A collection of retrospective humor vignettes designed to enhance immune systems everywhere -- (particularly the one inside my spousal unit).
"There's nothing happening now that I haven't already experienced, thoughtfully considered, then made fun of." -- CGiven
Hey! Now that I am
an honorable-mention-style writer, my words carry grave, new responsibility.
revised my New Year’s Resolution (stop serving popcorn as a vegetable) and I'm going to clean up this blog, quick -- before more people discover it slogging about
in the spring thaw.
And honestly? I’m
afraid that if I’m not careful, my honorable mention will revert back to
dishonored-unmentionables -- and I have enough hand-washing to do, thank you.
I go off to pre-treat something, I want to improve my writing, unearth fresh
material, and above all, to stop writing about writing a blog.
I want to start writing about editing.
SPRING CLEANING MY WRITING
first stop in any writer’s odyssey to excellence is email, in order to solicit critiques
from every stranger we know, but importantly, to do this in a HUGE way.The bigger the Distribution List, the better.
this includes upwards of 238 distant but kindly relatives and even more-distant
acquaintances from around the world and from every facet of my life: a third-cousin in Indiana, my
veterinarian, Publisher’s Clearinghouse. They all wait excitedly to render
advice and God knows I need it.
get downright irreverent when allowed, day after day, to abuse modifiers and
switch tenses with reckless abandon. Once, I became unscrupulous and started mixing
metaphors with gin.
The worst was when a Traveling Pink
Beauty Consultant found me cross-dressing my first person in a flimsy Barbie
sarong. She appreciated the
pink hue, but was otherwise horrified.
“Nobody told me this was wrong,” I sniffed. “I THOUGHT I needed help. Oh... in the den you’ll find a bald
hamster I keep locked in a nominative case.”
it were not for the wisdom of countless email-volunteers, I wouldn’t be
teetering at the precipice of literary domination today. And had I not received composition-advice from countless sage professors
back in college, I would not be swallowing a colorful array of oral psychotropics, either.
then, I didn’t feel I needed email-advice... partly because email wasn’t invented,
but mostly because I lived by this theory that professors are often paid money
to advise student-writers. My favorite tuition-driven pearl included a phrase I heard a lot.“Carolyn. When I read your essays, I
say, ‘So what?’”
The ‘So what?’ technique stopped
me in my tracks, so I could reflect on how to improve, and so my professors
could get some rest. So effective was this technique that, years later, I
shared it with my own writing students when I became an English teacher.
But I learned in short order that
writers under the age of 10 burst into tears when their work is critiqued.Or graded. Or read.
my teaching-colleagues never even came into the same room as their students’
writing.They simply encouraged student writers by regularly issuing to them Skittles – approximately
fourteen Skittles per sentence fragment.
course, I am dating myself.Today,
it is fourteen Michelle Obama Pencils to replace the Skittles Our First Lady (who art not a nutritionist) thoughtfully made a felony.
professors would also prattle on about how I had to ‘get out of my navel.’ This is something all writers do once
they discover no one is interested in things they write about. Things like, ‘Guess what I found on my
baseboard this morning?’ or, ‘My kid said a funny thing.’
taught that the only way to correct this was to write scintillating lies called
“fiction” using The Third Person.
confused this with The Third Reich, which is why I wasn’t writing in it.But out of deference to my professors I
tried The Third Person.
My fiction began, “A little boy named
Joe lived in a cottage with two parents and his pet frog named Ribbit.” The accolades were so deafening, I, technically, could not hear them.
But an even better navel-fleeing
technique was to remain in the first person, as in “my baseboard was covered with my
son’s leaking mouse-corpse,” but to write about subjects with reader
corpses hold little appeal, but I was once able to strike a universal chord in
a campus expose, ‘What About Spit?’My paparazzi team and I scoured every stairwell and cement-walkway
capturing action-shots of expectorant. We told our story through captions.
professor liked it so much he referred me to the works of the dead poet Walt
Whitman, that I might note similarities in our styles! But this was an
abberation. His colleagues insisted that simple fiction was better than pictorial
truth about floor spit.(They also
wrote the parable, ‘A bird in the hand is
worth two in George Bush,’ made into a Michael Moore film that won a Caldecott
covers advice from writing instructors.
GRAMMAR COME FROM SOFTWARES
like to drone on about how typographical errors, omissions and other common
crime reduce readability even more than writers intend.So along with writing simple, appealing
lies, I might try to proofread my own blog posts.
I have never done this.Usually I send my manuscripts to that 238-Person Distribution List and they edit for misspellings, ensuring there is at least
one per line, then I send the work through Spelling and Grammar Check.
omissions and misspelled words lose all importance because entire phrases are
randomly lopped off.I never know
by what.My guess is a helicopter
rotor.I always fear the CIA might
confiscate suspicious fragments that Grammar Check suggests, thinking they are
code.“You wrote the fragment, ‘Over the vagabond.’ Try this: ‘Over the vagabond and through the
wood, to grandmother’s house we go.’”Meanwhile
spell check is busy noting that the word vagabond does not exist.“Did you mean ‘vagina’?”
did,” and off I go, encrypting my way to a Safe House or federal
I love that my posts are imperfect.This keeps me ensconced in a low visibility ‘safe-zone’ which wins any
manuscript I send to magazines the enviable treatment of being flung from executive
assistants’ open windows into driving rains which shred it before editors have
the pleasure of spitting on it (then having me write about spit). So… hmm.
NOT GONNA DO IT -- NOT SPRING-CLEANING MY BLOG
I guess maybe I am planning to make pretty much
no spring-cleaning changes to my blog, after all.Because when I read my posts' imperfections, I say, ‘So
Although now that I have reminisced
about my prose fiction, Ribbit The Frog,
I might write a sequel, Joe and Ribbit
Return (Ribbit is dead, but Joe comes back).
look!Spell-check is replacing
Ribbit with Rabbit, noting no capital “R”
is required, and Grammar Check is offering great encryption:Try
this, “The dead rabbit writes frog a sequel.”
not code.Grammar check is writing
a FABLE!You know, I’m going to let
it press on here -- I think it’s got a great concept.Something Fan Fiction might pick up an option on.
you mean, “Some option up on which Fan Fiction might pick?’Yes, yes, I did. Also, the hawk flies at midnight, and John has a long moustache.*wink-wink
Check and I are well on our way to our own Caldecott Award and film expose by
Michael Moore.Wish us luck!)