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Greetings and Happy New Year! As experienced and new writers, I hope you WROTE down your resolutions. Sometimes it works better that way.

As part of your new yearís resolutions if thatís something youíd like to plan, Iíd like you to think about your commitment to writing. Do you have a goal of what youíd like to write about, or an unfinished manuscript youíd like to tackle? Do you have some unread books that might inspire your own writing?

My name is Sandra and Iím the creator of ďMusings,Ē a column aimed to inspire, help and support you as writers in the worldwide community of litdotorg. Iíd like to thank Stuart Myers and the team for bringing me on board. Iím excited to be part of this project. If you have any feedback or suggestions about this column, please email the editor.

Iím addicted to writing. I write something every day, even if itís just email. I am always playing with words and connecting with people through writing. When Iím concentrating hard at writing, I lose track of time and donít eat, but sometimes someone brings me coffee. Itís hard to tear myself away from the computer when Iím editing.

My husband says, ďItís after midnight. Youíve got to work tomorrow,Ē to which I reply, ďIím almost done.Ē I get to bed an hour or two later and sleep in the next morning. What makes one write for hours on end with the odd stretch break and without compensation? But I do have compensation, even if itís not always monetary. I get the chills, I feel the passion, I live for those moments when my fingers fly over the keyboard and a smile appears on my face. I press the Ďsendí or Ďprintí button and I feel content and purposeful. Responses from readers also motivate me to keep on this path of writing.

My background is in fine art and mental health. I paint in acrylics and exhibit my work. However, my writing experience comes from attending university, joining online writersí groups, night school courses, and reading books. I also taught creative writing for a year. My published works include autobiographical work, fiction, poetry, and articles, which have appeared in print and online publications.

Currently, I am a liaison manager for peer-run mental health services and give talks on recovery to students, families and mental health professionals. Also, I co-wrote an article for PSR/RPS Express, a psychosocial rehabilitation national newsletter, and plan to jointly publish a paper in a psychosocial rehabilitation journal about The Art Studios, a non-profit organization that helps the mentally ill.

Iíd like to share some thoughts. My idiom of the month is ďthe catís meow,Ē meaning ďan admirable person or thing.Ē I wish for you as writers to achieve the catís meow in your writing. To strive to improve, learn, self-educate, and stretch your mind and imagination.

There are many cat sayings. ďCuriosity killed the cat, but satisfaction brought him back.Ē Along those lines, I think a writer should be curious, and seek to know, to understand and to be. The more experiences, knowledge and insights we have, the more we can bring to pen and paper.

For example, when you get on the bus, do you read a newspaper or stare out the window? Are you conscious of the people on the bus, their appearance, behavior and conversations?

I know a fellow that regularly visits the neighborhood coffee shop and listens in on conversations. He looks straight ahead like heís in a trance and opens a channel. Iím not saying eavesdropping is necessarily a good thing, but can be an ear-opening experience.

To know something about what makes people tick and how they interact with others will help you develop credible characters and dialogue in your writing. When forming characters, I draw on my own traits or base their motives, strengths and idiosyncrasies on personalities Iím familiar with.

Likewise for poets, being in tune with your environment can lead to some amazing poetry. Heightened sensory perception, thoughts and emotions come through in effective writing.

So I invite you to join me on a journey with ďMusings,Ē as I explore the world of writing with hopefully a fresh perspective that will aid you as a writer. My aim is to provide insights and hints, which you can take with you. At this point, I donít have all the answers, but I think writing well is within your grasp and when you get there youíll know. And to me, thatís the catís meow.

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The following comments are for "Musings: by Sandra Yuen MacKay"
by OchaniLele

@ sandra
Regarding this, I wanted to make a comment: "I know a fellow that regularly visits the neighborhood coffee shop and listens in on conversations. He looks straight ahead like heís in a trance and opens a channel. Iím not saying eavesdropping is necessarily a good thing, but can be an ear-opening experience."

