Category Archives: Writing

On Writing (originally drafted 2010)

Original draft

For as long as I can remember I’ve wanted to write. I dreamed of someday being published and having people read what I’d written.  In 2000 or so one of my grad school professors asked me if I’d help him with part of a book he was writing for AOL. I was in charge of an annotated appendix about various software and websites on photography and found the writing and research part easy, but the formatting part impossible. The professor ended up doing the formatting and also, I discovered when I got my copy of the book, pretty much changed every annotation I wrote — using words I’d never uttered in my life (maven was one of them). That experience sort of squashed my desire to be published. It seemed like a lot more work than I was willing to do.  My words would, no doubt, be changed anyway. Oh, and I hate rejection.

As you may know, I kept a journal (actually many journals) for several years. The trouble with journals was: no one read them but me, so all the creative energy I put into writing entries was sort of wasted. I remembered when my 10th grade English teacher read my journals and commented on things I wrote — it sort of validated something in me — that I had a voice.

Then I discovered blogging. I remember searching for journaling software — I wanted to type my journals instead of write them long-hand — and stumbled upon Blogger. I thought it was a perfect compromise — I could keep a journal and maybe someone would read it someday. Just like when Miss Sliger read my 10th grade journal. That was all I really wanted anyway — to write and have someone read what I wrote.

It was frustrating at first. I’d write but didn’t know if anyone was reading. The first year I had the blog not one person commented and there were no analytics attached to the software for me to see if anyone even visited. I persevered though, and did actually get published that year in an online version of a magazine.


I am not sure where I was going with this or why I wrote it. Maybe just to say that blogging is my way of writing and even if no one reads it, it really is all about getting it out there.

Since writing this I was also published (twice) in a newspaper supplement about my time spent in Chetek, Wisconsin. They posted some blog posts of mine with my permission.

I feel that my writing is suffering from either my old age or my lack of practice. I read things I wrote years ago (like these drafts that I am going through today) and am surprised at how much better my writing was then.

Dean suggested that when I retire I should take a class at The Writer’s Center in Bethesda. That would be cool.

Birthday Card from Grandma Green

Sometime after 1981 I drove from Pittsburgh to Shorewood, Illinois to spend a few days with my Grandma Green, then drove up to Elgin to spend time with my parents. I brought my cat, Cinder.

While with Grandma we reminisced about old times and ate Kraft Macaroni and Cheese (R) with tuna fish. We also played cribbage and drank banana milkshakes like we used to do when I’d visit her in Chetek.

She sent me this card for my birthday that year with the following message:

Dear Dona!

It was so nice to have you with me for just those few days.

I am sorry, but gift will not be ready for your birthday. How about for Christmas?

Having a bit of trouble finding the right kind of fabric.

I am not positive what she means by material. I don’t recall her making anything for me for my birthday or Christmas.

…who is loved so very much!
Have a wonderful birthday!
With love — 🙂
Grandma and John

Old Writing: Part 31::My first diary

I received a one-year diary from my parents for Christmas in 1968. I wrote in it a few times.

Inside the cover I wrote:

The property of
Dona Patrick
240 Heine St.
Elgin, Illinois
and nobody better read this or ELSE!

Wednesday January 1, 1969

Dear Diary,

Last night I was playing Yahtzee ((I loved this game — still do)) with Ginny and Mommie ((that’s how I spelled it in the diary)) and Kevin and I won 2 out of 3.

I saw the parades this morning and they weren’t very interesting. ((are they ever?))

Bob and Marge were over early and Kevin, Marge and I played Yahtzee and Kerplunk. We had pork chops and I did the dishes in 15 minutes give or take a couple minutes. I just got done watching Hawaii Five-O and it was about a man who was big who strangled a girl. ((so television has been violent for a long time))

Thursday January 2, 1969

Dear Diary,

Uncle Ray came over to finish the paneling but he didn’t feel too good so he went home. He said Ronnie had the flu and Cindy just got over it and Aunt Alvera was fighting it.

Mom and Dad painted the living room ceiling today. I got a letter from Mrs. Anderson ((my sixth grade teacher)) today she said she liked the sachets and she signed it “Much love, Mrs. A. My mom just read it to Kevin.

Friday January 3, 1969

Dear Diary,

Colleen and Dawn came over and I was still in my pjs. They wanted me to come over and play so I went and is their room a mess! ((I don’t remember hanging out with Colleen and Dawn that much after early grade school so this surprises me))

Well, anyway, I ate lunch there and a boy named Mark Goalson said Jeff ((Jeff was my obsession for a few years)) picked up his noodle soup bowl out of it and his Dad pushed his nose in it so we call him noodle nose! I am going to sleep overnight at Colleen’s tonight. I’ll tell about it tomorrow.

Saturday January 4, 1969

Dear Diary,

I had fun last night even though Colleen always talked about Jeff! We watched The Incredible Mr. Limpet who turned into a fish! ((I don’t remember that I saw that film for the first time with Colleen)) When we finally got to sleep it was 12:50. We woke up at 8:15 and had to rush-rush.

We got our shirts today and they are red and black! ((bowling shirt))

Well, Debbie and Julie are over and they want me to play with them.

My scores were 61-54-80. ((bowling scores — pretty bad))

Sunday January 5, 1969

Dear Diary,

I went to bed at 3:00 last night and got up at 12:00 and thought “school tomorrow, ick!” I sat around all day and got weak from not eating. I don’t really have anything to talk about so I’ll end.

Monday January 6, 1969

Dear Diary,

School again! Guess what, Eugenia broke her arm. She said she broke it the day we got out of school. She broke it at the wrist.

Tuesday January 7, 1969

Dear Diary,

Nothing happened today except I took my old violin to Mr. Christensen.

Wednesday January 8, 1969

Dear Diary,

I can’t remember what happened today.

Thursday January 9, 1969

Dear Diary,

Tomorrow’s the day when my mom goes to the school conference. (see, I’m scared)

Friday January 10, 1969

Dear Diary,

Mom went to school today for my conference. She said they didn’t say very much except that I am a very good student.

Saturday January 11, 1969

Dear Diary,

We’re going over to Pam and Jeff’s tonight. When were went Pam jumped up and down. We made Rings and Things and Strange Change Time Machine. ((I don’t remember either of those toys. Pam and Jeff always had cooler things than I did))

Sunday January 12 1968

Dear Diary,

Nothing interesting happened today.

And that’s it. I only lasted 12 days.