Just Write

Yesterday I wrote the chapter titled “Seeking Help”. I hoped as I ended it that I had at least 350 words. It turns out that I had 627. I was delighted!

I do not edit as I go. If I notice a misspelled word, I will stop and correct it, but mostly my first drafts are fast bursts of typing that try to get the words out.

The editing part comes after the words are written.

Sometimes I will write the same scene two different ways. Often I don’t realize this until I am saving the scene/chapter I just wrote. I keep both writings as I will combine them in one form or another, plucking the best from each, to make a better chapter.

I mentioned years ago to teachers who were struggling to teach their students to write, who complained that students don’t write enough, that they should just let the children write. Write about anything and everything that interested them. The bubble maps, the rigid outlines, the rules and regulations all serve to stifle creativity.

I just write. I try to do it when the spirit is moving me to write, but at times I also write when something needs to be written.

I believe in education, but I also believe education quashes some of our future great thinkers. If what they write is viewed with skepticism and corrections, will they write more next time? Probably not.

I had an article, “How to Get Your Students To Write More” published in Teachers of Vision Magazine

http://www.ceai.org/docman-documents/teachers-of-vision/172-tov-back-to-school-14.html

in their back to school issue 2014 on page 7 (continued on page 27). It explained ten ways to get students to write more. It’s basically the way I write myself and I often write more than I intended when I sit down to write. My hopefully 350 words actually turned out to be 627 words. Not a bad day’s work, when you’re working on a novel.

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Bus Ticket Home

I just wrote 348 words on my Blindman book. This scene/chapter involved how I got a bus ticket home when I didn’t have the money to pay for one. Don’t let your mind wander . . . it wasn’t all that exciting. I simply filled out a form, but all the repercussions from filling out that form goes with the book.

This scene/chapter wrote itself as I walked my old dog a few minutes ago. She was in a particularly exploring mood and as she stopped to sniff at everything along my walk, something about the day reminded me of the time I needed a bus ticket home and didn’t have the money to pay for it. It’s a long story. It’s going to be a book, actually, and this scene is a small, very small part of that book, but it does need to be included.

So as my dog wandered and stopped and sniffed, my mind went back to that day and all the details.

As soon as we came in the house, I sat down and typed it up. It only came to 348 words and there will be descriptions and details that were omitted added later. That’s the editing phase. Right now I’m just trying to get the book written.

I’m writing like a grasshopper jumps around. I’ve got the beginning, the end and the middle and all the parts in between those parts are now being written. Some of the things might not be included, but the words I just wrote, in one form or another, will.

I am always proud and happy when I write at least 250 words on my Blindman book daily. I haven’t been writing on it during the last week because the pulmonary doctor I saw tried to kill me. Or that’s how it felt. I’m feeling better now and hopefully can return to working on my book daily.

I have four or five books I’m working on, but the Blindman is my main priority. I worked on a book about teaching school yesterday. It’s going to be short stories or short chapters. I can’t always work on the same manuscript without taking a break from time to time. I take breaks by working on other projects or writing poetry.

My poems tell little stories. I have a friend who says I’m a good story teller. I don’t know if that is true or not, but I appreciate his compliment. Sometimes my stories come in the form of a poem. When they do, I jot them down. I like rhyme and rhythm and while I sometimes read un-rhymed poetry, it is not my favorite.

This morning while fixing the dog’s breakfast, I was singing “It’s Howdy Doody Time”. My son came in and said I was really old. I guess the song dated me? At any rate, it may be my preference for rhyming poetry dates me? I don’t know.

The Bus Ticket Home isn’t a poem. It’s a scene/chapter in a book I’m writing about a Blindman. I hope when it’s finished and published, you will read it.

Making a Dog Happy

It is so easy to make a dog happy. I thought that just now as I followed my excited, happy dog to the place where her bowl is kept. I’d put some fresh dry dog food into a clean dish for her and topped it off with one of those small Beneful cans of dog food. Such happiness! You would have had to see it to believe it.

She’d been equally happy a few minutes earlier when I handed her a bite of the sausage I was having with my pancakes for breakfast. Food. Food makes a dog happy, especially if it’s a little different from their ordinary fare.

