Two roads diverged in a yellow wood*

yellow wood

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How does the germ of an idea plant itself in the soft soil of our brain and spout a fruit tree, a beautiful garden or a tangle of weeds? The garden is pruned and cared for with loving hands. The weeds we hack, pull out by the root and send to the trash.

When my work didn’t make it from the brain to the blank page, it remained, often untended and with no conscious effort on my part, continued to grow.

But what happens when faced with the dastardly blank page, your mind is a wash … or it’s simply not there ?

A blank page …

Consider, if you will, where your mind goes when it decides to take a break, freezes like a car battery in mid February or floats out to sea in a leaky life boat. Why can’t you think of that person’s name? Where did your snappy retort go? Can’t remember the punch line to a joke?

You drove all the way to work, the supermarket or to meet someone for lunch. The car is parked in a legal space and it dawns on you. How the hell did I get here? And what could have happened to me while my brain was absent?

You just watched a great movie and ten minutes later you can’t remember the name of the main character. The next morning the entire plot has gone off to left field.

Ever walk into a room to get something and realize you forgot what you were looking for?

Did you actually look for the sugar bowl in the freezer, try to locate the car keys in your sock drawer?

The cliches … my mind is playing tricks on me … I think I’ve lost my mind … mind over matter …  if you put your mind to it.

Ah yes, pilgrims … the mind is a terrible thing to lose. So why is mine taking another unscheduled coffee break? Well for one, it’s Tuesday and I need to write something for tomorrow.

What writers call a “block” is actually their minds refusing to show up for work … or playing the game of … hell no I won’t go.

Can your brain go on strike or turn on you?

I believe my mind was on strike for about twenty years in the middle of my life. That may or may not coincide with raising two children. Motherhood is a type of mind game. They play the game … you lose all your marbles.

During the secretarial years … I might take dictation for an hour … write it all down dutifully in Pitman shorthand and when I got back to my desk had no recollection of one single word the man said. Many was the time I’d take my steno pad to a fellow secretary who read Pitman and ask if she could help me unravel the mystery of twenty pages of letters that had to be in the mail by noon.

There are dozens of things one can do when the mind takes a walk. Follow it and take a walk yourself. Go for a run. A ride. Make something. Bake something. You can get out of your head by helping someone else …

… or you can get outside your head by reading. Not to mention that as writers, reading is a great way to learn.

But I digress …

Back to the blank page.  You’re on. The ideas are flowing and  you have the sensation that something has happened at last. Then what?

Then you take your precious treasure and you entrust it to a critique partner or a BETA reader. You join a group and you trust them and  yourself that sooner or later after all of the millions of words and thousands of pages, you have finally done it.

Today I want to take the time to give homage to that process. Like the law of averages, a jury of your peers, and the average median statistic on a chart, somewhere in every group there will be one or two individuals you can trust. A person who for unknown reasons and without ulterior motives, is genuinely interested in your work.

How does the germ of an idea plant itself in the soft soil of our brain and spout a fruit tree, a beautiful garden or a tangle of weeds?

I don’t have an answer. However, I do know that I’ve been one very lucky person to meet just the right person at just the right time.  Thanks. You know who you are.

thank you

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Now for other news …

There are a half-dozen readers who comment frequently on my weekly posts. Some of them are accomplished writers with published or about to be published works.  Often they use their blogs to talk books, host blog tours or interview writers.

Kudos to those who share with their readers the many books they read. It’s like having a moveable feast of to-be-read material.

When you spread the word about someone you know … it’s like throwing a pebble into a pond and watching as it ripples outward.

I do love the way my mind brought you in a complete circle. From the germ of an idea to the pages of a completed novel, novella or short story.

In case you run out of reading materials …

  •  Find and read The Sweet Spot by Laura Drake. The Sweet Spot is a story of family, survival, and second chances. Visit Goodreads for the complete review.
  •  Follow my good friend Christi Corbett on Facebook or on her blog and read about her up-coming novel Along the Way Home. Read her recent post on her journey to publication here.
  •  Go to amazon or your local bookseller and pick up Shelley Noble’s Beach Colors. Beach Colors hit the NY Times Best Seller’s List in April. Find her other books and then follow her mysteries under Shelly Freydont.


So what about you?

Will you leave names and titles  of books in comments today.

And like ripple on a pond,

those great stories will circle out to someone else. 

fOIS In The City


*   The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Robert Frost


Filed under Random Thoughts

23 responses to “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood*

  1. Wow, Florence, you made my day, mentioning my release, thank you!
    I’d like to mention Amy Sue Nathan’s, Glass Wives – great WF!

    I can’t wait until we’re doing this for YOU, Florence! Tell your mind you don’t have time to screw around . . . you have books to write! 😉

    Thank you, my friend.


