Saturday Twitter Gems


Here’s a funny one:

Jon Winokur 
How do you know if your child is a writer? Your obstetrician holds his stethoscope to your abdomen and only hears excuses.
A scene feels purposeful when you give the character that stars in it an intention, or a goal to pursue. #makeAscene


Hemingway’s advice on writing: In any art you’re allowed to steal anything if you can make it better.”


Stepping in for Jeff Goins…Writing Prompts.

nose and glasses

Okay, since Mr. Goins has not delivered the writing challenge prompt for today, allow me to step in.

Here goes.

But first a word from our unnamed [but still gathering data on your browsing tendencies] sponsor…

Have you noticed that the only difference between ‘donut’ and ‘don’t’ is ‘u’?

And now back to our regularly-scheduled programming…

  • Write about the time when you wanted to take over a class you were attending. Yes, include the parts about laying siege to the administration building. And when you planned to change your grade in the class you were failing. And the grades of anyone else who was willing to pony up for your newfound side hustle.
  • Speaking of side hustles, write about a side hustle you would like to try. Yes, include the start-up costs, including the condo on Maui, the Lear Jet, and your sales conferences in Aruba.
  • Write about the dossier you collected on your neighbors. No, not the slimy, distasteful stuff [that’s for a whole different writing challenge], but the ‘what they do that you should be doing but will never get around to doing, like painting their house during this millennium, and thus you hate them for making you look like a slothful parasite. Yeah, that kind of dossier.
  • Write about the stuff you immediately look at when you enter a thrift store. [Some of you might need to first fess up that you even visit them.]
  • Describe your ideal writing setting. Include the aromas Fresh-brewed coffee? Sea mist from nearby crashing waves? Both of those simultaneously? [Yeah! Way to dream!], the needed ambient noise, your essential writing tools [blender and recliner included].
  • Tell about how you will celebrate the completion of the January writing challenge. Feel free to include climbing the steps of a local civic building, turning, jogging in place, and raising your arms in victory. [Just don’t tell Sly Stallone.]
  • Share some predictions of the aftermath of the January writing challenge. Maybe your description of the ideal writing setting will send you on a shopping spree. Perhaps your discussion of the side hustle will lead to a few phone calls with off-shore realtors. It could be as simple as a new set of pens. [For me, it’s one of those multi-packs of Flair pens, which guarantee a result from the inspired scrawl sessions in the pitch black of 3:00 AM. I don’t care if these brainstorms are in hot pink, I just want them recorded.]
  • Write a tribute to your writing life cheerleaders. Detail their qualities and those special moments when they lifted you up or drilled you with a solid dose of reality or treated you to a bacon breakfast burrito to launch you on your next project. [Yes, I know, ‘bacon breakfast burrito’ is getting pretty specific, but I want you to home in on their specialness.]
  • Make a list of ten products or services you wished existed for writers [or for folks with other avocations, life circumstances, or community service obligations]. Come on, stretch that thinking and have fun. Seriously, don’t you think all of us writers—in the midst of an inspirational surge— need an on-call personal assistant to cook the arroz con pollo, toothbrush that annoying tile grit in the shower, and give Barkley his afternoon romp? [For me, it would be an editor of my first-draft tirades and a typist of the acres of material from my notebooks. Oh! And someone with discretion and taste to sift through that stuff once it is typed up. I haven’t yet come up with a title for that poor shlub.]
  • Okay, so I’ve covered for Mr. Goins. If you haven’t already started your Jan. 27 challenge, there you go!

As for me, I just finished mine. [I hate ‘smug’, don’t you?]

Today’s theme: Disappointment


thumbs down disappointment

I’m disappointed that I haven’t yet finished the 500-Word Challenge because I promised myself a nice little reward once I post on January 31. Previous tolerant [Sympathetic? Long-suffering? Now homicidal?] readers of some of my –happy place alert!–Pulitzer-winning posts will probably guess what the reward is–something techy.

Looking through the newspaper, I am disappointed that no one has offered me a gold toilet. Then again I’d probably use it as a planter box–planter bowl, actually.

I’m disappointed that I was not invited to play in the NBA All-Star Game.

Then again I would probably stop play and start haranguing about too many fouls allowed, too many timeouts, too much showboating, too much ‘look at me’, too many mad-dog staredowns, too much chest-pounding… well there you go, you get the picture. In front of all those adoring fans occasionally looking up from their phones, it would not be pretty.

I’m disappointed that Canada has not let me into its psychic airspace. Let me explain: Sometimes, things here in the US get a little hinky. I’m thinking those same annoying items will at least be relegated to page 2 in Canada. [A Canadian friend has shot down that scenario, but I’m keeping the dream alive.]

I picture myself camped out in any one of the many Victoria, B.C. shops where they take their coffee and baked goods seriously and those nice, nice people are too polite to suggest that my sleeping bag and tent are infringing on the comfort of other patrons.

See? That psychic teleportation thing is working already…

Anyway, I applied at the psychic border crossing and was refused. They said something about their being overrun with similar requests. I even asked if someone could psychically sponsor me and, with downcast eyes, a shake of the head, and an index finger on speed-dial, they apologized that they can’t even issue day-passes.

I’m disappointed that I don’t have a DVR that permanently vaporizes mention of murderous heads of state,  as well as listings of specific TV shows, celebrities, non-celebrities, and media hacks.

I’m disappointed that there isn’t a truly ‘smart’ TV that rubs out all bottom-of-screen crawls spewing repeatedly ‘breaking news’ and spring training baseball scores [all preseason game results, actually]. Yes, yes, I know, most TVs allow you to zoom and thus block out the crawls, but that ain’t the same. I want a TV that essentially gives me control of the networks. [Yep, drifting into Dr. Evil territory. My apologies to non-viewers of Austin Powers–Not a fanboy, but the character seemed to fit.]

