joanne Weck Author Page

Tuesday, April 28, 2015


"I'd rather have cancer than a dishonest heart.”
                                                                            TRUMAN CAPOTE

It can be hard to take on a controversial issue. In personal writing it can be nearly impossible to confront a painful topic. Does that mean it’s not worth writing about? What to do when you’re torn between being honest and hurting someone’s feelings? Is “hands off” the right policy?

Truman Capote famously alienated his “friends” by revealing them with all their warts and wrinkles, lies, hypocrisy, and pretensions. Maybe it’s not necessary to go that far, but is there a middle ground?

My approach to difficult subjects is to attempt whatever is pleading to be explored, no matter how painful or shameful or secret it feels. Let it come forth from my mind, heart, unconscious, or wherever it might be lurking in all its gory detail. Put it on paper or on the screen. Then let it simmer. Let it percolate. Let it ripen.

Review it later with a bit of distance and a calm mind. Is it urgent in its need for wider distribution? Is it something to share with a limited audience? Something that can be mined for fiction? 

Perhaps the answer is that it simply needed to be expressed. But if there’s a message or a great story, go for it. Be brave. Stick your neck out.

Monday, April 20, 2015


The end of vacation is hard. Focus changes from relaxation and fun to every day work and concerns. The long flight back to NJ from California is  a time for a transition for me. I start thinking about, maybe even start writing the story I want to write for this week's writers’ group meeting. 

Is work really work when you choose what and how much you want to do? No one is waiting eagerly to read what I write and yet I feel this pressure to create. My writing group helps me by giving me a deadline. When I haven’t written, there is no penalty, but still, I feel as if I’ve failed if I have nothing new to read.

Ideas have seemed scarce lately. I feel as if the pitcher has been empty for some weeks. Maybe my need to refill it has been served by a lazy week in the sunshine with my loving and beloved family.

Saturday, April 18, 2015


"Live and work but do not forget to play and have fun while you do it." Eileen Caddy

A trip to California, ten days of family, fun, adventure, and distraction. No writing. But I believe that a writer is writing even when she is not sitting at a computer. The brain is always active, storing impressions, gathering new material. (Or is that just an excuse for a few days of escape from the usual desk time?)

A visit to Safari West brings back memories of earlier zoo or safari experiences, times past when my son was young and experiencing the these adventures for the first time. Watching him with his daughters I recall his reactions, especially at zoos--"Oh, the poor animals. They're locked up in cages." At least at Safari sites the cages are larger and the animals appear to have more freedom to roam.

The visit to the beach and the boardwalk awakens similar memories and responses. A little boy at the seaside, his daddy a summer lifeguard. The transformations of time. Life changes. A daddy at the seaside with his little girls. There's a story here, I'm sure. It just has to percolate for a while.

So time out for gathering material, i.e. adventures, i.e. fun.

Sunday, April 12, 2015


What do you do when you feel stymied and just can't write? You sit at your computer and stare off into space. You go into the kitchen and pour out another cup of coffee. You open up your ideas notebook, but nothing appeals. Do you just walk away, go outdoors, turn on TV--or strain your brain to force an idea? What techniques work for you?

As a child I wrote poetry, stories, and plays. As a young adult I sent out my first novel to one prospective publisher and had it rejected. I went into a downward spiral of self doubt and anxiety and didn't write again for a long time. Anxiety can cripple your writing process. For years I "prepared" to write, jotting down ideas, organizing my desk, reading articles about developing story ideas and getting published--anything except actually writing. How did I break through my years (actual years) of doubt and procrastination?

I was assigned to teach a class in Creative Writing and found that I needed to put myself in the same position as my students. I undertook the same writing assignments I gave them. I encouraged them to share their work and I began sending my own stories to journals and online magazines.
 After my first story was accepted for publication it became much easier.
Still, after twelve published short stories, (four first prize winners in contests) one mystery, and various plays produced, I still have these moments of anxiety and self doubt. Meditation helps. Self hypnosis helps.

Friday, April 10, 2015


Spring has been a long time in coming this year. It's still cold and rainy and nothing is green. Flowers have yet to struggle up through the cold hard earth. My only escape from winter and the cold has been periodic visits to beautiful Longwood Gardens with its indoor profusion of flowers

And then I stepped out of the plane in San Francisco. The sun was shining. The temperature was in the seventies. I breathed in the fresh air. I felt like singing and dancing. I felt at least ten years younger, maybe twenty. But did I feel like writing? Not really. Not yet. I wanted to luxuriate in the unfamiliar wonder of a change of climate--in the best sense.

Still on New York time I woke up at 3:00 AM and out of  my window I could see a beautiful half moon shining. I was full of energy and enthusiasm. I drank a big cup of coffee. It felt like morning, my most productive time of the day--and I felt like writing.

I worked for two hours on editing my novel, (working title: A Bridge to the Moon) and still felt alive.
I jotted down three ideas for short stories. I decided I could still work on my blog before closing my computer and starting the rest of my day.

Happy spring. Keep on writing.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015



            On a recent cruise to Jamaica, the Cayman Islands, and Cozumel, I spent several days on the seas. There were many opportunities for entertainment, listening to music, gambling, dancing, eating, miniature golfing, swimming--but there was also time to sit at a window or on a deck chair looking out at the ocean and writing. (My friend, Margaret Carson, a artist, used the same time to create lovely water color paintings.) This is also a good way to meet people and talk about our work.

       The flight from New York to San Francisco takes over six hours. It's a trip I take several times a year to see my family. I could sleep or watch a movie and I might take a break to do that, but I've found that being trapped in an airplane seat for those hours is very good for focusing my mind on my current writing project. 

       On my last flight I sat next to a young father with a three- year-old boy who was adorable with big blue eyes and a sweet grin, but also very rambunctious. The father leaned over to apologize for his son's activity and then noticed that I was writing. 
      "You're writing a novel?" he asked. "What genre?" I confessed that I was writing a mystery. He launched into a detailed report of the various mystery writers whose books he and his wife enjoyed. I gave him my card and he promised to give it to his wife (who was sitting several seats ahead with their baby) who later contacted me. I gained a new reader and a great review on Amazon.

So I'm ready to fly--my computer is packed. I hope my muse will be flying along with me.