Archive for the ‘writing’ Tag


Writing is a tough job, but even tougher when my topic is so personal. I’m working on “My Father’s House,” wanting from the bottom of my heart to convey the character of the man so many admired. To me he was my father – aren’t all father’s like that? But to my High School boyfriends, as they confessed to me later in life, he was the reason why they wanted to date me. “I wanted to take you out because I admired your father.” One of them who became an architect, added his admiration for our house.

I suppose I should wonder what that says about me. But I do know what it says about my father. He was a special man in the eyes of some who saw him from an outside-the-family perspective.

So why do I get discouraged? Because I want to convey his character and I’m having trouble doing that. Right now I want to help the potential reader know the hurt and challenge he felt when people laughed at him for his Swedish accent and ways. I want them to appreciate his determination to overcome that while improving his career position by saving income from less-than-desirable work to pay for college. I want them to understand his ultimate pride in his perfect English. Except for the Swedish lilt, his accent became perfectly American. I want people to rejoice with him in the small victory when he used the word “nuance,” and was laughed at for using a foreign word. Picture the satisfaction when he opened Webster’s Dictionary to point out the English word.

I want people to recognize and feel the presence of specific folks in their own lives as they read this phase of my father’s story. (My Italian father-in law’s story was of the same kind of courage – the kind of courage so many immigrants brought with them.)

There’s a whole lifetime I want to convey as the writing goes on, but this is what my heart and head are working on right now.

I get discouraged, but I’ll be digging in today to work on it. I guess I’ll have to invoke my father’s spirit and know that the thing to do with a problem is to do something about the problem.

So now, in my imagination, I’ve pulled in encouragement from many of you. Thank you.




Posted June 13, 2016 by Mona Gustafson Affinito in Uncategorized

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SO, WHERE HAVE I BEEN?   18 comments

I’ve been chasing my tail, but I did catch part of it.

To tell the truth, I had thought I’d take the challenge of writing a blog entry every day, but it just didn’t work out.

Most recently I’ve finished a project called “If Mona Dies.” Yes, I got that from my big brother who did just that in 1998. but his humor stays with me.

What’s that? Well, I’ve been pulling together into one folder all the stuff my family needs to know “if I die” or become incapacitated. I had no idea what I was getting into. My life is just not that complicated, but it would be if someone else had to straighten out the pieces.

Don’t be alarmed. This is not an announcement. I’m planning on hanging around for at least another 20 years, but I remember what a blessing it was when my mother died with everything taken care of. All we needed to do was give away most of her stuff to the nursing home and take home a few small mementos. (a clock and a small leather change purse.) The rest had all been spelled out in the appropriate legal documents. Time to bid goodbye without frazzlement. (I know that’s not a real word, but it says what I mean.)

I want things to be as close as possible to that simplicity.

And I am grateful that I have this problem. Just as my hot morning shower reminds me of people who are deprived of that opportunity, so this activity reminds me how fortunate I am to have a home and all the stuff that’s in it.

Other things have been going on too. I’ve been teaching a course on forgiveness to an absolutely wonderful group of people at Mt. Calvary Lutheran Church in Excelsior. I’m still working at finding a new publisher for “Mrs. Job” or whoever she might become. And I’m still gathering data needed to write “My Father’s House.”

Oh, and in between, real life goes on.

My request to you. Please forgive me for failing to follow through on blog events.

BUT FIRST I HAVE TO …   10 comments

If you’ve been reading my blog, you’ve been watching my struggles. Today I have another “Why do I have to keep learning this over and over?”

Back when I was still on the faculty at Southern Connecticut State University, one of my colleagues reported on a lesson her mentor tried to teach sometime after she had retired. Here’s what she said. “All during my career I kept putting off the reading I wanted to do, thinking I had so much to do first. Then I retired and I found I had much less time and strength for reading. The lesson? Don’t put it off…. “

In 1957, leaving Boston University to move with my husband of two years to our new home in Connecticut – and pregnant with our first child – I had all my course requirements completed for the Ph.D., with only my dissertation left to finish. I even had a professor who had agreed to be my advisor. But there was so much that had to be done first. Lou loved a very tidy, clean house (and, I admit, so did I) so before I did anything else I had to make sure our home was thoroughly cleaned every day. Well, that wasn’t really the first thing. Most important was making the fresh muffins each morning for him to share at work, plus packing his lunch. Then, of course, there was doing my best to prepare a meal that approached the expertise of my mother-in-law. Let’s remember, too, that pregnancy required taking a walk every day, and that expanded into visiting the neighbor ladies for coffee each morning.

