le piege : the trap + book update
Une sequelle: The aftermath or scars after an accident

Une embuche: Obstacle, pitfall, difficulty in French + My Writing Process, deadlines, and How to finish a post

Jackie (c) Kristin Espinasse
Ride on! I mean, write on... difficulties, barriers, discouragement, and all. More, in today's story column, below. (Picture of our daughter, Jackie)

une embûche (ahm-bewsh)

    : pitfall, obstacle; difficulty;  piège, or trap set for someone

Audio File: listen to Jean-Marc pronounce today's word and the following examples: Download MP3 or Wav file

semer d'embûches = to load/fill with obstacles/challenges
une question pleine d'embûches = a loaded question

A chaque chemin ses embûches, chaque humain un jour trébucheEach road has its pitfalls, every human, his a day of faltering. —Daniel DesbiensIn Books:

A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse

One Page at a Time

A broken barrier
is just one of the rewards that have come out of this decision to write my personal narrative. I have come across many obstacles on this writing path, but perhaps the biggest one has to do with my method of churning out a story.

Though the particular writing technique I use also happens to be the secret to my productivity, it is, ironically, the very reason I stay stuck, unable to create more than a vignette, an anecdote, or an essay.... 

You see, for ten years I have practiced writing before a blog audience. In this very post, the one you are now reading—very likely via email—I taught myself to write. To put it differently, your inbox has been my classroom and you have been the attentive, if accidental, teacher.

My compositions are read le jour J, that is, the very day the story is written, most often in the hours that follow publication. The moment I hit "publish", it's too late to go back. The story is on its way through cyberspace, soon to arrive in your inbox. No way to reach into your Gmail or Yahoo or AOL account and add the needed comma or the missing modifier—not that I know what one of those is. I'm still learning--grammar, punctuation, precision and, lately how to be a relaxed writer. ("Free write!" you say, and I am reminded, among other things, to let loose!) 

The growing pressure to say what I have to say by the lurking deadline is just the ticket I need to eke out (BTW, you taught me to spell it eke, and not eek) another story. It is thanks to you, the reader, that I am able to quickly narrow down a topic and set to writing about it.  As I write, I edit and fine-tune, aware that the clock is ticking, this story--in whatever state it finds itself--will soon go out to a live audience. Are the words clear enough? Have I said all I meant to say? Will you still like me after this latest installment? Am I supposed to care? How could I not care?!...

This brings me to the "tell-all" memoir I mentioned last week. After reading your emails and letters, I have decided to write the first draft of the book "off blog", in private. And here is where I am confronted with my biggest writing barrier: after writing for an audience, can I write for myself? Won't I fall off the wagon? 

Without you, to report to, could I churn out more that a few paragraphs without a "live" deadline? Would a self-imposed deadline be enough? Would I respect it? Would I take it seriously, feel the pressure innately?

All one can do is try. I began trying this week, to break down that barrier that I had put up when I told myself I can only write under these specific conditions--and no other!

And now for the good news.... Alone in my writing nook, I have completed the final two parts of chapter one

Though I have finished the first draft of chapter 1, all 15 pages, the rest of the narrative looms ahead of me. Last night I had a "will never realize this dream of memoir-writing, what was I thinking" moment. The future is riddled with doubt, and if I focus beyond the current "page", I will never make it.

Or, as my very loving sponsor reminds me, "You will make it, Darling Heart, you will—one day at a time

Any kind of buzzer could be used to signal a deadline. For today's writing deadline, I'm using these cowbells! Ring-a-ling-ling! Time is up now... this edition is going out...

A Message from KristiOngoing support from readers like you keeps me writing and publishing this free language journal each week. If you find joy or value in these stories and would like to keep this site going, donating today will help so much. Thank you for being a part of this community and helping me to maintain this site and its newsletter.

