Why I Write

Today I skipped my daily hour or more of writing. A discipline I’ve maintained for many years, it has resulted in over four novels, numerous short stories, poems, essays, and now a hybrid memoir. Not writing today made me think of a toddler I dreamt of last night. He told me he didn’t feel emotionally connected to me. At the moment, that’s how I feel about writing. Since I’m currently not immersed in writing a novel or poetry, I feel emotionally detached from the process, but not because I’ve stopped producing. I’m working on a manuscript that starts with my days as a high-school drop out—a memoir that is also an analysis of the genre. Continue reading “Why I Write”

Is Writing an Affliction for Writers?

home-office-336378_1920 (1)I was pumping hard on the exercise bike at the gym while having a conversation with the fellow riding next to me. We had introduced ourselves and exchanged backgrounds. He had just learned that I’m a published writer and was intrigued by the idea, congratulating me on the recent release of my new novel The Ripening: A Canadian Girl Grows Up. I surprised myself by laughing dryly and calling writing an affliction.

Continue reading “Is Writing an Affliction for Writers?”

Words of Wisdom from Wise Older Woman: Lily Iona MacKenzie: Forever Learning

I don’t usually send my blog followers links to interviews with me, but I thought some of you might enjoy this one. It deals with my dual role as a writer and teacher which, according to my calculations,  adds up to learner. Let me introduce you here to Bonnie Black’s wonderful blog and the interview.


How is a Writing Teacher an Artist?

One thing I discovered when I was teaching rhetoric to college students, and still applies to the creative writing classes I currently teach for older adults, is the similarity between my writing of poetry, fiction, or non-fiction with teaching. Both give me an opportunity to investigate ideas, fears, interests, and obsessions—to ask and answer questions.

The two roles complement each other, writing being a more introverted activity than teaching. When I write, I do the dance of seven veils. I remain relatively hidden while exposing myself, exploring my mind and imagination in public view, trying to tempt the reader. When I teach, I do a similar dance. Some seduction is needed to catch a students’ attention and turn it towards the important art of capturing their thoughts in writing and conveying them to a reader. Continue reading “How is a Writing Teacher an Artist?”

For developing writers and interested readers: Demystifying the Path to Publication

For you writers who may be struggling to get a book-length work published, I invite you to join me as I share my thoughts on “Demystifying the Path to Publication”: https://www.discoveredwordsmiths.com/2021/05/06/episode-47b-lily-mackenzie-demystifying-the-publication/.

Writers and Readers may enjoy listening to Discovered Wordsmiths’ interview with me that explores my origins as a writer: https://www.discoveredwordsmiths.com/2021/05/06/episode-47a-lily-mackenzie-freefall/.

Meet guest author Cliff Garstang and learn about his prize-winning fiction!

After Regal House Publishing recently released Cliff Garstang ‘s new novel Oliver’s Travels,  I asked him to be a guest author on my blog and sent him some questions about his writing process, including how he comes up with titles, the origins of his characters, literary inspirations, what feeds his writing, how he researches his books, and more.

Here are his great responses: Continue reading “Meet guest author Cliff Garstang and learn about his prize-winning fiction!”

How Do Writers Eclipse the Real?

I’m thinking today of the eclipse of the sun that happened in August 2017. My husband and I had just spent three nights on the Mendocino coast in Northern California and were driving to our Bay Area home under an overcast sky. We didn’t see the whole eclipse, but we did notice a change in the light’s intensity as the moon began blotting out a portion of the sun. Instead of the sun making everything hard-edged and clear, there was a softer quality to what I saw from the car window, reminding me a little of how the earth looks under a full moon. Continue reading “How Do Writers Eclipse the Real?”

