This Is Me--2024 A to Z Theme

My A to Z Themes in the past have covered a range of topics and for 2024 the theme is a personal retrospective that I call "I Coulda Been" which is in reference to my job and career arc over my lifetime. I'll be looking at all sorts of occupations that I have done or could have done. Maybe you've done some of these too!

Friday, December 30, 2011

End of the Year Stuff

           It's been a decent year.  There's been a lot of good as well as some bad.  I guess it's business as usual.    I remain unemployed but have managed to struggle by--there is a blog post in this but I haven't brought myself to write it.    

           This year I've traveled more than I have for a long time.  I thank my sister and my wife for covering some of those travel expenses.  Part of the travel was because of a sad thing--my brother-in-law's sickness and passing--but as with all things in life there is happy along with the sad.

           The Blogging from A to Z April Challenge was phenomenal this year and I thank those who co-hosted with me and all who participated.

            Four new blogs were added to my repertoire of online activity and they have been quietly taking off in a respectable manner.

            I look forward to great things in 2012.

 And one last thing:

           Maurice at The Geek Twins bestowed upon me The Pied Piper Award

          And thanks to all of those followers--or better said, friends--who have stayed with me through another year of blogging.  I hope your year to come is the absolute best ever.

Happy New Year! 

Oh, and be here next Friday for sure.   I've got some great news to share.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Are You Dying Or Living?

        The following is one of those chain emails that you're supposed to pass on to "x" number of people.  I share it today since it does have some good thoughts to it.  As far as I have been able to tell it has been attributed to the late George Carlin.  No matter who or what the source, enjoy and take heed.

The “ending” is a wonderful reminder of how to live life!!!

1. Throw out nonessential numbers. This includes age, weight, and height. Let the doctors worry about them. That is why you pay 'them'
2. Keep only cheerful friends. The grouches pull you down.
3. Keep learning. Learn more about the computer, crafts, gardening, whatever. Never let the brain idle. 'An idle mind is the devil's workshop.'
4. Enjoy the simple things.
5. Laugh often, long and loud. Laugh until you gasp for breath.
6. The tears happen. Endure, grieve, and move on. The only person, who is with us our entire life, is ourselves. Be ALIVE while you are alive
7. Surround yourself with what you love , whether it's family, pets, keepsakes, music, plants, hobbies, whatever. Your home is your refuge
8. Cherish your health: If it is good, preserve it. If it is unstable, improve it. If it is beyond what you can improve, get help.
9. Don't take guilt trips.. Take a trip to the mall, even to the next
county; to a foreign country but NOT to where there is guilt.
10. Tell the people you love that you love them, at every opportunity. AND ALWAYS REMEMBER : Life is not measured by the number of
breaths we take,but by the moments that take our breath away.

We all need to live life to its fullest each day!!

Worry about nothing, pray about everything!!!

             I hope you are having a Happy Holiday Season!

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Monday, December 26, 2011

Creative Blog Award

Christmas in the post-War United StatesImage via Wikipedia

            I know I said a while back that I wasn't going to be doing the blog award thing, but I did say that I would try to acknowledge them when I could.  This post has been sitting here since April, when I was busy with the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge.    For the Christmas lull period while I'm on vacation I thought I'd preschedule this post of award acknowledgement.

           And speaking of Blogging from A to Z, if you aren't following the official Blogging from A to Z Blog I hope you will check it out.   Right now we are in the middle of a series of posts by past participants of the Challenge.  You won't want to miss any special announcements about the Challenge so I encourage you to follow and check in every now and then.  Blogging from A to Z sign-ups begin on January 30, 2012.

And Now For Some Awards:

              Creative Blog Award

           During the April A to Z Challenge, one of my event co-hosts, Jeffrey Beesler, passed the Creative Blog Award to me.  I wanted to thank Jeffrey for this gesture and the kind words that accompanied it.

            Another award from April came to me from Deidra Eden-Coppel at A Storybook World.     I don't recall what the award was but I noted it in this post I started months ago.  I think it had something to do with best Science Fiction blog or something like that.   Sorry Deidra.  But I still say thanks.

         Then there was this Jiminy Cricket commenting award from Jenny Pearson at The Pearson Report.   Thanks Jenny-- I try to leave as many decent comments as I can, but I'm not always so good keeping up with emails and such when I get inundated.  At least I saved the email she sent me so I could acknowledge this award.

I hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday season!

A Christmas market in Clifton Mill, Ohio, Unit...Image via Wikipedia

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Friday, December 23, 2011

What's In A Name?: The Story of a Pseudonym

      A recent post by Lisa Kramer at Woman Wielding Words pondered the topic of real names versus pseudonyms.  I've mentioned before that I use a phony name--like anyone might not have guessed it. This is as good as time as ever to explain the name.  In deference to Stephen T. McCarthy, who asked me about this many blogging months ago, I give you the origins of the Arlee Bird name.

      It was long before Google was around, so search engine status had nothing to do with the pen name.  I was in college and trying to become established as an author.  It was obvious even without the benefit of Google that I had a very common name.

        I've never made a point of trying to hide my real name on my blog.  Actually it can be found in several places, but most readers have probably never noticed that I was born with the name Robert Lee Jackson.  It's a name that perhaps is a few Google notches short of John Smith, but my real name is shared with a lot of people living now and who have lived in the past.   Check your phone book and I'm sure you'll find at least a few of them listed in your town.

