Rants and Riffs Installment #10: July 4th Fireworks ‘Solution’

black dog asleep

Total rant: We’re doing it all wrong.

Rather than go to the trouble of buying and administering tranquilizers to skittish pets on July 4th, how about we track down and tranquilize the mouth-breathers who set off fireworks in the late night?

Not enough? Partial lobotomies or personality transplants come to mind.

“No need to pay a fine, you guys. Just step right in for a quick noise abatement orientation…”

***

And while I’m at it, how many of the folks who slap together those fireworks stands for a quick buck are also owners of skittish pets?

 

Not writing? Stop the fingerpointing.

MacBook coffee mug and tablet
Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

My last post dealt with blaming others for my not writing.

Hey, whatever gets me generating text…»

But on a more serious note, I ran across Steven Kotler, who has a popular course called Flow for Writers.

So I looked further into the topic and ran across this informative interview. Compare your strategies to his.

https://www.writingroutines.com/steven-kotler/

Highlights:

Do you listen to music when you write, or do you prefer silence, or something else on in the background?

“…70 percent of the time I will listen to music with headphones so it’s right up in my ear. I will usually make one or two playlists for a book and I will listen to the same playlist over and over and over again…if I find a playlist that I kicked into a flow state with really early on in my process and was very successful I will keep using it because it will keep driving that flow.”

When you’re staring at the screen at 4:00 AM, do you just start clicking away? What’s going through your head at that initial moment? 

“Even if the day before was a terrible writing day, I am so fired up to go at it again. I can be an absolutely miserable writer sometimes, but I wake up every day so fired up to do this.”

And finally, to put me to shame with all my finger pointing…

“When I wrote West of Jesus I had spent three years in bed with Lyme disease and I needed to tell that story to open the book, but I thought, ‘I spent three years in bed with Lyme but who cares? Compared to getting cancer or losing a limb, so what?’”

***

What’s your favorite music to carry you through your writing sessions?

What do you do to help you get into ‘flow’?

Not writing? I’ll blame anybody.

I directed one of my morning pages blaming others for my not writing.

Sooo satisfying…

For starters, I blamed Hilary Mantel, who said,

“If you get stuck, get away from your desk. Take a walk, take a bath, go to sleep, make a pie exclamations

, draw, listen to ­music, meditate, exercise; whatever you do, don’t just stick there scowling at the problem. But don’t make telephone calls or go to a party; if you do, other people’s words will pour in where your lost words should be. Open a gap for them, create a space. Be patient.” [The Guardian, 25 February 2010]

One small segment of her message seemed to resonate…

I repeat…all her fault.

And I blame Trader Joe’s who is selling organic strawberries for $2.50 a pound. Let’s face it, most of those gorgeous ones in the supermarket have very little flavor and considering they are one of the dirty dozen, well, that doesn’t help in the ‘appeal’ category.

But back to my relentless search for scapegoats…let’s see…yes! Sam Merritt’s to blame for serving up this winning recipe for strawberry cream cheese pie.

strawberry cream pie with dog lying nearby
Always good to have a member of the quality control team nearby

My only complaint: “Return to refrigerator and allow to set at least 4 hours (preferably overnight) before slicing and serving.”

Okay, in what world do people actually wait that long?

 

Rants and Riffs Installment #9: Thoughts while eating za’atar popcorn…

popcorn seasoned with za'atar

I wonder if the result is better if I sprinkled the za’atar in warmed olive oil to allow the seasonings to bloom…Worth trying the next time out. I know readers are riveted.

***

By the way, my favorite popcorn maker is this easy-to-clean Likue [sounds Hawaiian, doesn’t it?] brand of microwave popper. [BTW: Not an affiliate link.] Drop in the butter [I use olive oil.] and about a quarter cup of popcorn. My microwave’s ideal settings are: Two minutes on high. I don’t use the ‘popcorn’ setting. Bit of advice: Start tuning in at about the 1:50 mark. If corn is still popping at faster than ‘pop per one second’, let’er run. If the pops are less frequent ‘shut’er down’. [Geez, that whole rural twangy terminology gives me such a rush.]

***

Answer me this: Why in the name of Arnold Palmer do I even listen to the Dennis Silvers’ Golf Minute? Maybe I’m just a captive audience between segments of other stuff, but really, what part of ‘positioning your club face’ keeps me listening? I haven’t picked up a club in over 40 years.
Note: I’m still haunted by a psyche-scarring event when I was 11 years old. I scuffed a drive over to an adjacent putting green and it found a woman’s left calf. She was writhing in agony. I guess I too have been writhing ever since. [Pssst…probably not. Small comfort>>My ill-targeted shot bounced at least five times before making contact. Still, it does cross my mind whenever I revisit the idea of my hitting the links.] Okay, confession is over. Not sure if my penance has ended, however…I guess St. Peter will let me know…assuming I’m sent to the ‘escalator-up’ line.

***

escalator
I’m not exactly comfortable with the deep red glow. I’d be hoping for a relaxing azure blue…

And yes…now you’re all wondering…what about our post-mortem transport mode? If we’re directed toward an up-escalator, is that sometimes painfully deliberate climb the equivalent of ‘purgatory’? As opposed to a high speed ‘blink-and-you’re-there’ up-elevator? And is there music involved? And is TSA involved at any point in our journey? Gotta tell ya, if I’m issued one of those flowing robes, I’m not cottoning to any security frisk.

