C r e a t i v e  W r i t i n g

Writing weekly columns: can it amount to creative writing? Here are two recent examples. 

Guitarist from France, read here.

On primatologist Frans de Waal, read here.

It is early April 2023. I'm trying to recover from a series of adversities, which has pretty much stopped my creative output. The exception is, I have picked up again on my column writing for the online Cheyenne Post, see the page with its corresponding header. My hope is to use the "Patriarchy" column as a jumping-off point for a creative-nonfiction piece that touches on the heartaches of weeks past .

I am writing this on Sunday, October 2, 2022, at a time of leave taking. Saying goodbye is a huge event, one that has cost me much anxiety--see my column in the Cheyenne Post on "Downsizing." The process itself has been full of exasperating twists and turns. My house finally sold on Sept. 30, and the purchase of my Saratoga house will be happening within the next few days. After that, the movers will arrive to take my stuff to Saratoga. I've been packing boxes and cleaning closets and rooms as they get empty. My Saratoga house will be half the size of this one, with no acreage as I have here. 

Take a look at my "Book Gallery" recent entry (under "About Me") and my article under "Columns Cheyenne Post," July 2022. Both talk about an essay I'm working on re mental illness in my family.

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A write-up on a local event on March 22, 2022, posted under “Cheyenne’s Underground Symphony” on  thecheyennepost.com. Use this link

Isent the following notice to my google group in April 2022:

A few days ago I had shoulder surgery and now I'm in recovery. So far it's going as anticipated. I have had some essays published online in thecheyennepost.com The latest is on the brutal and unjust drone warfare waged by the Pentagon, in which countless innocent bystanders lose their lives and become "collateral damage." If interested in reading the piece, please use this link

Of my recent publications, I narrate both the "Oxygen" and "Black Stones" on their respective publication sites.

My personal essay, “Oxygen, ah Oxygen!” appeared in the Spring 2022 Issue of Tint Literary Journal. This journal publishes writers whose first language is not English. To read it, click here. 

"Chaos and Consolation" appeared in Syncopation Literary Journal on January 1, 2022This journal publishes essays and stories that have to do with music. To read it, click here.

“The Black Stones of Regret” appeared in December 2020 in Inklette Literary Journal. The story is an autobiographical essay covering a slice of life of yours truly as a young immigrant and mother, circa 1966. In Inklette the printed version is preceded by a recorded reading of the story by me. To read it, click here.

“Virus in America” appeared in the Special Election Issue of The Courtships of Winds on November 1, 2020. The essay's primary focus is on the differences between the German and American responses to the pandemic. To the right is the essay in its original. To read it, click here.

“My Late-in-Life Romance” appeared in November 2020 under “Writing" in OyeDrum. The editors of this journal were very complimentary. To read it, click here.  

A reminiscence about a service watch that's someone else's story appeared in The Cheyenne Post on October 26, 2021. To read it, click here

I regret to say, Ageless Authors seems to have gone permanently offline after its creator, Larry Upshaw, suffered a stroke. Apparently he's not in position to continue to project. I sent an email to his wife, wanting to help. but go no response, and no one else has stepped up to pick up the pieces. 

Here are a few publications of my work in online literary magazines. To get from one pdf file to another, click "return" rather than "close" as you exit. 

"The Black Stones of Regret" appeared in December 2020 in Inklette Literary Journal. See above for the published version. To the right is the original.

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“Virus in America” appeared in the Election Issue of The Courtships of Winds, November 1, 2020. Above is the published version.  To the right is the original.

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The editors were complementary of “My Late-in-Life Romance” which appeared on November 17, 2020, in “Writing" of OyeDrum, see above for the published version. To the right is the original composition. 

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“When Mourning Becomes Family Story” appeared in 2019 in Cagibi, Issue 5. To the right is the original composition. To go to its published version, click here.

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The comments to my Slater friends on masks, below, is included in "Virus in America," see above.

Dear Slater Friends,

This is an extension of what I said in our meeting on Thursday. A few days ago (Sept. 5) the Casper Star-Tribune printed the story of Ann Robinson, a former state legislator, and her husband Marv under the headline, 

For one Natrona County couple, the coronavirus is no hoax. 

And they want you to know.

As a result of their ordeal with the coronavirus, Ann Robinson is stricken with a neurological disorder that makes it hard to recall words, while her husband continues to suffer breathing problems. Surviving doesn’t mean a coronavirus infection is no big deal, says Ann. “Surviving means you didn’t die, but it doesn’t mean you’re not going to have problems for the rest of your life from it,” she is quoted in the paper.

The conclusion quotes Robinson’s advice to the public, which is the same as that of the daughter of her friend who died. “Pray for the sick and those who will get sick. Wear masks. Wash your hands. Stop acting like it’s not real.” 

You may read the entire article online—the Casper Star-Tribune, like all news organizations, makes COVID information available to readers without charge.

P.S. to what I said about wearing masks during our   September meeting.