While we’re on the topic of Austins…

I’m disappointed that I’m not as productive as Austin Kleon, though every time I open one of his books [My favorite is Show Your Work], I’m hit with a surge of inspiration.

I’m disappointed there isn’t more January sun where I live–to the point that I actually watch golf on TV just so I can see non-gray skies and that big bright thing that helps make the skies non-gray.

I’m disappointed that I cheated a bit on this post–I used Google Docs voice typing for the first 100 words.

Plea for understanding: My hands were full [i.e. balancing coffee and raisin toast from The Bread Board in Falls City, OR–yes, yes, shameless promotion. Only benefit? A few extra words toward challenge-completion…talk about shameless.

On the upside, I’ve reacged 500 words and have risen above my  disappointment to keep the auto-keyboarded words anyway.

Such courage and fortitude in the face of potential virulent backlash.

Keep livin’ the dream…

Posting without serious editing…

Not a pretty thing.

editing mistakes

Throughout this January 500-Word Challengee’re we’ve been encouraged to publish without minndful editing, which I think is just fine because, in my eyes, the goals are to rise above fear and resistance and, in the process, build our ‘blogging muscles’.

However, at 1:00 on Thursday morning, I knew when I scheduled the post, it would be a regrettable result.

So, thank you to the folks who did dare to read my first draft intro pages for my Eclectic’s Journal. [Here’s a sanity tip: Along the lines of ‘don’t look directly at the sun’, ditto with an unedited post from me.]

For those more attentive to their posts than I’ve been, Sue Anne Dunlevie offers these five steps to take before you publish.

Update on my 31-day, 500-Word Challenge.


A Day in the Life…kind of.

hourglass day in the life

So I went to my inbox and there sat my assignment for the day.

That obsessive JG had left more work for me: Take your readers through a day in your life.

I started to nod off just thinking of the topic, but I knew if I didn’t get this done, I wouldn’t get that bonus check awaiting me. [Luckily, a previous assignment nudged us to lie to our readers so there may well be some carryover here. I have retained Siri as my official timekeeper. Such a loyal and efficient assistant. She told me I had surpassed my time allotment. I plowed through, though, as that just means a bigger cash bonus at the end of January.]

So, let’s get on with it. [I just noticed that’s the second time I started a sentence with ‘so’. The madness has to stop.]

First of all, I watched no football yesterday, thanks to this writing challenge. Oh, sure it’s not like I wrote all day, but I have to blame someone and the faceless JG might as well take the blame.

I used part of my morning finishing my highly-acclaimed project piece from the day before–a classic Q and A with some of my most avid readers–Ward, June, and The Beav from Mayfield, Colorado.  I set them straight on some of the ills of the National Basketball Association. I’m certain my pithy answers made their day just that much more memorable.

I baked a pumpkin [Okay, okay, it was sunshine squash] quick bread with a molasses, brown sugar, and cinnamon swirl and had to hurry through the follow-up photos and notes, as Cook’s Illustrated was hounding me for any and all documentation of the venture. These imaginary editors can be such divas…

I posted the experience on my site. [And yes, I am using a .blog address and yes, that suggests I am a lowly hack, but hey! I’m powering down an overly rich quick bread with coffee and you’re not!]

Next, I opened the local newspaper to an interesting article about the community college’s graduation ceremony of June 17. Full page, nice photos of grads, really special. Made unspecial, however, by the fact that it is now six months after the event. This proved one thing: My detractors, enemies, rivals, and other assorted scoundrels with nothing better to do have teamed up to tease at my last remaining shred of sanity.

I can just hear these lowlifes: “Let’s make him wonder if he’s in some kind of time warp and maybe he’ll just drift away to either six months prior or six months ahead.”

“Yeah, boss! That’s a good idea, boss. What’s a time warp?”

Yes, my day was shaken a bit. I reached for the quick bread and broke off a hunk. [Note to readers: always eat your cakes and quick breads in hunks. Check any utensils at the door. It tastes 3.4 times better.]

With sanity restored, I launched into some vital Web research: I need a coffee grinder that doesn’t result in a layer of black dust strewn across the kitchen counter. Vital, I tell you. Seems Krups might be my answer. And no, don’t accuse me of product placement.

It was time for errands around town. Still fraught with anxiety over my coffee grinder issues, I needed a shot of calm and equanimity. [And yes, I need to work on verbal redundancy and…here I go again,… superfluousness. Honest, folks, that is the first time in my life I have ever used that word. Thrilled that is letting it slide.]

Anyway, for faith-restoring dose of goodness, I headed to a U.S. Postal Service subsidiary at, where else but a swimming pool and barbecue supply store. Yes, you read that right. We’re a quaint town, we are.

And sure enough, plopped on the floor was Max, Golden Retriever and resident one-dog greeting committee/customer relations wizard. [Not his real name. He prefers a lower social media profile.]

Energized by some good-natured tailwags and wrist licks, I headed for Office Depot to look into creating dog-themed address labels for a colleague.

Mission accomplished: I printed out about a hundred with a photo of a Yellow Lab–50  with the words, “Can I have a dog as my life coach?’ and 50 with a quote from Robert Falcon Scott:  ‘The dog lives for the day, the hour, even the moment.’

We later met friends for dinner at Laughing Planet. Felt good to team with D and C to contribute to the place’s claim of ‘laughter’. My wife and I did the usual mid-meal plate switch, as she wanted a taste of the Santa Fe Bowl and I was ready for some of the Highway to Kale she usually orders.

We four teamed up to solve pretty much every woe of the world, except for this writing challenge’s damnable creator who will, no doubt, have another assignment awaiting me in my inbox tomorrow.