Compost: I Don’t Know Why I Write

I don’t know nuthin’, I say with a sneer and a grin full of weeds. I don’t know and don’t blame me, I say while trying to hide – don’t ya know I’m stupid? I don’t know and don’t care either, I say with bravado to cover the lie I am telling, because I do care, and everyone knows it. I don’t know, say my children when I ask them what they think they’re doing, which irritates me even though I don’t know what I’m doing either.

I don’t know why some men think macho is a good thing. I don’t know the reason for life but that doesn’t stop me from living it. I don’t know who keeps whispering to me in the dark stretches of the night. I don’t know the capitals of all 50 states, or the geography of Saudi Arabia. I don’t know if I’m going to go on living tomorrow. I don’t know if matter has an anti-matter, or if it matters if it does.

I don’t know what I’m writing but I’m writing anyway because I said I would. I don’t know what good this all is, maybe none at all because I’ll die anyway and my ignorance won’t matter any more, not that it ever did. I don’t know and wish I did, but perhaps it would spoil the surprise of heaven.

Sometimes it is wise
not to see how far it is
across great waters

Haiku Friday: Rent

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

today’s occupant:
remember you own nothing
pay your rent on time

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.

Writing Tip: Your Readers’ Metaphors

Always remember that you are not writing for you – you are writing for your readers. You must be able to enter their world and connect with them. One way to do this is to watch your use of metaphors.

Metaphors elicit emotional responses. For example, if your readers include athletes or wanna-be athletes, you can use sports metaphors or physical metaphors and everyone will be happy. They will get you. For instance, say the point you want to make is that your idea is a winning strategy. You might say, “You’ll make a touchdown every day if you do X.” Now, most people (in America) will get what you mean by the use of the touchdown metaphor, at least intellectually. But it is the male athletes among your readers who will respond emotionally. They might know what it feels like to make a touchdown themselves, or at least to be at the big game when one is made. But if your readers are middle-aged European women, or perhaps most women, your touchdown metaphor is probably going to elicit a yawn.

If you are writing for people in the Midwest, don’t use too many ocean metaphors. Similarly if you are writing for people who live in the tropics, don’t use winter or snow metaphors. If your readers are people who care deeply about the environment, then use a lot of nature metaphors.

This is especially important when you are making a major point. Make sure your metaphors are designed with your target readers in mind. They must resonate within them.

Ghostwriting for a Dog: Eating Dirt

My human yells at me for eating dirt. I can’t get her to understand that it is the worms that I’m after. I can smell them under the dirt, but she can’t. Ooh, that great worm smell – so meaty and juicy, who cares about a little dirt? I’ve seen her put things like cinnamon – or worse, pepper – on a perfectly good piece of chicken, and they taste a whole lot worse than dirt.

Dirt eaters are normal, but anyone who eats pepper is seriously flawed.

Haiku Friday: Maggots

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

the eggs the flies laid
in the oatmeal box have hatched
fly babies aren’t cute

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.

Sharing History: Not a Chip Off the Old Block

When I was 9 we lived on an acre in farm country, although our place wasn’t a farm, we were just surrounded by them. My best friend lived on such a farm right up the grassy rutted track from my backyard blackberry bushes. Her older brother was in 4H and raised sheep and pigs. One day when visiting my friend she took me out to see her brother’s brand new piglets that had just been born to his prize sow. The piglets were adorable; plump and pink with cute little snouts and wiggly ears.

Oh how I wanted one of those piglets – so much cuter than dogs! Well, why not? So I tore off running down the grassy track back to my house, and burst into our kitchen where my father sat peacefully reading the Sunday paper. I shrilled out, as only a 9-year-old can, “Daddy! Can I have a pig? Can I can I? They’re so cute and he said he’d sell me one for only $10, can I have $10 please, Daddy?”

Now most suburban fathers, normal ones that is, would say something like, “No of course you can’t have a pig. Don’t be silly.” But my father was not your average father, or normal either. What he said was, “Well that’s an interesting idea, let’s discuss it.” In the background my mother, standing at the stove, said, “Oh, Armond …” in a warning tone, but my father ignored her. She said “Oh Armond” a lot, whenever he got an idea.

So we discussed it, and my father got out paper and pencil and he helped me figure out how much money it would cost to build a pig pen in our back yard, and what the pig’s food would cost, and the straw, and how much we could expect to sell our pig for, when it was grown, and whether the whole operation would make us a profit. (You can probably tell that my father was a successful businessman.)

I of course could think of nothing but the cute little pink piggy and its wiggly ears. The upshot was that I did indeed borrow the money from my dad (he made me keep an account book), we bought the pig, built a pig pen, and food, and for about a week I was the happiest 9-year-old around.

