Tag Archives: Full-Time Writing

Fireside Chats in Springtime


Early Spring 2015 048

Silly me. I had this idea to write a WWII-era literary fiction novel a while back. Quite a while back.

I spent a lot of time researching in between writing scenes. I felt I had a decent grasp on the time period; my dad was a WWII marine—I grew up waking to The Marine Corps Hymn–and though I majored in English, not history, I spent a good deal of time learning about and teaching the Holocaust to my eighth-grade classes when I taught The Diary of Anne Frank. I even wrote a YA novel about a Polish boy falling in love in war-torn Poland for my Master’s thesis in creative writing.

I’d just need to check a few dates here and there, maybe read a few more books and immerse myself in the movies and music of the 1940s, and presto! I’d be good.

Not so true.

What is true is that old saying about “the more you learn, the more you realize how much you don’t know.” Today’s epiphany: Go Deeper. I stumbled into going deeper today almost by accident. I was looking up a few Roosevelt quotes for a scene in my manuscript where my protagonist listens to the president on the radio. Just a few lines, you know, to add realism and texture to the scene.

                                                                                                Paris to home 2013 033   GO DEEPER

And I find myself, hours later, too torn up to write the scene. I’ll write it tomorrow, or maybe the next day. You see, I found recordings of Franklin D. Roosevelt speaking to the American public. I listened to them. Then I found recordings of the broadcasts made by the journalists who had followed him throughout his long presidency talking about him on the day of his death.

These recordings are priceless. You will need Kleenex. And maybe a dog. Or a loved one nearby. Luckily, my protagonist has a hankie, a dog, and a brother.

Fireside Chat           (Not my photo)                 Silly me? Yes. But also grateful me.

If you haven’t done so, and you’re interested, go to http://www.fdrlibrary.marist.edu/archives/collections/utterancesfdr.html to get started.

Three dates you might be interested in:

January 11, 1944: Radio Address to the Nation- State of the Union message to Congress (30 min.)

November 2, 1944: Campaign radio speech from the White House—“The World is Rising” (15 min.)

December 24, 1944: Christmas Eve Address (5 mins.) Make sure to stay tuned for The National Anthem that immediately follows.

Rachel “Lori” Pohlman, Copyright2016



Filed under Fireside Chats, HIstorical Fiction, Literary Fiction, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Radio, Research, Uncategorized, World War II, Writing

Unexpected Relief: Canadian Geese, Kayaking, and Life Lessons

Maysend2015 010

June 2, 2015

Have you ever been gloomy on a perfectly lovely day? Maybe better to ask, have any of us not? Today began that way, sharply beautiful—a kind of begging to just be outside kind of morning, followed by a mildly warm bursting with life afternoon.

Still, I was gloomy.

My body said go outside, but my heart said no, let’s be gloomy.

My muse said, get up and write, but my mind said no, let’s be gloomy.

If it weren’t for my dogs, I might have pulled the covers over my head. But dogs need walking, so I forced my gloomy heart and mind to come along, promising myself I could crawl back in bed when we got back.

Out walking, we changed course a few times to avoid wildly happy unleashed dogs (Who knows why there were so many loose canines out on this particular day? I pictured them all prying the screens off their open windows with various size paws after their humans left for work, and then jumping out pell-mell to run and roll in the grass. The day was that pretty).

I always change course when I see a loose dog ahead, or one running toward us, not so much because I am afraid of them, but because I fear they may be baited into a fight by my feisty Schnauzer.

Anyway, we found a quiet lane eventually. Diesel and Atticus were taking things slowly, sampling the fresh long grass, sniffing and marking, sniffing and marking. Pandora was playing in my pocket: Coleman Hawkins, “Under a Blanket of Blue.”  Lovely.

And then I noticed.

I wasn’t really all that gloomy anymore.

Nice breakthrough.

I was thinking about the writing I would accomplish today. My important novel writing. Wrestling with my protagonist’s problems. Conjuring up a crucial scene to push the plot forward.

We were almost back home when Barry and Laura, two of my neighbors, waved. “Want to go kayaking with us?” they asked.

An invitation, it turned out, that I could not turn down.

I love being in the water, on the water, with the water. I love the quiet splash. The green banks sliding by. The exercise and the rest.

And this would be my first time out this season.

On a day such as this, these are the moments are sometimes given. Learning to spot them and savor them is the trick.

An hour later we were on the river paddling with just the right amount of effort to know our arms were probably morphing into something sleekly beautiful, something very un-middle-aged-women-and-man-arm-like. There we were, three people, a man and two women, just for a little while living in the moment, alive and in nature.