You may already know that, in keeping with the precepts of Unitarian Universalist Church of Cheyenne, I support Black Lives Matter. Our congregation includes a Muslim couple I have befriended whose daughter was our choir director before she enrolled at University of Colorado. Last month a UUCC virtual service shared a music video the young woman had put together that left me in tears—I’m sure many others reacted as I did. It originated as a violin tribute to a young musician, Elijah McClain, who died as a result of a spurious arrest in Aurora, Colorado, as he walked home after shopping, minding his own business. Lots of tributes to the young man are posted on youtube, some in musical form.

The Wyoming Writers' Conference sponsored my session on Risky Writing via Zoom on Saturday, June 20, 2020. Scooter Smith of Texas was my guest author, whose memoir cum short story, "Come the Revolution" was published in the most recent anthology of Ageless Authors, Dang, I Wish I Hadn’t Done That (see cover image in the Book Gallery page). We also discussed a Wyoming Writer’s poem, Carrie Naughton's "Moose Bell." Regrettably, the author was unable to join us. Her poem appeared in Blood, Water, Wind, and Stone: An Anthology of Wyoming Writers (see cover image on Book Gallery page).  "Moose Bell" contains a dynamite section on a conversation that lays bare religious intolerance.

Larry Upshaw, Director of Ageless Authors, joined us. He was impressed with the subject matter and later requested I undertake similar webinar events for his constituency. 

After my story "Windy Acres" appeared in an anthology of Wyoming Writers, Inc., I recognized (too late) its flaws. So, began polishing and submitting my personal essays and fictional stories to literary magazines. My newspaper-column writing at The Wyoming Tribune Eagle has come to an end; thus, I have time on my hands for creativewriting and revising. 

In January 2020, I submitted the proposal below to Wyoming Writers Conference, which was accepted by its committee a month later. I look forward to giving the presentation at the conference in June. Spring 2020 I'll offer similar workshops for smaller venues: at Platte County Library in Wheatland, WY, and at Unitarian Universalist Church of Cheyenne. 

Ageless Authors Has Something for You!

You’ve looked forward to retiring and now that it’s happened, you are faced with a lot of hours. Why not fall back on the ingenuity that once helped you find your way in the world, raise children, develop a career? Ageless Authors can help. In a community of experimenters from all walks of life and every corner of the country you’ll learn to share stories about yourself, create essays, dip into fiction, try poetry writing. 

The goal of Ageless Authors is to give people 65 and up a venue for their creativity. It came to life and continues to flourish under Chief Cook and Bottle Washer Larry Upshaw. On agelessauthors.com readers find blogs on how to get started, how to gather and develop ideas, how to organize ideas into essay or story—last not least, how to stick with a project when you’re discouraged. The blogs have been created by yours truly and will continue to appear off and on. Then there are contests to enter and anthologies to purchase that can help the novice get started on—or polish—a piece of writing. One interesting feature of an Ageless Authors: Its anthology doesn’t just feature prize winners but publishes three or more “Honorable Mentions” and three or more “Recognizeds.” I was a judge in last year’s “Memoir” category. 

My third career (1991 to 2004) comprised teaching literature and writing—expository, business, creative writing— at a number of colleges and universities, first as teaching assistant (TA) at University of California at Davis, then as faculty, including at two Tennessee HBCUs (Historically Black College or University). [Below] you will find my CV and Addendum.

In this seminar I’ll discuss highlights from a story in the Dang, I Wish I Hadn’t Done That Anthology, see attached copy of cover. The story I want to choose, “Seven is the Magic Number,” won Honorable Mention last year and was created by Kenneth Stewart, who describes himself as born in Memphis, TN, with a science degree in math and physics. After working for IBM, he formed his own company in a career that spanned forty years. The seminar will show that Stewart’s essay, interesting as it is, actually comprises several mini-stories. The essay could be fashioned to suggest a timeline, with details to help readers orient themselves. It should begin and end on the same topic, with this or that anecdote of another topic worked into the main story. Some mini-stories are so evocative, one or the other could be expanded into an essay of its own.

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Great news! In late October 2019, the Wyoming Arts Council notified me that my application for a Professional Development Grant has been approved. The application was a lot of paper work and documentation: Along with a CV (above, left) that covers my professional years, I attached an Addendum Resume (above, right) covering the ten-plus years of my Wyoming residence of volunteer work, creative writing, and performances of guitar and vocals (see Music Gallery page). I also filled out a six-page application form. Well, it was worth it.

I was a previous recipient of the Council’s Frank D. Nelson Doubleday Memorial Award. 

October 14, 2019. My second column (or "blog") appeared at www.agelessauthors.com. To the right is the pdf version. If you wish to see the editor's accompanying visuals please visit the website.

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Summer 2019. I have begun writing columns for Ageless Authors that have to do with the craft of writing. The website encourages the poems, fiction, and creative nonfiction stories of people 65 years young and more. My first column appeared in early September and features authors who published for the first time at age ninety or later; the next one will arrive soon, about getting started after a hiatus. The September news also features recent contest winners and their writing plus other newsworthy items. Below is the column in pdf format--but I'd love it if you would visit www.agelessauthors.com.  

