Tag Archives: Perils of writing

Writing Week in Review

Writing Week in Review


Ten minutes You’ll never get back in this lifetime


Practice, practice, practice.

Practice, practice, practice.

Summary: Up and down week for my computer, my Internet connect, and for my writing.

Details: I don’t know if my computer is on its last virtual legs or headed for silicon senility, but it has taken to spontaneously rebooting, and even telling me after it has done so that it has “Recovered from a System Error” or something like that. There is no set time of the day for this to take place. It has happened while I am sitting at the computer and while I am away.

My Internet connection has also been up and down. That was also without a set time of the day, though it tended to happen more after 9 PM. It had been going on for several weeks, building from a spotty event to a continual-though-hard-to-predict-when event. I finally reached the point of exasperation, having done all the things I could do, such as reboot the modem (several times), check the inside connections (again several times), and run the diagnostics provided with the modem, which only tended to confirm that my Internet was down. (Dah, don’t you think I already figured that much out?)

First, an inside guy appeared and checked out everything. It was one of those appointment windows – you know the type – where you get a window of opportunity, as I like to call it. The technician was scheduled to be there “between 4 and 8 PM.” Fortunately, he arrived a little after 4 PM and even called my wife, who was at home, at 4 to say he would be at our house in ten minutes, and he was. He was polite and checked things out and said everything on the inside was fine, that an outside technicians would have to be scheduled to come out. He couldn’t say exactly when that would happen. I guess technicians don’t have a secret handshake – virtual or otherwise – that gets them any more inside information that the rest of us get.

Well, the outside guy arrived the next morning. He called to say he was outside, but nobody was at home at the time he called. The inside technician seemed to think the outside guy might have to replace the line running from the pole to the house, and so would need access to the house. Not likely to happen when nobody’s here. I have heard of one person in my neighborhood who leaves her house doors unlocked when she leaves, but she ain’t me. I lock, lock, and lock again.

Anyway, whatever he did, short of replacing the line, appears to be working. For the past few days the Internet connect has not dropped out at unexpected times for explained reasons. So, I give high marks for the workmanship, the promptness of service (even if one part of it came without a confirmation of the schedule), and for the courtesy of the technicians, including the person at the call center, for whom I’m sure English was not his native language. Or maybe it was my tired ears that couldn’t quite understand him and had to ask, on several occasions, for something to be repeated.

As for my writing, it has been a bit skewed this week. Normally, I get up at 3 AM to write for about 30 minutes or so before going to work. I have a modest goal of 300 words a day on the two novels I am working on. However, due to a change in my work schedule, I am not getting up at 3 AM to get to work. Because of that my modest goal has fallen behind this week. I have tried writing in the late afternoon or early evening when I get home, but there are always chores and family obligations and evening meetings that get in the way. I am trying to adjust. Maybe I can catch up some this weekend.

It is often frustrating how little things and acts of life can get in the way of writing. Of course, I can do a good job of getting in my own way, but that is a topic for another time.

[Author’s note: this is the first time I have done this and it may not be a regular thing. My intention is not to bore and certainly not to call attention to myself as someone special. If anything, it shows how ordinary a person a writer is, except for the desire to accomplish something that looks so easy, but is far from it.]

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Haiku to you Thursday: “Great Escape”

Smiles, hugs, and paper; /
Presents, bows, and tape askew. /
Great escape again.

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The blathering idiot’s dream

The blathering idiot was visiting his shrink one day and started talking about his attempts to write and why he wasn’t successful. The shrink asked why he, the blathering idiot, thought he wasn’t yet published in a magazine like The New Yorker?

The blathering idiot said, “I asked myself that question almost every morning when I looked in the mirror. ‘Mirror, mirror, on the wall,’ I said, ‘will The New Yorker come my way?’

The blathering idiot's dream

Doc, I asked myself that question every morning when I looked in the mirror.

“And one day a New Yorker was delivered to my house by mistake, and from then on, I quit asking. I don’t even look in that mirror any more, for fear it might read my thoughts and make something else come true in its twisted way.

