Tag Archives: humor

Pile of construction trash

Cleaning The Idea Closet

(A five-minute read, if you mull these over properly)

I’m trying something completely different this week. Here are things I hauled out of the writer’s junk drawer…

“Gosh, where to start?” The writer’s dilemma, the correspondent’s nightmare, and the friend’s angst.

I love the phrase “no creditability.” As a poet, I have to note that this says it all.

Sometimes as a writer, I’m actually a short order crook.

An author on deadline is nothing less than someone strapped down on the writer’s block.

It is most embarrassing to be caught naked from the neck up.

I don’t analyze things. I Alanyze them.

It takes fast footwork to remain slow in a world built for speed.

If activists try to change the status quo and I disagree, does that make me a passivist?

Crypticism: A helpful suggestion that is too obscure to be understood.

Enjoy a Free Sample of my memoir The Lie Called CancerDownload it here.

Performance Failure

(a three-minute read)

This post is a last-ditch effort by someone who sometimes makes the mistake of over-promising and under-delivering. It’s the online equivalent of push-starting a car after it has been left for dead, way too far from a safe parking spot.

I will admit to feeling unprepared, which can be bad for the stomach as well as the reputation.

Have you ever had projects like this? Where you were fighting a deadline, but inspiration wasn’t anywhere near the ring – not even waving a white towel?

I’m no stranger to writing deadlines. They were a constant presence for more than 20 years. In fact, they often spurred me on to great heights.

Too bad I’m afraid of heights.

My current crisis comes from the endless artificial need to provide you, Dear Reader, with what in the industry is called ‘fresh content.’ No problem. I have some experience pulling this together ‘on automatic’ you might say. But gosh, I’ve been busy. A day went by. Then two days and three, and suddenly I am up against it. But, gosh, I’ve been busy.

(At least give me credit for thinking of you as ‘Dear Reader’ instead of ‘just another set of eyeballs.’ After all, respectful relationships are important.)

The ticking of the deadline clock grows louder, like Poe’s Telltale Heart. Finally, there are only two choices, both poor. Either I tap dance through the bald faced lie when I ‘call in sick,’ or I shuffle you off to re-run land with something that’s been posted before.

How do you like my footwork so far?

I admitted earlier to feeling unprepared. I lied a bit. Unprepared is not entirely true, because I DO have a post, it IS entertaining, and it is now HALF DONE.

Failing to meet my own expectations, and the even more painful experience of failing to meet yours, are not new. But as always, the finger of blame can only point at the pointer.

So what do I do about that?

They say if you fall off a horse or a bike, you need to get right back on and keep riding, or you will lose your self-confidence.

Do you know what this is like? I am the actor who forgets his lines. Or the salesman who calls all day with no order sheets to show for it. Or the athlete who is in a horrible slump. Or the farmer who sees an entire crop wiped out by bad weather.

Or the writer who can’t make the words appear on command.

We must steel ourselves to start over and try again after we fail. Sometimes we come through in the clutch. More often, we manage something adequate, like this, just enough to keep going and show up, instead of being shown up.

Before I finish, because you are my Dear Reader and not an anonymous set of eyeballs being tabulated by an automatic counter, here’s a secret. This post was not actually made up from whole cloth. There is nothing new under the sun.

Because of all those years as a deadline writer, a hoarder of words, a pack rat of paragraphs, a collector of cogitations, I was actually able to resurrect some ideas from the last century and ask them to help me limp across the finish line.

I may not have made the grade, but at least I have made a grade. Now that I am finished, and have admitted my performance failure, I can move onto the next thing.

Logging off.

February 1902

February is Too Short

Sometimes, my schedule doesn’t work. What happens on paper, stays on paper, but doesn’t make it into reality.

I’ve been promising that my memoir, Masterpiece (A Love Story) would be released in February.

Well, it won’t. But it will be out soon. I promise.

I could use the excuse that February is too short. But that would only work if the book would have come out on February 30th or 31st.

Rather than bore you with the backstory or deliver any details, I’ll just quote old Robbie Burns.

The best laid schemes
Of mice and men
Often go awry

That’s the only line that is usually remembered from his 1785 poem ‘To a Mouse, On turning her up in her nest with a plough.’

Or, as Burns originally wrote it,

The best laid schemes o’ Mice and Men
Gang aft agley

That’s my excuse. The publishing temporarily gang aft agley.

But then, the entire book project has been like that. When I started writing, I dithered for weeks about how much was fit to tell. Or the best way to tell it.

There is plenty of attention to be had in the popular press by Naming Names and Calling Out. The more salacious the better, it seems (see: Augusten Burroughs).

These books are good reads, but nah, not my style.

So I knew I wasn’t going there, but I had to go somewhere. I just wasn’t sure of the direction.

If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there. So, it took me five months to get serious about writing the book I had hoped to finish in six. When I finally settled down to business, still with a six month deadline, I was handed a cancer diagnosis.

That also slowed things down considerably.

The manuscript was eventually finished. Unfortunately, I hadn’t really edited anything in some years, so I forgot how long it takes to turn 80,334 good words into 68,437 better ones (see: Farming Rule #1).

Seeing as how I had never published a book before, I underestimated how long that might take. Optimism does not always pay out in coin. It can feel good at the time, but…

Then, to top it all off, I also took a well-deserved holiday out of the country in a sunny place. Cancer treatment during a British winter creates that kind of craving.

All of which is to say that you, Dear Reader, get to remain in anticipation a little longer.

March, I think. Yeah. Sometime in March.

Meanwhile, here’s a little taste to take the edge off.

I sat down to begin this account for the umpteenth time. He sat across from me.

Surely you are going to tell them the whole story.’ he said.

That wasn’t actually a question. It was a command. I had been dithering for days, turning over in my mind just how much – or how little – of my story was fit for people to read.

I was planning, self-editing, trying to make a way in a wilderness of words….

You will know when you are done telling the story,’ Jesus said, ‘and then I will take you by the hand and together we will edit it into My story. That way, I become the Author and the Finisher. It is My story that changes the world, Beloved, not yours. Telling what I have done changes hearts and minds, and brings people to know and understand who I created them to be.’

He chuckled then. ‘God knows they all need it.’

Meanwhile, I’ll be back here next Thursday. See you then.

If you want weekly inspiration, and a reminder about fresh content, follow me on Facebook at PleasantLinesWriter.

Calendar Image from Wikimedia Commons, Theo van Hoytema / Public domain