  2. A couple of indies worth a reader’s time: Christa Polkinhorn, whose Family Portrait novels are lovely (and English is her SECOND language). AN UNCOMMON FAMILY, LOVE OF A STONEMASON, EMILIA.
    And Gloria Bowman, author of a romance set in Chicago in the 1980s. HUMAN SLICES.


  3. I loved that poem, Florence. Believe it or not, I can’t recall ever having read it though I’ve heard of the title. Beautiful, isn’t it? Anyway, I found Susan Mallery about a week ago and can’t get enough of her. She’s one of those writers where I don’t have to read the blurb but just buy the book. Love that.
    And, yes, I’ll be doing this for you one day, eh? Writing down your name and the title of your book…


    • Patti, I’ve been in love with that poem since I was a teenager. It just says so much about the choices we make in life.

      Thanks for adding Susan Mallery to our list and thanks for the good thoughts for me as well. I used to think “if” it happens … now I simply think “when” 🙂


  4. Vicki Batman

    Aah, reading, Florence. My bestest friend. If I gave up writing, I’d still have her. I just finished a classic and was totally floored. Lately, I’d read some best sellers which didn’t deliver what I thought would be a five star read. And then my book club picked A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. I adore it. Keep on rambling, friend.


    • Vicki, such a long time ago, a librarian told me that I reminded her of the little girl in that story. You gave me an idea. Our book club always reads at least one classic a year. Since I’m the Brooklyn gal of the group … I think I’ll suggest that one 🙂


  5. Here is a non-fiction one for you, just released by Leanne Shirtliffe, a Clagary, Canada based humor columnist, mother of twins, and high school teacher. I met her online through comments and adore the constant stream of humor hits in her book: Don’t Lick the Mini Van…things I’d never thought I’d say to my kids.

    I laughed (and copied) your line from above, Florence.

    Motherhood is a type of mind game. They play the game … you lose all your marbles.

    Even someone who has never birthed and raised children of her own can’t help but love the wit in Leanne’s writing.

    After reading your line, I though, “I’ll bet Florence would relate to Leanne’s book.” Fun, fun read.


  6. Love that poem, he just felt what it was, that choice, which one to take.


  7. christicorbett


    No wonder we’re great friends…I have Robert Frost’s poem posted right beside my desk, at eye level, for those days when I feel like giving up. It’s such a great inspiration!

    Thanks so much for the linky love about my journey to publication (speaking of giving up). I’m glad I came clean in that post about just how loooooooong it took me. I’m always amazed at writers who can finish a few books a year like it’s nothing. Astounding!

    As far as the blank page goes, I’ll never forget how my son (age seven) decided he was going to write a book, got out paper, and then looked in awe at the blank page before him. Then, he said “There’s so many possibilities!”.

    Christi Corbett


    • You are more than welcome, Christi. I will continue to follow as Along The Way Home comes into the stretch … and gets “home.”

      Yes, that poem is a true inspiration and one we can all use daily. And tell your son … there are endless possibilities !!!


  8. Florence,

    I’ve loved Robert Frost’s poem since I first read it. I reread it often and have most recently reread it again since I wondered a great deal lately about that path not taken when the road diverged. Had I not chosen my path, would my life and thus my writing been much better for it? Would I speak out to readers in a far better way? How much different might I be facing these coming years? Or would I even be facing them at all?

    A very thoughtful post. One especially useful as I ponder elements of this next book.


    • Casey, isn’t it always a temptation to wonder “what if?” I believe that if every single second did not unfurl as it has I would not be sitting here now and here is where I want to be.

      Also, Frost said in later life that he doubled back and took a stroll down the other road 🙂


  9. Florence, I still have Sweet Spot and Beach Colors in my TBR pile. There’s just not enough time to read all of the books we want to read, is there? 🙂 One of the series I’m hooked on is the Chandler series by Ann Voss Peterson and Joe Konrath. The latest in the series is HIT, so that’s next on my to-read list.


    • Thanks, Sheila. Your book selections are always a treat. And trust me those two books are also a treat. Glad you mentioned Konrath … these days he only gets credit for being a trail blazer so people forgot what a good writer he is 🙂


  10. Florence – I’m not sure how i missed you on Wed, so came in and did a search today to find your blog. I haven’t been at the keyboard as much (Tom’s medical problems) but I knew I couldn’t miss your Wed blog – it’s brilliant as always. I’ll not get started typing out my upcoming to be read list – you’ll meet some of them in my Thu book reviews. Yours is a brilliant post and I knew I’d miss a gem if I didn’t find it. I’ve posted to twitter and Facebook.


    • Hello, my dear friend. Don’t worry, Sheri … I know that you support my blog and even when things got truly rough you managed to comment. For that I am very thankful. Please take care of yourself and Tom and don’t worry about anything else. And thanks for the shout out 🙂


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