Haiku Friday: Grandma

Here’s my haiku for today, on the topic of Grandma:

ask Grandma questions
then listen to the answers
you might learn something

It’s Haiku Friday again. For the past twenty years or so, it has been my practice to write one haiku every day. Every Friday I share a haiku here, about whatever topic I happen to choose. I invite you to write a haiku on this topic too, and share it with me and the readers of this blog. Just write it in the Comments below. The only rules are: 1) your haiku must be about the named topic; 2) you must follow the 5-7-5 syllable format; 3) no obscenities or hate (I will delete those). That’s it.

At the end of each month I’ll gather up the haikus in the “Haiku Comments” that meet the criteria and pick one at random in a drawing, and send the winner of the drawing one of my e-books: your choice of Haiku for the Seasons I, or Haiku for the Seasons II.

 

Technorati Tags: haiku, writing, syllable, topic, grandma, questions, listen, learn

Writing Tip: Adjectives

Here’s an exercise in using adjectives that is harder than it looks. Pick something to describe, such as the room you are sitting in right now. Your readers should be able to feel as though they too are in the room, seeing it in detail, hearing the sounds, smelling the smells, touching the objects. Here’s the hard part: You can only use adjectives that cannot be disputed. This means you can’t use any adjectives that imply opinion or judgment, such as pretty, or dirty, or ordinary. You can use adjectives that are objectively true – such as “He is wearing a leather belt.” or “The white walls slant toward me.” or “The starling is making a blawk blawk sound from her nest in the eaves.” Better still is to use no adjectives at all, such as: “The air smells like leftovers.”

I sometimes share writing tips that have worked for me or my clients/students. Do you have a writing tip you’d like to share? If so, leave a comment here. You might win something! At the end of each month I’ll gather up the “Writing Tip” comments from the month and pick one at random from a drawing, and send the winner of the drawing one of my e-books: your choice of How to WOW Your Readers or You Can Be An Author, Even If You’re Not a Writer.

 

Technorati Tags: writing tip, adjectives, describe, feel, sound, smell, touch

Compost: Honor Thy Mother

It’s getting close to Samhain, or Halloween, the traditional time to honor the dead. My mother died this year, early in May just as the flowers began to bloom. I think about her a lot. It took her a long time to die – she had Alzheimer's – and I cannot find it in my heart to begrudge her the liberation of death, although I miss her. I miss her even though our relationship was not perfect; in fact it was fraught with difficulty.

Some years before she got sick, my mother insisted I take her to the cemetery so she could make her final arrangements. She wanted to be buried in the proper way. She picked out a pink casket and a marble gravestone for herself, simultaneously appalling and ridiculous. She tried to buy me a burial plot too, right next to the one she bought for herself. I told her I wasn’t quite ready yet.

My mother didn’t believe in cremation, and as for a green burial, she’d never heard of it. She chose to place her pink casket (with white satin lining and carved angels on the corners) in a concrete vault (to keep the worms out) in the Camellia Garden of Floral Hills Cemetery. Before she lost her mind she liked to visit the space reserved for her and admire the tiny square of grass where her body would lie, thinking about me close by.

My mother made me so angry sometimes, even after she got sick, but then I would see her small shiny scalp all pink under her thinning hair, and her trembling hands laid upon my own, and I watched her searching desperately for words of love, trying to snatch them out of the Alzheimer fog, and all my anger drained away and turned to shame.

I hope that Alzheimer’s allowed her to forget all the mean words I ever said or thought about her, and that she did not realize that my dead body will never lie in a concrete vault in Floral Hills Cemetery. Now that she is dead, I hope that death too will allow her to forget all the petty annoyances we caused each other, and although our bodies will never again touch, I visit her memory often, if not her grave.

Technorati Tags: Samhain, Halloween, Death, honor, Alzheimers, relationship, difficulty, cemetery, final arrangements, burial, cremation, Camellia Garden, Floral Hills Cemetery, grave

Haiku Friday: Stuck

Here’s my haiku for today, on the topic of Stuck:

run, twist or wriggle
face it: there is no way out
you’re here ‘til you die

It’s Haiku Friday again. For the past twenty years or so, it has been my practice to write one haiku every day. Every Friday I share a haiku here, about whatever topic I happen to choose. I invite you to write a haiku on this topic too, and share it with me and the readers of this blog. Just write it in the Comments below. The only rules are: 1) your haiku must be about the named topic; 2) you must follow the 5-7-5 syllable format; 3) no obscenities or hate (I will delete those). That’s it.

At the end of each month I’ll gather up the haikus in the “Haiku Comments” that meet the criteria and pick one at random in a drawing, and send the winner of the drawing one of my e-books: your choice of Haiku for the Seasons I, or Haiku for the Seasons II.

Technorati Tags: haiku, writing, syllable, topic, stuck, run, twist, wriggle, no way out

Sharing History: More Good Blogs

Just in case the readers of this blog are history geeks like me, as well as being blog readers, here are two blogs that are wonderfully witty, insightful, and thought-provoking.

The Edge of the American West, www.edgeofthewest.wordpress.com, is written by a group of history professors from a California University. They write about current events and trends in America and their historical roots – and what this can tell us about where these events and trends will take us. I do not always agree with them, but I’m always impressed by their erudition. Author Malcolm Gladwell’s blog is on his website, www.gladwell.com. If you have not read Gladwell’s books – Blink, The Tipping Point, and Outliers – read them! Or you can start by reading his blog or his articles in The New Yorker, some of which are also on his website. I promise your mind will start doing cartwheels. You’ll never see small things as small again.

