"The Creative Process of Writing is a Liberating and Therapeutic Experience"
In This Issue:
2. Publisher's Note
3. Hurricanes and Generals
4. Helpful Hints
The Writer's Connection explores the creative process of writing and the interplay between thoughts, feelings, and actions.
We are an interactive community of authors and readers who share ideas to enhance our knowledge, skills, and experiences in
writing fiction in any genre, but our emphasis remains mystery and suspense thrillers.
Published monthly, the Newsletter offers writing tips for authors, coaching suggestions, editing, and marketing information.
Topics are presented from the perspective of Keith Barton and represent only his ideas on producing your first manuscript,
and are provided to the general public. Because we are an interactive community of writers, other viewpoints are welcomed and may be
printed in future monthly newsletters with permission from Keith Barton.
2. Publisher's Note
Dear Writer's Connection Subscriber,
This month's newsletter features: Hurricanes and Generals
3. Hurricanes and Generals
Hurricanes can teach us humility. One minute the sun is shining and twelve hours later the wind is howling,
power is out, and you're huddled around a battery-powered radio anxiously awaiting weather updates. Galveston
was literally underwater. Of the 58,000 inhabitants, 40% elected to stay to protect their property. The beach
is gone. Large boulders now occupy the streets, yards, and homes where the sandy beach once lay. Relief and
recovery efforts continue on Galveston Island, which is not expected to have power for months. The infamous
1903 hurricane which claimed 6,000 lives returns with a vengeance. Ike's path marched across Galveston Bay to
Seabrook, Kemah, League City, Dickinson, Pearland, and Friendswood, cutting a wide arc that included all of
Houston and surrounding counties three hundred miles in radius. The storm came up IH-45 through our neighborhood,
The Woodlands, and Conroe before being downgraded to a tropical storm on its way into the Midwest and Ohio River
Valley. I talked to persons in Indianapolis and Pittsburgh who were both without power with 45 mph winds, the
remnants of Hurricane Ike.
After the storm, one is confronted with debris, tree limbs,
and downed power lines as gas shortages keep people close
to home. All perishable foods are gone; gas generators
are a necessity along with water, ice, and MREs from the
Points of Distribution (PODs) set up by FEMA. News updates
continue every half-hour on the radio with no power four
days later. We were lucky to be in the first million energy
customers to come back onto the Grid; others in Houston
remain without power a week later, some with no water.
Parking lots are filled with FEMA trucks; bags of ice
are limited to two per family, one MRE per person, and
one gallon of bottled water per person. Sometimes the
waits are two hours as lines snake around parking lots,
people excited, but orderly. The rest of the world knows
more about what's going on than local residents. Phone
service is out because cell phone towers have been damaged,
land lines down, and relatives anxiously await word that
loved ones are okay.
I found myself thinking of earlier times, like the Revolutionary War when our great leaders formed this great nation.
The McCullough biography on John Adams came to mind with writing done by candlelight and letters taken by horseback
or by ship. Benjamin Franklin was negotiating an American-French alliance in France against England when word reached
him that a peace agreement had been signed six months earlier. This seems impossible in our information age of instant
access. Children are left without their electronic media platforms, parents and teens without cell phones in a world
of no texting. Strange how one focuses inward while losing a sense of time and place, surrounded only by darkness and
one's own thoughts. We take for granted the basic necessities of food, water, shelter, and electricity. I felt like a
refugee in my own city while waiting in line for non-perishable food items under an escort to make sure I don't steal
anything. All financial transactions are cash only with no change because credit card machines at gas pumps and grocery
stores are rendered useless without power.
In closing I offer the metaphor of hurricanes and generals in a poem written by flashlight on plain paper; perhaps it will
strike a cord with you as to the many liberties we enjoy and take for granted. We should count our blessings each day that
we live in a country where neighbors care about neighbors, where blue and red states become purple during times of crisis,
where ethnicity, gender, and religious differences are irrelevant as people come together to dig out from the storm. It will
be a long time before Galveston recovers, perhaps never to the level of beauty and self-imposed seaside isolation it once
enjoyed on breezy summer days as families once frolicked on sandy beaches. September 12th will become another point in time
for the people of Southeast Texas, like 9-11 or December 7th. For the survivors of Hurricane Ike I offer a poetic tribute
that binds the living with the dead, where time implodes on itself, and we are left with only our thoughts.
Ike, you gave us a fright
We hunkered down all night
Howling winds carving through the city
Taking no prisoners, taking no pity
Galveston submerged like a submarine
Where once stood a city, proud and serene
Ike, your predecessor was calm and collect
A world war II hero to the chosen and select
Who risked their lives for country and freedom
Against dictators evil and gruesome
Your path cut through Texas like the Normandy invasion
Or Sherman's march through an uncivil nation
Armored with battery-powered radios and flashlights
Anxiously awaiting recovery from flight
People left homeless with doubt and fear
Families at risk of losing everything dear
Turn to God for hope in prayer
To remove uncertainty and despair
But out of the pit of devastation and unnerve
We are comforted by heroes ready to serve
Policemen, firefighters, emergency crews arrive
Foregoing their loved ones to help us survive
The story is the same in any natural disaster
People help people as taught by our Master
- During troubled times keep a journal; write what you think without regard to readership or style.
You might be surprised at the uncanny ability to dig deep within your soul in the solitude of the moment.
- Volunteer to help during relief efforts in your local community. Become a trained Red Cross volunteer.
- Read an historical account of a natural disaster and look for common themes of hope and redemption.
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About Keith Barton, Ph.D.
Dr. Barton received his Ph.D. in 1972 from the University of Texas at Austin and has been a practicing therapist
for over thirty years. He is currently enrolled in MentorCoach and is accepting new clients.
He has been an adjunct professor at the University of South Carolina,
consultant to Fortune 500 companies in executive development, founded
and managed Texas Community Living Ventures, Inc., in 1986 for providing
group home services to persons with mental retardation. Keith founded
and has been running a clinical practice in Northwest Houston since 1990.
He writes part-time with the goal of completing one novel a year. His desire to coach others derives from his passionate
interest in helping others become attuned to their creative powers of storytelling.
Dr. Barton has training in coaching, cognitive and family therapy and health psychology. He has published articles, made
presentations and conducted workshops about:
Anxiety and achievement
The relationship between psychology and spirituality