Tag Archives: writing

One Minute Writer: is there anything you’d want to protest

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What’s true for me today is …

The One-Minute Writer asked as I accept the invitation to answer this baiting question: Is there anything that you’d want to protest?

Yes! I’d like to protest snarky email/social media tone and phrases like “Don’t you think …,” “I hope you’re not …, ” and “You wouldn’t want to, would you?” I protest all devilish remonstrations couched in careful questions sneakily designed to draw you in, to comment, to agree. Come on now – it’s OK. We don’t all have to agree for the world to be a happy place. We do, however, need to communicate respectfully. So the next time you read an email or a blog or a Facebook post and disagree, take pause before unleashing the snark. Your incensed initial reaction may quickly pass, but bad vibes tend to linger. Know what I mean?

Any words, phrasings, or tones you’d like to protest?

You can read other’s responses to this question and the full-length One-Minute Writer prompt online here.

Indoor-outdoor living takes on new meaning

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What’s true for me today is …

Wonders never cease.

Every weekday morning on the way to work I walk through my apartment building’s gray, musty cement basement, out the door, and follow the sidewalk a half-block or so to where I park my car. It’s been uneventful for the better part of three years.

Today I took the steady course of action, walked the same steps through the basement, out the door, around the corner, down the sidewalk path to the underground structure and my car and … a giant pea pod hanging mid-air. I kid you not.

I stopped. I tried to see what it was I was seeing through my early morning, foggy, near awareness. There is was: crescent shaped, contoured, and bright green before me. There it was: a man tucked tight and sleeping in an army hammock strung between two cement pillars where, every morning before, the air was empty.

I have many neighborhoods who live outdoors, but I have never seen this before. Ingenuity, really. The hammock makes sense: hung mid-air a man is off the cold ground, cocooned. A man forced to sleep in a hammock in an underground parking garage besides rented parking spaces and locked dumpsters … I am not sure what kind of sense that makes.

What unusual or curious or out-of-the ordinary things have you seen lately?

 

The One-Minute Writer: how to write for one minute per day, every day

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What’s true for me today is …

I was feeling a bit guilty about not posting for the past few days. But, to be honest, I couldn’t think of anything to say. Nasty colds do that to me; the congestion (aka head-full-of-cotton) haze does that to me every time. And though I have been feeling better today, I was sans topic for my post … until I found a writing blog called  The One-Minute Writer. Of the 1,440 minutes we have in our day, surely one can be spared and dedicated to writing, especially when The One-Minute Writer provides a daily prompt. Today’s prompt is: What do you prefer when it’s mass produced?

My answer:

What do you prefer when it’s massed produced?

Books. Without the mass production of books, courtesy of the printing press circa 1440, access to knowledge would still be the privilege and trade of too few. One could argue that books — and all their iterations, including magazines, ebooks, web-based texts, etc. — fuels the democratization of knowledge like oxygen fuels flame (let’s just keep those books out of the fire).

What is your answer for the question: What do you prefer when it’s massed produced?

Giving it away may make you bigger than Madonna

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What’s true for me today is …

Giving it away can make you bigger than Madonna – at least in principle.

If you’re intrigued, read the Julie Bosman NY Times interview with Paulo Coelho about his new book, Aleph. You’ll need to read all the way to the end for the Madonna reference, which,in truth, is just a passing comment but too good not to comment on. Turns out Paulo Coelho has more Facebook fans than Madonna, which is more or less attributed to his prolific use of social media and Coelho’s habit of sharing his writing online for free.

Really, it’s the principle that’s important. Sharing your work for free, with positivity and in good faith, attracts positivity.

The second thing Coelho says that I think is important: “They used to see writers as wise men and women in an ivory tower, full of knowledge, and you cannot touch them. The ivory tower does not exist anymore.” (Click here to read the full quote)

It’s the mention of the ivory tower that struck me. I like the visual image of the tower barrier – it’s easy to relate to and sometimes cracking the publishing game can feel like scaling a tower, like there is a lot of distance between your writing/ideas, the editor who reviews them (decides), and the audience.

I didn’t really consider this from the reader point of view, however. Do you think social media, like blogs and Facebook, has removed the “ivory tower,” so to speak? Or, do you think there is less “writer’s mystique” because there is so much chatter about writing to communicate in the world these days?

P.S.

If can download a recording of Coelho’s live interview with Brendan Burchard online here. In the interview Coelho mentions that he was forty before he published his first book. I didn’t know that. There’s hope yet!

A skinny jean rant (sorry,can’t help it)

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What’s true for me today is …

I’m a bit peeved at the skinny jean phenomenon. Don’t get me wrong, I love them–neatly splayed on a clothing store table. They’re gorgeous; the rich, bright colors draw me in like kid and her crayon box. But, what are they? They’re too thin to be pants, too thick to be tissue paper, and too trendy a niche item to really look good on anyone.

True, I saw some red ones like these and HAD to try them on. Love them. And true, my reflection and I had a good laugh. Which got me thinking, can too much information be a good thing? I mean, I’m all for creative attire to attract some attention, but when you have all the information up front, is that really a benefit? Whatever happened to appeal–as in, appealing to the senses and imagination? Am I right or are unisex skinny jeans actually the tie-dye of this generation?

Personally, I’m trying to think of these too-skinny jeans as a writing metaphor so I understand it. But, it’s like crafting a novel out of simple sentences–very transparent. Now, I’m all for a degree of transparency in writing (as in, telling the simplest version of the truth) because I believe the reader (and people in general) respond to sincerity; however, a novel stringing simple sentences wouldn’t be very novel at all (i.e., you can only See Spot Run once before you’ve seen it all).

