Monday, July 31, 2017

Humor Your Writing

Do you use humor to delight, entertain or beguile your readers?  

Consider how humor involves the ability to perceive the ludicrous, the comical, and the absurd in human life. Express the ridiculous and preposterous. Add more funny bones to your writing.  

Types of humor:

Irony involves an intended meaning just the opposite of what is expressed.
Parody occurs where the writer imitates a piece of writing for comic effect or in ridicule.

Sarcasm expresses, in the form of irony, an intent to cut or wound.
Satire writing holds up human vices and follies to ridicule or scorn.
Wit uses ingenuity and swift perception to evoke laughter.

Humor writing mingles the writer's point of view with an attitude of humor.  Humor evokes a sudden change. The writer should convey a contrast: the reversing of the normal and abnormal, expected and unexpected.

To develop a strong sense of humor, examine what's funny in yourself.
What quirks, habits, biases and outlooks do you have?  You'll discover a perfect source of material.

Make it funny, keep it funny and don't pass up any opportunity to make it funnier. Humor self-generates. Make your readers laugh. Once they've started, don't let up.

Do remember, humor is an iffy business. What will make you laugh might roll off your readers.  Stay in pursuit of what tickles your funny bone and don't give up.

Have fun writing and playing with these ideas:

l.   What irritates you about others? Exaggerate their shortcomings. Reverse and examine your own dislikes.
2.  What misfortunes have you experienced. Notice the tricks that fate has played recently.  
3.  Your flaws make laughable material. Write a few jokes about yourself.
4.  People laugh at two things: surprise and misfortune. Surprise humor leads in one direction and then takes a turn. Intermingle surprise and misfortune.
5.  Consider ways to use exaggeration or understatement to convey a situation.

Humor brightens inclement weather. Humor your writing with lines to produce laughter!

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Life of the single polliwog - Using the Apostrophe

The apostrophe, a flying polliwog of punctuation, often challenges writers. It functions to show possession and becomes a place saver in other situations. It does not form plurals.

Rule 1: To form the possessive of a singular noun that does not end in s or an s sound, add an apostrophe plus s to the noun:

Examples: the writer's pen, John’s pencil, my friend’s book

Rule 2: To form the possessive of a singular noun that does end in s or an s sound, add an apostrophe plus s to the noun:

Examples: Jennifer Lopez's song, the witness's report, James's poetry

One exception to this rule involves using only an apostrophe when adding the apostrophe plus s makes the word difficult to pronounce:

Examples: Sophocles' plays, Mary Rogers' bouquet

Rule 3: To form the possessive of a plural noun that ends in s or es, add only an apostrophe to the noun:

Examples: the teachers' books, the writers' lessons, their friends' papers, the beaches' shells.

Rule 4: To form the possessive of a plural noun that does not end in s or es, add an apostrophe plus s to the noun:

Examples: children's toys, the women's dressing room

Rule 5: To indicate separate possession, add whichever possessive sign is appropriate (an apostrophe plus s or an apostrophe alone) to the name of each person:

Examples: Bill's and Tom's cars (two separate cars: Bill's car and Tom's car), James's and Olivia's houses (two separate houses: James's house and Olivia's house)

Rule 6: To indicate joint possession, add the appropriate possessive sign (an apostrophe plus s or an apostrophe alone) to the final name:

Examples: Mary and John's house (the house belongs to both Mary and John), Edward and Madeleine's books (the books belong to both Edward and Madeleine)

One exception to this rule occurs if one of the owners is identified by a pronoun (my, his, her, our, their). In this case, make each name and pronoun possessive:

Example: Erica's and my project (not Erica and my project); Mark's and our dinner (not Mark and our dinner); John's, Edgar's, Lisa's, and my party (not John, Edgar, Lisa, and my party)

Possessive pronouns: my, mine, your, yours, his, her, hers, its, our, ours, their, theirs, whose. These pronouns never require apostrophes.

Rule 7: To form the possessive of a singular abbreviation, add an apostrophe plus s.

Examples: the AMA's letter, the MD's diagnosis, USA's stand

Rule 8: To form the possessive of a plural abbreviation, add an s'.

Examples: the PhDs' dissertations, the RNs' orders, the CPAs' convention

A note about apostrophes that become place savers in contractions: Whenever a word or phrase becomes shortened by contraction, place an apostrophe at the point where the letters are omitted.

Examples: don't (do not), can't (cannot), rock 'n' roll (rock and roll), ma'am (madam). Confusion occurs with it. Do not show possessive by writing it's.  Use its. Its color shows the possessive and means belonging to it.

