the death of coulda-shoulda

Mountain View Cemetery in snow by Ron DeKett
Mountain View Cemetery in snow by Ron DeKett

Trucker stalled on expressway being interviewed on NBC news during snowstorm: “You gotta take what the road gives you. Go slow, be patient, and you’ll make it through.”

I’m sure there’s a country-western song that says, “You gotta take what the road gives you,” and if there isn’t there oughta be.

Do you have couldas and shouldas you’d like to join me in burying? If you’re willing to share, please comment at the end of this blog.

At this stage in my writing life, I look back now and then and wonder at my choices. My love of poetry started in my Iowa childhood when I read Robert Louis Stevenson’s A Child’s Garden of Verses to my mother while she milked cows. In grad school, poetry saw me through tough personal times. Throughout a long journalism career, it gave me an outlet for my artistic freedom, denied by the rigors of objectivity and fairness. My task was to blast out inches to fill newspaper columns. “How many inches?” was a daily question I asked my editors. At times, I felt like an automaton.

When I went freelance for a time, my mother admonished me not to try to write fiction because I’d never make a living at it. Maybe I shoulda been an English teacher? Maybe I coulda been something better than I was?

Now in retirement, I remember a few things I did as a journalist that were useful, such as a series of stories in Michigan revealing contamination of local residents’ well water by a county-owned landfill. Public water lines were laid for those whose wells were polluted. The residents sent me flowers, which I had to give away, of course, but I remember how welcome they were.

Yes, maybe I coulda, maybe I shoulda, but I do know that I dida at least that one thing that was good, so I’m burying the couldas, the shouldas, and I’m happy for what the road gives me. Just today I received an email from a reader I don’t know who asked permission to use one of my poems from The Pantyhose Declarations in a Becoming Women of Wisdom group. She made my day! Here and now, the road gives me a sustaining community of writers and artists who help me believe every day my life is worthwhile.


the end is in sight!

art copyright Cynthia Morgan
art copyright Cynthia Morgan


Hi! I’m Nan Lundeen’s Moos. We have been very busy, she and I, rewriting and editing our handbook, Moo of Writing: How to Milk Your Potential. She asked me if I’m familiar with the concept of eternity. I was not until she explained that’s how long this end process is taking. We started the final rewrite/edit in August of 2013. The Spartanburg Chapter of the SC Writers Workshop critiqued it chapter by chapter. Whew! Then, the Moo critique group in Greer critiqued the rewrite chapter by chapter. Then her friend, Mary Ellen Lives, critiqued the whole book again. In between, Nan published her book, Black Dirt Days: Poems as Memoir (after tons and tons of proofing and correcting). Nan’s husband, Ron DeKett, read Moo rewrites until the cows came home! We were getting mighty tired of the process. Good thing I’m a laid-back cow and able to nap while Nan works. She woke me yesterday to tell me she’s sent the final-final-final-revised-revised-revised ms. to John Adam Wickliffe, our computer guru, who designs, paginates, and does all sorts of useful stuff to get it off to CreateSpace, our print-on-demand publisher. Goodness only knows how many proofs from CreateSpace Nan will read before she finally launches this handbook at Joe’s Place in Greenville. I’ll keep you posted. Oh, and she says thanks very, very, very much to all the critiquers! Please leave us a comment. Adamy Damaris Diaz of Artistik Dreamlife, our talented administrator of this site, has changed the rules so folks can comment without registering. We’d all like to know if that works. Moo.