December 2008

Getting Cozy with Karen.
                          December Musings

Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.
~ Sir Richard Steele ~

I'd like to think that I'm not all that different from most authors. Doesn't everyone have stacks and stacks-fine, entire walls of bookshelves-filled with novels in their TBR [To Be Read] piles? Don't they long to sit on a beach, pull one novel after another from a bag in the sand, and simply read for an entire month? Food, drink, and the occasional decadent bonbon magically delivered and cleaned up by a six-foot elf with naughty eyes. Minimal clothing. Even more minimal distractions like working phones and comput....okay, maybe just enough wireless internet service to chat with friends but nothing that resembles w.o.r.k.

Oops, sorry-got a little sidetracked there with my letter to Santa! :-) I'm pretty sure the jolly guy isn't handing out Maui vacations this year. He looks a bit skinny to me, poor dear. And my own naughty-eyed, six-foot elf could use a vacation, too, so maybe I can fetch my own bonbons.

Anyway, back to my musings. Authors are readers. It's as natural as breathing. So you can take my word for it that my proliferation of TBRs wasn't planned. It just sort of happened. Each time I went to a RWAź conference, I'd stand eagerly with the multitudes at the Literacy Reception and publisher signings so I could snag books autographed by my favorite and soon-to-be-favorite authors. After a few conferences, I smartened up and packed an extra suitcase to accommodate my compulsion. All that did was ensure I dragged home as many extra books as I could cram into the bag..well, until the airlines got cranky.

My family, friends-even my beleaguered mailman since he delivers so many-knows a book is this woman's best friend. Books pour onto my TBR shelves on a regular basis. New. Used. Hardcover. Paperback. Forget diamonds! Give me a library!

I know I'm in trouble. But it's not because I have too many books. It's because my TBR stacks aren't diminishing. In fact, they've grown to the point that I have boxes of books in front of the wall of books. Living in a house with no attic and few usable walls-think all windows and rock-can be challenging for a book lover with the self-control of a lemming. I haven't run out of nooks and crannies yet. No, my problem has more to do with the fact that, somehow, I've stopped reading for most of this past year. Me. The woman who easily read 5-7 books a week around life for years can count on two hands the number she's read this past 12-18 months.

This may not sound too bad since reading is actually a luxury for many. For me, it's a necessity. Reading and writing are intertwined too tightly for me to unravel. Reading is the well of creativity and passion that I dip into to fill my soul. It translates to my need to write and my writing itself. The more that I fill that well, the more writing I seem to do.

Now, I won't go so far as say I've stopped writing this past year because I'm not reading. Life intruded. We all know how that goes! :-) However, recently, I've been trying to get back into a decent writing schedule and truly struggling. I couldn't figure out the problem. All I knew was that my well of creativity seemed to have dried up. Frustrated I picked up a few of my TBRs, immersed myself in my other passion, and my desire to write began to grow again. My creativity swelled, and I realized what I have to do to get my writing back on track.

I'm taking the above quote to heart and working on ways to get serious reading time into my daily life again. I'm refilling the well. I'm forcing myself to stop for lunch and read. I'm cracking open a book for at least one hour before bedtime. I need to rediscover a happy medium ground in my too-busy schedule because all work and no play makes me a dull my writing efforts at least!

Will this finally diminish my stacks of TBRs? With my predilection for collecting books, that's unlikely! But that's okay. I figure I'm just digging a deeper well of creativity and that can only be good for my writing. Which, BTW, I'm eager to go off and do right now!

What fills your well of creativity?


What else is happening in my writing world?

Not much this month so I'd like to share a Christmas poem with you that I wrote last year. For those of you who've read it before I hope you enjoy reading it again. In the meantime, I'd like to wish you and yours a wonderful Christmas holiday. Enjoy your family time. It's precious. I hope you find some writing time around the mayhem, too. :-)

'Twas the Week Before Christmas
By Karen Docter

'Twas the week before Christmas, when all through the land
My dust bunnies had grown bold, joined the Editorial Band;

Revisions were hung by the critique rank and file,
In hopes that my manuscript would soon top the pile;

Characters were canoodling in their own special way,
While villains of danger snuck into the fray;

And my hero in his splendor, and heroine bathed in moon's light,
Had just dissed their love for the fourth time this night;

When out of my brain there arose what I'd been missing,
Had to rush to the office to tweak a bout of kissing;

Away to my chair, I stumbled and swore,
Ripped open a Window and widened my eyes more;

The cursor, blinking cheerily on the computer screen, teased,
Tormenting my poor muse, more than it appeased;

When, what to my beleaguered senses should un-wend,
But my muse on a lotus blossom, and a close writer friend;

With a great mighty shove, so swift the prevention,
I knew in a thrice, this was editorial intervention;

So swift the editor kicked off her perch, ideas they came,
And my muse danced and sang, I knew this was the game.

"Now, Narrative! Now, Point of View! Now, Adjective and Verb!
On, Sentence! On Paragraph! On, Synopsis and Blurb!"

"To the top of the list! To the top of the pile!
Now print away! Print away! Print away, smile!"

As manuscript pages that before crazed muse envision,
When they hide behind walls, come out with permission;

So rise to the occasion the plot points they grow,
With a screen full of characterization, my muse did yet glow;

And then, in that moment, I heard my hero speak,
Those sensuous words and statement of love's peak;

As I reached for the words, and was putting them down,
My heroine laughed and tried on her wedding gown;

From her fingers danced stars, my muse had donned glitters,
Her crown was tipped over from too many gin-and-bitters;

But she sat on my poor editor, not allowing her vent,
My muse looked like an angel, or maybe an agent;

Her face - how it glowed! Her dimples how naughty!
Her eyes full of mischief, her nose not one bit haughty!

Her gleeful expression was fixed on the page,
And the stubborn tilt of her chin was as firm as a sage;

An eraser-less pencil she clenched tight in her hand,
And an aura of contentment encircled the land;

She had purpose to her step, was lithe enough to bend,
To the winds of creativity, she was surely there to wend;

She was the vision of my heroine, an odd little perk,
And I laughed when I saw her, my psyche at work;

With a gracious smile and a nod in my direction,
She gave me the notion I could bow to her perfection;

She spoke not at all, but took over my work,
And filled all the holes; then turned with a smirk.

And saving her words, I would tomorrow sigh,
And giving me a look, out of the office she did fly.

She freed my sorry editor, dusted her off with a smile,
And away she tottered without the least bit of guile.

But I heard her exclaim, as she packed up her bikini,
"Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good 'Finis'!"

© November 26, 2007
[Inspired by 'Twas the Night Before Christmas, attributed to Clement Clarke Moore.]

As always, if you'd like to comment on this newsletter or anything else, please feel free to sign into my guest book at the bottom of this HOME page. Looking forward to hearing from you! If you're on MySpace, you can find me at If you're on Shelfari, I'd love to be friends and share what we're reading. If you're not and would like to be, contact me at All I need is your email address to invite you. And, by all means, if you enjoy reading my newsletter each month, please tell your friends. They can sign up for their own copy easily at the bottom of this page.

See you in January 2009 if you'd like to Get Cozy with Karen again. In the meantime, feel free to check out the rest of my website at your leisure.

I wish you a month overflowing with creativity and confidence. May you realize all of your dreams!



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