Until I got tired of slopping the pig every morning before I went to school, and until the pig grew huge, much bigger than me, and mean too. With teeth. And he was fond of making mud in his pen, the mud being made of pig pee and pig poop, with some straw added for texture. I had to wade through this stinky mud whenever I had to put more straw in his pen. The pig also figured out how to get out of its pen, and discovered the neighbors’ gardens, which he raided regularly.

When we sold the pig I was so relieved I didn’t even blanch when I learned that we sold him to a butcher who promptly killed him. The butcher gave the pig’s feet to my mother, who pickled them and kept them in jars in the pantry. I’d often look at those pigs feet and they would remind me to think before I asked for anything.

And to top it all off, since I bought the pig when pork was high, and sold him when it was low, I lost money.

Compost: What I Want to Write

I want to write about the underpinnings of life – the dark and secret yearnings of children and the humor of insects. I want to write about what I don’t know is true, and what I suspect is lies. I want to write about lies turning into truth if you believe them when you say them.

I know I want to write because I feel a pressure right underneath my breastbone. It is this tiny winged being with ballerina slippers and a golden crown and filmy soft white wings. She’s a fairy of course, which doesn’t sound like an uncomfortable thing to have living in your chest, but you would be wrong to think so. Her soft wings tickle the inside of my ribs but because they are inside I can’t scratch, so the tickling just goes on and on. Her golden crown has sharp pointy spires which poke into my liver and kidneys and esophagus or whatever else is in there, and I bleed from the inside. And those cute little ballerina slippers of hers – well inside those soft as butter slippers are tiny toes of steel, and when she stands en pointe those toes dig deep into my heart, making dents as deep as canyons, into which the blood and trapped dreams pour, and pool until they’re stagnant.

 

Even if I try to stop up my ears I hear her telling me in her high shivery voice like a doll’s tea kettle: “You know what you want to write about, now go ahead and write it.”

Haiku Friday: Laundry

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

it’s laundry morning
soft gray nightgowns draped on trees
by winter fairies

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.

Ghostwriting Tip: Questions to Ask

Before you can ghostwrite on a subject you know little or nothing about, you must gather information through research, which includes interviewing your client and/or experts your client recommends. Ideally, you should be able to take as much time as you need to gather this background information. However, we don’t live in an ideal word, and when ghostwriting, you are on a deadline. What to do?

I recommend you start with some generic questions to get you rolling. Here are some that I always ask:

1. Who are your desired readers? (Do NOT let them get away with answering “everyone.”)

2. What do you want your reader to learn?

3. How do you want your reader to feel? What emotions do you want to awaken and why?

4. What is the purpose of this book? Make money? Teach others? Save the world? Entertain?

5. What are the hot buttons, hot topics, or controversies in your subject? What is your take on these?

6. Are there FB groups or Linked In groups on your subject? What are these people saying? Do you belong to these groups?

7. Have you tweeted questions or teasers about your subject to test the waters? What have you found out from Twitter?

8. Who are the competitors for your book? Who else has written about this subject? How is yours different or complementary?

9. If people don’t know what you know, what will happen?

10. If people do know what you know, what will happen?

There are many more tips and tricks to research and interviewing in my class “Living as a Ghost”. Check it out and see.

Ghostwriting for a Dog: The Schedule

Goody Beagle here. We have a schedule, my human and Alex and me. In case you didn’t know, dogs like schedules. That way we know where we are.

Monday is a walk day with the dog walker, while my human sits in front of that damn computer. I don’t get what’s so interesting about the computer – it has no smell to speak of.

Tuesday my human moves away from the computer long enough to take us to the dog park. Alex runs and runs and I smell and smell. There are always other dogs there. Alex plays with them and tries to out run them. I ignore them the best I can. They interfere with the smells.

Wednesday is another walk day with the dog walker, who is a very nice lady, I can tell you. (If you’re looking for a dog walker, check out Grateful Pet Services. Sometimes our walker brings another dog to walk with. I sort of like Baby, a spaniel, but Alex likes Arrow the Aussie better.

On Thursday my human takes us to the dog park again, unless it’s raining, which it does now and then in the Pacific Northwest. Sometimes my human overcomes her wimpiness and we go to the park in the rain anyway. My human wears a raincoat with a hood and this makes her feel safe and dry. Alex and I just get wet, which makes us smell rich and lovely.

On Friday it’s another walk day with the dog walker, up the hill past our house and down another street, which has a lot of stupid dogs on it who bark at us as we walk by. We bark back.

On Saturday our dog walker takes us to the dog park, a different park than our human takes us to – it’s bigger and there are more dogs so Alex runs his legs right off trying to beat them all, which he never does. He doesn’t care because winning is not the point. Running is the point.

Sunday is what me and Alex call the “Day of Suffering” which means we don’t go anywhere.

Sometimes our schedule is different if we go visiting, but many times my human goes out by herself and does not take us with her, which is clearly against the rules and neither Alex or I appreciate it one bit.