Writing, Reading and Maybe My Appendix

The phone keeps ringing, there’s a nagging pain in my side (misplaced appendix?), and feet and hammers are pounding on my roof just above my head.Hammer

How is a writer to concentrate???

I’ve written only one of my allotted three pages today. So far. I thought writing my weekly blog post might get me going.

What do you do when the world conspires against your writing? Do you give up? Snatch the excuse with a secret bit of relief? Or do you push through like any good athlete when running out of breath?

I left off my writing to allow my new plot points to percolate and launched into writing this blog, an activity I absolutely love. And I disconnected my phone. Temporarily, of course. I took a walk around our condo, did a bit of tidying, started the dishwasher, and somehow eased the funny ache in my side. (I guess my half hour walk this morning wasn’t enough exercise.) Finally I found this post from over a year ago about the benefits of reading. And it’s summer, the season of reading.

Read, Read, and Read some More: The Best Advice

photo by Elaine Cougler

What is the one piece of advice we hear over and over? The one that annoys quite a few people out there in the real world?

No, it’s not “get eight hours sleep every night” or “eat healthy all your life” although variations of those suggestions fill bookstores. Our friends, relatives, and especially our parents iterate those maxims again and again.

The advice I’ve been given all my life is simple. When you want to learn, read. When you want to relax, read. When you want to write, read.

Yes, I slipped that last one in because I’ve seen it time and again. And it’s true. There is a magical process that happens in our brains when we read. We take in the story, the language, the length and variety of sentences, the way to effectively draw characters, and any number of other writing lessons which we just seem to learn. Like sponges we soak up such a wealth of knowledge both in the how-to sphere and in the enjoyment realm, that when we write our own works, those lessons make themselves known.

I’ve written all my life. And I’ve read even longer. Well, only if you believe I took in the lessons of my mother’s reading in the womb. 🙂

All the lessons I taught my English students, and there were a lot, are not nearly so effective as the simple practice of reading, especially good writers. When I sit down to write every day, my own style comes pouring onto the pages, whether I’m writing a blog post, an email to my distant friends, or my daily pages of my historical novels.

Where did that style come from? Well, some of it came from me being a talker. Another portion finds its roots in what I’ve learned on my writing journey. But the bulk of it comes from the reading I’ve done my whole life, whether it be lessons from great writers on how to write well or from not-so-great writers on what not to do.

I’ve laughed and cried, shaken my head and even stopped reading, but I’ve always learned from my reading. My shelves of books are treasured friends and I hope I live long enough to reread them over and over. Would that some of my readers might one day feel the same about my books. (By the way, the pounding has stopped. I guess my dryer vents are all fixed!)

How About an Authors and History Tour? Click here for details of this amazing cruise. Come join us!

For All Lovers of Historical Fiction!

The Loyalist’s Luck, Book Two in The Loyalist Trilogy!

Purchase The Loyalist’s Luck Here.

The Loyalist’s Luck_cover_apr1.indd
John and Lucy escape the Revolutionary War to the unsettled British territory across the Niagara River with almost nothing. In the untamed wilderness they must fight to survive, he, off on a secret mission for Colonel Butler and she, left behind with their young son and pregnant once again. In the camp full of distrust, hunger, and poverty, word has seeped out that John has gone over to the American side and only two people will associate with Lucy–her friend, Nellie, who delights in telling her all the current gossip, and Sergeant Crawford, who refuses to set the record straight and clear John’s name. To make matters worse, the sergeant has made improper advances toward Lucy. With John’s reputation besmirched, she must walk a thin line depending as she does on the British army, and Sergeant Crawford, for her family’s very survival.

The Loyalist’s Wife, Book One in The Loyalist Trilogy!

by Elaine Cougler, winner of the WCDR 2014 Pay It Forward Scholarship

 Short-listed for Inspire! Toronto International Book Fair’s Canada Self-Published Book Awards

The Loyalist's Wife_Kindle_1563x2500

When American colonists resort to war against Britain and her colonial attitudes, a young couple caught in the crossfire must find a way to survive. Pioneers in the wilds of New York State, John and Lucy face a bitter separation and the fear of losing everything, even their lives, when he joins Butler’s Rangers to fight for the King and leaves her to care for their isolated farm. As the war in the Americas ramps up, ruffians roam the colonies looking to snap up Loyalist land. Alone, pregnant, and fearing John is dead, Lucy must fight with every weapon she has.

With vivid scenes of desperation, heroism, and personal angst, Elaine Cougler takes us back to the beginnings of one great country and the planting of Loyalist seeds for another. The Loyalist’s Wife transcends the fighting between nations to show us the individual cost of such battles.

Purchase The Loyalist’s Wife here.


6 thoughts on “Writing, Reading and Maybe My Appendix

  1. I couldn’t agree with you more! Whenever I come up against an obstacle in my writing I turn to reading someone’s else’s work. In another writer’s words I find inspiration to continue the writer’s journey.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Gina, I’m glad to see your comment here as it mirrors what I’m doing right now.Turns out the pain in my back was the beginning of shingles, so my week has been pretty nasty. Getting better but still not out of the woods. Oh, how I wish I’d gotten the vaccine!
      What is really great is that I’ve been reading Bernard Cornwell’s Saxon series and the man can write historical fiction. I’m so noticing the way he keeps up my interest by putting in little tidbits, especially at the end of chapters and paragraphs that just make me want to read on. And he builds his stories in a rising crescendo so that even if you know the Danes were ultimately defeated in Britain you’re still reading in anticipation of the ending.
      Again, thanks for commenting here.


  2. Sorry to hear you have Shingles, Elaine. It can be quite painful from what I hear:( Hope you get better soon.
    I enjoy reading historical fiction and I hope to write a historical crime novel one day. I’m off now to download one of your books and I might also take a look at Bernard Cornwell while I am at it.

    BTW I love your blog!

    Liked by 1 person

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