About Creative Process

16 months after brain surgery, I’ve been able to wean off the heavy meds and my creative writing is coming back.  In short bursts, not long jaunts, I’m starting to envision scenes again and feel the will of a single character.  (Whew.)  I know some folks might find it odd, but one of the most helpful tools in getting this back was just not writing for a month.  I really didn’t do anything beyond the book column.

Now that I’m active again, my challenge is to harness these little creative jaunts into something useful.  I’m not a fan of letting words and ideas just sit around gathering dust.  I see too much staleness and feel a need to breathe something fresh into the genre while the ideas are relevant.

What that will be, I’m not sure, but for now I think it’s safe to say the format needs to be shorter than a novel.  Shorts and screenplays match my stamina.

I’m always curious about other writers and artists’ creative process so I’ll share a piece of mine:  my work is inspired by everyday people but not necessarily now and not necessarily matching real people to real events.  I like to take a personality and challenge it with a situation that brings out something relevant we can all relate to.  I like to create a situation that leaves us feeling hopeless and then showing how the most unlikely person can overcome it.

Crime fascinates me not for the criminal or the heinous act, but for the strength of the individuals and communities who put an end to it.  The survivors, the unlikely heroes and the career crimefighters.  What drives them?  What might defeat them?  How does the best in them triumph over the more-powerful evil?

Time for some research.   What’s your process?


Time off and requesting book recs

Just a quick note to let everyone know that I’m taking a month off writing to focus on my new position as activities director at an assisted living center. I’m only writing my book column and need one good reader recommendation. The theme is “changes.”  The book can be from any genre, fiction or non, but must be ON THE SHELF in at least one OKC bookshop as well as available online.  I love books with an Oklahoma connection but that is not required other than shelf/online availability. The quality of your rec is more important. Send recs to my contact page with an email address where I can follow up if  we choose yours.


Thegood news? I feel great,love the job and am catching up on reading.

If you are here for acoustic neuroma information, click over to Mayfield Clinic, my fave site on the topic.  It is not where I had surgery.

Great Brain News and Stuff I Can’t Talk About

I drove my son to the airport for college orientation, sniff, sniff, and took the opportunity to see my neurologist in the City.

PHENOMENAL BRAIN NEWS: my fiction problem is likely caused by my meds, not my brain, WHEW! This news gives me SO MUCH HOPE. My tradeoff is that this medication has otherwise restored my normal life. I am back to everything else and feeling really good. Changing meds could endanger all of that.

I can still write nonfiction, no problem. As soon as I sit down to start actually CREATING a character or a situation, my brain feels like it’s exploding from the inside. What’s worse, there’s nothing there. No creative idea when there used to be ideas stacked on top of ideas . The doctor initially just said, “Well then just don’t write fiction,” but I explained that he doesn’t understand.

Yes, I’ve had some success writing for magazines and that’s rewarding. But I’m a writer, a novelist. I’ve had to set aside my second book over this and that breaks my heart. While this problem is unusual (most people with this surgery don’t write fiction) a common side effect of this med is trouble thinking of the right words in a sentence, something my kids have noticed sometimes and help with. As a nonfiction writer with the internet and a thesaurus, I can overcome the occasional brain-blank. But I cannot write fiction when creativity is a total blank.


So I asked if the meds are making my brain better or just making me able to cope with my new brain and the answer was very direct: “your situation is chronic. We won’t cure you, just control the brain.” The meds don’t cause permanent damage, just temporary.


I’m about to embark on a new project that will be taking a lot of my time. I have the possible chance to do something I love that will help others. It’s one of those heart-driven things that I know is the right choice for right now. If I went off the meds, I might endanger the project.

So the fiction has to wait a little longer. But the excellent news is that my brain is not the problem and when I’m ready, I can get it back.

In the meantime, two things:

1) I can get a great 2nd opinion at my son’s university in California where they specialize in this type of tumor.
2) Someone has decided to pick this moment to attack my book for being exactly what it is: a dark mystery about a countercultural community. Of course, they then said loads of other things I disagree with but I figure if I’m writing counterculture and I don’t upset someone, I’m doing it wrong. Thanks for the reinforcement!


Words, picture, potential.

The past week ushered in changes:  a new physician leading my team, another scholarship for my son, plans for an art exhibit in my hometown and a pristine, new writing project. Sometimes change can feel scary, but right now it just feels great!

Check out my words in a simple little story at the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition blog, then bookmark the blog. It’s chock-full of great art:

Sharing Jason Willaford's Vinyls with Skeptical Teens
Sharing Jason Willaford’s Vinyls with Skeptical Teens

Picture: I contributed a photo of PURE JOY emanating from my son (taken by Enid Library) to Oklahoma Women Bloggers. It’s not often that teens smile that big. Click the logo to view it:

Wordless Wednesday
Wordless Wednesday

And finally, the potential. I’m writing more creative nonfiction and saw a Kickstarter startup this morning that just ties right in:

A qwerkywriter


PS: I’m not paid to advertise it or anything on this blog, just saluting a great idea!



An idea sends you into action. You can’t stop thinking about it—this magnificent concept that will make some small corner of the planet brighter, smarter, more connected. Sure, maybe it’s just a corner, but if everyone did just one corner…

So I’ve been working on a little art project in my small town and can share that I’m just thrilled with the welcoming response from the community development folks, the state art association, possible guest artists and even the willingness of local businesses to provide space. WOW! It’s just now perched at this moment when it’s about to take off and WILL happen. It looks so pristine as a perfect idea about to become real. Now to knock out the kinks.

My small community seems to be exploding with ideas just now. There’s a film festival opening here next month, ongoing community events and a really energetic local yarnstorming movement. Creativity inspires creativity. Check out the film fest. You have 5 days to submit, I mean, INSPIRE someone.


Be a catalyst.


My appreciation to All Mystery E-Newsletter for recommending DISTORTION to their subscribers.  If you love mystery, you should really belong to their list.  The Thursday “Dirt Cheap Mystery Reads”  picks the best sale or reduced- priced books each week so you can steal a great crime novel. Seems appropriate.


Or you can check out DISTORTION at some libraries. Here’s a photo from the time I found it in stock locally. I’m happy to say that the first two times I looked it was out.


and thanks to Ashley, an OKC reader who made my day with this blog photo. I just love running across DISTORTION in unexpected places.

I’m still not really doing the book promo thing since the relapse, but probably did enough before February that it’s still getting a little notice. I really appreciate the mentions and the support from fans and the READERS!

Write me on the contact page if you have any feedback. I love hearing from you.


by Lucie Smoker

stuff i tell my sister

Who do you call or text with everyday "stuff" that occurs? Your sister, your mom, your best friend? That's what this blog is about, "stuff I tell my sister"... Great books, photos, music, new ideas, product reviews, exercise and health info, rants & raves and random life thoughts. (from an Oklahoma gal to you♥)


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