Focus by Mary Marvella

DSCN2379_2For those of you who know me, don’t faint, I actually tossed some articles saved from older writing magazines. One that caught my attention dealt with focus.

Focus. Now that word can send chills to my heart. I’m not the kind of person who maintains focus in many areas of my life. I certainly can’t keep my focus on cleaning. I don’t focus well on organizing or filing.

At different times in our lives we need to focus on different things.

From the time I discovered the bookmobile I focused on reading. (A bookmobile is a traveling library. I was in first grade and suffering from withdrawal pains. Summer meant no school and no school library.)

Even as a teenager I focused on reading, making the school library and the public library my second homes. Oh, yes, I did other things. I did homework, played the oldest sister, and helped around the house while my parents worked. I took piano lessons but read novels instead of practicing.

For years I had to focus on motherhood, teaching, and helping my husband build a photography business. There was no time to focus on anything else, including reading for pleasure

I couldn’t focus on writing until I left teaching and my daughter entered high school and began to work part time at her dad’s studio. My focus on writing developed as I discovered the new Macintosh computer at the studio. I had access to it after studio hours and worked after everyone left for the day. Often I worked until dawn. No way would I leave the studio at 2 or 3 AM, so I kept working.

During my daddy’s illness, I changed focus to him and Mama. Both have left us and I sometimes question my focuses before those later years. Often as families grow and scatter, our areas of focus change. Our spouses and kids demand our time and attention, leaving less for our parents and siblings and extended family.

Since my daughter is grown and my husband is now my EX, I can focus on writing,  critique groups,  friends, tutoring, and my editing. Because of my focuses, most of my friends are writers. I did not mention cleaning as a focus, because it isn’t one.

Mary Marvella Barfield

We must each decide if now is the time to focus on writing in a big way or as one of the things we do. We are entitled to have some things that bring us pleasure.

We can focus on writing for pleasure or on writing to publish. Whatever you do, don’t give up the joy of writing.

What is your focus when you write?

What do you write? Do you write stories in the same genre, the same kinds of stories?

I find that whether I write suspense, or women’s fiction, or romance, one focus is always there. Family – family lost, or gained, or valued. My heroes and heroines or protagonists are loyal to family and value family. Family that’s there for them, or family they wish they had, or family they miss. Sometimes the family consists of a parent and a child. Some families include couples and sometimes parents and siblings.

Do you have one central focus in your projects? (I prefer to call mine stories.)

Speaking of editing, I am editing a book now and am ready for more! Send those manuscripts to us!

Grammar Gems

Semi colons (;) are cute critters. They often wander around in non fiction work. In most fiction they seem out of place and can distance a reader. When a semicolon appears there must be an independent clause on each side. That means you should be able to replace the ; with a . Simple enough?

Semicolons do not replace commas and they don’t introduce lists. Well, actually, semicolons can be used in lists when the items are dates or cities and states in lists.



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9 responses to “Focus by Mary Marvella

  1. Always on target!!! Great blog, Mary.


  2. Focus, now that is a difficult one for me. I usually just scatter my thoughts like buckshot in a rabbit hunt and see what I catch. I would be dangerous if I could maintain focus! I have to have keepers who pull my focus back to the issue at hand now and then. MM is one of those keepers and she is good at it too.


  3. And Scarlet and Pam and Jackie and Nancy stay on my case!


  4. Jackie Rod

    Great comments today, Mary. Often we do not focus on a task long enough to complete it–especially if it’s long and boring. However, sometimes we must focus on details that are not super interesting. When we’re in the middle of a manuscript and it begins to drag, we’re tempted to focus on more interesting aspects of the story. Discipline is extremely important for writers. We must stay focused on our projects at all times. Thanks for reminding us, Mary.


    • Hey, Jackie,
      A lot of folks have the 1st chapters of books that go unfinished when the writer gets stuck! Remembering the reason the writer started the book might help him or her get back into it. Maybe we need a post on writer’s block!


  5. Hey Mary
    I love your post. I agree. Focus is key, and it makes us accountable as writers. And it is , for women, important to focus on ourselves. We tend to leave our talents at the front door. and stay in the back yard gnawing on the bones we’re given, always putting ourselves last! Thank you for your post


  6. Great advice, Mary. Without focus it’s impossible to do anything well. That’s why it’s important to put our attention on what we love. And who loves filing or house cleaning? LOL.


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