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Writing Without Distracting November 5, 2015

Posted by nrhatch in Books & Movies, Humor, Word Play, Writing & Writers.

220px-Arthur-Pyle_The_Enchanter_MerlinDiversity of vocabulary and a playful turn of phrase add depth and flavor when they complement the prose without distracting from the missive.

That said, writers who douse paragraph after paragraph with lexicon that is not a natural part of their vocabulary remind me of cooks who over-season food rather than letting it speak for itself.

When a writer writes with thesaurus in hand to impress readers with a depth of vocabulary not possessed in common measure, I lose interest and turn my attention elsewhere.

Not that I’m missed.

Aah . . . that’s better!

But what does our distinguished panel of experts have to say?

Woodstock-&-SnoopyJohn D. MacDonald: My purpose is to entertain myself first and other people secondly.

Blaise Pascal: Anything that is written to please the author is worthless.

Marianne Moore: Any writer overwhelmingly honest about pleasing himself is almost sure to please others.

Samuel Johnson:  Read over your compositions and, when you meet a passage which you think is particularly fine, strike it out.

SnoopyAlfred North Whitehead: A man really writes for an audience of about ten persons. Of course, if others like it, that is clear gain.  But if those ten are satisfied, he is content.

Mickey Spillane:  Those big shot writers . . . could never dig the fact that there are more salted peanuts consumed than caviar.


Grace Metalious: I’m a lousy writer; a helluva lot of people have got lousy taste.

Snoopy2John Hall Wheelock:  Most writers are in a state of gloom a good deal of the time; they need perpetual reassurance.

Georges Simenon:  Writing is not a profession but a vocation of unhappiness.

Peter De Vries:  I love being a writer.  What I can’t stand is the paperwork.

Related post:  Defending the Chamois (Silver in the Barn)

Chicken Soup . . . For The Writer In You September 22, 2015

Posted by nrhatch in Books & Movies, Writing & Writers.

Chicken-Little-PosterFor those of you who enjoy writing and storytelling, Kate Crimmons shared a link that might be of interest:

Upcoming Book Topics in the Chicken Soup Series

Topics come and go.  Right now, submissions are being welcomed on the following topics:

Alzheimer’s and Dementias Family Caregiving ~ October 30, 2015.

Angels and Miracles ~ November 30, 2015.

Blended Families ~ June 30, 2016.

Dreams and Synchronicities ~ March 31, 2016.

Military Families ~ November 30, 2015.

My Very Good, Very Bad Cat ~ The deadline date for story and poem submissions has been extended to SEPTEMBER 27, 2015.

My Very Good, Very Bad Dog ~ The deadline date for story and poem submissions has been extended to SEPTEMBER 27, 2015.

Stories about Teachers and Teaching ~ June 30, 2016.

The Joy of Less ~ October 30, 2015.

The Spirit of America ~ November 30, 2015.

Donald-Duck-DivingThe site contains additional information and submission guidelines.

C’mon . . . don’t be Chicken!

Dive in!

Aah . . . that’s better!

Experience Inspiration & Wonder July 15, 2015

Posted by nrhatch in Books & Movies, Fiction, Writing & Writers.

poems_inspiration-1Life is in the details, the cobwebs in the corners, the echoes of tarnished memories tap dancing over dusty hardwood floors.

Writers bring ashes of the past to the surface, quilting tapestries of interwoven gilded threads.

Our words, when real, create connection.

Stories reel us in when driven by believable characters residing in the “real world” (even if that world is make believe ~ like Harry Potter and Hogwart’s).

When characters feel real, we understand where they’re coming from, we relate to their challenges, we feel their pain, and we want to see them succeed.

We keep turning pages.  We wonder what’s coming next.

220px-TennieldumdeeWonder is why I love Mary Poppins, Nanny McPhee, Harry Potter, and Alice ~> the perfect juxtaposition between familiar elements (British nanny, boarding school) with unfamiliar elements (tea parties on the ceiling, shifting staircases, rabbit holes).

These stories cast charming and disarming spells:  Expelliarmus!

Aah . . . that’s better!

Related:  The Stanton Effect: Inspiration from a TED Talk (El Space ~ The Blog of L. Marie) * Write From Experience (El Space) * Invoking Wonder (El Space)

Building To The Punchline June 13, 2015

Posted by nrhatch in Humor, Joke, Word Play, Writing & Writers.

Andrew Stanton begins his TED talk with a joke about three men in a bar in the Scottish Highlands ~ a backpacking tourist, a bartender, and an old man.

He uses the joke as a tool to convey compelling storytelling:

* The old man engages the audience, drawing us into his world and revealing his character as he shares his tale with a strong Scottish brogue.