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For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


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Ann Mah

Write on -- right on! We are cheering you from the sidelines! Writing is hard work, no doubt, but you can do it. I usually set myself a daily goal of 500 words. You'd be surprised by how quickly it adds up! xoxo


Some things take time. Like a Christmas pudding. Like knitting a lace shawl. Like watching children grow into adulthood. Like paintings, musical compositions and books, time often is the most essential factor and learning patience is an asset, not a fault. Take you time! We'll be still out there, waiting, when you finish!

Marika Ujvari

As a "want-to-be" writer myself, I know how hard it is to put your thoughts on paper. But you are doing a marvelous job, Kristi! Just keep doing what you are doing, we love it!

M Meagher

I agree with the above posts. If you start to fall off the wagon, mention it to us your readers, nothing specific about the topic, but of the process. we'll be here to encourage you. Take your time to say what you need to say.


I am not a writer but I am an avid reader! I love what you "eke" out to me and all the other folk. Thank you. I believe I have a much easier job as the reader but your special talent will see you through and get the job done.


"It's like driving a car at night. You never see further than your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way."
E.L. Doctorow's advice on writing

Marchons! You have an adoring readership waiting!


Have you thought about sending out an excerpt from each chapter of your memoir? set a date to do it....that way you'd have the self induced pressure of a soft deadline and we'd have something to look forward to!!!

Bill in St. Paul

I like J.'s quote from E.L. Doctorow, it makes writing in little steps seem easier with the knowledge that you'll get there if you just keep "driving". So drive on, Kristin!!

Cynthia Lewis (Eastern Shore of Maryland)

Congratulations! You have made a significant beginning of you book and that can be the hardest part. I am reading a book about Lincoln and our civil war, so the expression "soldier on" comes to mind. You have the encouragement and best wishes of your many, many readers. Bon week-end.

Sue J.

Several years ago you wrote about living the writing life. That line struck me so deeply that I finally put my writing cap on and started a blog 4 years ago. So it is you who have inspired others, whether you knew it or not. Your memoir will bloom, I am sure. Just keep writing.(Outlines help!) And everyone needs a good editor.
With thanks, Sue

Cynthia Lewis (Eastern Shore of Maryland)

P.S. Where did you take the great photo of the cowbells? Are they played with a band or such?

Karen Mitcham-Stoeckley

Have been listening to Ella Fitzgerald on CD and am reminded by her song from South Pacific, Happy Thoughts..."if you don't have a dream, how you gonna have a dream come true." So having your dream of this book can only come true if you make it come true, but starts with your dream. Have a happy! Very best wishes, Karen

Trina, St. Petersburg, Florida, USA

We will unconditionally still like you after each installment! Grammar tip: The moment I hit "publish", "off blog", and beyond the current "page", ... the commas belong inside the quotation marks. Excellent website for grammar checks is Grammar Girl at grammar.quickanddirtytips.com Write on!

Kristin Espinasse

Thanks, Trina :-)

Cynthia, the bells photo was taken in Austria, while on a hike.

I am enjoying every note. Thank you for all the good cheer. Happy weekend.

Karen Whitcome - Towson, Md  USA

I can see the conundrum. These are two different undertakings, though. Maybe they have to be approached differently. I remember having an assignment in my College Writing class. It was to write a memoir. I thought it would be the easiest assignment of all because I had so many little true stories in my life I could tell without having to come up with a fictitious one. In the retelling, though, I hit many walls of unexpected emotion, and even boredom. I decided to shoot some drafts to a male writer friend (who didn't mind mentoring in the least) and I have to tell you that I felt like I was literally standing naked in front of him many times. But, in the end, it was the best decision. And.... a little embellishment didn't hurt the story either.

Take yourself back in time, Kristin. Give the old Kristin the gift of the voice you have now. Remember - you have become a wonderful storyteller full of humor and depth.

Beth Vosoba

I am excited for you and cheering you on Kristin. I find your self-effacing style and honest way of writing and sharing very appealing as do so many others. Thanks for sharing your struggles and joys with us. Bon continuation.


