How to Write from Felt Experience

“When someone finds just the right words to express their deeper felt sense, there is a feeling of connection, rightness and truth. Gendlin calls this the forward movement of a felt sense and believes that this is the basis of what works in psychotherapy. This is the moment of felt meaning.”

I’ve read those words over and over and it doesn’t explain what felt experience is to my satisfaction. It really is hard to explain. But I can give you an example:

Once I had a friend who whenever I began to describe a book would turn his face away. So I wrote a flash fiction as follows:

The Stutterer
Four men tell jokes. Three are good tellers of jokes, the fourth one is not. He stutters and often doesn’t tell the right punch line. When the stutterer is telling a joke, two of his friends turn their heads away, embarrassed. The third friend does not. He waits patiently, full of heart.

In this flash fiction, I knocked the word embarrassment around until the fiction ended with “full of heart.” It felt to me that it couldn’t end badly, so I ended it with a positive ending.

Sue Powers has had many stories and flash fictions published over the years. One was published in Saturday Evening Post. On Wednesday evenings she’s now teaching Writing the Short Story via email.

Marketing and Writing

How much time do you spend writing vs marketing? I would imagine it depends on what you are writing. Say you’re writing a novel, a non-fiction book or a mystery. It takes a considerable amount of time to write these. But if you’re writing short stories, it takes much less time, so you can do more ‘marketing’ (I.e. getting your stories published.)

Short stories are different from full-length manuscripts. First, you don’t need an agent. Second, the first step is to get the story published. Lastly, once you’ve completed your book, then you can start marketing it.

In the days before Internet, writers would get fan mail in the post, actual physical letters, (some still do) and they would answer those letters. There are some great pictures of Hemingway standing up at his typewriter answering his letters every afternoon.

When people would do interviews, they would go on physical tours, to bookstores, or to fairs or different venues. Charles Dickens used to go around speaking. I believe people still go on physical tours to market their book.

Try and think of how you can integrate marketing in a sustainable way for you that’s creative and also meets the goals of what you want for your writing. Do you want to sell more books? Or do you want to become famous? It’s rare for an author to be come famous. So set your goal to sell more books. (By the way, I once had a student who wanted a formula to become famous author!)

Publishers rarely market their books other than putting them on their website. So it’s up to the author to market her book. The exception is Windy City Publishers. They’re a hybrid publisher that does the marketing for you. Of course they’re rather expensive, but if you are fed up trying to publish your book the traditional way, this may be the way to go.

There are other ways to self-publish. BookBaby is one of them. BookBaby offers print, e-books or print and ebooks. Plus it’s an affordable e-book self-publisher with no sales commission, plus your book gets an ISBN number through them. There’s also Amazon who publishes your book on Kindle.

I’m sure there are other self-publishing companies. Investigate and get back to me.

Our Heat and its Various Complications



7:30 a.m.

The boiler conked out a few days after we moved in. So now I’m sitting on a heating pad while I write this because it’s 34 degrees outside but inside it feels like 20. I’m wearing many layers, and it still feels like 20 degrees.

The Skokie Valley Air Control will be here in about twenty minutes to get the heat going. The President of our Board says it should take around 3 and 1/2 more hours before we get heat. We’ll also get two radiators to replace one that’s not working and the other that simply wasn’t there.

8:20 a.m.

The men are here to install our two refurbished radiators. Meanwhile, our cat Scoutie, is hissing. The men are moving our dining room furniture while I tried to nail just one picture into our plaster walls. Seems like we’ll need to drill into the wall first.

I see the men are staring at the dining room radiator. Now I hear them discussing where to put the old radiator and how to get it out of our condo. There’s a lot of discussion going on now about how to get the radiator off the floor and where to put it.

8:50 a.m.

The old radiator is on a big dolly as they wheel it out the back door. The back door is open now and the cold air is coming in. Better turn up my heating pad.

Now the new radiator is installed. But the floorboard next and beneath it needs work.

Our New Dining Room Radiator

As I move into the living room, I see the old radiator cover is still there. I’m sure they will remove it once they get the old radiator on their trunk.

Now I’m musing why we moved in this weather. Buy this condo “talked” to us. It’s got large dark molding, wood floors, a few curved archways, two large closets and large bedrooms. So large we now need more furniture!

9:15 a.m.

The back door is now open as they bring in a new radiator. It’s a reconditioned aluminum radiator.

Now that the old radiator is out, I decided to sweep the dirt away. But it’s not dirt. In fact the molding behind the radiator is ruined and floor beneath is gray, likely from the heat. Somehow, we’ll have to fix this.

9:30 a.m.