* He makes us care as he explains how he built the bar, constructed the stone wall out front, and installed planks on the pier . . . “with me bare hands.”

* The old man claims center stage with the sole speaking role, yet all three characters are necessary.  None is extraneous.  The tourist provides the reason for the telling of the tale.  The bartender’s presence establishes that the old man is not exaggerating.

* In the same way he crafted the bar, the stone wall, and the pier, the old man builds his story on a firm foundation, one piece at a time.  He keeps the finish line in mind.  He never veers off course.  He steers the story to its predetermined end.


* He creates drama (“anticipation mingled with uncertainty”) as he decries the fact that he’s not called “MacGregor the Bar Builder” or”MacGregor the Stone Wall Builder” or “MacGregor the Pier Builder.”

Now he’s got us!

We’re curious.  We want to hear the end of the story.  We want to know what he IS called.  We are ready for the reveal . . .

* When he delivers the punch line, he doesn’t complete the sentence. He allows the thought to hang mid-air.  He doesn’t spell it out.  He doesn’t beat us over the head.  He doesn’t insult our intelligence.  He doesn’t reveal his actual nickname.

He allows us to follow the breadcrumbs and connect the dots.

He’s given us 2 + 2 and leaves it to the born problem solver in each of us to fill in the blanks and come up with the solution.

And we do.

Mickey-OKSince he constructed his tale with the same precision he used when building the bar, the stone wall, and the pier, we lay the last piece with confidence.

There’s no wiggle room.  We cannot misplace his meaning.

“Och, mon . . . ye must be MacGregor the Story Teller!”

Aah . . . that’s better!

First published: L. Marie’s Blog ~ The Stanton Effect: Building To The Punchline

A Quagmire of Obtuse Construction April 9, 2015

Posted by nrhatch in Humor, Word Play, Writing & Writers.

Sometimes wading through the written word is like getting sucked into an imbroglio of briars and quicksand.

Instead of building from Point A to Point B, certain writers circle around the point they are trying to express, using as many ostentatious, esoteric, and cumbersome words as possible.

Cautious readers must wear hip boots or waders to protect against muck, mire, and the occasional thorn. 

When I can’t follow a writer’s line of reasoning on a subject with which I am conversant, I assume the problem lies with the writer and not the reader.  :mrgreen:

Lest you accuse me of hubris, I followed the less than pellucid wanderings, wonderings, mutterings, and meanderings of Kant, Hume, Sartre, Descartes, and Socrates as a Philosophy major in college . . . without major mishap.

In law school, I studied and digested 75 page “briefs” of the United States Supreme Court . . . with only rare indigestion or stomach upset resulting from the effort.

Based on these experiences, it is my reasoned opinion that good writers, even those espousing philosophical musings, manage to convey complex ideology in a straightforward manner without resorting to obscure references and labyrinthine reasoning.

They bring readers into the fold, rather than leaving them out in the cold.

When writers obfuscate, that propensity may stem from a lack of mental clarity or acuity on their part.  Perhaps they haven’t yet grasped what it is they are attempting to say.

Even if that appears the most ostensible or plausible explanation, I try to be charitable and give them the benefit of the doubt.

After all, if we didn’t know what we wanted to say, would we say anything?

In some cases, I suspect that lack of clarity in sentence after ghastly sentence stems from a latent desire to confuse and mislead readers, by throwing them off the scent.

I know that seems counter-intuitive but watching readers scratch their heads or stall in their tracks may provide befuddled or bemused writers with an ego boost derived from delusions of adequacy.

Who knows?

* He who writes carelessly makes first and foremost the confession that he himself does not place any great value on his thoughts. For the enthusiasm which inspires the unflagging endurance necessary for discovering the clearest, most forceful and most attractive form of expressing our thoughts is begotten only by the conviction of their weightiness and truth – just as we employ silver or golden caskets only for sacred things or priceless works of art. ~ Arthur Schopenhauer

* I have made this letter longer, because I have not had the time to make it shorter.  ~ Blaise Pascal

Aah . . . that’s better!

What about you?  Have you ever waded into a writer’s work and become lost in a quagmire of obtuse construction?  What did you do?

Did you beat a hasty retreat or wallow a while longer?

Related post:  Defending the Chamois (Silver in the Barn)

Absence Makes The Heart Grow Fonder January 13, 2015

Posted by nrhatch in Blogging, Humor, Writing & Writers.

Tigger-BouncingAs some of you noticed and noted – thank you! – I have not been posting every day.

That trend may continue:

1.  I started SLTW, in part, to create a searchable database for notes and quotes gathering dust in files, notebooks, and journals.

After five years (and more than 2,500 posts), much of that backlog is now up and running.  Yay!