Earlier she was happy as we walked around the neighborhood. Who knew such a simple thing could bring such joy? We stop when she wants to stop. We go where she wants to go. It is her walk, not mine, and she does as she pleases on her walk. We’ve seen a rabbit, squirrels, birds, children, runners, butterflies . . . many interesting things to encounter on our walk. I take a bag to scoop up her poop and off we go to that glorious time when the world is hers and she gets to experience it.

Another thing of joy is going for a ride in the car. She knows exactly what those words mean, “Do you want to go for a ride in the car?” Why, yes, she does! Now? Do you mean now????? she seems to ask as she wags her tail and heads for the door. She looks expectantly behind her to be sure I am following. Yes! And then another little leap for joy as YES! the leash is attached. She can no longer jump into the car because of her arthritis, but she’s a small dog and I can lift her. She likes to go through drive thrus and since I’ve convinced her not to jump out the window when I roll it down to order and not to bark at the speaker, it is a pleasant experience for both of us.

The happiest I’ve ever seen her was when I left and came back. It could be my being gone to work all day, or it could be my going out for five minutes to check the mailbox. Either way, her tail wags furiously and she springs up from where she’s lying and runs to me in glee! Yes. I came back. That’s what makes her happiest.

But it’s very easy to make a dog happy, joyful even. Spend a few minutes today rubbing your dog behind his/her ears and see what I mean. Attention. Food. Companionship. Fresh Air. Sunshine. If only we humans could be as happy with the simple things in life.

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Writing When Not Well

I saw a Pulmonary Doctor last Tuesday, and I’ve felt bad ever since. His assistant ran tests on my lungs and whatever she sprayed into them made them function worse. I won’t be seeing any more pulmonary doctors. I saw a different one in Wilmington  a few years ago, and he actually helped me. I expected the same from this one, but was disappointed.

I’ve spent a lot of time in bed since Tuesday. I just felt that badly. I tried to write a few times, but don’t know if my oxygen level was low or I just was that worn out from his tests. I could have written, but it would not have been worth anything.

I’m just now beginning to feel like I might be able to put some words together.

The Blindman.

My son noticed last week that my binder with the pages of the Blindman book I have written and printed out is growing. The more I write, the more writing work I realize there is left to do.

I have a pet poetry book that I want to illustrate. My youngest son has mentioned he’s ready to do that.

The Blindman book is the one I want to focus on for now. The Pet Poetry is done except for the illustrations.

Is there a phrase “Willingly Blind”? Let me google that. “Willingly blind to corruption” is a phrase I found.

Second Peter 3:5 speaks of “willingly ignorant”.

I may be getting too technical. My oldest son helped name this book. I’m usually good with titles. I was mulling over this one when he made a suggestion.

I cannot think of anything from the Blindman book that I feel capable to write about right now. The fact that I am interested in writing on it is progress. I have been very sick since Tuesday.

Shopping

I don’t know which is more fun – to go shopping or to set up/use the things you bought when you were shopping.

I bought a night stand this week and it finally found its place in my bedroom yesterday. It looks even better than I thought it would.

I bought a new top (on sale!!!) at T J Maxx the same day. It is beautiful. I wore it to the grocery store a few minutes ago.

New things make you feel so good.

They also cause problems. Now that I’ve replaced my night stand, I think I need to move the bookcase and the computer table that are also in the room. The two need to change places. Hopefully my son, George, will help me when I’m ready to move everything.

Did you see the new picture of George? It’s in the other blog I write called “Proud of Every Wrinkle”.

Here’s the new nightstand.

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Blindman

Here it is getting late and I haven’t typed one word on my blindman book.

I had a horrific appointment with a Pulmonary Specialist yesterday and have suffered the aftermath of that today. I finally feel like I might recover.

Doctors . . . Doctors are in the Blindman book. How can I write about them without giving too much away?

One doctor wrote something down. She wasn’t really a doctor. She was a “counselor”. She took it to the psychiatrist and the psychiatrist copied what she had written verbatim. I saw both reports and they seemed suspicious to me. I even said so to the third doctor who read both reports. “Can you see how they use the exact words and phrases?” I asked. “Can you see how one copied the other?” The third doctor didn’t answer but stood staring at the reports. This is America. This is also a country where if two people come together and agree to tell the same lie, it carries weight.