Judi Dunn

... Kristin... you have so many talents and gifts... writing being a major one.. listen to your inner voice and soul and you will always do the 'write thing.' As someone said so many times before.... 'one day at a time.'
We will always love you totally unconditionally, day in and day out... Bon courage... Judi Dunn, Tallahassee, Fl.

Dan McGuiness

As another struggling writer I am truly inspired by your efforts and your honesty. Thanks for sharing these struggles and your progress as well - for you are making progress.

Johanna DeMay

Bonjour chère Kristin,

Every creative effort requires a leap of faith, and every artist goes through the same agonies of self doubt - before, during and after the leap! In a lifetime making art for other people and writing for myself, I constantly question whether I really have anything to give or say. That is part of the process. Art, and especially writing, is not for sissies! But you are brave and you can do it. Vas-y!

Much love,



Be a story teller, be a reporter, learn to be a fiction writer.
Maybe you need an assignment that takes you away from yourself. We all love your blog, goodness I have read for years.
Think first of all the others in your memoir.

Eileen - Charlottesville, VA

Hi Kristin,
You can do it! Have you thought of stopping the blog until you finish your memoir or switching to FWOAW - French Word Once A Week?
Have a nice weekend!

Annette Heath

I was so touched by your soft, gentle way of writing about your "coming out"....truly, I did not realize until the very end of that blog....I, who was born into the disease, then married it, and gave birth to a son who has it. My son has been in recovery for almost 2 years. My Father and his Father are both deceased. For years I have loved reading your blog, and so admired your life and talent. Now I have you on a pedestle, dear Kristin, higher still! Your loveliness and talent is even more enhanced by your brave disclosure. You will write a magnificent book, one that will be loved, and inspire others. Writers block.....pshaw!! It comes and goes. God bless you, always.

Pennie in Canada

Please keep writing your memoirs! Maybe just sharing your frustrations, like you did today, will be enough to keep you writing on your private track as well. We are all here for you, cheering you on!


Yes, we are cheering you on, as Ann Mah said in the first comment (a wonderful writer herself, as you know). I love all the comments so far, and I love hearing your processing. You certainly seem "unstuck" in your blog writing, which is a delight. I can only imagine how difficult memoir writing must be! But we will be here, continuing to cheer you on, and enjoying whatever you decide to share with us from your daily life.

Tracy Lee Karner

Hoorah for you! One of my writing mentors once told me that it's a good idea to collect a lot of different tools for the "writing-craft toolbox." You're certainly doing that. I admire your perseverance in the face of obstacles. Best wishes for your new journey, and remember, you're exploring new territory. Don't let the surprising discoveries that you'll inevitably encounter, unnerve you. Enjoy the adventure.

Debra Bishop

Please return to writing about your life in your new Provencal community. I miss reading about your everyday life and am put off by writing about writing. If you wish to, like many Americans, write a "tell all", surely you can continue writing about the thing we love to read about: France.

Kristin Espinasse

Karene, glad you mentioned Anns encouragement . When i read it i thought about her efforts to get my first book published! Re the seeming unstuckness in the blog posts... If you had witnessed the scene in my writing nook this morning: Jean-Marc and the plumber tromping through the room, then back again with questions about where we wanted to put the unsightly bathroom pipes.. Did it all require an answer now?, when a blog story was flapping its wings, trying to get off the ground? I tried and tried, and finally, the story eked out... Thanks for reading!

Pat from Oregon

Wow - reading the above comments blesses my heart,I can only imagine how they encourage your heart. You have a world-wide support group, nothing to fear. Don't fret about the little stuff like punctuation. That's what editors are for. I've taught English for years and am still confused by grammar. I never remember that the ' goes OUTSIDE the period.

Lisa Teed (now Sangster) Cocoa Beach, Florida

Speaking of cowbell, you have got to go to youtube and look up "More Cowbell". It was a Saturday Night Live skit. C'est hilarant!

Linda R.

Yep, you have your own in-house editor/cheerleader rolled into one. I am assuming "You will make it, Darling Heart," is your wonderful mother. You'll do just fine on your own with family by your side and without your hundreds/thousands of faithful fans. We're still there in heart and spirit, cheering from the proverbial sidelines.