Got a call about the delivery of our new appliances. Seems they still had the date of delivery set for this week. So I had to push back the date to January 17th, two weeks after our new kitchen floor will be in.

This causes a new wrinkle. I’ve let the man who is going to install the floor know about this date. He says, “We can see how it goes. Let’s leave it alone for now.”

10:00 a.m.

Since this is an old building, there’s a metal plate in the wall in our living room. Around it are holes in the wall. So the wife of the President of the Board brought in a guy to take out the plate and fix the wall.

Metal Plate in the Wall

The problem is he can’t take out the plate without leaving a gaping hole in our large, brown floorboard. However, he said he will find some kind of solution even though we’ll still have the metal plate.

10:15 a.m.

I was about to drive to the store. But Air Control truck is blocking the garage. Guess I’ll wait.

10:30 a.m.

We’ve been promised we’ll have heat soon.

1:30 p.m. We have heat!

New Boiler!


Our Boiler Situation

It all began with our inspector who didn’t note or put in his report that the boiler in our building is old and ready to conk out. In other words, he didn’t estimate the lifespan of our boiler.

The average lifespan of a boiler is 10 to 15 years. But our boiler is older than that. In fact, it’s 20 years old! The inspector should have noted this, and of course he didn’t. Which means he’s culpable for at least part, if not all, of our cost of a new boiler.

Additionally, we had to call the Skokie Air Control people because the radiator in our dining room isn’t working. He found out it has a huge hole in it, another thing our inspector didn’t see or put in his report. Also there’s no radiator in the master bedroom. The Air Control guy said the previous owner must have stolen it. I believe it just wasn’t working and the previous owner had it taken out.

Now we have buy two new radiators and pay a portion of the new boiler. The President of our Board is doing everything he can to get us a new boiler and by next week we should have one. However, for the length of the time it’s being put in – a full day – we’ll have no heat. So we’ve had to buy a new heater.

Meanwhile, we’ve contacted our lawyer to get compensation from our inspector. This means we have to supply him with the cost of the new boiler, the radiators and the new heater we need to buy so we can recourse from the inspector.

On the plus side, we still have heat but it’s sporadic. Plus our new boiler will use less gas and less water. This is a great benefit to the building and our association fees.

If there are any other complications with our boiler – old or new – I’ll keep you posted.

Signing off now…..

Sue Powers

How Organizing Can Help When You Can’t Give Up Your Stuff

by Marilyn Labendz


Need help? If you can’t give up your stuff, you do!

Having just listened to George Carlin’s routine about “Stuff,” I found it funny and true. As he says, “Houses are just piles of your stuff with covers on them.” And should you get robbed, “while going out to get more stuff, they only take the good stuff. Nobody else wants your 4th grade math papers!”

Organizing or Downsizing, the dilemmas and the decisions are the same.

Ask yourself:

  1. What defines me?
  2. What are my prized possessions…(Or do they possess me?)
  3. If I had to leave in a hurry, what could I not part with?
  4. What items do I have that I haven’t looked at or used in the past year or two…or ten?
  5. What things are worth the physical and financial cost of moving from place to place?
  6. Can I rise to the challenge to benefit myself and my family?
  7. What can I donate to benefit someone else?

Tips and Tricks

The first thing that one needs to do to de-clutter is to decide to do it but to take it in steps. Never attempt to accomplish one whole room in one day or it can be overwhelming.

Here are some steps that should help, regardless of what you are de-cluttering, a closet, workspace, bedroom, etc

It often helps to take before and after photos so that you can see what you have accomplished. It proves you are on the right track and have made a difference.

Getting Started

  • I like to work with the “bones” of the project first.
  • Go from large to small, the perimeter of the room, for starters. Example, your bedroom has a space between the dresser and the wall, a perfect place to drop things and “get back to them later.”  Somehow, later can come several months down the road.
  • Start with that corner and other spaces like it first.  It will feel so good to have finally gotten to it. (In the initial stages clutter creates clutter because of all the sorting you are doing.)
  • Close the closet door and wait till the room is done. You’ll then have more space to work.
  • Have 3 piles, boxes or bags for “Discard” “Keep” and “Not Sure”. 
    1. In the Discard pile you may want to divide that into “donate” vs “toss”
    2. Each time the “discard” container is filled, put it out of the way, out of sight.
    3. Put the items in the “Keep” section back where you think they belong, for now. You will probably rearrange the kept items later because you will have so much more space.
  • If you have the space in another room put the “Not Sure” pile there and leave it for a day or so. Then go back to it with the same 3 containers of “Keep,” “Discard” and “Not Sure” until piles are done.
  • Work from the outside in, (even top of the desk before the inside).  If you keep the pattern I set above you’ll soon give a happy new meaning to “being out of sorts.