God sees all. God saw the blindman and the dilemma. Things did not go right. If so, there would be no book to write. However, eventually the truth came out. Where does that statement “the truth will out” come from. Let me check on google.

Here is the first thing I found:

  1.  The phrase “truth will out“, or “truth will become public”, appears as early as William Shakespeare’s works, in particular, the Merchant of Venice. It may have been an entirely new concept of Shakespeare’s, as he sees the need to explain its meaning as analogous to murder will out.

I also found:

2. truth will out

Prov. The truth will always be discovered. (Can be used to remark that someone who had been concealing the truth is now revealing it, as in the second example.)The embezzler may think that someone else will be blamed for his crime, but the truth will out. Ellen: Remember last week, when I told you I bought some shoes?Fred: Yes…. Ellen: Well, before you look at the bill from the shoe store, l ought to tell you that I bought ten pairs. Fred: Aha. The truth will out.
See also: out, truth, will
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
So that is how I write.
I have so many phrases in my head and I cannot remember where they all came from. Sometimes I can’t remember them quite correctly, so I always check, if there is any doubt in my mind what a phrase means.
I was raised by a grandmother. She was born in 1904. Can you imagine the difference in her language than what is in ours? I have her words (vocabulary) in my head. Sometimes when I look them up, they are listed as “archaic”.
My mother was a legal secretary. I have legalize (that can’t be the word – let me check . . . ) legalese . . . that’s the word I seek.
le·gal·ese
ˌlēɡəˈlēz/
noun

informal
  1. the formal and technical language of legal documents that is often hard to understand.
    I have legalese in my head as well. I cannot figure out how to justify the left margin. I’m too busy writing. Will deal with it later.
    I have been an educator. I have educational jargon in my mind as well. I’ve done many jobs in my lifetime and they all came with specific words and terms that I had to use. Sometimes they get into a jumbled pile and I have to check them by googling them to find out the true spelling and the true definition.
    Well, this has little to do with the blindman except that now you know in the book the truth will out . . . ha, ha. But you don’t know what the truth is and perhaps don’t even care.
    Making a reader care is one of the top requirements for holding the reader’s interest.
    Sometimes I just ramble on here reminding myself of things I’ve learned in all the writing courses I’ve taken over the years. I’m through taking writing courses. I am going to write. Ok. The Blindman . . .  Does the blindman not see because he can’t or because he won’t? Is he blind because he is evil? All I know is there is an epidemic of blindmen in this country and I hope my book, while being one that is read because it’s a good story and is interesting to the reader, will also show what the blindmen do not see and perhaps do not want to see. What causes someone to turn a blind eye? Is it greed? Money? Power? Evil?
    Let me salvage what parts of this randomly written blog can go into the blindman book. This is the least I’ve written on it in awhile.
    I will blame the Pulmonary Doctor who abused my lungs so badly with his tests yesterday that I have not been well since I left his office. When you are not getting oxygen or you are having trouble breathing, that affects how your mind works. I’m better, but not well yet.
    He will not see me again, because I refuse to see him. Perhaps I will send him a book and inscribe it by saying “This book would have been written two days sooner, if not for you.” ha, ha. Sometimes words that amuse me infuriate others. He wouldn’t like that inscription. Well, I don’t like how I’ve felt since I saw him.
    If you are reading this blog for writing tips, my suggestion for today is to write. Whether you think you have anything to say, write, if you want to be a writer. Eventually the stuff you write will make sense and can be edited into something profound, if you just start writing. Is that “free writing”? I did that with some AIG students (Academically Gifted) and was criticized.  I was told you MUST have an outline; you MUST have thought bubbles: you MUST have all these boring crutches to use before you write. No, you don’t. They can help organize, but if you want to be a writer, more important than all those “tools” are the action of writing. Try it. See what comes out.

Doctor or Writer?

I saw a new doctor today. As usual . . . as with all the other new doctors I’ve seen  . . . he cannot do an office visit without a computer screen and keyboard. Doctors are addicted to computerized medicine.