Karol (Canada)

Sometimes the biggest obstacle to the realization of whatever it is we have set ourselves is the 'pressure' we begin to feel to meet our own and what we perceive to be others expectations. When this happens, we can easily lose the essence of why we began on this path in the first place. I find that if I can step back and say, "What would happen if I didn't finish this - on time, on budget, ... at all?" Would my world fall apart? Would my family love me less? Would my life as I know it stop?" And the answer is always, "Of course not. I could put this down and pick it up again when it feels right for me... or not at all." Then the opportunity arises, free from the pressure, to revisit why I started this in the first place. What does this mean to me? What did I want from this?
Perhaps self-knowledge through reflection... perhaps a sense of who I am by reflecting on my life. Whatever this is, that is the essence of your journey. It is not about being perfect... as a writer, a mother, a wife, a friend... it is about searching to understand more deeply about who you are and the path you are on. Write for yourself, dear Kristin, search your own heart in peace and reflection and feel the healing power of what you learn in the process. Forget about us, you audience. Forget about the publishers, forget about timelines. Ultimately these are not important in this process; it is about you and the peace and knowledge that will come to you through your reflection. It is not an easy path to undertake this search and there will be pain as you already know. In this context, it doesn't matter if what you are working on is ever published unless you decide you want it to be. Take your time, this is your life you are reflecting on - you are learning more about you as you go. This path is your path, proceed in a way that meets your needs and never stop loving yourself in the process.


I always enjoy reading your blog and the best of luck pour le futur!
Just one nit-picky thing: practice (with 'ice' at the end) is the noun and practise (with 'is') is the verb. So, it's I/We practised, not 'practiced'. I always used to get this wrong until somebody told me the 'ice' and 'is' way of remembering them. Hope that doesn't sound too pedantic, as it's not meant to. Looking forward to your next blog!

Diane Young

Dear Kristi,
At least you are working on your memoir, which is more than I'm doing on my attempt to write about my 53 year old marriage in homage to my deceased husband. It's so easy to get distracted. Some great writers say they get up and write 4 (or some number) hours a day, whether they know the aim or not. Now that's discipline! Why don't you consider the FWAD a warmup and then switch to the big project, giving yourself a change of pace. And my precious young friend, a book such as yours takes TIME. Many rewrites, perhaps. Just write, write, write -0 then take a break and live, live, live. You don't have to finish your memoir quickly. Just work on it until you're satisfied. We're all rooting for you.

Marilynn Gottlieb

There are some advantages to writing a blog (which as you point out has disadvantages) you write quickly and send it off without time to rewrite, rethink, edit, etc. My suggestion is that you write your memoir that same way - write on it every day - but instead of sending it out, consider that page done. Don't reread, edit, start over, or think too much about what you said or where it is going. It is more important at this point to keep moving on. When you are done, you will have a better idea about how it will all fit together.

Bob Haine

I am a sometime reader and occasional comment-maker, retired French and English teacher, avid if not professional photographer, who enjoys reading your blog. I always come away with something. Today, I read the word "embuche", and thought to myself, perhaps this is where the English word "ambush" comes from. If nothing else, you've piqued my interest about your upcoming memoirs. Procrastination seems to be an inevitable part of any craft, especially writing. But as I've learned and try to live, there is no time but the present. Do not wait for the right time; the right time is now!

Faye Stampe, Gleneden Beach, OR

Hi Kristin,

I love reading your stories --- they have wisdom, energy and heart. I think you need to do what is best for you. Your memoirs sound very interesting, and I know many will read them.

You are very talented so run with it!

A sunny day on the Oregon coast! Yeah.

Stay well!


Learning a new writing style is so difficult!! Currently having given up social work to write articles I have to drop the formal, legal style of child protection for the light, chatty magazine style I need now, and its hard. But I remember when the language, rythmn and style of formal writing was foreign to me and I had to wait until the nicest social worker was alone in the room & ask her how to phrase something. Then, all of a sudden I could do it! I'm sure we'll be the same in a few weeks time and we'll forget what the problem was!! I know you'll get there.