What’s in Your Boxes?

A new client told me that when she walks into her cluttered rooms filled with “stuff” that she starts to hyperventilate and runs out, closing the door behind her.

My reaction when I walk into a cluttered room, I begin to salivate.  Let me at that stuff!


Marilyn Labendz lives in New Jersey. She has extension experience organizing and de-cluttering. If you need help organizing your stuff, contact her at so together you can sort through your “stuff,” lighten your load, lessen your stress and give up your stuff feeling good about it.


When You’ve Got To Read It – But You Don’t Want To

read me

Compliments of Guest Blogger, Richard Shandross

I would venture a guess that, like me, you have a lot of things going on in your life and work. A lot of things.

Sometimes our obligations involve reading things that – just right now – we don’t really want to read. For me, it can be a report, a submission that came back highly edited, the text of a government regulation – the list goes on – which would be welcome at another time. But at this moment there are too many other things on my mind, other things I have to get done. Let’s face it: it can be a pain to switch gears on a dime from, say, writing a proposal to reading a marketing analysis.

We can always just put it off until the last minute – after all, when do-or-die time comes around we can tap our fear to overcome pretty much any obstacle. But that is hardly healthy or enjoyable, nor is it good planning.

Naturally, I haven’t found anything that works 100% of the time, and I’ve been trying different solutions for quite some time. But recently, as I was dealing with this very situation, I realized that I’ve made a lot of progress.

The key for me is this: get it done without getting it done.

No, no Taoism or Zen is involved here – I just mean that I refrain from trying to steamroll over my internal resistance. I drop the intention of reading … at least in any normal way … and treat whatever it is as though I am window-shopping it:

“Oh, it’s 12 pages. That’s nice. Look at all the grammar mistakes … ha! How the heck is this darn thing organized, anyway? I can’t make heads or tails of this from just looking!”

“I think I’ll just see what the last paragraph or two says. Maybe they summarize everything so well that I don’t have to read any more than that. Oh, I guess it’s not quite that good, but I did learn a thing or two about what’s inside.”

“Say, there are a few graphics. I can get some info from those. Egads, this table is weird.”

Actually, the piece I am avoiding might be a great document. But whether it’s good or less-than-stellar, here is what is happening at this point: I find myself developing some interest and connection with the document in spite of myself.

Ok, sometimes I put the piece down at this point, happy just to have gotten that far. Wandering attention happens. Roadblocks happen. Fear of what is in the item (say a critical response from a client) happens.

But here’s what happens as I spend more time with the document, even if I am not reading it per se: my brain starts taking in and interpreting the contents anyway. The edges of the wall between me and the document start softening, even crumbling.

cranky man readingMost frequently, one of these four things will happen:

  1. My defenses lower enough that I can read the item without a Herculean effort.
  2. I actually find myself getting involved enough, mentally or even emotionally, that I start to want to read the thing.
  3. I keep “studying” and exploring without getting much traction, until I run across a section of the piece that I find interesting. After finishing that section – it could be a sentence, a paragraph, a page, or more – I may find myself back in difficult straits, in which case I just go back to “non-reading.”
  4. I do not make a whole lot of progress and need to ratchet things up a bit.

If the going is just too tough, I will try using a timer (I like the free Pomodoro software tool at Sourceforge) and chew into the document (or whatever it is) one bite at a time. No more Mr. Non-reader Guy!

There have been times when I literally chop up a reading task (or editing, for that matter), into dozens of 5-minute intervals. It can be torture. But, almost always, I find it possible to extend the time chunks to 10, 15, 25 minutes at a time. And it is not uncommon for me to finally get into a flow and just sail through the rest of it.

Of course if all of the above fails, and if the task involving reading or editing is really important – well, sometimes I just end up procrastinating until I have to ride the panic like a wave. After all, isn’t that why God invented coffee?


Rich is a professional reader, writer, and arithmeticker who occasionally suffers reader’s block. He is an energy consultant for Navigant Consulting, and I’m pleased to say, my brother. 

Moving in Stages

Compliments of Guest
Blogger, Kevin Standifer


I moved to Chicago from Austin, TX just over ten years ago. Now after ten years of learning how to moisturize, shopping for the right humidifier, buying the wrong winter coat and then buying the right one, and never ever finding a pair of gloves that actually warmed my hands, I’ve decided to migrate back to the warmer climes from which I came. Moving is never easy, but this time is probably the worst:

1. I’m not just moving myself, but also my partner and temperamental cat, Minou;

2. The partner had to find a job in our future home in Austin;

3. Our lease here in Chicago isn’t up for another six months, winter is beginning, and it’s the worst time to try to find tenants for an apartment.

