I’m Free!

Okay, only for a week, but still…  The hardest part about stay-cations, though, is not feeling like you must be productive.  It’s ‘vacation’ – I get to read, or write, or watch movies or do fun stuff.  If I was actually somewhere else other than home, I wouldn’t be thinking that I should do laundry, or clean the bathtub or any of the other mundane day-to-day tasks that we each have.  I’m allowed to have fun.  Whee!

Sure, I’ll probably still do some of the mundane – I doubt I can help myself in that regard – but I do intend to simply ‘enjoy’ this time also.

Here’s wishing all of you a little enjoyable breathing room as well in the near future.

Now excuse me, but I’m off to cook corned beef and cabbage.  After all, it is St. Patrick’s Day…


Short? I Can Do Short. I’m Full of Short.

Noticed an article today that might be of interest to some of you.  It is aimed toward people who enjoy reading short stories, but along those lines uses writers of short stories.

The first link (yahoo) is where I saw the story, but it was reprinted from TechCrunch (the second link).  Yahoo’s links sometimes disappear, so I’m putting both below so you can read the story about the website.  There is also a link for the website itself.

A service for reading short stories, but also for writers of short stories.


or the original article on TechCrunch:  https://techcrunch.com/2018/03/08/curious-fictions-launch/


NOTE:  Beyond having read the article, I know nothing about the website, so I cannot personally vouch for it or recommend it with any actual experience.

Can’t You Just Picture It?

I was reading a blog post about writing images rather than scenes, and I couldn’t help but wonder if writers didn’t do that already.  For me, I ‘see’ what I am writing, as if it were a movie playing out in my head, as I go along – I’m essentially writing what I ‘see’.  Similarly, when I read, I ‘see’ the story playing out.

I think many do that, which is one of the reasons it can be difficult to watch a movie made from a book – the filmmaker’s vision of the story/characters doesn’t closely match how we envisioned it.  Some small details may not matter overly much to us, but some we will feel strongly about.

How can you verbally paint a picture of a sunset without seeing a sunset, either literally, via some medium (paper, computer image, etc.) or mentally envisioning one?  Along those same lines, I ‘hear’ my characters speaking their dialogue.  It’s part of what tells me if the dialogue is too stiff or boring or confusing.

I had always assumed, probably incorrectly, that everyone ‘saw’ and ‘heard’ their stories as they wrote them.  If you don’t, maybe you should make the effort to do it.  It’s easy to write “The girl wore a blue dress.”  But if you are mentally picturing that girl in that blue dress, you might notice that the dress material flows and ripples around her as she moves, making it seem as though the dress is made of several different shades of blue depending on how the light is hitting it.

The saying is that ‘A picture paints a thousand words’.  If that is so, are we trying to use a half dozen words to describe the painting?  Doesn’t that inevitably mean, we’ve fallen short of doing it justice by many hundreds of words?

Next time you are writing, take a moment to watch it play out in your mind, then write down what happens.  See if it makes a difference in your story.

And This is Why We’re Writers

While most of the world looks around them, sees what is and accepts it, we ask ‘Why?’ or ‘What if…’.

For many of us it started at a young age.  An example, you ask?

Well, me – junior high school – science class.  They taught us about the discovery of pencillin when the guy was contemplating bread mold.  I forget the particulars now, but I’m sure he had some rational reason to equate moldy bread and the thought, “Wow – I bet I could make something from that to feed to or inject into people and help fight off illnesses!”

But, I digress.  He thought of it, it worked.  So far so good.

Even in those days, there was a writer lurking inside me.  Why?  What if?

So I went up to the teacher and posed what I thought was a completely reasonable question:  “If penicillin comes from bread mold, and you were sick and didn’t have any pencillin, could you eat moldy bread and have it help you?”

I suspect she still tells that story to anyone who will listen – this crazy kid in her 8th grade science class with the weird questions.  (Full disclosure:  this wasn’t the only question I’d asked…)

To her credit, she attempted an answer:  “I suppose it might help some, but I’m not sure you’d want to do that.”

Okay, thanks.

I wonder if she was glad when the school year ended and I moved to the next grade?

Why?  What if?  Maybe a story about a science teacher with a student who asks weird questions…

Unblock the Blocks

Blogger Hannah Heath has begun doing YouTube videos also.  In a recent one (Oct 2017), someone asked her about “writer’s block”.  She replied that she didn’t believe in it, and went on to explain that too often writers use that excuse for not writing.  In the normal work-a-day world, most of us have paying jobs.  We don’t have the leisure to simply say, “I have CPA block”, or “I have brain surgeon block”, or “I have auto mechanic block”.  We have to show up to work and do the best we can anyway.  Allowing ourselves to ‘enjoy’ the leisure of writer’s block frees us from the responsibility of dealing with it.  Accountants do accounting and writers do writing.

Her point is interesting, and well made.  Writer’s block does conveniently allow us to stop writing for a while, and it sounds so creative and grandiose in the bargain.  But as Hannah points out, instead we need to examine what our ‘block’ actually is, and then actively do something toward removing it, or getting around it.

Are we lacking inspiration?  If so, are we doing anything to gain inspiration?  Research?  Writing out every possible idea we can come up with to see if something workable presents itself?

Are we just burned out on writing and need a break?  If so, are we setting aside a fixed amount of time to take that break, with a firm deadline of when to come back to it?  This would be the equivalent of scheduling your vacation in the regular working world.  At the end of the vacation period you DO have to return to work, whether you ‘want’ to or not.