Tigger-Looking-At-His-Tail2.  Last year, I culled my draft folder from 80+ unfinished posts to a more manageable 17!  Yay!  I’m satisfied with that level of behind-the-scenes ballast.

3.  My mantra this year is “acceptance” and “let it be.”  I don’t feel like pushing myself to crank out “one a day” posts.

If it happens, it happens.  If it don’t, it don’t.

4.  For now, sharing my view of the world seems less compelling than using that time to play the guitar, stretch, exercise, meditate, create, cook, listen to music, eat chocolate, etc.

Tigger-Pogo5.  Posts on SLTW often flow from using thought-provoking and compelling posts on other blogs as springboards.

*BOING* . . . *BOING* . . . *BOING*

At the moment, the community offered by reading and commenting on other blogs seems sufficient.

6.  Instead of staying on the Post-A-Day treadmill, I’m (a) being lax, (b) cutting myself some slack, and (c) going with the flow.

7.  I want to post when I have something to say . . . not just because I want to say something.

Tiggers-R-UsAs I relax and let life unfold, I anticipate posting often enough that it won’t be a case of “out of sight, out of mind.”

I much prefer the adage, “absence makes the heart grow fonder.”

Aah . . . that’s better!   

The Perfect Writer’s Retreat December 2, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Home & Garden, Humor, Writing & Writers.

While cruising around Terra Ceia Island, we stumbled across the perfect writer’s retreat.

2014-11-22 13-29-02_0024

Situated on a corner lot, the house overlooks the banks of Terra Ceia Bay.

2014-11-22 12-24-07_0008

Imagine writing at a desk in that turret, underneath the weathered vane.

2014-11-22 13-29-42_0025

Gazing out at blue skies, serenaded by sea breezes and wandering muse.

2014-11-22 12-23-55_0006

Of course, if we moved, we’d miss our neighbors . . . like Ichabod Ibis.

2014-11-22 11-10-32_0001

As well as Ida, Iago, Irene, Igor, Igraine, Ike, Ignatius, Ian, and Icarus.

2014-11-22 11-11-09_0004

Aah . . . that’s better!

An Unlimited Limerick November 12, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Humor, Poetry, Word Play, Writing & Writers.

Something about the cadence and rhyme of limericks always teases a smile out of me.

I don’t mind a few made up words that stretch language to its limits.

There’s something fun about limericks
Especially those that boast gimmericks
They make us smile
And ponder awhile
On the sleight of tongue trickericks

Here’s to the liberal literary license of limericks!

After all, where would Dr. Seuss be
If he had limited his vocabulary
To words already written
Would we be as smitten
If it hadn’t called it a Truffula tree?

Aah . . . that’s better!

Do you enjoy limericks?  With sleight of tongue trickericks?  Are you a fan of the bawdier the better rhymes . . . featuring folks from Nantucket?


For NaNoWriMo ~ Two Top 7 Lists November 3, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Books & Movies, Humor, Word Play, Writing & Writers.


Top 7 Reasons Writers Don’t Read More:

7. They are too busy writing, writing, madly writing.

6. Their reading skills are rusty.

5. They are feeding Tweets to Twitter every 5 minutes (WWPD => 2456).

4. They are bleeding from self-inflicted wounds.

3. They’re worn out from inviting Facebook friends to “check it out.”

2. They are lost in a maze of amazing words.

1. They are daydreaming about writing fame and fortune.


Top 7 Reasons Writers Should Read More:

7. To take a break from writing, writing, madly writing.

6. To improve reading (and editing) skills.

5. To expand vocabulary and explore the amazing world of words.

4. To shift perspective and look through life via another lens.

3. To strengthen writing muscles by hearing other writers’ voices.

2. To imagine giving (and receiving) constructive criticism with panache.

1. Sheer enjoyment and escapism.

Aah . . . that’s better!

Do you read more than you write?  Or write more than you read?

A Spooktacular Contest October 10, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Humor, Word Play, Writing & Writers.

Snoopy-PumpkinSharpen your pencils, rev up your keyboards, check your typewriter ribbons!

It’s time for Susanna’s 4th Annual Halloweensie Contest.

In a pumpkin shell:

* 100 words (or less, no more)
* 3 required words ~> pumpkin, broomstick, creak
* prizes, prizes, prizes!!!

Post your story on your blog between 12:00 AM EDT Monday October 27th and Friday October 31st by 11:59 PM EDT and add your post-specific link to the list that will accompany Susanna’s October 27th post.

snoopy-&-linus-pumpkin-pathFor complete rules:  The 4th Annual Halloweensie Contest (Susanna Leonard Hill)

Tell her the Great Pumpkin sent ya!

Aah . . . that’s better!

Source: Mixon Fruit Farms



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