“Slide over doctor, and let me heal myself” . . . if all the answers are in that machine, why not?

Then they get their feelings hurt if they prescribe a drug and I look it up to see what the side effects are and decide if I want to risk them for the benefit of the drug. Hey, they’ve got their computer and I have mine. It’s my body. I doubt they’d recognize it, if they saw it. But while they converse with their machines, I should do everything they tell me and pretend like I’ve had my brain removed when it comes to medical knowledge? Look at me, Doctor. I’m a person – not some kind of data entered into your fancy machine.

I am going to quit going to the doctor. If all they are going to do is get on that damned computer they’re all so enamored with, I’m going to skip the middle man and go to the computer myself.

I was at the doctor’s office this morning. It was a horrible visit. I was there over two hours. I huffed and I puffed and I was so worn out from all the tests his assistant did, and then when the doctor finally had time to speak to me, but he barely glanced my way, got on his computer and spent the whole time conversing with it while asking me questions. Sometimes he asked me the same question 3 times.

I think doctors are all secret wanna be writers. Maybe that’s it. Click, click, click of the computer keys is all I hear at the doctor’s office. They tell me what I owe and ask if I have any questions. No, thank you. I have my own computer. I’ll ask it.

The Mundane

Mundane chores and routines can be the impetus to writing. When you are washing dishes, or doing some other task that doesn’t require thinking, your mind wanders to “what if” . . . which is the question many writers ask as they write.

This morning I was brushing my teeth when a dynamite! scene came into my head for the Blindman book. I kept brushing and kept thinking and when I was done with my teeth, I came in here and wrote 712 words on that chapter.

Writers do much of their “work” when they are not even writing. The thinking process comes before the writing.

Next time you’re doing something that requires no thought at all, notice what your mind conjures up. Then write it down. I also will stop mid-point of doing something mundane to jot down what’s in my mind before I forget it.

I composed this poem while walking the dog. I’ve had mixed comments about it. People either like it or hate it. It’s a bastardization of Frost’s Woods Poem.

The Little Dog

Whose poop this is

I think I know.

His house is where

I sometimes go.

What was he doing

In my yard

Can’t he use his own?

Is it all that hard?

My mom must think

I am not me

When I insist

In his yard I pee.

For I have miles to go

Before I poop

Miles to go

Before I poop.

by Constance Barr Corbett

Incompetence

Incompetence can show up at any time in various forms. I believe it rears its ugly head so often now in America because no one checks and double checks their work.

My latest encounter with it came just an hour or so ago when I went out to lunch. I deliberately ordered a dish with white rice and when it was served, it came with fried rice. Fried rice upsets my stomach, but when I told the server I wanted white rice, she said she didn’t know if she could exchange it. ???? I was suggesting she read her own restaurant’s menu to see that WHITE RICE came with the meal, NOT fried rice. My son, who has food allergies could not eat his fried rice, and it also should have come with white rice. The server acted like there was little to nothing she could do about it, but went to ask. She came back with an older woman, whom I assumed was her supervisor. The older woman assured us that the rice could be changed. By that time I had moved my fried rice to a neighboring, empty table and they took it from there. It seemed to take a very long time for them to return with the white rice. I told my son I thought Chinese Restaurants had pots of rice already cooked and WHAT was taking so long??? My poor son, who is accustomed to my annoyance with incompetence, was trying to soothe me when they finally brought the white rice. THEN the older woman explained that we had been charged extra for the fried rice, because the meals came with white rice, but she would deduct that extra charge from our ticket and our server was new and didn’t know. She had to request fried rice for us to get it, be charged extra for it, but she didn’t know what she was doing? Was she the only applicant they had? I didn’t ask, but those thoughts went through my mind.

My son does not know that a few short years ago competence reined in America. If you took your car in to be repaired, it was repaired. If you ordered something, the thing you ordered arrived. If you checked out, the cashier could handle the transaction. Now I’m more surprised when things go right than I am when things go wrong.

What’s happened to America? When did we lose our pride in doing a good job? Where did the work ethic go?

I long for the days when you got and could expect good service and correct dealings.