Kristin Espinasse

Alana, thank you for the helpful hint on how not to mix up practice/practise. I think I will remember now (ice a solid noun! :-)

Please know that these notes continue to be so helpful. Thank you for your ideas on how to proceed creatively and kindly and gently with this project. I will be back to reread these ideas, and Mom will be sharing her favorite over our next telephone call.

Wells Edmundson

Kristin: as a physician I make my living communicating with people, often times when they are at their worst...you write from the heart with clarity and this is powerful and a blessing. Based on all the foregoing blog comments from your fan club, do you see the influence you yield? Well done cherie!/ Wells

Bill Facker

Writing is work .... until it is play .... and very serious .... until we surrender and give the muse control .... As always, Krisin, I wish you the muse. :-)

j gibson

Hi Kristin,

For those minutes of anxiety about punctuation or grammar niceties, have you tried Grammar Girl. She runs a great, spunky, no nonsense, q. and a. website:
grammar.quickanddirtytips.com/. You can check the rules quickly and easily, and she explains the rules as well as offers alternatives when practical. It's almost fun.

Gwyn Ganjeau

I can be easily overwhelmed by big projects--so much so that sometimes it's even a bit paralyzing. Where to start? But i love saying 'eat the elephant one bite at a time.'

I expect you will find a special rhythm and method for the memoir process. just like each child has it's own personality and way of moving in the world, so, i think, do projects like this. you'll circle around each other a bit and sniff each other a bit until you become familiar with each other and you will find the right way to coexist. yup. (oh--and follow each bit of the elephant with a bit of chocolate:))

Lorrie Kazan (redondo beach, ca)

Dear Kristi: I'm grateful to a woman named Linda who asked me if I could do or be with something for an eyelash worth of time. 22 years later and I still ask myself that.

I see your memoir being completed and published. All those little eyelashes of time add up. Something obviously wants to express through you and you're honoring it.

And you have many great copyeditors in your readership. or is it in your readers? We can all use good copyediting!

Michel Reynolds

For me, I try to do a 10-minute drawing a day even if I can't do anything else in a busy life. You already do so much, and I know you can do this memoir too. Give yourself time and a hug every once in a while.

N Vandenberg, San Antonio, Texas

Believe your sponsor! You can do it - no one knows your story better than you -take your time and tell it as you want and you can change your mind about what you write and how you write it. Maybe you will invent a better way for you to write. Now, if only I could take my own advice with regards to my painting. Know that we all support you and send you encouragement.

N Vandenberg, San Antonio, Texas

PS Thank you for showing me how broccoli flowers.


I'm not sure what to say to you; Except why are you putting yourself through such Pain!! You have a wonderful life, family and creative writing yet somehow you are in turmoil, I love your creative writing, sharing your life with the wines etc, but somehow I am not getting it!!


Man needs difficulties; they are necessary for health.

Carl Jung (1875–1961), Swiss psychiatrist.


Our dear Kristi,
Another wonderful post (and pictures!)--as always! Once again you have given us inspiration for (as the saying goes),'when the going gets tough, the tough get going'.
I so admire you for your ability to sit down and write the daily post, and then send it!! NO EASY TASK!! There is NO doubt in my mind that when you relax, and let your mind wander, words will flow from there to your fingers and onto the (many!) pages.
We are so privileged to share in your life!
Love, Natalia XO


What if you continued to use us as a deadline without actually showing us your words - that is, set public goals on your blog and report to us whether you reached those goals? That way, we can still motivate you even though your writings are private.