If you can point to something more concrete than ‘block’, then you have a better chance of overcoming it.  If I tell you “the road is blocked”, you have no idea how to respond.  Is the road flooded, but in time the water will drain and it will again be passable?  Was the road washed away entirely in the flood and no passage will be possible until the road is rebuilt?  Is a tree down and blocking the road, and a chainsaw could quickly remedy the situation?

Finding the source of the block lets you make a plan for dealing with the delay or setback.  It’s difficult to fight against the unknown.

Name your problem, then work to resolve it.

It’s That Time of Year Again

No, not spring – that’s still a little ways off, and spring cleaning with it.  I’m not referring to the Winter Olympics either.  No, I’m looking at you Valentine’s Day.

Sadly, as with many other holidays, this has become a commercial nightmare, but I get the impression that in this case most people are willing to buy into it.  I see ads for things that are probably on her ‘list’, and there are numerous jokes about what happens should some hapless guy NOT get a gift that is big enough or expensive enough to suit the girl’s expectations.  Now, there might be instances of role reversal where the girl falls short of the guy’s expectations, but really retail America is all about the guy delivering and delivering handsomely to ‘show’ his love.

I admit, I have no significant other.  Should I blame the fact that I just don’t see how big, expensive gifts ‘prove’ anything, other than the willingness to spend money which you may or may not have?  I’m afraid if that’s the case, I will continue to be single and ‘unpaired’.  I can think of many ways for a guy or anyone else to show their love for me, but throwing money around isn’t on the list.  Sure, gifts are nice, but being able to buy something expensive just isn’t a major sign of love in my book.  How many wildly wealthy people do we see every day who are incapable of sustaining a lasting relationship?  The money and ‘big expensive presents’ didn’t salvage those.

So, what’s the point of this blog post?  I don’t know, maybe just to encourage lovers to re-evaluate what constitutes showing love.  Stop expecting, even demanding, a lot of money be spent every Feb. 14 or the relationship suffers.  Look for more worthwhile things:  thoughtful gestures/actions, a single flower in the middle of July for no particular reason other than they were thinking of you, treating you with respect, honesty, concern for your well-being.

And it goes both ways.  The burden shouldn’t be entirely on the male to ‘show’ their love; women should be doing it also.  If you can’t think of anything at all to give him, then maybe you seriously need to get to know him better.  There are bound to be things he would appreciate your doing without his having to ask.  If he really loves to watch football games on tv, then maybe prepare a lot of goodies, let him invite his friends over and stay out of the way while they enjoy their guy stuff.  Maybe even have him prepare a shopping list and buy his groceries for him while the game is on, just because you know he hates going to the store.

Yes, romance, flowers and even sex might be included in your Valentine’s Day celebration, but if that is the only thing you can think of as a way to show your love, maybe it isn’t love.  Maybe it’s just lust.  True love involves a great deal more than time in bed.  And true love adds beauty to everything else.  I may not have it, but I recognize it.

Lesson for Today

Guess what!  There is more than one word in the dictionary that begins with F.  Sadly, most of humanity only seems to know that one word, and uses it when expressing anything and everything.

It’s time people learn to use some of those other words in sentences.

Everything New Is Old

My grandfather was born in 1893, and served in World War I in France.  He carried a small pocket diary with him, though notations in it were scant on detail.  However, one thing that stood out was a comment he made about the work he was doing.  He was part of the Ambulance service, and thus drove an ambulance in the field, carrying wounded away from the fighting line to the medical facilities.

He remarked how the men were being taught to drive the cars because most of them did not know how to do so.

Sep 10, 1917              –        Had some more excellent training for ambulance driving – worked as a stevedor unloading ammunition – as yet I have learned about everything except the handling of a Ford car.

 Sep 22, 1917              –        After months of waiting our cars are at last definitely assigned to us.  Now for making drivers of our men.

 Oct 7, 1917                –        Cars run fine except that hobnails left by many soldiers in the road have caused many punctures – largely because the tires are not heavy enough to stand the work.

 Oct 13, 1917              –      … This sector in the Argonne woods is known as a sector of rest.  Thank heavens for us as we are expected to drive Fiats which most of us never handled before.

It makes you wonder how much of what we take for granted today will be unknown in the future.  And, even more, what do we not even imagine today that will be commonplace in years ahead?  Most of us, at least in the United States, give little thought to driving a car.  When you are old enough, you get a license and training, and then spend much of your life behind the wheel of a vehicle.

But even in that, we are already starting to see a change.  Traffic has become so bad in so many places, that more and more people are looking to mass transit options like commuter trains.  While owning a car has been a much desired goal for many years, more and more people are content not to deal with the expense and just use ride services or public transit.  What will tomorrow bring?  Will having a pilot’s license become as commonplace as driver’s licenses currently are?

In the 1960s, when the original Star Trek aired on television, phones were wired into the wall.  They were big and clunky.  So to see people in the future using small, handheld devices to communicate over long distances was “science fiction”.  Only, in 2017, it’s not.  Though largely replaced by smart phones, remember that one common iteration of the cell phone was the flip-phone.  You flipped it open to make your calls – just like they did with their communicators on Star Trek.

Driving, indoor plumbing, refrigeration – many generations passed without those things, and gave little thought to it.  What in our lives will be gone in 20 years, replaced by something “better”?

It does give you pause.  My grandfather went from horse and buggy days to the space age in his lifetime.  What will we see over the course of ours?