Joe parks his car in John and Jane's driveway with its blue color. He parks next to the Petersons' house and across the street from Edward's and Alfred's apartments. So, don’t worry, it’s apparent you know how to use the single polliwog of punctuation.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Write On!

When a day presents challenges, we have fingers and words that will mesh and flow to keep us in the present moment.

While you're reading, let each word take the place of an anxious feeling or thought of the future.  Emerson writes a simple truth. We are in charge of our balance and focus on life's benefits. 

Let yourself move from the inside out without distractions of the world you cannot control.

When a situation arises that causes tension and frustration, push past it. Then let humor in to circulate and re-arrange the activity. 

Get a pen or let those fingers tickle the keys. 

Write about the funny. Let silliness dance into wonder.  

Go for an exploration in explanation.  Detail color, sound, and scent across the page.

Remember as you write on, you stay focused on the moments in movement.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Typewriters to Laptops

Do you remember plunking away on a Remington, Royal or Smith-Corona? Did you take a typing class to learn the QWERTY keyboard?  Or did and do you still muddle along with fingers in hunt and peck?

Jammed keys and carbon paper once ruled the day.  Writing progressed from draft to draft by rolling pages out of the platen. After a sigh, one inserted another white page and soldiered on: musing, typing, correcting, and typing again. It required hours of focused thought.  

Back then, cutting and pasting meant cutting pages into paragraphs and taping the choices in new order. This also involved pencil or pen corrections in the margins. A bottle of white fluid corrected small errors.

Then the electric typewriter arrived which had tape that corrected by removing lines of type. 

With the word processor, paragraphs could be re-arranged by a new form of cut and paste. Lines moved around right on the screen.

Now with laptop computers, one can go anywhere to patter away at the keyboard.  Freedom to write!

During the progress from the manual typewriter to the laptop what have you discovered along the way?  If you have only experienced writing on a computer, begin with your first experience using technology to write.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Mine for Mysteries

It may be that when we no longer know what to do
we have come to our real work
and that when we no longer know which way to go
we have begun our real journey.  
- Wendell Berry

"If one is vacilando, he is going somewhere but doesn't greatly care whether or not he gets there, although he has direction."  - Travels with Charlie, John Steinbeck

 ". . . wanderer, there is no path, the path is made by walking. By walking one makes the road, and upon glancing behind one sees the path that never will be trod again."
- Antonio Machado

Metaphorical thinking helps individuals connect to the secrets and mysteries of the inner journey. If one decides to experience what lurks behind the locked door or deep inside one's own cavern, self-knowledge awaits. 

Robert Frost felt, "poetry takes you to a place you have been and thought you'd never return to."

Return to the darkness. Bring a lantern for revitalization. Illuminate sensitivities.  

Travel inside and mine for mysteries.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Find a Friendly Focus

You are your own teacher.  
Investigate yourself 
to find the truth 
- inside, not outside.
-Ajahn Chah

Take a break.

Get the pen and notebook. Walk into a garden or natural setting. Feel the energy to write into a variety of wonders.

Begin with your creative awareness. Write your mood or feelings at the top of the page.

Breathe in a count of four and out four. Repeat.

Focus on colors. Notice the edges, shapes, and shadows above. How does the green with its veins provide a background?  Imagine the life of a bee.

Move into the flow of your writing and let the words spread across the page. 

Discover surprises in scents and sounds. Absorb the breeze or temperature's sensations.

Gaze upward. Describe the color blue without using a color.

List five sensations that make you happy.

Write about what you take for granted.

Let notions change their course. Move your mind into ocean of waves. Imagine the variety of creatures who will come to visit.

Characterize them. Add a tint of humor to the seahorse who dances with its curled tail or the octopus with giggly eyes. Let the seagull spout its wisdom.

Continue to write and develop your private world.

Stop. Breathe in and out with the four count.

Write your current feelings or mood. Notice a difference from what you wrote on top of the first page.

Keep your friendly focus as you move into the rest of the day.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Fear Less

Fear is a universal experience. Even the smallest insect feels it. We wade in the tidal pools and put our finger near the soft, open bodies of sea anemones and they close up. Everything spontaneously does that. It’s not a terrible thing that we feel fear when faced with the unknown. 
It is part of being alive, something we all share. We react against the possibility of loneliness, of death, of not having anything to hold on to. Fear is a natural reaction to moving closer to the truth. 
If we commit ourselves to staying right where we are, then our experience becomes very vivid. 
Things become very clear when there is nowhere to escape. 
Pema Chödrön

When Pema Chödrön writes about becoming intimate with our fears, she recommends using fear as a tool rather than as a problem to solve. She advises us to dismantle our familiar ways of behavior and says we must accomplish, “a complete undoing of old ways of seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, and thinking.”  