“The goose family is just ahead,” Laura said. “We’ve been watching them grow.”

We came around a bend and came upon two complete families. Two mothers and two fathers standing tall watching us. Two groups of chicks. One group, still downy fluff, but up and about, and maybe a third as tall as their parents. The other group was younger, but there were a lot of them—they were huddled in a perfect circle around the base of a tall shrub, looking like a living Christmas tree skirt.

There wasn’t a house or a boat or even a power line in sight. Just us and the geese.

“I didn’t know separate families lived so near each other,” Barry said. “And I hear they mate for life.”

They mate for life.

Also, and this is maybe the best part, Barry searched through all the downed branches near the river’s edge for trash. He didn’t find much, but what he found, he took with him. Took it home to recycle.

Laura smiled at me. “Barry cleans the river,” she said.


Filed under Writing Advice

Yoga Epiphanies and Full-Time Fiction, February 24, 2015

Owl Bar SundanceThursday or Friday, if you’ve been following me, are usually my Pub Fiction Nights. On these nights I set myself up in a pub and inconspicuously suck in and record the atmosphere. I know. Poor me. Lest you become too jealous, let me give you a bit of background.

I suck (and not just atmosphere).

Ok, that’s a little harsh. I don’t always suck. What I mean is, even though I am a writer at heart, since my earliest memories I have both known and simultaneously rejected the dream. Being a writer, right. From my perspective, I might just as well have wanted to be an astronaut or a movie star.

And I needed to earn a living. I always tended to let inconsequential things like paying the rent or buying groceries come in between me and my dream of being a full-time writer. Fine. Didn’t have a trust fund. Not many people do.

But here’s the thing. I am not getting any younger. And even during all of those years of working at not being a full-time writer, guess what? I wrote. I wrote two novels in fact while working full-time, and that doesn’t suck at all—but even so, I never felt like a real writer. I sent each of those novels out a few times, particularly the second one, but mostly I just kept them in a drawer and went on with my “real” life.

And then, and then… after a year coming to grips with my own mortality through cancer and two incredible decades of teaching eighth graders, I reached an age, that certain age, where I had a bit of money invested in retirement, and was able to say, “Time to go.” The plan was, I’d meet up with my husband across the country where he’d started a new job. I would live the literary life. Get those books published. Write more books. Really be a Full Time Writer!

Only I haven’t been writing full-time…more like some-time, between the avoiding-writing-times.

Tuesday is my Yoga night. During Corpse Pose it came to me. Yes, during that time when your mind is supposed to be completely relaxed and clear of all thoughts. That’s when I had my Ah Ha! Moment. My realization is this: My problem is not that I can’t write regularly and with complete commitment because I need to pay for my new partial dentures or that I have to be employed in order to feel valuable. Nor is it because the kitchen and bathroom floors are torn up indefinitely while my husband struggles to correct major and unexpected structural issues that we can’t afford to pay a contractor to fix. All of these things are distractions, true, but they aren’t such big obstacles to writing, not really.

Here’s my problem:  I need someone to report to, to produce for; otherwise, I will dilly-dally around with this new novel for years. That’s what I mean by “I suck.” For the first time in my life I have the time to write, yet I spend more time looking for a new job than I do writing—all kinds of ridiculous jobs—anything to distract me for a day or two or ten until I either get an outright rejection or I just never hear back so my excitement fizzles. Ho-hum, guess I’ll write a sentence or two on the novel then since I didn’t get that mad scientist job…

I am a teacher, and I love lessons! Bingo! I applied for a job recently that required I complete an assigned task. I was thrilled the entire time I was working on that assignment, couldn’t wait to get it turned in. I didn’t get the job, but I learned a valuable lesson about myself. I work best when I work for someone other than me.

When I taught language arts the biggest thrill was in the relationships, and sharing of knowledge. I wasn’t writing lessons in a vacuum, they were written in the classroom, constantly changing, adjusting to the needs and moods of the students and the days—the lessons needed to breathe to be compelling. So it is with my writing.

So I’m going back to the classroom, in a way, investing in my own education once again. There are many courses I want to take through the University of Wisconsin, Madison Continuing Studies Writing Program, but I’ll choose one for now. I hope to begin soon. It will force me to focus. This is not to say that I won’t become gainfully employed one of these days; if the right offer comes along, I’ll take it! But whether I work outside the home again or not, one thing is for certain, I will be writing, full-time. Early Winter 2014 to 15 047


Filed under Writing Advice