…AND OTHER ROADBLOCKS IN WRITING!

Tag Archives: opinion

I promise to not detail much of the above, lest I launch a rant. Legitimate, but still a rant…and ladies don’t rant—except for one who does so with courage and justifiable outrage, and a second who informs with satirical humor aimed at the state of affairs, or the Affairs of State. What prompted my muddled, misdirected condition of mind was that because my one-and-a-half-year-old Mac crapped out (thank you, Murphy) at a crucial point in my work, I had time to “poor me” and watch TV. I don’t know Murphy’s opinion on lightning, but I know it CAN strike twice in the same place. I’ll expand on only the first topic, computers, as I have not had time to see anything humorous in the others.

Let’s hop in the TARDIS and shift back almost two years. There was Murphy, waiting for me, and he did a déjà vu of the future. He struck my seven-year-old Mac’s new hard drive with a blitz of color snow like old TVs. It was a built-in omen that Mac was about to suffer a heart attack. Which it soon did. And with a flagrant fizzle, frying some of my potentially Nobel Prize winning writing.

Walt, my patient husband, loaded Dead Mac and me into the van and rushed us to Apple Hospital sixty miles away, while enduring my many Navy Post-Grad creative invectives hurled at the Apple God for birthing such a demon. The heart transplant was successful, and Walt suggested he’d deal with Old Mac’s increasing age-prone illnesses and adopt New Mac for me. After saving up the hefty adoption fee, we welcomed Newbie into our home.

Back in the TARDIS to present time. Our infant New Mac suffers the same technicolor snowstorm and craps out. Another one-hundred-twenty-mile round trip to the AH (no reimbursement for mileage) and we are told it was a software issue. “One,” I asked, “that Apple has not solved in more than two years? Somebody needs to be fired!” I have visions of the failure cause and lack of remedy.

One: In ancient times, royal seamstresses went blind sewing extremely fine stitches in royal garments. Today, I see twenty-something blind women and men tapping their white canes down China’s roads as they are dismissed from working at creating computer circuitry.

Two: Apple Gods: “Hey, tech support is for only three years. Deal with it. Suckers will get pissed and buy a new computer. That will keep us in mega-bucks, and you in your cubicles.”

What has this got to do with writing? Really? Okay. A painful situation can be alleviated with satire, a hint of sarcasm, perhaps a sprinkle of anthropomorphism, and a little bit of creativity. Much more entertaining than the slush that ends up in the newspapers as vicious opinion, right? Remember Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels? Quite entertaining and a safer approach than a direct attack on the conditions of his times.

So, here’s your assignment. Take your finest pet peeve. Ruminate on it awhile and come back with a piece that makes us see things your way…or at least enjoy your humorous approach. Write on!


What? Am I on the wrong blog? I thought this was a writer’s site.

 Wait! Wait, no, it’s really me. Hang in there. Let me explain. I happened across an article on www.dumblittleman.com that lit up the cartoon light bulb over my head. I’d recommend them for great articles and tips for all areas of your life. I’ve been following them for years, back when it was called Life Hack.

The article I read was called “8 Bad Food Habits That are Sabotaging Your Weight Loss Goals.” Not that I needed that particular information, mind you, I was just browsing the site (and if you believe that, there’s a cliché in Brooklyn that I could sell you really cheap.)

What this article did was remind me that there are little bad habits that sabotage writers, too. For example, being personally aware of one bad habit, I was moved to write a poem ala the kids’ book, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. Here’s part of it:

IF YOU CLEAN A WRITER’S COFFEEPOT     by Virginia Nygard

If you clean a writer’s coffeepot…

he’ll want you to make a pot of coffee.

If you make a pot of coffee and hand him a cupful…

he’ll want a cookie, too.

If you mix up cookie batter quick…

he’ll fill up his cup, and wait for warm cookies.

While there, he’ll see the coffee jar’s low…

and grind fragrant beans to fill it up.

He’ll put the coffee jar away…

and notice the cupboard door is loose.