Technorati Tags: blogs, history, geek, Edge of the American West, professors, California University, events, trends, roots, Malcolm Gladwell, Blink, The Tipping Point, Outliers, The New Yorker

Compost: More Dog Park notes from Goody

Goody Beagle here. Rocky B. Collie got frustrated at the park today because there were too many dogs there to herd. Rocky is only happy when he has everyone going in the same direction. But this is not what happens at a dog park. Rocky needs to learn acceptance, but I fear he never will.

Sharman Pug-Pit was at the park too. She is a little strange-looking, as you might guess from her Clan name. I can’t help but wonder – was the Pug her mother or her father? Or vice versa? Either way it doesn’t sound very comfortable.

Right before we left the park, Enormo Newfoundland came in. He’s why I wanted to leave. I wish he would stay at home, because he’s just way too big for me. It’s like he got his genes crossed with a pony or something — maybe even an elephant. The earth shakes as he runs by. His slobber string spreads out for miles. Long live little dogs!

Love,
Goody


Technorati Tags: compost, goody, dog park, collie, herd, happy, genes, pony, elephant, runs, shakes, slobbers

Haiku Friday: Storytelling

Here’s my haiku for today, on the topic of Storytelling:

sit in a circle
gather your friends around you
listen to stories

It’s Haiku Friday again. For the past twenty years or so, it has been my practice to write one haiku every day. Every Friday I share a haiku here, about whatever topic I happen to choose. I invite you to write a haiku on this topic too, and share it with me and the readers of this blog. Just write it in the Comments below. The only rules are: 1) your haiku must be about the named topic; 2) you must follow the 5-7-5 syllable format; 3) no obscenities or hate (I will delete those). That’s it.

At the end of each month I’ll gather up the haikus in the “Haiku Comments” that meet the criteria and pick one at random in a drawing, and send the winner of the drawing one of my e-books: your choice of Haiku for the Seasons I, or Haiku for the Seasons II.

Technorati Tags: haiku, writing, syllable, topic, storytelling, circle, gather, friends, listen, stories

Writing Tip: T-Shirt Thoughts

Stuck for something to write about? Here’s a tip: go for a walk in town, and read the t-shirts. Jot down the ones you like in the handy notebook you’ve brought with you. Then go home and write about what you’ve read. Here are some of my favorite t-shirt thoughts. (I wish I could give the attributions of these funny one-liners, but I couldn’t get close enough to the t-shirt wearers to read who said them. My eyes are just not what they used to be.)

If ignorance is bliss, shouldn’t more people be happy? I hate people who are intolerant.
Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.
I’m straight but not narrow.
Dogs have masters, cats have staff.
My sister is a beagle.


I’d love to hear about your t-shirt finds. Please share!

I sometimes share writing tips that have worked for me or my clients/students. Do you have a writing tip you’d like to share? If so, leave a comment here. You might win something! At the end of each month I’ll gather up the “Writing Tip” comments from the month and pick one at random from a drawing, and send the winner of the drawing one of my e-books: your choice of How to WOW Your Readers or You Can Be An Author, Even If You’re Not a Writer.

 

Technorati Tags: writing, tips, stuck, walk, t-shirts, notebook, write,

Compost: Good Writing

Some people don’t know that good writing is important. They think that as long as they get “something” out there on their blog, in an article, or in a book, that’s all that matters. Visibility is it!

Many people don’t recognize the difference between good writing, bad writing, or ho-hum writing. This is not because they are stupid or badly intentioned. They may care passionately about their topic, and they may be able to move people when they speak because they are powerful verbal communicators, but when it comes to writing, an awful pall falls over them and renders them ineffective. They use clichés and generalities, such as “nice” or “peas in a pod”, or over-blown, overused hyperbolae, or exclamation points as if they were salt and pepper.

What is the primary reason self-published books have a stigma attached to them? It’s because many of them are not written by professionals and you can tell. They aren’t written well, they haven’t been edited, and they’ve been self-published by folks who can’t tell the difference between good writing and bad. These books may be confusing, cluttered, dis-organized, miss the point, have too many points, or just be so boring they put you to sleep.

And yet they may have a wonderful story to tell. One of my personal frustrations is when I run into a book or an article that has a great concept, a fire-eating story, characters that scream for attention – and a poor writer writing about them. What a waste of an idea or a story. I love stories. I want a good writer to do them justice.

Technorati Tags: compost, good writing, bad writing, ho-hum writing, blog, article, book, visibility, clichés, generalities, hyperbolae, exclamation point, self-publish, edit

Haiku Friday: Singing

Here’s my haiku for today, on the topic of Singing:

go outside and sing
let the wind carry your tune
wild ears are twitching

It’s Haiku Friday again. For the past twenty years or so, it has been my practice to write one haiku every day. Every Friday I share a haiku here, about whatever topic I happen to choose. I invite you to write a haiku on this topic too, and share it with me and the readers of this blog. Just write it in the Comments below. The only rules are: 1) your haiku must be about the named topic; 2) you must follow the 5-7-5 syllable format; 3) no obscenities or hate (I will delete those). That’s it.

At the end of each month I’ll gather up the haikus in the “Haiku Comments” that meet the criteria and pick one at random in a drawing, and send the winner of the drawing one of my e-books: your choice of Haiku for the Seasons I, or Haiku for the Seasons II.

 

 

Technorati Tags: haiku, writing, syllable, topic, singing, wind, tune, ears, twitching,