We’ve found ourselves moving in stages. The original plan was to move in spring, close to when the lease is up. My partner, afraid that he would have trouble finding work, began looking in September. Two weeks later, he had found a job and needed to move in early October. This began what I’m calling The Stages of Moving.

Stage 1: Denial and Light Arguing

Since we can’t break our lease and cannot afford two, I quickly realize this means I’ll be staying in Chicago until someone takes over it. Meanwhile, the partner gets to move, take the car, explore a new city, get a fabulous new job, and generally have a lovely time (a friend is generously putting him up for the interim). I spend an unreasonable amount of time trying to think of ways to not have to sit around in Chicago by myself. No dice. I pick on him for no reason.

Stage 2: Panic


Unhappy Minou escaping the mayhem.

I force the partner to help me pack everything in our house before he leaves. We do so in about two weeks, with the exception of the stuff I will need in the coming months. The cat gets angry as furniture and boxes are shuffled around the house. Our living space looks odd and echoes now. Our landlord helps us look for new tenants and issues dire warnings that we won’t find anyone until spring. We cavalierly ignore him.

Stage 3: Candy Store

Partner leaves, which is sad but we firmly believe I’ll be joining him in six months. For two weeks I enjoy my newfound bachelordom, watching movies and playing video games to my heart’s content. I make a point to go to restaurants I’ve never been to, and go to museums I never got around to. Life isn’t so bad. I’ll be in Austin soon! …right?

Stage 4: Okay, Ready to Move Now

The initial fun of being solo wears off. I postpone coming home from work because I don’t like being confronted with the empty house. No one to speak of comes to look at the place. No longer optimistic about moving before 2014.

Stage 5: Panic, Part Two

I realize that even though “everything” is packed, there will be a whole second phase of packing that will take just as long when it comes time to actually move. Clothes. Pots and Pans. The TV and all attached gadgets. Bedding, computers, things in the closets, cleaning supplies, tools, bathroom stuff. I have actual panic attacks. I see things to do everywhere but cannot act on it.

Stage 6: Bitterness

After two months, I realize I’m probably stuck here until winter is over. We’ve bumped back the rental date for prospective new tenants twice. I’m also constantly thinking about all the things I need to do once we do have a renter. Book a flight to move the cat, arrange for my dad to come help us move, cancel utilities, find an actual place to live in Austin, plan a going away party, the list goes on and on. Again, I can’t act until we know.

Stage 7: The Actual Move

I envision this as a joyous flurry of activity, ending in a joyous move to a perfect living space in Austin, full of warmth and sunlight. It will be so glorious, it could only be celebrated properly with a song and dance number. The reality will probably fall slightly short of this, and my furniture will probably get damaged.

So now I wait, and wait, and literally count the days. As much as I’ve loved living here the last ten years, spring cannot come soon enough.


Kevin Standifer knows a really great two bed, two bath place in Andersonville you could rent. Interested? Contact him at

Calling All Guest Bloggers

I could have been writing

I should have been shopping my book!

To blog or not to blog? This is the question I pose to you today: Guest blogging.

Yes, I’m looking to feature writers on my blog.

I started some Fridays ago with writers I know pretty well. But I don’t need to know you well at all, or know you at all. And you don’t need to have a blog. You just need to an idea in search of an audience.  J

Why?  For you – well, possible new readers of course, and a chance to plug your blog, if you have one (again, not a requirement).

For me – I need to work on shopping my book. Plain and simple. And since I can’t seem to do that and blog at the same time.

Here’s the deal:

1.     You choose any subject you want to write about. Pretty good deal, eh? Or if you need ideas, just ask.  I am happy to give writing prompts.

2.     Exception: I’m not accepting poetry. Sorry.  When it comes to poetry, I’m the first to admit I’m a poor judge.

3.     Humor most welcome.

4.     Word count – generally no more than 500 words (Ok, I might make an exception.)

5.     Submit to on Wednesday for my Friday afternoon post.

The post will be under your name, and of course, all rights belong to you. They always do anyway, just being reassuring that you know that I know….:)

Thanks! I hope this will be the beginning of a beautiful writing/blogging relationship!


Ps. Feel free to pass this message on to your friends, readers, bloggers and other writers.

Week One of My Not Blogging Anymore

She's getting existential again

I recently decided I needed time and energy to work on my book of stories. So I decided not to blog for a while and posted a call for writers one and all to come be guest bloggers. Of course bloggers know what’s in it for them. But for me, well basically, with guests writing my blog, I could keep it alive while I do what I have to do to get my bloody book published. Selfish? Self-serving? Yes I think so too.