“But I fear it may have already happened, for I once asked it to make me wealthy beyond my wildest dreams … and from then on I didn’t dream any more.”

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A sign of the times

I went to the store the other day,
and it wasn’t in a place very far away.
While going through the checkout line
the bagger asked me if I’d mind
spending a dollar to support a charity.
I said yes, how fine that would be.
He then asked for my name
Saying he’d put it in the window for a little fame.
I said I didn’t need the notoriety.
He said that just could not be,
and he would write “lowel customer.”
Though his accent was a bit tough to be sure,
I said “Loyal Customer” was fine with me.
He then wrote it on the window slip for all to see.
Lowel Customer now hangs on the glass
with all the other names that you pass.
But if Lowel Customer you happen to see,
give him a pleasant hello from me.

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So, you want to be a writer? Watch and learn

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Filed under agents, editor, humor, novel, Perils of writing, pitches, publishers, Random Access Thoughts, words, writing, writing tip

The Job Application

A new year had begun, and the blathering idiot resolved to find a job.

Help Wanted sign

The blathering idiot applies for a job

He saw a Help Wanted sign in the window of a building and went inside to apply.

He sat at the table with the form and did his best to fill it out. The first line said: Name.

He wrote: I have one.


He wrote: Yes

Place of birth.

He wrote: A hospital, though I don’t remember the exact event. This is what I have been told.

Put your hometown here:

It won’t fit.


Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary, Gregg’s Reference Manual, Chicago Manual of Style.

What attracted you to this position?

The sign in the window.

Salary expectations:

To get paid regularly.

What sort of challenges are you looking for?

I am not looking for challenges. I am looking for a job.

When he was finished, the blathering idiot looked over the questionnaire one last time. There was one question he had skipped, and he still did not have an answer for it. He looked at it again, first staring at it and then looking away. He felt he should write something, but what?

The blathering idiot was about to give up and return the form incomplete, when it struck him what he should write. He had seen this exact wording on similar pages in other documents. He had never fully understood what it meant until now.

The question was: Use the blank side of this form to provide any additional information.

To which the blathering idiot wrote: This side intentionally left blank.

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The presentation

The blathering idiot went to the lingerie store to buy his girlfriend a $50 bra. She had given exact instructions as to what she wanted and where to get it.

The blathering idiot had never been in a lingerie store before. But even before he went, he thought $50 was a little much for a bra. Her physical structures were nice, but not stellar. Neither were his own, and he wouldn’t think of spending $50 to support his.

Still it was his girlfriend and it was the season for presents, so he entered the lingerie store and approached the saleswoman to ask where he could find this “accoutrement.” He had learned that word recently and this was his first chance to use it, and for some reason it seemed to fit.

As she led him to the display, she asked if he might be interested in any of the shop’s specials.
The blathering idiot thought they might be offering some eggnog or Christmas cookies, so he said yes.

She smiled and then explained that their $75 undergarment was on sale for $65 and their $100 undergarment was on sale for $80.

First, she took him to the $50 bra, which looked much like the bras he had glimpsed most of his life, from his mother to his girlfriend, and a few other women in between, especially the one time in high school when his friends had pulled off his underwear, pulled it down over his head, and then shoved him into the girl’s locker room.

“As you can see,” the sales lady said, “there is nothing about this undergarment that stands out from the rest. It is a good one, but for that special woman in your life, I’m sure you want better. A little something that will grab her and your attentions.”

She then winked at him and showed him the $75 bra. It was smaller than the $50 one and had some areas of exposure he had never considered in a bra.

Then, without saying a word, she showed him the $100 bra. They were just two small cups that appeared barely big enough to fit over the tips of his girlfriend’s structures.

When he asked about the loss of material, she said it was all about presentation. “The less material, the more presentation, the more sizzle. Think how proud your girlfriend will be to wear this $100 undergarment, and that pride will show, causing her to walk taller, stand straighter, giving her all the support she will ever need.” She smiled at him. “After all, presentation is everything.”

The blathering idiot was sold. He bought the $100 undergarment on sale for $80, had it wrapped, and couldn’t wait to see his girlfriend’s presentation.