Tonya in Arkansas

I read as often as I can hold a book. I love your writing. You are born with "it", you know? Your words flow into me so smoothly, giving pleasure, sending me into dreaming, wishing and hoping right along with you. Please, know this. It's because of your clever and loveable essence that we feel such a love for you, no matter what may be off in your punctuation, spelling, syntax, etc. NOW, there's one teeny comma I often see that should not be there and I hope you don't mind my saying this. A comma is rarely needed before "and" when you are simply giving a list. That Grammar Girl site says that we do not need to punctuate as if we are speaking. Here is a correct example, "Joe is big, strong and rich." A small detail, I know, but true. You go girl!!! Keep writing, please!
(I think I understand what Elizabeth just wrote. The stuff of your blog is such fun, it's hard to know of your suffering. And, many of us have lots of suffering as well.)


I am impressed with your bravery.


I love this approach to "accomplishments"!

The supreme accomplishment is to blur the line between work and play.

Arnold J. Toynbee (British historian, the author of twelve-volume analysis of the rise and fall of civilizations.)

Letia Henson

I thought you were very courageous to tell the story of your sobriety.It was very touching and I'm sure took great bravery on your part to write. I really respect and appreciate you for it. Thanks.

Letia [email protected]

Cate Salenger

Kristin, You are inspiring me to go back to my own first draft of a memoir of my years as a florist which I began about 17 years ago and stuffed away somewhere. I love the word of the day as well, as creating obstacles is exactly what the storyteller does for their hero.

Forge onward and upward! We're all behind you and with you.

Kitty Wilson

Not even 'one day at a time,' really, Kristi. One word at a time ... that's how writing breathes its way into the world, and yours is so alive!

Cheryl in STL

Bon courage! You have a whole lot of cheerleaders...all rooting for you!

joie in carmel

Someone said (and I have no idea who) that "Rome wasn't built in a day". So keeping that in mind remember that some days will be easier than others to put on paper the thoughts in your head. Just let it come at it's own speed. You don't need to impose a deadline on yourself....for the blog, fine, for your story, no. It does not matter if it takes three months or over a year. This is something you need to do just for yourself first and then make the decisions as to what you will do with it. Grammer? commas, etc. ,reread and and do your own editing, and if it goes to print, that is what proof readers and editors are for. So take the time and enjoy doing this. Don't make it a punishment upon yourself.
I send you thoughts of chocolate covered strawberries....hugs, Joie


As someone who is about to start a blog related to my job, I think of your blog....I hope I write it with as much honesty and straightforwardness. Good luck with the novel-you have had more practice than you think and it will manifest itself as you write "in private". Best of luck!

mary paulson

Dear Kristi, It seems to me you have come a long way.You dare to tread where few go.Keep writing Kristi. I applaud your bravery, honesty and ability to find the humor in life and write about it in such a way,that my early morning belly laughs wake my dogs up! All the best to you!


Of course you must write "off blog" or it would be free for everyone to read and you wouldn't need a publisher!


Bravo, Kristin! You have made the right decision. It is now your time to contemplate, explore and evaluate what you want your book to be.
You have a big family of cyberspace supporters who are already big fans. But it is important for you to be spontaneous in thought, expression and style. Your editing team will help pull it together. "Too many cooks spoil the broth"... and we are all sure you will 'cook' up an entertaining yet heart-warming autobiography.
I have travelled this path with my travel tales to my friends and whilst I have had great support, I have been also too needy in what I was being told and this can stifle the 'voice' that is uniquely yours!
There is much to share in your life and with your playful and honest style, we shall all look forward to the final product!
Bon courage and enjoy the moments (or more!)

Sarah LaBelle near Chicago

I write American English, where we all think practise, with an s, is a British variation of the spelling of practice.

I looked it up just now, to find that is the case, for the verb. What was new to realize was that the Brits use practice for the noun use.

The US and the UK, two nations divided by a common language ;-)


I have loved all the quotations in these responses! And I have all confidence in you, Kristin. The focus and persistence that have kept you writing this creative blog so many years will certainly see you through.

My husband corresponded a couple of years ago with a writer who signed all his emails with the word ONWARD. I couldn't help wondering if that word was his personal mantra, encouraging him to "keep at" whatever he was writing.