The thing is, it’s not my nature to be so selfishly motivated. In fact it’s a well-documented fact from studies taken at work that I am highly altruistic. Yes, we’ve had consultants in to study each of us, and that’s what I am. Caring, compassionate, ready and willing to help others. But not lately, apparently.

Lately, I’m only thinking about me and my unmet goals. Then today I woke up with a backache, and head full of “what am I doing all this for” angst.  Which if you think about it, is a really good question, which I’ve been asking myself all day.

By “all this” I mean:

  • Creating a website
  • Creating a blog
  • Thinking about my blog
  • Thinking about my book then thinking what to write next for my blog     
  • Thinking about the fact that I’m only writing blog posts
  • Thinking about my book of stories
  • Thinking about my book and how I haven’t done a thing towards getting it published
  • Thinking about the fact that I’m not writing fiction anymore or doing anything to get my book pubished – then sitting down and writing a blog post (instead). Sigh.

Have you ever thought about why you want to publish your blog, novel, play, art piece, book of stories?  For money? Readers? Fame? I don’t know about you, but when I wrote my stories, I didn’t think about who would read them, who would publish or buy them. I just wrote them because they asked to be written.

Isn’t the writing itself the point, the pleasure, the ache, the fulfillment?  Isn’t it a complete thing unto itself? Shouldn’t it be?  Or is this what we’ve been conditioned to think?

Ok, call this my dark side, my down side, or as blogger BitterBen would say, my bitter side. I don’t think so. I think I’m simply having an existential crisis. As in, thinking about ALL the arts, I can’t help but ask myself: why bother?

Sure it’s great to create, but then what? Why look for publishers, art exhibitions, theaters to produce your play?  Who’s reading? Who’s appraising? Who’s watching and what does it matter? Why do artists need others to care when it’s the making of the art that should matter?

So I woke up today thinking these thoughts that were in the back of  my mind all week, then I thought about me thinking these thoughts, and this went on and on throughout the day, until finally, hallelujah! night arrived and I could bury my thoughts in front of the TV.

I’ll snap out of this frame of mind, I’m sure. On the up side, the post by my humorous guest blogger, Pat Childers, was a smashing success. And there’s more coming by Pat, who has graciously agreed to help me. She doesn’t work with me anymore, so she hasn’t gone through the series of studies about our selves (preferred work styles, personality stuff, matches to our jobs, etc), but anyone who knows Pat knows her studies would reveal her to be Witty, Urbane, Humane.

Meanwhile, I continue to debate whether to publish my book or just post my stories on my website in case someone – anyone – wants to read them. Whatever.

So that’s it – week one of my not blogging anymore. Who knows what week two will bring. More angst, or perhaps a simple plague of locusts.


Calling All Writers!

Calling All Writers – Guest Bloggers Welcome!

Calling All Writers

To guest blog or not to guest blog? That is the question.

Yes, I’m looking to feature writers on my blog. If you didn’t see Friday’s post by guest blogger Pat Childers, Questions from the Oldest Living Middle-Aged Blogger, you might want to check it out.

I know Pat pretty well. We used to work together – she always lightened the day with her wit and humor – but I don’t need to know you well, or know you at all. And you don’t need to have a blog. You just need to have an idea in search of an audience.

Why?  For you – well, more readers, new readers, great fame (ha!) and a chance to plug your blog, if you have one (again, not a requirement).

For me – I need to work on my book now. Plain and simple. And since I can’t seem to do that and blog at the same time, and I’d like to keep this blog active until I can work on it again, well, you can see the problem.

Here’s the deal:

1.     You choose any subject you want to write about. Good deal, eh?  Or as Pat said to me, dangerous. Well I love danger! (One exception: no poetry please. When it comes to poetry, I’m the first to admit I’m a dangerously poor judge.)

2.  Word count –try to keep under 600 words. This is not a hard and fast rule, but desirable, as the gurus of blogs say they should stay under 350 words. But what do they know, eh? I’ve read my great blogs that are much longer such as Fransi Weinstein, Bitter Ben and many others.

3.    Submit to no later than on Wednesdays for my Friday afternoon posts. Word docs or docx please.

The post will be under your name, and of course, all rights belong to you. They always do anyway, just being reassuring that you know that I know…:)

Ok, that’s it for now. So think about it, then submit! This could be the beginning of a beautiful writing/blogging relationship….


Ps. Feel free to pass this message on to your readers and other writers.