A GenX Mid-life Crisis Rant

Black and White Elephant Face. Is This It? By Rena Willis

“You’re so brave,” she says. She waves her cell phone, pointing at my most recent Instagram post. My daughter had snapped the photo — sand clinging to my hair and sticking to my cheeks, my midriff exposed — a captured moment of joy with family and friends.

Apparently, it takes courage to look like me.

She means well. Her twenty-something body vibrates with politically correct good intentions. After all, we are living in the age of body positivity. Right? I glance in the mirror above the table. I don’t look at myself. …


A Micro-fiction Monologue

Black and white pottery shards. Fragment by Rena Willis

I don’t remember being brave. — I don’t remember much of anything — memories sift through my fingertips and stick to the backs of my knees. Unable to hold on to my past — the feelings too big to be contained. I have no room for them, my mind cluttered with so many memories that I don’t want to keep, that I would just as soon forget.

I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t afraid. Although sometimes late at night, in the dark, a happy memory will shoulder its way in, claiming its space, making sure it’s not forgotten…


A writer in search of a story

an old key amidst dead leaves. A Snipe Hunt by Rena Willis

Distractions. Excuses. I pick up my pen — put it down again — tap the side of the desk. They say writing is routine, ritual, perseverance. I snatch my coffee, nod at my children, mumble about how I have writing to do, and plunk down at my desk each morning. I’ve created my routine.

Most days, I stare at the walls or out the window or at my cuticles. I sip my coffee. It tastes of sunrise — full and warm — soothing. Just enough bitterness to startle, jolt. A wake-up call. An acquired taste. A need.

I sip again…


A Generation X Rant

Silhouette of man and cellphone. Slackers and Smartphones by Rena Willis

I am not a millennial. I do not sleep with my cell phone, and I cannot send a text message one-handed from the pocket of my jeans.

I am a Generation Xer. And by that definition, I am an adaptable skeptic — a part of the generation that helped shape technology today with our steadfast belief in ourselves and a “you can’t tell us what to do” attitude. We didn’t invent the internet; we figured out what to do with it. Technology is a tool, and I use it regularly. …


Writing Life

Scrabble Letters that say “Choose Your Words”. Writers Write by Rena Willis

They tell us words matter. We nod, thinking of great fiction, our most beloved stories. They provide lists of tools and rules: metaphors, similes, rhythm, pacing, plot, structure, setting, character. We are warned that our chances of success are slim, or nil. We grasp our pens, understanding that inferior words will never do.

We sit at our desks, weighing our words, neither writing nor creating. Sitting there, anxious, frightened, we’d find comfort on the page, but our stories are smothered under the weight of language.

We pick and choose and sift through words. We breathe hints of greatness, feel the…


Writing Life

Woman working with loose ends of yarn. Loose Ends. Writer’s Life. On Writing. Rena Willis.

I slump behind my keyboard, staring at a blank page, begging for the words to appear. I whisper a prayer to the Muses. Inspiration, creativity, mastery, greatness. These are the intangibles — the magic — the whiff of something unidentifiable, just beyond naming.

How do I conjure that?

It is late at night, the hint of magic creeping in through my fingers, words tumbling onto the page, and my thoughts like a mudbath, messy. Smooth and new and burnished and heavy and glossy and deep, the words sing to me from the page.

The sun rises. I must edit, revise…


Writing Life

worn Graffiti  that says: Why the Constant Fear. Story: Fear Inventory by Rena Willis

“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me.” - Frank Herbert, Dune

I hunt for words. I wrack my brain. I spend hours thinking, creating, polishing — making the intangible tangible with painstaking precision. And then I wrap myself around my creation, hold it close and tremble at even the idea of letting it go, releasing it into the wild, gifting it a life of its own. What am I afraid of?

Face my fear. Name…


Writing Life

Coffee Cup sitting on books and journals on a desk. Story: I am a Writer by Rena Willis

Although most of the time, I feel more like: “My name is Rena Willis, and I’m a writer?” Or, if I’m honest, the sentence would read: “My name is Rena Willis and… (ugh, if I wanted to be a writer, I would make it a priority. I would write every day. I would have journals full of ideas. I would have stories. I would have something to say. I would… stop this self-doubt and destructive internal monologue and write).”

I tend to rant.

Perhaps if I say it enough times, like the affirmation at the beginning of a 12-step program…

Rena Willis

Writer & Educator — one midlife crisis away from a bestseller.

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