Bravery is not the absence of fear but the intimacy with fear.

We need to step forward a little further with courage. Pema Chödrön encourages that our deepest strength arises by befriending ourselves which is the only mechanism for befriending life in its completeness.

Susan Jeffers believes, "Apart from obvious connections, it is possible the cause of our fear lies elsewhere. But does it really matter from where self-doubts come?  It is often impossible to figure out the actual causes of negative patterns. Even if we did know, the knowing doesn't necessarily change them. If something is troubling you, simply start from where you are and take the action necessary to change it."  

Duke professor Dan Ariely suggests 'reframing your experience.' He says, "You might not be able to change what you have to do but you can change how you see it."

Find a fear and approach it. Then write to it with all the senses.

Use laughter to tickle fear into submission.

Develop a metaphor to return to when faced with the fear.

Write until your mood changes to Fear Less.

If you find your socks don't match 
Stand in a flowerbed
If your shoes don't fit 
Give them to the fish in the pond
If your horse needs shoes
Let him use his wings
If the sun never shines again
Hold fireflies in your hands to keep warm
If you are afraid of the dark
Remember the night rainbow
If there is no happy ending 
make one out of cookie dough 
- Cooper Edens

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Who Remembers?

Launched after World War ll, we became the first wave of baby boomers.

Born to win and teased by change, we searched for identities, questioned authority, and marched for freedom.

We expected the Best in our American dream and share a mosaic of memories.

Here are a few:

"I remember Mama . . . and the day when Dagmar put her elbows on the table," the television program began.

Lucky Strike meant fine tobacco. A boy dressed in a red coat and a box hat called for Phillip Moraaaace.

Gloreous George glorified wrestling, loved by grandmothers.

Russians sent Sputnik into the skies.

We went into orbit with Alan Shepherd and John Glenn.

A father knew Best. Ozzie and Harriet defined values and behavior for American families.

With the key from around our necks, we unfastened our metal skates and nailed them to a long board, with one set of wheels at each end.

At school sirens tested our air raid skills forcing us under desks until the all clear. Parents wearing gas masks marched in front of the schools to protest the arrivial of "smog" created by automobiles.

We sang, "Brusha Brusha Brusha with Bucky Beaver.

Paying $3 per car at the drive in movies, we paired or double dated, fogging the car windows.

Car hops rushed on roller skates at drive-ins for food, delivering burgers and double thick chocolate malts. 

We wriggled on seats at corner soda fountains sipping cherry cokes.

Nehis and hog dogs, Pez candy, and Bosco added to our diets.

Doris Day and Rock Husdon romanced from twin beds.

The Mouseketeers amused with Annette.

We sang the Monster Mash with the Purple People Eater and danced the mashed potato, the twist, and
the swim.

Ed Sullivan celebrated Elvis and the Beatles.

See you later alligator.  In a while crocodile.

Joan Baez strummed in coffee houses and sparked our souls to peace.

Beatniks arose. Then we had hippies.

Madras and tie-dye.  Lava lamps.
       Sonny and Sher made the beat go on.

Nehru jackets, bell bottoms and huge daisies sprouted.  VW buses went on the road to Woodstock and free love.

We glorified flower power wearing love beads of mellow yellow and jolly green.
Then rushed to "feel he warm" with McKuen and read, The Profit by Gibran. 

Aretha. Mic and the Stones.

Hendrix sent us into a purple haze as our world flashed in strobe, black light nd psychedelia.

Lucy in the Sky and Along Comes Mary sent cryptic messages.

Ban the bomb.

Feelin' groovy or burning bras.

Some protested war fought in a far jungle. Others left for Canada or Mexico.

Too many heroes died. So many returned in pain.
        Too many heroes came home to rejrection.
               Hello darkness my old friend.

Simon and Garfunkle promised a bridge over troubled waters.

Watts erupted ro remind us of our differences. Kent State fueled our angst.

Gas sold for 25 cents a gallon.

We watched the moon landing with victory leaps for humanity.

We mourned the loss of JFK, Bobby, and Martin.

Beyond our confusion, we created true freedom, discovered the Best within ourselves.

