For Writers

Dear fellow writers, friends and colleagues. There are so many wonderful sites out there to address the needs of writers—sites giving help with learning craft, finding an agent, understanding what to expect upon publication, and more—I’ve been wondering what I could contribute. Existing sites are so good, making me feel whatever I’d put here would turn out to be same old, same old. 

As I began to think about this more deeply, I realized I do have something to offer my fellow writers—mutual support in tackling the adverse effects of writing’s sedentary nature. That’s why Off the Couch and at the Table was born. 

I don’t want to pass myself off as an expert in nutrition and exercise or other health issues, because an expert I am certainly not. And yet, my own experience writing during the past four years has taught me a thing or two. In hopes of helping other writers cope with these lifestyle issues, I’ve created Off the Couch and at the Table, my nutrition and exercise blog. 

Before you decide it’s too boring to think of these things, which we all know we should be doing, consider my little story of what happened to me when I first began writing. 

I have nice legs, always have and still do. That’s because I take after my mom. She had gorgeous legs all her life, even when she was pregnant, even when she gained weight, and even in spite of her varicose veins. Her calves were shapely and her ankles dainty.  

Imagine the Muse hitting a shapely-calved, dainty-ankled Rita St. Claire four years ago. A writing innocent, the idea for a plot for my first book came in a flash one evening at a dinner party. The next day, I sat down at my laptop. I started typing and never stopped until six weeks later when I had a first draft. 

I was obsessed, typing my 180,000 word first novel (yecch, 180,000 words?) 24/7. Somewhere near the end of the six weeks it took me to write the first version of my book, I noticed a swelling at my ankles. A few days later I had a case of elephantiasis. My calves and ankles could hardly be distinguished one from the other. But for the funny toenails, my lower legs could have been the hoofers of half an elephant! 

My husband and I were scared, and I made an immediate appointment with the doctor. I’ll never forget my good doc’s face when I showed him my legs. “It’s the weight,” he said. “And no wonder your ankles are so swollen, with you sitting at your laptop eighteen hours or more every day.” He prescribed me support hose, and advised me to exercise and be less sedentary. 

I did exactly that. Though it took me two years to do so, I now walk and work out several times a week. I’ve also reduced my consumption of saturated fat and increased my servings of fruit and vegetables. I’m stronger now, with much more energy. And, not to mention that I’ve lost twenty-five pounds and a couple of dress sizes! 

It hasn’t been easy for me, and that’s where mutual support comes in. I participated in two Stanford University studies on exercise and nutrition, and received support during those programs. Now it’s time for me to give back, to support others in the way I’ve been supported. 

I’m no Stanford University medical student, and I’m certainly no expert. But I can provide a forum and environment where writers (and others) who are working on these issues can go for mutual support. That forum and environment is what Off the Couch and at the Table is. Come one, come all!   

Just click to get started. 

xo, ciao, 


P.S. The following pictures have been fun for me, so I’ve included them here, too. Click on the thumbnails to view the full pictures.

Winchester Cathedral  

Winchester Cathedral

DH and I a couple of years ago in front of Winchester Cathedral, where Jane Austen is laid to rest.  (Anyone remember the Beatles song?)

On the way home, in Winchester 

Winchester Street Corner

Walking home from the main street of Winchester, I always passed this corner.  Behind DH (the unseen photographer) is Winchester Cathedral, and to his left is a medieval wall which also isn’t shown.  Behind me in the distance is a steeple which inspired part of the first scene of Lost Mountain.