When she unwrapped the undergarment, she didn’t know what to think. Or, rather, she did, but kept her first thoughts to herself. She asked the blathering idiot about it, trying in the nicest way to figure out where he’d screwed up. He talked about sizzle and carriage and presentation, and with that undergarment on, she would walk tall and walk proud.

The blathering idiot’s girlfriend didn’t know whether to laugh, cry, or be angry. All three emotions played across her face.

The blathering idiot took it to be gratitude beyond words.

Shortly thereafter, he walked home with the two small pieces of the undergarment fitted over his eyes. She told him he could only remove them once he got home. Otherwise, he wouldn’t make the right presentation.

He walked proudly into the night.

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One size fits

The blathering idiot bought a ball cap at the store. It had the symbol and colors of his favorite team. He was proud of the cap and what it stood for. He felt he was part of something larger than himself.
Then he took the cap off and looked under the lip and saw a tag that read: One Size fits most.

The blathering idiot was upset. He had thought for sure that he had bought the deluxe model of this type of cap. It had cost him enough, and it even said “Limited Deluxe Edition” on another tag under the lip.

There was only one thing the blathering idiot could do: He immediately went to that store and demanded that they fix his purchase.

When ask what the problem was, the blathering idiot stammered: “The cap. It doesn’t fit all.”
The clerk, thinking the blathering idiot meant “at all,” asked him to try it on. The cap fit perfectly.
The blathering idiot immediately jumped to his feet, knocking the hat off.

“I am not in the all,” he said, and then he demanded to see the store manager.

Eventually, when the store manager came out to see him, the blathering idiot was clearly irritated. He shoved the tag up almost into the manager’s nose.

“This tag,” the blathering idiot said, “says one size fits most. It should say one size fits all.”

“But it won’t fit all,” the manager said. Then he asked, “Does it fit you?”

“That’s not the point. I paid for a one-size-fits-all hat of my favorite team, and instead I get a one-size-fit-most hat.”

After trying a few more times to convince the blathering idiot that as long as the hat fit, there shouldn’t be a problem, the manager reluctantly refunded the blathering idiot’s money.

As he left the store, the blathering idiot muttered, “How can I belong to something larger than myself when nothing is no longer one-size-fits all? What’s this world coming to?”

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The blathering idiot

Once upon a time in a street not so far away, a piece of history came floating by. It rode on a clown of expectation, juggled just high enough for everybody to see, if you were looking. I looked, but in the end could not figure out what was going on. Then a frog hopped up to me and said, “Your tie’s on backwards.” But I wasn’t wearing a tie, and least I wasn’t until I felt up around my neck to be sure and realized that somebody had slipped a noose around my shoulders when I wasn’t looking. The other end was dangling over a tree limb in my front yard. A rake was dangling from another tree limb. I had been raking until I saw the piece of history floating by. Then I had stopped and stepped to the street to see what it was all about. And now there was a noose around my neck. Some days it just doesn’t pay to watch the parade of history go by.

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Pictures at an exhibition

Below are a few photos of agents and editors taken while at Killer Nashville this past August 20 – 22, 2010. Consider this visual reference for the names of people mentioned in some of my earlier posts on pitching your novel to editors or agents.

From left, agents Jill Marr, Cari Foulk, and Jeff Gerecke. Beth Terrell, author and Killer Nashville Executive Driector, leaning over behind them.

Jill Marr (seated left) and Cari Foulk listening to a question at Killer Nashville 2010.

Jill Marr (seated left) and Cari Foulk listening to a question at Killer Nashville 2010.

Agents Jill Marr (left) and Cari Foulk standing for a few moments after listening to pitches.

Agents Jill Marr (left) and Cari Foulk standing for a few moments after listening to pitches.

Agent Jill Marr walking out of the Pitch Room.

Agent Jill Marr walking out of the Pitch Room at Killer Nashville 2010.

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Filed under agents, editor, Killer Nashville, Perils of writing, publishers, Random Access Thoughts, the perils of writing, writing, writing conference, writing tip