I also long for the days when what you bought came already assembled. I’d pay extra if they’d put the stuff together for me. Do they know how bad it hurts my hands to turn screwdrivers and hammer and do all the things I now have to do because so many things come unassembled?

Pride seems to be gone in America. We celebrate anything that is not done right or that is unusual or that is not as expected. We no longer value anything that used to be valued. We spend time and money on the education of children who don’t want to learn, or have problems learning while the children who love education and have high IQ’s and high ambition languish while no child is left behind. The schools are judged by how many pass the end of year tests, not by how much progress a child makes. If you come in able to pass the end of year tests, you are not a top priority.

If I ever get rich, I will buy an island and unless you have a good work ethic or I just like having you around, you will not be allowed to enter. Maybe when pride comes back to America and people quit being insulted by anything they can possible construe as an insult, America will be great again. Until then, check every transaction for errors, for you will find at least one, and expect to do it yourself, and don’t bother to complain, because if you do, something is wrong with YOU. Accept the unacceptable with good grace and thank God! you’re an American.

The Clinic

(Working on the Blindman Book – this is a very rough draft)

I arrived at the clinic a little after 5:00 pm. The instructions said to be there to check in between 5:00 and 6:00 pm. I thought I would probably be the first person to show up, but a man was sitting on a couch in the room playing cards. I didn’t know if he was a doctor, an employee, or what? I nervously asked if I was the first person to arrive and the nurse who checked me in said no and pointed to the card playing gentleman. He beat you here by just a few minutes.

I had packed a suitcase and had to let them go through it. Contraband was any kind of medication. They also went through my purse. I had brought nothing with me but clothes and a little make-up. I had shampoo and soap and other personal items for a three week stay. I’d been told I would not be allowed to leave during the whole drug trial. I would not be allowed to eat anything except what they served. Free food and $100 a day sounded sweet to me. I needed the pay. I would do nothing to jeopardize my participation.

A man who was obviously an employee, because he told me where to put my suitcase, said he was going to search my things. When I protested that I’d prefer a female go through the clothes and items I’d brought, he said he was a nurse and it was part of his job. So I stood back and let him rummage through my things. When he was satisfied, he told me to go pick out a bed. He said I could have any beds in the female “wing” because I was the first female there. I walked into the sleeping area and was dismayed that all the beds were bunk beds. I went back out and asked if they had to all be left as bunk beds? He looked surprised and told me yes. He said to pick a top bunk or a bottom bunk, but put my suitcase on one of the beds so I could claim it.

I went back in the room to look at the beds. I didn’t want a top bunk. I was afraid I’d fall getting off of it. I didn’t want a bottom bunk because sometimes I had trouble breathing. I was standing there trying to decide what to do when the male nurse came in. “Did you choose a bed?” he asked.

“No,” I told him. “I don’t want a bunk bed. He smiled and said that was all they had and to go ahead and choose one.

I asked if he could take one apart? I explained that I definitely could not sleep on a top bunk and the idea of being under someone and looking up at the bottom of their bed with it so close and my breathing issues. I just didn’t know what to do.

He stood there with his hands on his hips staring at me. Then he turned and left the room. I heard him call someone’s name. When he came back in, he had a tool with him. He told me he wasn’t going to do this for everyone, but he would take one of the bunk beds apart for me. He said actually there were 13 women in the study and they didn’t need 14 beds. He got someone to help him move the top bed after he took the beds apart. I put my suitcase on the single bed and thanked him.

Then I went out to the reception area,. Some other people had showed up and I watched him search their things. As he showed them to the sleeping area, he told them they could have any bed, except that one – and pointed to mine. That one was Connie’s, he said. It had my suitcase on it. Some of them asked if they could have beds taken apart. They didn’t like bunk beds. He frowned and said no. No, they only had the one single bed and since I got there first, I got it. He turned his back on their grumbling and walked out. They selected beds and we introduced ourselves to each other.

We had a short meeting with the staff at 6:00 pm. Then they served us dinner and we settled in to watch TV until one by one people went back to the sleeping area. I stayed up late because I was scared. Eventually I went to bed. There was a nurse’s station by the sitting area and it was comforting to see the nurses in there doing paperwork and chatting. But I was still scared.