I wonder, what would Hemingway, famous for his short sentences, have to say about writing and the pursuit of the Great American Skinny Jeans?

P.S.

Apologies. I’m feeling a bit punchy today.

 

 

Pumpkin muffin parable

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What’s true for me today is …

I’m elated – to be blogging in the morning! Pause for a contemplative sigh of appreciation 🙂 I’m typically working at this time, so the opportunity to take a mental health day (overdue) and write about my pumpkin muffin experience (essential), is quite a pleasure.

So …

Last night I made healthy pumpkin spice muffins. Notice, ‘healthy’ was not in quotations. They really were. I made a point to find a healthy recipe because the idea of pouring a cup and a half of sugar into 12 muffins gives me the willies. Instead, I found a recipe for oat flour and flax muffins with a dainty oat and chocolate sprinkle topping–admittedly, the best part. They were lovely (insert mental image of perfectly round, pumpkin-hued muffins with an oat crisp topping – sorry, my camera is broken).

I mean, they were so lovely, I even used a dessert fork for the first few bites. Only, the first few bites where underwhelming. No spice. No sweet. No decadent, lingering first impression. Healthy and filling, and a total let down.

But, why? The muffins had very little sugar, which is what I wanted. They had a great burnt orange color, which is what I wanted. They even had an assortment of fiber and omega-3 ingredients. But–I also wanted to feel pleased with, and proud of my culinary accomplishment, which I didn’t.

Truth be told – the “have your cake and eat it too” conundrum is alive and well folks. We might was well accept it (and blog about it). Personally, I think my pumpkin muffin “moxie” is a metaphor for something – I’m just not sure what yet. Any ideas?

 

 

Coffee and the chessboard metaphor

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What’s true for me today is …

Right now, you can find me somewhere I am not supposed to be … the too-cool hippie deluxe coffee shop near my apartment building. I have not been here in years, but needed a destination with an outlet for my laptop, which cuts down the choices. So, here I am, remembering all too well why I never come here:

1. The wall art. Not sure my brain can handle the mural-sized painting of dragons at the pyramids.

2. The music. Why does it have to be sooooooooooooo loud?

3. The coffee. It has the right color, at least 🙂

But, before I lend the impression it’s all bad …

What’s ALSO true for me today is … I am enamored (in a platonic way). This coffee shop is a safe harbor for the local, unofficial, chess club. I am watching three games playing out side by side. But, that’s not what’s interesting.

A crowd is watching and I’m watching the kid player, the only one. In specific, I’m watching how he’s asserting himself into the chess-playing fray with such easy. Earlier, he cajoled an onlooker into a game by promising to show him the moves. Now he’s standing guard over a match, waiting to play the winner. I have no idea whether he’s a “good” player. I just think he has a cool attitude (and a lot more confidence than I ever had at twelve or thirteen).

 

Your biggest fear, your greatest message

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What’s true for me today is …

My biggest fear is my greatest message.

I wish I could take credit for this idea, but it’s something the speaker said in a teleconference I hosted earlier today. She was talking about fear in the context of business — in specific, how some people are afraid to start new health consulting businesses because they think/feel they need to be perfect people with perfect habits, that their clients will expect it, and so they do nothing.

Turns out, it’s not true. People like talking to people they relate to, and the more you share your story, your experience, the easier you are to relate to. That’s how your biggest fear can be your greatest message;  the more you are willing to share your fear with others, the more opportunity you have to form meaningful conversations, relationships, and connections with other.

Don’t know about you, but I like it – makes fear seem useful.

So the question is, what is your biggest fear and how will share it with others?

Personally, not sure. The first thing that comes to mind is writing – do I write enough to be successful (whatever “successful” means; a whole other conversation)? Hmmm … Looking forward to sharing more on this.

 

A few of my favorite things

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What’s true for me today is …

I need a pick-me-up this morning (and some more coffee), so I’m starting a list of my favorite things–sure to put a smile on my face. As of right now, my list of favorite things includes:

  • Water
  • Ginger
  • Salty crackers
  • Arm-wrapping hugs
  • Pistachio ice cream
  • The sun on the back of my neck
  • Confidence
  • The Sunday New York Times (magazine and Modern Love column, especially)
  • Those last few moments of deep breathing at night before I fall asleep
  • Geranium essential oil
  • Lemon zest, Thai basil, and garlic cooked together
  • Seashells and the seashore
  • A really “meaty” book
  • Breakthrough, “ah-ha” moments
  • Writing
  • Texting Xs and Os whenever I feel like it

Smiling now …

What’s on your list of favorite things today?

Breaking the rules: a Cinderella story

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What’s true for me today is …

I’m breaking my own rules (and I like it!).

I have been known to warn my writing students against falling in love with their own words, specifically that all-too-powerful turn of phrase that seems to pop out of nowhere. Why? It’s not Mean Teacher On the Loose behavior; it’s because our words we fall in love with are often the same words the reader finds really distracting. Not fair but true.

So, now you understand why breaking my own rule is a bit unbelievable and ticklish, too.

I can’t help it. I love my new article “Text Abbreviations: An ‘IDTS’ in the Classroom” (and the “somewhat revisionist” telling of the well-loved Cinderella tale it includes). Here’s the link (it’s on page 4 of the college newsletter): http://www.achs.edu/newsletter.aspx?id=7

Once you read it, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Are text abbreviations OK to include in our writing? Personally, not loving. You?