You are so very, very talented, Kristin, and we are all looking forward to your memoir.

Claire from Illinois

Kristen, I have not read your other peoples comments, some are so profound and intellegent they intimidate me. I would just like to say, You are being very corageous and as a nurse I think you are doing a wonderful job of controlling your life. Keep up the good work, I congratulate you.

Vivian Langley

I am looking forward to your memoir; you have much talent. Do not stop. Vivian

Deborah Dovitch

Maybe our English language word "ambush" is derived from the French "embuche". None of your readers will ambush you so go ahead and write it all down. Deborah


Just a quick comment to agree with Sarah LaBelle, practise being a British form of practice. If you use an American publisher, the American spelling would be employed.

And another comment regarding Tonya's comment. The comma to which she referred is often called the Oxford comma. Most book publishers, if not all, will use it. But most newspapers and magazines will delete it. Ardent supporters on either side. I always use it to avoid any confusion.

BUT you don't need to worry about either as you write. Your publisher will use the style it prefers. And your blog readers will understand what you mean, even if we are compelled to add our two cents :).


I just turned 22 years clean and sober. I'm concerned that at 10 years you think you want to break your anonymity and write a tell all. My experience with sharing the fact of my sobriety has not led me to encourage anyone to break their anonymity for all of the reasons given by the AA program itself. I wish you happy sobriety one breath at a time, one swallow at a time. And, a continuing relationship with your patient husband. And, to understand, through your Higher Power, what the next right thing to do is for you.


How interesting! The last comment has made me ponder upon the "Secret" subject and how important (or not) it is in our life. And this is what I have found:

The whole secret of existence is to have no fear. Never fear what will become of you, depend on no one. Only the moment you reject all help are you freed.

The secret of success is learning how to use pain and pleasure instead of having pain and pleasure use you. If you do that, you're in control of your life. If you don't, life controls you.
Tony Robbins (motivational coach)

The very word 'secrecy' is repugnant in a free and open society; and we are as a people inherently and historically opposed to secret societies, to secret oaths, and to secret proceedings.
John F. Kennedy

The secret of freedom lies in educating people, whereas the secret of tyranny is in keeping them ignorant.
Maximilien Robespierre

.. and here is more by various authors:

“Lies and secrets, Tessa, they are like a cancer in the soul. They eat away what is good and leave only destruction behind.”

“I feel bare. I didn't realize I wore my secrets as armor until they were gone and now everyone sees me as I really am.”

“What you didn't tell someone was just as debilitating as what you did.”

“I know a secret, and secrets breed paranoia.”


Oh, and here's one more I re-e-eally like:

“The man who can keep a secret may be wise, but he is not half as wise as the man with no secrets to keep”

Edgar Watson Howe quotes (American Editor, Novelist and Essayist, He was known as the Sage of Potato Hill, 1853-1937)

Marianne Rankin

I'm responding right after reading your post, and haven't read the other comments first, as I usually do; I wanted to send a few words before bed (after midnight here), and maybe more later.

The main point for now: drop the idea of a deadline. Yes, there are deadlines for the regular blog if you want them, such as three times a week, or whatever interval you pick. There was a time when you said you might not write on a set schedule, and we all agreed that "whenever" you were willing to send us something, we would be happy to receive it. But your other writing shouldn't feel rushed.

I recall when you aimed to write a book in 3 weeks, and apparently succeeded. Personally, I didn't like the idea. Hurrying not only tends to generate errors, in spite of readers' proofing; it may lead to different content or other features that might have been better without the haste. What was the reason? To see if you could? You don't need to be like Flaubert, who agonized over every word to the point it took days to write a paragraph. But you don't need to feel as if you are racing the clock (a feeling that really bothers me when I'm in a rush situation).