I've been doing just that same thing at work! I've collected quite a few colorful examples of conversation that might make it into some of my future writings.

Everyone: It sounds horrible, eavesdropping, but it does wonders for one's work as a writer!


( Posted by: OchaniLele [Member] On: December 29, 2008 )

Hi everyone,

Feel free to write your comments and feedback here.


( Posted by: sandra [Member] On: December 29, 2008 )

Hi Eric,
I haven't attended SFU but my father designed the library with Arthur Erickson. He practiced architecture for most of his life.

I'm unfamiliar with that First Nations artist.

Have you written any New Year's resolutions?

( Posted by: sandra [Member] On: December 30, 2008 )

@ Eric

My apologies, however, I had to delete the post you wrote with that very, very long link. The URL was so long that the webpage was unable to handle it in our bulletin board format, and it was making it very bizarre and hard to access.

Most bulletin board users are familar with BBcode (bulletin board code), and for posts such as yours, we have BBcode enabled in this forum. With BBcode, one can turn a HUGE website link into a very small, manageable piece that the bulletin board can handle without going haywire.

Also, to make links manageable in the forums, one can write the link as HTML code if possible, such as the links we use to in the book review section. BBcode, however, is much easier for laymen to use.

As an example, this is a link written in BBCode:


Even though is a very small URL, I could have used the BBcode to condense that huge link of yours into a small link such as, "visit this!"

If you need help writing the BBcode for your link so you can repost it, PM me the link and I'll try to get to it as soon as possible.


( Posted by: OchaniLele [Member] On: December 31, 2008 )

@ Eric and others
Since I'm on the subject, why don't I show the code used to properly display links in the bulletin board? Simple coding directions are laid out at the following link:

Go to "linking to another site" for simple coding directions!

BBcode is a lot of fun. It is how I put my banner up at the bottom of this page.


( Posted by: OchaniLele [Member] On: December 31, 2008 )

Condensing links
The BB code is great. I also use:
You know, for when I'm too lazy to write code.

( Posted by: katharlander [Member] On: December 31, 2008 )

Hi Sandra! I also love listening in on conversational bits and bobs as I walk by people, or, even better, in bars and restaurants! If you switch from "listening in" to actually "being aware" of the conversations, it's a great tool for identifying natural-sounding dialogue, accents, etc. Also, sometimes one off-handed comment from a stranger might start a whole story!

I, too, am a perpetrator pf the "I'm almost finished," line. And, yes, it's always at least two hours later when I *actually* go to bed!

( Posted by: Mandolin [Member] On: December 31, 2008 )

I was inspired with your enthusiasm and insight Sandra. I strongly agree that it is important to be a perennial student of people taking not of their characteristics, speech, behaviour and special quirks for good character development. I aquaint myself with a local Starbucks where I gather a plethora of insights into human nature. Writers need some sense of awareness about themselves and their environments, as well as a willingness to gather their experiences as tools, to create when they write. I think you've hit it bang on, congrats on a great column. Gale.

( Posted by: Gale [Member] On: December 31, 2008 )

Mandolin and Gale
Hi Mandolin,
"Being aware" is a good way of putting it. It's interesting the differences in dialect and jargon you find in different places geographically.

Thanks Gale for your eloquent comments!

( Posted by: sandra [Member] On: January 1, 2009 )

Ideas and musing,etc
Hi Sandra,
You've written a good article here on musing and that gave me an idea that each writer has a special 'muse.' I look at this 'muse' as a guardian angel who directs our writing. Do you have a 'muse'? Keep up the good work.

( Posted by: Cleveland W. Gibson [Member] On: January 8, 2009 )

my muse
Thanks, Cleveland! I think my muse is that inner voice that also tells me what's right and what's wrong. Out of those grey brain cells flow ideas and imagination which hopefully make it to the journal or computer before those whiffs are forgotten. It also really helps to have encouragement or be part of a writers' community, don't you think?

( Posted by: sandra [Member] On: January 12, 2009 )

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