All that activity required a nap before getting to work on my experiment. By the way, it could have been completed in two weeks or so if we’d had the computer options we have now. As it was, there were papers all over, and the calculator borrowed on an occasional daily basis from Lou’s work. That took up space and made a mess, so of course the tidy house required putting everything away before Lou came home for dinner. So many things to do first.

The lesson was mine to learn, I was so aware of the way I put off the thesis that I didn’t confess to people at B.U. that I was putting housewifery first. But still… Then, too, there was the spirit of the time. A married woman must of course put housework before a thesis. When I finally finished (in 1964), one of the faculty told me they had all assumed when I married and left Boston that I would not finish my degree. Some of my colleagues when I saw them in later years told me they assumed I must be brilliant – a woman admitted into a doctoral program. The truth is, I’m not brilliant. I was just too stupid to realize that I wasn’t supposed to be pursuing the degree.

OK, so there was an atmosphere that contributed to it. But the problem was mine: so many things to do first, including having a second child, and, joy oh joy! teaching evenings. When I finally got smart and traveled to Boston to consult on my plan and then got to work on it, my children were the only kids in the neighborhood who played thesis – spreading papers all over the floor. Yes, I did reach the point where I left the papers and computer out, with the plan to clean it all up only when I finally finished the dissertation.

My children were 4 and 6 when I finally finished.

So why do I have to keep learning? Getting to writing and editing should be the first thing I go to in the mornings when I don’t have clients scheduled. E-mail and web friends can survive without me. There, I’ve said it again. At least my house isn’t so tidy as it was back when I was still married.

I guess the problem now is that once again I have to get control of my schedule. So, my new day’s resolution: First things first. Schedule myself in during the high-energy parts of the day. The rest can wait.

If I’m holding your interest with this, then check back to monitor my success. That’s the reason for going public, you know. The best guarantee that one will follow through on a resolution is to commit to it in the presence of lots of people.

Thanks for helping.

Posted June 28, 2012 by Mona Gustafson Affinito in Uncategorized

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I did it! Yesterday I ignored my e-mail and web site contacts and wrote – two things, actually. I finished a short essay I plan to offer to the local women’s magazine, and a longer travel essay to enter in the Writer’s Magazine contest. It would not have happened that way if there had not been dire weather predictions for the evening. Wanting to avoid driving in potential hail and straight winds, I offered my concert ticket to someone with more courage than I. She was happy, and so was I with a whole unplanned day.

Yesterday I had received e-mail notice that June 15 (today) is the deadline for the travel article. Having been writing it in my head for weeks, I realized I had to get on the stick, and so I did, and so it is done. All that remains is to enter it, if only the prevailing web problem will solve itself in time.

Just this morning I realized that I had re-learned an old lesson from way back when I was writing my doctoral dissertation. All my course work was done. Newly married, I wanted to please my husband with a tidy house (up to my mother-in-law’s standards) and meals on the table. Later, pregnancy and a new baby created a scenario of “get all the important stuff done first before working on the dissertation.” The professors back at Boston University had, as they reported later, given up on me when I married, assuming that my dedication to the degree no longer applied.

Then came the day when the light shone and I redefined “important stuff.” By that time there were two children, the only ones in the neighborhood who “played thesis” while their mom punched a calculator. Finally, I was done, degree in hand, house still tidy, and headed for a very happy career both inside and outside the home.

And so today I’m redefining my priorities.

By the way, with today’s computer options, I could have run my experiment and found the results in a couple of weeks.

Posted June 15, 2012 by Mona Gustafson Affinito in Uncategorized

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Let me say up front that my camera went back on me. I took photos before anyone had come on Friday and more at the end of the day on Saturday, intending a before/after comparison. When I downloaded them, all I had was the photo of the last day’s remnants. So, I’m going back on my promise to upload photos. What good is a before/after comparison when there is no before?

