For several years now I have been playing with the idea of writing a novel. With both boys grown and flown, I need another focus that I can commit time and attention to. Although I was not an English major (like my brother, Mark), I feel capable of exploring some hidden genes for creativity and expression. My grandfather, Eliot Robinson Sr., was a published author of the early 1900s. His novels were not best sellers, although family lore and some evidence exists that he co-authored “Go Get ‘Em” which turned into the screenplay, “Wings” winner of best picture of the first Academy Awards in 1929. Another book, “Man Proposes” was assumed to be somewhat auto-biographical.

Further, I  enjoy reading, especially historical fiction set around the turn of the 20th century (late 1800s / early 1900s) with strong female characters. And, I think I have a life story that I can work from as the basis for an interesting plot.

I never met my Grandmother Robinson (Elizabeth Peirce Elliott Robinson, 1879 – 1957). Snippets of who she was came to me from my own mother. But of course her opinion may have been somewhat biased, she was describing her mother-in-law. “A cold, haughty woman”.  My oldest brother who was 11 when she died has few memories, just that she would come for Sunday dinner along with her brother (Uncle Fred) and sister-in-law (Aunt Florence).  And Uncle Fred and Aunt Florence left more of an impression on him, and perhaps rightly so as John had been named John Elliott, in memory of their son who was lost in WWII.

The more I dug into my grandmother’s history, however, the more telling details of a personality development emerged.  As a college psychology major, I believe her childhood and early years shaped the woman she became. Perhaps she was “cold and haughty”. Perhaps those are defense mechanisms that derive from abandonment. Her own father died when her mother was pregnant with her and they were living in London.  The family returned to her mother’s home and family in “Main Line” Philadelphia.  My grandmother grew up in her grandfather’s house, he (William Shannon Peirce) was a retired judge and former abolitionist lawyer and a founder of the first women’s medical college. She married late (32!), promptly had two sons within 2 years, and had her husband leave her.  Yet, she refused to divorce him until their sons had finished college. Divorce in the early 1900s? Another theme and topic worthy of research.

So, now I have an idea, the inspiration and a story outline. But, not the writing skills to take on a project of this magnitude.


Enter, my reason for this blog.

I have enrolled in an online course for creative writing. The appeal of online is that I can attend classes and stay on track regardless of where I am living, or traveling for work. The trade off for a $49 monthly course is that there is limited feedback on my writing assignments. It is all peer-reviews. I’ve completed 3 weeks and some of the writing I’ve reviewed is challenging, and just not very good. This means the writers I’m reading, are reviewing and critiquing my work. I need more. I need feedback from accomplished readers. I need feedback from friends that I can trust to be honest with me. This is the only way I can build and hone my skills as a writer so that I can finally tackle my personal goal: writing a historical novel loosely set on the life of my grandmother, rich with plot twists fed by actual historical events (Titanic sinking, Boston flu epidemic, women’s suffrage movement, and more).


I invite you to come join me on this journey. As a first step, each week I will be posting my homework assignment. I’ll provide the directions for the assignment so you can understand the background and the rubric for reviewing. My attempt at the writing prompt will follow. I hope you will then provide me with honest feedback in the comments section.

My final goal will be to hand you a copy of my novel – hard cover, or e-book link.

Thank you.


15 thoughts on “A Personal Goal

    1. Janis- you are remarkable!!! I have long admired your ability to be accomplished in so many areas of life, both personal and professional. Historical fiction is my favorite genre, and it appears that you have the makings of a literary gem. I predict an immediate bestseller!!! It would be my honor to offer humble feedback to your work as it progresses. Happy writing and good luck🍀❤️!!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Thanks Annie! I have my first 3 writing assignments posted as well. Would love your feedback on any! Just hit the home page, or at the bottom right of the intro post there should be an arrow to take you to the next. See you soon!


      1. Thanks Karyn. It will be a while before the book comes together. Need to gain confidence through my classes first. Feel free to comment on my assignments that I’ve posted – I need honest feedback!


  1. Well, this is the oldest brother of, Janis, John. I say go for it, Janis. Good for you.! I remember more about Uncle Fred and Aunt Florence than I do of our Grandmother. Sad how our families histories often disappear, but you can make one come alive, again,albeit
    a bit fictional.Who know fiction may be closer to the truth that we think.
    I’ll look forward to your week reports. I’ll try not to comment on style as, your will shine through. Enjoy the challenge and work hard. John Elliott Robinson


    1. Thanks John. It will be a while before the book comes together. Need to gain confidence through my classes first. Feel free to comment on my assignments that I’ve posted – I need honest feedback!


    1. Thanks Peggy. It will be a while before the book comes together. Need to gain confidence through my classes first. Feel free to comment on my assignments that I’ve posted – I need honest feedback!


  2. You are very talented Janis. My husband and I both love history. He was a history major at one point in college. The photo of your grandmother is simply stunning. She was a beautiful tough woman. I look forward to reading more. Thank you for this link.
    Keep up the good work.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The story of your Grandmother just HAS to be written. We need to know more about extraordinary, ordinary women. I am sure you will do her justice.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s