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 In late 2018, the Creative Nonfiction Story below, "Aftermath of a War" appeared  in Crossroads: An Anthology of Short Stories, published by Lit Up Press. "Aftermath of a War" is the first section of my essay, "What Remains with Us." 

The Reciprocity essay to the right was shared with my readers group in late 2018. Here is what one reader said in response: 

"What a beautifully written, lovely story!  I enjoyed it very much."

Interested in joining? Drop me a line at

To exit a pdf or jpg file, click the "back-arrow" rather than the "close" button

"Off Guard" is a work of fiction originally published in Sing! Heavenly Muse. That was some time ago but I recently submitted it to a journal that publishes pieces that were published once before.

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March 2017. I am about to leave Texas to return to Wyoming with a major writing project in the works. Good thing I no longer write weekly columns. Soon you will hear about the new venture.

Above is the image of the anthology in which my nonfiction story "Windy Acres" appears, about the acreage south of Wheatland that has become my home. "Windy Acres" was featured  in the nonfiction section of Blood, Water, Wind, and Stone: An Anthology of Wyoming Writers. 

Front cover of my poetry book

Front cover of Edith Cook's


Below: Son Walter with his dogs and horse Amir Shalar, He gained the horse through a 4-H essay competition when he was fourteen,

Writing personal essays is a self-disclosing conversation that sets the reader at ease and hopes to invite a response. In my years as columnist, the emailed responses I received ranged from criticism to commentary to self-disclosing input. Even the imagined conversation between a writer and reader is an active one, based as it is on actual dialogue—with an adult child, a guitar partner, a writers’ group member, a reader. It brings new and exhilarating possibilities.

Self-disclosure does not mean self-involved as found in the “I, me, and myself” of much of today’s social media; rather, it is akin to the conversation between two guitars that begins with stutters, stops, and starts but eventually evolves in a dialogue that’s balanced and pleasurable. Musical dialogue is often continued in imaginative memory; in fact, such recollections, gathered in tranquility, are a part of daily practice. Self-disclosure requires patience rather than a focus on results. It establishes trust, thereby eliminating the need to be in control. It helps us live, at least some of the time, in equanimity with our surroundings.

A sample of a musical dialogue is the "Schwarzwaldmühle" duet between my cousin and myself in Music Gallery. This cousin, by the way,  is my aunt’s daughter, see Tante Anna below. 

An example of self-disclosure is the Tante Anna segment you will find under My Writing. It came into being as a snippet of history conveyed to a family member; later, I shared it during a UU worship service that invited members to disclose a detail from their lives. By the time Tante Anna told of her mother’s death when she was eight, my my father, her only surviving sibling, had died. Since then the Tante Anna segment to the right has become part of a longer essay. 

On May 26, 2019, I presented a lay sermon or guest lecture at my church, Unitarian Universalist Church of Cheyenne. My topic was Erich Fromm's The Art of Loving. I used examples from my life and from other writers to explicate Fromm's theories. I had written two entire essays on the topic but used only a small portion of the most recent essay in my talk. Below is the essay that evolved from the presentation, submitted to a literary journal. 

To exit a pdf or jpg file, click the "back-arrow" rather than the "close" button.

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It takes effort and care to shape a text into what precisely the writer wishes to cay. When revising the essay below I saw that, not only does it contain typos but also its ideas are not arranged as they should be. Below is the revised essay of November 2018. If you are so inclined you can read the older version for comparison.

 The (early) Fromm essay below is mostly a book report. It needs work.

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September 12, 2018. Below is the book that inspired my essay on Fromm.  Above is the essay as pdf file. To read the essay, click on the file name.

  The poem belowtells of an injured hawk

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 This is a barely-remembered war incident

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Here the speaker recognizes that her spouse is deathly ill

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Below: This is the horse I owned when I wrote "Off Guard," as well as some of the poems in  the above collection. In the picture, my lower leg is positioned incorrectly, but it's the only snapshot I have of me on Star Jasmine. This was at our hobby ranch near Arroyo Grande, which went to another owner after Darold's death in 2003.

This poem speaks in the voice of Friedrich Nietzsche's alter- ego, the ancient Persian sage Zarathustra

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Back cover of my poetry book

"Off Guard" is personal experience translated into fiction. The mare Hershey (and the journey with her to the tallow works depicted in  the story) were my own. It was originally published in the "Women Working" edtion of Sing! Heavenly Muse.

Self-disclosure as enhancing both health and social relations is based on Sidney Jourard’s work in “The Transparent Self.” A key figure in the humanistic psychology of his day, Jourard suggests we increase inner strength by being true to the self, by following our values, and by disclosing the inner self to others. Another early influence was his colleague Gordon Allport, whose commentaries on Viktor Frankl live within me as recurring memory.

Below is a dated curriculum vitae of my several careers. (I have been retired for ten years now.)

The CV is followed by a compilation of student comments from my classes at Austin Peay University.

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