He’ll find his tools, fix the door, and then…

eye the shabby, faded walls.

You know where this is going, right? Straight to serious procrastination bordering on avoidance, yes? And that’s what eats away at your writing time.

Then, there’s the food-inspired question, “How do you eat an elephant?” Answer? Yup, one bite at a time. Or, as a writer, one step at a time. Don’t start picking out the publishing house for which you want to be the next star if you haven’t started with Step One. Examine what makes you want to write. What makes you think writing is a good fit for you? Have you kept a journal? Had a pen pal? Have you read a variety of genres? Do you have a burning desire to share your story? Are you willing to learn? Do you want fame and fortune?

If the last is your driving goal, let me share what my high school guidance counselor said to me, “If you’re looking to make a bundle of money by going into teaching for a career, you’ll be going into the wrong profession.” She was right, but it was what I was called to do. And that warning can apply to writing, too. In my view, what society exalts is not always honorable, moral, or of lasting value. Consider what society exalts if you want big bucks. Just don’t sell your soul to get it.

Follow your desire to write with Step Two. What’s your support system? Have you looked into classes online or at your local community college? Joined a local writers’ group? Found a non-profit writers’ association in your state? There are groups online that offer writing contests or critique. Be aware of membership fees and check their credentials before jumping in.

When I was about three years old, I was eager to learn and do as much as I could, as fast as I could. And that applied to climbing stairs, too. Holding my mother’s hand on the way up to bed, I remember trying to take two-or maybe it was three-steps at a time. From below I heard my father’s voice, “One at a time. One at a time.” So we moved slowly up the stairs with me chanting for each step, “‘One at a time,’ Da-da says…‘One at a time,’ Da-da says…”

So how do we go about making The New York Times Best Sellers list?

Right. Da-da would be proud of you!


. . . a poem as lovely as the one by me! (Apologies to Joyce Kilmer) I think all writers believe this of their literary babies. And, like any babies, poetry pups need basic training. Like don’t pee on the poetic form. Learn your boundaries-and then let go! I, too, have learned the difference between the carpet and the backyard, so here I go.

I’ve read and reread books of poetry and texts on writing poetry. I’ve been stunned by a poet’s ability to weave ordinary word-yarn into beauty that fits any mind. Many poets spin the most painful subjects into poignant pictures of human conditions and emotions. Others stitch fine metaphors from all of nature’s threads.

And while the intricate rules of poetry shapes it chameleon-like into many cousins, I find some forms fascinating but sterile. Some seem intent on mathematics of the thing, discouraging all but the most savant with their formulas. Many seem the Rubik’s cube of time long past.

Granted no society can live without rules. No discipline or function, be it science, mathematics, surgery, or driving a school bus, can accomplish its goals without a blueprint, a set of rules, policies and procedures. But is there necessarily beauty in regimentation? In following the party line, be it religious, political, or poetic?

Those who love such restrictions may not love my words. Yet I follow my spirit as it responds instinctively, intensely, to all things. I know I am here by chance. I am from the same star-stuff as is every great and minute creation on, and even far from, earth. So my work must be the same-random and free-not bound by laws of physics or archaic forms, unless, on occasion, the muse dictates otherwise.

And yet, while fish cannot mate with fowl, duck with dog, or moose with meadowlark some prose in sheep’s clothing hopes to fool the unsuspecting into believing it is poetry.

Prose, poetic or not, often squeezes the maudlin or mundane into a paragraph, dialogue included, as if the writer has just run into an acute paper shortage and decides to call a condensed memoir poetry, when it’s flash-fiction-at-best, and a rambling diary entry at worst.

Part of a poem I wrote in protest of this attempt to mate dissimilar species by virtue of similarities in their DNA, reads:

… i believe, too,
in loosening poetry’s reins;
but what cruelty
to sever them entirely,
shotgunning unfettered words
across the literary landscape,
to fall fallow in their field.

(From “Poetry?” by Virginia Nygard 2014)