Specifically for the memoir, there should be no time pressure, no sense that you must complete any number of pages or stages by X date. This may be a cathartic exercise, or a reminiscence, or a number of things; what it should not be is some thing cranked out just because the clock is ticking. At the beginning of a new activity, we are often energized; we can hardly wait to get started, and to move ahead, and can often cover a good bit of ground initially. But later, we will need to be more discriminating. We can't include every detail, or the narrative would be too long. If includes everything, it becomes hard to separate the wheat from the chaff and find the most significant elements. I urge you to move at a steady pace, to the extent feasible, perhaps speeding up or slowing down as both your life (appointments, maybe fatigue, etc.) and your inclination (how you wish to address some sections) may dictate.

It will not matter if the memoir takes a long time. What matters is that it serves its purpose - not all of which we know, but you do. You may discover more facets to it as you work on it. You may be eager to share it with select people, if not all your blog fans. But they, and you, will get more from it if you move at an optimum pace (the actual pace could vary here and there), rather than some randomly chosen, artificial deadline.

My two cents - and maybe too many words - but I do believe that this endeavor deserves focus and however much time it takes to give it your best effort. You hear of writers who create characters who "run away with the story." You are the main character, with your family as supporting cast. There is quite a story to tell, and as you work on it, you will find a rhythm and an approach that works best.

Fred Caswell

Write on, dear Kristi!

Hope to send you one more private Email.

Comme toujours, Fred

Jean King

I can't begin to tell you how much I enjoy your posts and how many I have shared with my French students. My seniors in high school are getting anxious about choosing a path to college, putting themselves on the line and waiting for acceptance letters. I will show them this post to show them that life's journey is full of crossroads and to be courageous in following their path. You are "toujours" inspiring! I wish you the best with your new book!


did not know ce mot.
obviously the source of our word, ambush.
Love and God's blessings upon you.

Beverly J. Campbell


Like Eilleen in Charlotteville, VA I wonder if trying to do both blog (I thought originally promoted to share the life of an American girl living in France by offering a French Word-A-Day) AND write a memoir using the original audience is fare to the followers of whom you captured to perpetuate their knowledge of French.

I do empathize with your quest to gain momentum to go forth with your book, I have been writting my own memoir for years now myself, but I have remained dedicated to your blog all these years in hopes of perpetuating my knowledge of French. Maybe you should have two differnet blogs since you seem to need an audience of emotional supporters as well as French enthusiasts.

Best of luck at your point of cross roads.

Beverly in Charleston, SC


Perhaps if you created an outline of what you want to include, then do one portion of the outline each day or each week -- whatever works for you. The outline most likely will segue easily into chapters.

Then once you have a rough draft finished you can go back, chapter by chapter and self edit...

Aside from the outline, don't look past each segment or it can quickly feel overwhelming.

The best of luck.


My two cents on Beverly in Charleston idea on "having two different blogs":

Maybe, it is still possible for Kristin to keep ONE blog, where she could keep gracefully "skipping" through those mentioned earlier "lavender fields", meanwhile giving us LOTS of French words and expressions, and maybe even videos on occasion? And then, at the same time, in some other editions of her blog, being able to wander through those more demanding spiritual trails, just as her souls desires, and yet STILL give us a LOT of French words and expressions?

The trick is helping everyone feel included and comfortable. ..and perhaps no matter what still feel united by our desire to learn a thing or two about French language or life.

Rose Chandler Johnson

Kristin, You know you make your own goals and deadlines--how blessed you are! So just go for it. No need to stress since you are your own boss. We all think you are doing a marvelous job on this blog which we adore. We know you'll do a marvelous job with your memoir. Just remember--little by little the nest was made. Just keep at it. And you can always go over and read my blog for some encouragement along the way. :-) One step at a time. Blessings! http://www.writemomentswithgod.blogspot.com



I don't have time to read all the comments (busy day) so forgive me if someone already suggested this. From reading th eauthors' credits part of their books, it seems like they all had someone "to write to" as they wrote their books. Why don't you select a few of your close friends to read your chapters and be your critics in the ongoing process of writing your memoir? Seems like every author does this. It would also give you an ongoing deadline.

Just a thought. Soldier on, and good luck. And of course, kisses to the puppydogs.

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