Category: Uncategorized

Keeping Vigil

Fire tower image courtesy of Chief Logan and the Helena, Montana Fire Department Archive, http://www.helenahistory.org  When I got past the awkward early-reading stage and had developed enough skill to immerse myself in books, I discovered the joy of getting up before dawn and reading…

Family Matters

Chicks congregating around their feeder…what stories they might tell! Why is it that in some books, characters stride into the story all alone, without parents, golfing buddies, neighbor kids peeking through their hedges as they sunbathe, or coworkers tossing paper planes at them over…

A Story Is a System Far From Equilibrium

Nothing perturbs the system more beautifully than a hummingbird, as seen outside my clinic window.  At some point on the journey toward publication, aspiring writers get frustrated and ask themselves, “Why aren’t agents and publishers saying ‘Yes’ to my submission? I’ve revised it six…

Worthy Adversaries

The classic villain: the Wicked Witch of the West from the 1939 Wizard of Oz film At an audition for my local community theater’s upcoming production of The Wizard of Oz, I observed some actors trying out to play the Wicked Witch of the…

It’s All Research; It’s All Good

Don’t let this imposing library at Yale University intimidate you! I attended an amazing session of the Rare Book School there in Summer 2016 and they didn’t boot me out. Research: some folks love doing it, while for others, it’s up there with painful…

The Rest Is Silence: Leaving Things Up to the Reader’s Imagination

A well at Storm King Mountain, New York (ooh, if it were only bottomless!)  As the poison Hamlet has swallowed starts to take its lethal effect, he gasps out his last words: “The rest is silence.” He won’t learn the outcome of events he’d…

The Resonant Detail: Skin On the Floor

This is the old “agony of defeat” image from “Wide World of Sports,” courtesy of DayBreakDevotions.wordpress.com.  There’s a scene in the science-fiction TV series Babylon 5 where Morden, the affable emissary for an ancient, powerful, and sinister species called “Shadows,” pays a surprise visit to…

To Find a Character’s Voice, Give The “I” a Try

All photographs of faces are from Pinterest collections.  When I kept collecting rejections for my novel, I decided to enlist a developmental editor to determine why the guards at the Portals of Publication kept crossing their spears when my work ambled up to them….

Description: Its Power and Perils

Here’s a glacier melting on Mount Rainier, where I went hiking in August 2016. I’m a sucker for descriptions that absorb me. I live for the moments when a story’s language inhales me and I lose myself breathing in another world’s air. Whether beautiful,…

Things I Wish I’d Learned About Writing Earlier in My Life

Image courtesy of Spark Life/Spark Notes: “6 Creative Writing Exercises” As a part-time community-college writing instructor, I’m fond of telling my students, “It’s never too late”–to return to college and earn their degree, as well as to discover (or rediscover) writing as a potent…

Some Tips, Should You Find Yourself In Charge of a World

In the seaside town where I work, every first Wednesday of the month, a cow’s irritable mooing erupts from the public-address system. Visitors get startled when her bellowing penetrates restaurants, shops, and hotel rooms. She’s disembodied and omnipresent, a bovine deity calling down wrath…

Who I Am: A Bite-Sized Bio

I’m Margaret Hammitt-McDonald, a naturopathic physician, licensed acupuncturist, elementary-school librarian, college writing instructor, and writer. I contribute a monthly column on bicycle commuting and cycling culture to HipFish, an alternative newspaper for the North Coast of Oregon. I also make periodic contributions to Upper Left…