I had loads of women’s clothes at $1.00 each. Obviously, the goal wasn’t to make money. I ended up gaining some $72.00. The main goal, however, was achieved. I cleared lots of space in my closets, and I watched lots of interesting people carefully selecting from the rack as if they were at an expensive boutique. One handsome man carefully selected seven items, leaving me with the impression that he had some woman/women clearly in mind. I saw friends encouraging each other to take a $1.00 risk over things they liked. Especially complimentary for me was a friend who drove purposely to my site based on what I’d said in my blog. “I knew they’d be great clothes,” she said, “based on the way you dress.” Maybe that alone made the whole enterprise worthwhile.

On one table I had put out perfectly good items, mostly obsolete (to me) office supplies, with a sign saying, “If anything on this table is of use, please take it and leave me what it’s worth to you.” The funny thing is, people preferred that I give a price, so I collected lots of quarters. One woman was thrilled to find my collection of paper rolls for an old fashioned adding machine, and labels for file folders. Three boxes designed to hold cancelled checks excited another person, a craftsperson. About craftspeople, one man took a handbag ($3.00) planning to remove its bling to use in making jewelry, The handsome man who took the carefully selected seven items was happy with a couple of boxes of new square computer discs.

The whole thing was, indeed, like a suburban recycling enterprise.

I even sold a few of my books. But best of all, I had fun getting to know neighbors I had only said “hi” to in the past. And I got to spend time sitting with a friend who came to help me set up – oh my, was she ever good at it!

But, to get to the point, what did I gain? I thoroughly appreciated my vacation from e-mail and blogging. Sitting alone with a magazine I finally got to read (acquiring a sunburned nose in the process) I realized I’d been pointed in a direction. And this is what affects some of you who’ve been reading my blog. I’ve got to put reading and writing first.

I started my blog with the intention of increasing book sales. Book sales have increased not one bit – I mean, not at all. But I have made many wonderful blogging friends, a community which has taken up my time to the extent that sometimes I don’t get to call old friends back in Connecticut with whom I’d like to stay in contact. I’m at the point where I have to choose. Greatly reduce my time on the web and read and write more, or pursue the fun connections I’ve made. I realize I have to choose the former.

So, with great regret, I’m making it known that I will probably continue to read many of the blogs to which I’ve become connected. Terry, for example, I can’t stop following your saga. But I won’t be responding. That feels a little unfair to me, so I’ll thoroughly understand if people who have been following me should decide to “unfollow.”

I’ll also be ignoring many of the writers and publishers groups which I have joined. Again, they are very interesting, but my original purpose has failed. My books have not sold.

So please, wish me happiness and joy in writing more, and reading. I am so grateful to all who have taken time to care about my blog. I wish all of you happiness and joy in return.

Oh, and you might want to make time for one more visit to me on Mona on

Posted June 4, 2012 by Mona Gustafson Affinito in Uncategorized

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Guess what! I’m spending too much time on the web. Too many interesting bloggers to whom I’m eager to respond. Too many writers groups who grab my interest. Too many basically unsuccessful efforts to make “Mrs. Job” known to folks who might want to buy her once they realize the she is the wife of Job — a love story on many levels, not an instruction manual on how a married woman should make a living. So many blogs and groups that I’m not making time to write.

I’m about to settle in on two groups and painfully give up on the others. I need and want to get busy editing the “Mrs. Job” manuscript for TM Publications. Actually, I’ve begun my last couple of days with editing chapters three and four. I plan to get to chapter five today. Maybe there’s hope.

I know “Mrs. Job” is a pretty good piece of writing. Just a visit to the site on bears witness to that Mrs. Job on amazon.

I know my forgiveness books – a totally different genre – have been helpful to folks. In between I try every once in a while to remind people of their existence. Forgiveness.

So “Book Clinic” count me in, and I’ll be working on deciding on the other. It’s all a little like what I did yesterday in sorting through my clothes to decide what I want to bring to the consignment shop or put out for the garage sale. Each time I think to part with something, I get second thoughts and the likelihood is great that it will go back on the shelf.

Maybe I need help downsizing on the web. Any suggestions?

Things are going well for my family right now. I’m working on developing a new business. It’s time to focus.

Thanks for listening.

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