Ten Writing Prompts for March 11

 

  1. “Ready? Now close your eyes and count back from twenty…”

  2. They had everything and we had nothing…

  3. We never expected our innocent little lemonade stand to…

  4. It was pure joy/boredom/hate/love at first sight…

  5. Title: Night of the Zombies


  6. Title: Donald Trump Meets Forrest Gump

  7. My cruel words hung in the air…


  8. He had bit the hand that fed him…


  9. Luckily, Superman does exist…

  10. “Okay, soldiers/kids/Mr. President, pat your head and rub your stomach…”

Ten Writing Prompts for February 12

writing prompts word cloud

  1. This was the moment I had waited for…I marched into his office.

  2. “Yes, I know what you mean. I threw a fit yesterday about the same thing…”

  3. “Hello? This is Vegas Vacations. Have you heard about our latest deal?”

  4. “Whatever you do, don’t take a side.”

  5. “Chain your attack dogs, please.”

  6. This was the last lecture I’d ever have to hear from her…

  7. “Shepherd’s pie? It looked more like third base from last night’s game.”

  8. I had to admit it. I needed a friend.

  9. “Here he comes. Get out the butterfly net.”

  10. Breaking up on Valentines Day? What was I thinking? More important, what was she thinking?

  11. I tried to hurry past the deli. It was no use…

Ten Writing Prompts for January 17

writing prompts wordart

  1. “No, no! Not in the car!”

  2. All we needed was a hundred pounds of ice…

  3. “I have to tell you something, but you have to keep some perspective.”

  4. “The cell phone could only be in-oh-fifty places…”

  5. “What am I supposed to believe?”
    “Based on your past history, whatever you’re in the mood to believe.”

  6. “I don’t want to hear it. Besides, I’ve heard it all.”
    “Okaaayyyy, so if I told you that she wants to marry you…”

  7. It was a tough decision—rob the store or have some pie and coffee.

  8. “I couldn’t leave you guys behind.”
    “Of course you could and you nearly did until…”

  9. “The lying part made it all worse.”

  10. “Why didn’t you just come home?”

Ten Writing Prompts…“I’m telling you for the last time…”

word art ideas circular mind mapGreetings, readers and writers.

Just touching base on this blog with some writing prompts from my third book. I am also repeating the 31-day My 500 Words challenge. It was instrumental last January in my building a more consistent writing habit.

I’ve decided this year that I will direct my daily word count toward a single project I’m working on. Here was today’s post to the group. [Day 3 for me.]

610 words on my project of the month. I’m using the words to work through my process–steps I’m taking toward completion, including my responses to books and resources I’m using to help me. [i.e. Side Hustle by Chris Guillebeau]. Two things are ‘freeing’: 1. This 500-word challenge because Jeff Goins says, ‘Don’t edit!’. 2. The project itself because it is just an experiment anyway, without much skin in the game.

For me, merely completing the project will be the reward.

Here are the prompts:

  1. “Whoa! Hold on there. Don’t start throwing out terms like ‘nutritional’ and ‘organic’ around here!”
  2. “So, you have no alibi and you were the last person to see her alive and you don’t think you should be in this room?”
  3. We were going to let her sit and stew awhile before we delivered the news…
  4. “Please! Take the gun. Just put the accordion down!”
  5. All he ever talked about was food…
  6. We knew we had found his weak spot…
  7. Customers lining up around the corner. Angry customers…
  8. This was not the time to get sentimental…
  9. “You really have no idea where your money comes from, do you?”
  10. “I’m telling you for the last time…”

Note: Always feel free to request a PDF of one of my books of 1000 prompts.

If you were your character…

people-43575_640

Today, I will address rule #15 of Emma Coats’ 22 Rules of Storytelling.

If you were your character, in this situation, how would you feel? Honesty lends credibility to unbelievable situations.

In Something Different This Year, I would feel disregarded and disrespected. I would feel like directing loyalty toward myself and my teaching approach, rather than the school system’s. And I would, in my perfect world, want to do just what the teacher is planning to do— undermine ‘conventional wisdom’. To that character, wisdom comes from knowing her students and what she thinks they need and what she thinks would keep them engaged and interested and willing to invest themselves in their own learning, rather than play the role of robots.

In Stealth Students, if I were to witness the same loss of teaching and learning time, I would be just as frustrated as they were. Would I be taking those steps that they were taking? Probably not, because as a student, I tended to try to work within the system. In a way, that is what they are doing, at least to the point of still completing their assignments, but when given the chance, they work outside the system and bend school rules. Not in a hostile or malicious way, but in a way that feeds their need to maximize their time at school.

I would want to join these students. I would follow them to see what they were up to. I would see that they were on to something interesting and valuable and so if I were excluded, I would at least follow their example. If I were included, t’s possible I might be a little annoying to them. I would be supportive of all that they were doing. And I would ask a lot of questions.

In my foreign student story, I would at first feel intimidated. As a newcomer both socially and culturally, I would want to get a lay of the land. I would probably be overly vigilant about what I said and did, especially if I faced the bigotry that Anand faces. In a more perfect world, he would ‘play within himself’ and deflect the hatred and bias directed toward him, and lump the teacher’s childish bigotry in with the bullies.

In my Lisa G story, if I were her, I would probably, as in Stealth Students, try to stay below the radar. But I guess I’m discovering that half the fun of writing the stories is letting the characters pull off what I probably never would have pulled off.

I like her independence and her ability to shut out all the distractions, preferring to remain in her own little bubble of curiosity and creativity. She doesn’t seem fazed by the disapproval and, at times, even toys with characters like Mrs. B and Heather.

In Zucchini, I would probably react like Beth and I’m not sure if I would ever come around, despite the obvious enjoyment and fun her dad is gaining from their adventure. I would possibly be too self-conscious and too wary of being discovered by the other kids in the neighborhood.

In Bubbe and Bubba, I would, like the main character, enjoy serving as a bit of a promoter, especially considering there was good cooking involved.