What if  a writer isn’t fully committed to his/her work

I recall when I was making what I hoped would be my last proofreading of the manuscript for Curva Peligrosa. I’d lost track of how many times I’d made this journey through the novel, trying to track down any typos, spelling, or punctuation errors. And each time, I seemed to find a few, making me wonder how I missed them to begin with. My publisher’s editor also had read the text closely, plucking out any weeds she’d found. But it was almost impossible to find them all. Continue reading “What if  a writer isn’t fully committed to his/her work”

Words as placeholders!

The pandemic has prevented us from traveling much beyond where we live, so my husband and I spent time last evening viewing photos from a recent trip to France. While I was there, I recall thinking about how limited words are in capturing the essence of a person, place, or thing. They are temporary placeholders, but they rarely accurately depict what they are trying to describe. Continue reading “Words as placeholders!”

Remaking Ourselves Through Writing Memoir

My last memoir workshop at the Fromm Institute will be this Tuesday, and I’ll be sorry to leave the cocoon we’ve created there on Zoom. For those who aren’t familiar with the Fromm, it’s an institution for older adults and features lectures from outstanding Bay Area emeritus professors on a variety of subjects that include psychology, literature, philosophy, science, theology, history, art, music, politics and creative writing. Continue reading “Remaking Ourselves Through Writing Memoir”

Thanks to Brian Doyle and Orion Magazine for The Greatest Nature Essay Ever

THE GREATEST NATURE ESSAY EVER WOULD BEGIN WITH an image so startling and lovely and wondrous that you would stop riffling through the rest of the mail, take your jacket off, sit down at the table, adjust your spectacles, tell the dog to lie down, tell the kids to make their own sandwiches for heavenssake, that’s why god gave you hands, and read straight through the piece, marveling that you had indeed seen or smelled or heard exactly that, but never quite articulated it that way, or seen or heard it articulated that way, and you think, man, this is why I read nature essays, to be startled and moved like that, wow.

Continue reading “Thanks to Brian Doyle and Orion Magazine for The Greatest Nature Essay Ever”

Am I creating another self when I write memoir?

I opened the I Ching at random this morning and came up with #38, K’uei / Opposition. The commentary says it is common for two opposites to exist together, needing to find relationship. I realize an opposition is being set up just in the act of writing a memoir: my inner writer will be observing everything I do closely and recording what she finds valuable. I’m reminded of a review of Journey into the Dark: The Tunnel by William Gass that appeared in The New York Times Book Review: Continue reading “Am I creating another self when I write memoir?”

Awakening through reading & writing

Writing is such a major part of my life that I rarely ask myself why I do it. I write because it’s as necessary to me as eating or sleeping. But I also write for other reasons. The very act of writing forces me to examine what I’m thinking about people and events, and it causes me to read with greater attention to language’s many nuances, from the way metaphor expands our vision and creates relationships between unlike things to the connotations certain words and phrases have. In other words, it causes me to more closely pay attention to the written word. Continue reading “Awakening through reading & writing”

Revise ourselves with deep revision!

I’m a member of the Berkeley branch of the California Writers Club. They usually have a monthly meeting that includes a speaker who presents something writing related. Yesterday, Laurel Yourke, author of Beyond the First Draft: Deep Novel Revision, gave a 45 minute overview of recommendations she offers to poetry and fiction writers on how to move beyond surface revision (changing around word choice: below instead of under) to what she calls deep revision (making conscious, painful choices that sometimes lead to cutting our favorite passages). She believes that if there isn’t some pain, then we aren’t going far enough in our analysis of what needs to remain and what needs to flee. Continue reading “Revise ourselves with deep revision!”

Writing the Dream Onward

If you’ve followed my blog posts at all, you know that dreams have been a passion of mine for many years. Each morning, I gather them into my journal as I once gathered eggs on my stepfather’s farm. And for me, they function in a similar way that eggs do, cracking open and providing nourishment. But eggs also suggest something in embryo, something coming into being, as do dreams. They are so multi-layered and while some seem nothing more than flotsam and jetsam, remnants from the previous day’s activities, others illuminate something valuable for the dreamer. Continue reading “Writing the Dream Onward”