And for anyone who’s counting, 30 minutes/day equals 10, 500 minutes.  That’s not a lot in the grand scheme of things.  Just sayin’ (she tells herself as she prepares to start on the next book …).

The Prompter Room

For Wednesday, February 10, 2016:


“If you hear a voice within you say, ‘You cannot paint,’ then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.”

Vincent van Gogh

This story may be familiar to some of you who have been here from the beginning, but I think it’s worth a bit of a repeat, given van Gogh’s statement above.

When I was an adult learner in the process of choosing the rest of the studies I needed to achieve my BA, one of the fields I chose was art.  I have always wanted to make art, but almost all of my artistic ventures received negative feedback.  Despite the fact that I have stellar artistic genes in my family, this apple fell far away from that tree and I knew I would never be able to paint or draw in a way that people would enjoy.

Part of the problem is that I have trouble with depth of field, even in everyday life.  This means I cannot do perspective.  I know the purpose of it, and I can do the beginners’ road or pathway that starts wide in the foreground, then narrows to the vanishing point somewhere in the background, but that’s all I can do.  Eventually I turned to photography so the camera does the depth of field for me.  I’m actually pretty good at it and I enjoy it, but it wasn’t the same.  I wanted to paint and draw – at least try to – so because I was blessed with a safe place to explore, one where I knew I wouldn’t be laughed at, I did a semester’s work doing just that.

That’s when I first read these words of van Gogh, and the account of how he’d been scorned and ridiculed but persevered and taught himself.  Imagine my surprise when I found that some of his early sketches look remarkably like my own attempts.

A little more exploration found the story of Grandma Moses.  She, too, was self-taught, painting first on a wooden fireplace screen and other things for her house and family.  She was 70 years old (or thereabouts) when that fireplace screen was ‘discovered,’ and the rest is history.  One has to do some digging, however, to find out that she also had trouble with perspective, and if you study her iconic paintings, especially her earliest ones, you’ll see how true that is.

The more I read about and studied the progress of these two and other artists, the more I found myself saying, ‘Okay, then.  I can do this, too!’  Then one day I was in a restaurant that had the work of a locally-famous folk art painter on the walls.  Looking at those paintings and prints, I realized there was no sense of perspective in them at all.  And soon I discovered that a whole heck of a lot of folk art has little to no perspective in it.  Woo hoo!

Even more important than all of this, I learned that my vision – my literal vision – and, therefore, my painting and my drawing, was just as valid as that of some of the most revered artists of all time.  Different, yes, but still valid – and valuable.  I’ll never be van Gogh or Grandma Moses, but that’s okay.  I’m not them.  I am and I will be Genie.

The most important thing I learned in that semester years ago, though, was that I had to try.  van Gogh was right: I learned I had to answer the voice inside my head.

So, please, if you have a voice that says you can’t write a book – or paint a piece of artwork, or dance, or design a house – please try.  Respond to that voice with a positive action instead!  My voice tells me you can and you will.

The Prompter Room

For Wednesday, January 13, 2016:


“I am seeking, I am striving, I am in it with all my heart.”

Vincent van Gogh

We can all learn from a former client of mine, whose first novel I edited.  I know I can, at least.  She embodies van Gogh’s words, whether she knows them or not, and is as patient as she is persistent.  While she waits to hear from agents and publishers to whom she submits her writing, she continues to craft new works, and she is ever hopeful.

I give my former client tremendous credit, both as a person and as a writer.  I am thankful for her example and I think of it often.

Who is your example, your model?  Who helps you stay with your writing, your creativity, with your whole heart?  Is it someone else?

Or maybe it’s you yourself?  You can be your own inspiration, your own example.   From some of what I’ve read, van Gogh often had to be.  He believed in himself, his painting, when others didn’t.

If you’re reading this, I know you are seeking.  Know that I believe in you, I believe in all that you’re striving for.  And we can, together, support and encourage each other as we continue to fill our hearts with patience and persistence and hope.