keep several journals

Journaling is not only a great way to chronicle your life experiences, but can also be a great inspiration for poems, memoir pieces, and short stories. I have several different kinds of journals, each with their own particular purpose. I have my “life journals” that I have kept for decades, starting with the first journal I ever received on my thirtieth birthday. Since then there is  the journal for my thirties, one for my forties, one for my fifties, and now my sixties. But I keep other journals as well. I have one journal in which I reminisce what I refer to as “magical moments”. Some of the entries include giving birth, the first time I heard The Firesign Theater, and that night I slept on the cliffs at Las Piedras Blancas. I have another journal in which I remember people who have made a significant impact on my life. Another journal is for “things.” In this one I write about material objects that have meant something to me, such as an Irish wool scarf a former boyfriend bought me, the Japanese vase I inherited from my mother, the two feathers from my love bird that I keep in a special little box. Then there is the journal for significant places, places where I have either lived or traveled. I even have a journal my daughter gave me entitled One Line a Day. In this one you write just one line on what happened that day. The journal chronicles five years of one liners for each day of the year. Now, in light of all this you must be thinking, “My God, how does she find the time to write in all of those journals?” Well, I don’t write in more than one a day, and sometimes I may even go weeks without writing in any of them. The quantity does not matter. What matters is the recording, not only of our unique lives, but to accumulate a plethora of material that can inspire your writing.

Happy writing!



A Thanksgiving Thought

I first saw this on Facebook.

Ten Ways to Know you Have a Wonderful Life

  1. you have clean clothes
  2. you have a good heart
  3. you will eat today
  4. you have clean water
  5. you have shelter
  6. you have people who care about you
  7. you have people you care about
  8. you have faith in a higher power and that higher power could be you
  9. you have family or had a family
  10. you have friends



allusions, take-offs, etc.

Last night I started reading a short story by Twain entitled “The One Million Pound Bank-note” in which two English gentlemen make a bet concerning giving one million pounds to a poor man to use for thirty days. What? Isn’t this Trading Places, the movie with Eddie Murphy? So, I googled it. Sure enough, the script combined two sources from Twain: “The Prince and the Pauper” and ” The One Million Pound Bank-note” (by the way, in the title one million pound is numerical, but I don’t have an icon for the pound sign). Anyway, how many times have you discovered a story that got its idea from an earlier source? Of course, everybody knows West Side Story is Romeo and Juliet, but how many people knew that Apocalypse Now is an updated Heart of Darkness? Or that Clueless is Austen’s Emma? The average viewer most likely wouldn’t know that. In fact, while reading Heart of Darkness in college I asked my professor, “Isn’t this Apocalypse Now?” It’s also funny, or maybe a coincidence, that Clueless came out in 1995 and then the film version of Emma starring Gwenyth Paltrow came out in 1996.

Now, the question arises: is this plagiarism? I have conducted extensive research on this subject because before my book came out I realized how many lines and titles in my writing either allude to other works or parody them. I wanted to make sure I wasn’t committing plagiarism. My research shows that there is a huge difference between academic plagiarism and artistic plagiarism. Having had been an English teacher I lectured my students constantly about plagiarism which has become rampant since the internet, but is seems as though in the literary world borrowing from others is perfectly alright as long as there are enough differences to make it your own. As T.S. Eliot stated “Immature poets imitate, mature poets steal.” He went on to say (and I am paraphrasing here) that it is how a poet steals, that the poet welds the previous work into something better, or at least something different.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject, and perhaps other examples of stories or films you have come across that are retellings of another story, or that used ideas from that previous story as a springboard for their own. Is the new story an homage, an allusion, a parody? Please share.