We became the Best and our Best goes on.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

It's About Time

Time is free, but it's priceless. You can't own it, but you can use it. You can't keep it, but you can spend it.  Once you've lost it you can never get it back. 
- Harvey Mackay

Time involves a sequence of events moving forward. Irreversible, it flows from past through present to future. We measure it in segments and seasons. Today, a variety of instruments reveal it: clocks, wrist watches, computer monitors, cell phones. 

We learn time is of the essence. It waits for no one. We're admonished not to waste time. Staying on time becomes a challenge. Wisdom arrives when we learn about life's timing. 

Writers expel ideas in the moment. We can speed or slow sentences and paragraphs to create mood and provide intensity to capture the reader. Decades can exist in pages. In a chapter, time shrinks, expands or gets pruned as irrelevant. Poems and stories jump forward, backwards, even sideways. Characters might move in parallel time exploring worlds beyond the present.

Other views of time: 

Time is what we want most, but...what we use worst.  ~Willaim Penn

Time is the longest distance between two places.  ~Tennessee Williams

For centuries, man believed that the sun revolves around the earth.  Centuries later, he still thinks that time moves clockwise.  ~Robert Brault

Time is but the stream I go a-fishing in.  ~Henry David Thoreau

The Present is a Point just passed.  ~David Russell

Methinks I see the wanton hours flee,
And as they pass, turn back and laugh at me.
                          ~George Villiers

Much may be done in those little shreds and patches of time which every day produces, and which most men throw away.  ~Charles Caleb Colton

Take time to write about it. Let the above concerns spark your notions. 

Sling words to make the reader lose track of time.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Recipe for the Write Life

Trout Town Joe's coffee shop in June Lake, California sports the above message.  The owner's smile, wider than the lake, brightens the day as her coffee adds energy.

Staying balanced involves leveling off from daily dips; up to down to up again. A smile activates a positive attitude, improves mood and helps us benefit from the day's challenges.

Smile and motivate your writing into action.

l.   Set a writing intention. Choose a subject daily and write regardless of a need for outcome.

2.  Exercise your body with a walk, run, weight training, or yoga. Get that motor running for at least 30 minutes each day and power the endorphins. Imprint the energy.

3.  Choose your quality of the day: grace, courage, persistence, self-acceptance. Use it as a focus if you have a meditation practice. Or, write about it to begin the day.

4.  Feel gratitude for all your gifts. Give thanks for waking up with a healthy body and mind clear enough to do this exercise. Last thing at night: Review all the good things that happened during the day. Build your gratitude muscle and train your mind to focus on the good. (Are you alive? Do you have clean water? Do you live in harmony with the land?)

5.  Avoid taking in negative news. Choose nutritious brain food by choosing what works in life.

6.  Drink lots of water and fresh juices during the day.

7.  Listen to uplifting music, sing and dance. Open the heart. Change your mood.

8.  Choose wisely what you read, listen to and the people with whom you associate. Avoid letting negative individuals populate your world. You cannot change them.  Move on.

9.   Learn to listen with both ears. Evaluate before disrespecting another's opinion.

10.  Call a loved one or friend just to say hello or catch up.

Plan your Top Ten Happy Day Recipe. Write about what elevates your spirit.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Night Play

While darkness accumulates
all expectations shed
like chameleon lace.

A waterwheel of wings
rattles the window.

The pane rises by
the night hawk’s beak.

She slips inside his coat
feathered by scent of cloves.

They fly beyond
an eyelash of moon

Until dawn’s pulse
sends a bead of honey
to her lips.

She returns
hungry for words.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

What Brings You Alive?

What truly is a part of our spiritual path is that which brings us alive.  If gardening brings us alive, that is part of our path, if it is music, if it is conversation . . . we must follow what brings us alive.   
- David Steindl-Rast

Focus on what brings you alive.

Move from simple pleasures to thoughts of motivation and sense of direction.

What energizes the mind and soul?

Activate aspects of daily life that feel subdued or suppressed.

Immerse yourself in nature to breathe in the atmosphere of growth and change.
Appreciate what sustains you and brings balance.

Enliven your internal wisdom.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

WT . . . FUN!

Find the Fun in today's challenges.

During the day when troubles arrive, surprise them by a turn downside up.  

If your mind misbehaves, invite it to dance.

When worries tangle in your brain, write them in your mental sand and let the next wave delete all.

If you feel sad, follow a bee's attention span.

When anger nags, tickle its tummy.

Make fears into chocolate cupcakes and celebrate. Don't forget the topping.

If you feel a regret or resentment challenge them to a foot race. You will win every time.  

When you play and create the exercise develops possibilities. 

Stay in the experiences of the moment and go for the FUN.

F - Fun - U- ndermines N-egativity