         So trying to break in as an author I felt like I needed a name that would not be shared by thousands of other people and would be somewhat unique.  At first I submitted stories as Lee Jackson, but the name just didn't work for me despite being the name I'd gone by all of my life.

          Then I began to experiment with names.  I began to sign my writing as Ohio Franklin Jackson--after all it was the early 70s and people were experimenting with unusual names.  Having been born in Ohio I adopted that as my first name and Benjamin Franklin was one of my heroes at the time so I paid tribute to him.  I decided this name was maybe too quirky.

Benjamin FranklinImage via Wikipedia
           Using just my first initial I went back to my real name as R. Lee Jackson.  There was a very brief period when I got the idea that it might be easier to have a short story accepted if I were female and I tried writing under the name of Mary Tipton.  Where'd that come from?  That didn't last long and I returned to the R. Lee Jackson tag.

           Feeling that starting a moniker with an initial didn't sound quite right, in early 1975 I went from R. Lee to Arlee, since it sounded the same when spoken.  For the next several years I wavered between those two opening names attached to the Jackson surname.

           In mid-1975 I joined a magic show and decided to focus my career on juggling and show business and basically put writing for submission purposes on the back burner.  My business card and all promotional material used R. Lee and I dispensed with actually using Arlee for a while.  I also used the alias of "Jack Clark" when I was acting in behalf of my alter ego of promoter for R. Lee Jackson and his professional activities.  Hey--I felt like I had to wear different hats sometimes in order to make people think I had representation.

          When I decided to get off the road in order to start my kids in school and lead a more normal life, I started an entertainment business in Tennessee.  When I was putting the business together I began thinking of a name.  I don't recall exactly how it came to me but I envisioned a logo of a bird tugging at a worm in a hole which  would resemble a music note.  This made me think of the expression, "the early bird gets the worm."  Bingo!  Early, Arlee--Arlee Bird Entertainment.

           Nearly twenty years later when I started Tossing It Out, I decided not to use my real name.  The name that immediately came to me was my old entertainment business name.  I figured there couldn't be many people with that name and it would be unique.  I googled the name and found one guy with that name in Florida, but that was it.   I took it.

           It's kind of an odd name, but it is different.  Now I've taken over Google with the name.  I don't know what happened to the guy in Florida.  It's my writing name now and silly though it may sound I am now Arlee Bird in my literary and blogging life.  I guess I might as well keep the name now.


       While I'm at it I might as well acknowledge an award given to me by The Word Nerd.  Since I'm telling you stuff anyway I'll play along with this one.  I know I'd said a while back that I wasn't going to do these award things, but what the heck--it's Christmas and I'm being nice.

        And I'm spilling beans.  So in keeping with the rules of the award here are seven things about me that I intend to blog about someday:

1.  I used to be an avid stamp collector.  I still save stamps and have my stamp collection, but I'm not active with it like I was when I was younger.

2. I also have a postcard collection that mostly consists of cards I bought when I was young, but if any of you ever send me a postcard it will go into my collection.

3.  At one time I had a fairly decent pencil collection, but I used all of the pencils back when I was still in school.  Gosh, does anyone use pencils anymore?

4.  Another collection that I once had that was rather sizable was matchbooks.   I won't go into detail about what happened to that--let's just say it went up in smoke.

5.  I joined my first book club when I was about thirteen--Doubleday.  I joined several other book clubs over the years which accounts for my extensive collection of books.

6.  When I was on the road I accumulated hundreds of cassette tapes, most which I still have and are playable.

7.  There is a real possibility that I am a hoarder.

          And I guess Word Nerd knows I that I'm not passing this on to anyone else.  This branch of the chain ends here, but I'm sure it continues through several of the other recipients.  But I will wish everyone

Merry Christmas!

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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Transformers: Dark of the Moon--my review

          I don't review movies too often on this blog, but after seeing this film I felt compelled to say something about it since I had been kind of looking forward to seeing it.   This is the review I put on Amazon and I thought I'd share it here.

Transformers: Dark of the Moon (Two-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo + Digital Copy)
Transformers: Dark of the Moon (Two-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo + Digital Copy)
DVD ~ Shia LaBeouf
Price: $24.99

1.0 out of 5 stars My Wife Fell Asleep and I Wish I Had 

I'll give this movie 5 stars for special effects, but who cares. Talk about overkill. This is for the video game crowd who can stand to play for hours on end. If you want a similar thrill as this movie gives but not take 2 1/2 hours to do it you could try to down a fifth of tequila real fast or jump off of a tall building and land on your head.

The effects are spectacular, the acting is very good, production values all top quality, and the soundtrack music reminds you when you should feel sad, excited, tense, or whatever. The problem is I didn't feel much of anything except really bored.

My favorite part of the movie was the ending--or should I say, when it ended. Oh man, I couldn't wait for this film to end. But compulsive as I am to watch a film all the way through, I stayed to the end. What a waste.

Yeah, this is the kind of film the makes you want to stand up and cheer. When it was over I jumped up and cheered, "Yay! It's over at last!"

The things lacking in this movie are good story and heart. It's the same old song that we've heard before and it's not one you want to sing along with. Maybe if they'd saved a hundred million or so and made the film about an hour and a half shorter and then distributed the wealth of what they'd saved to people who needed it, the world would have been a better place and the film makers and investors would have still made a ton of money off of it.

If you haven't seen this film yet and decide to do so, you can't say I didn't warn you. Sometimes people think they just have to suffer the torture to see what it's like for themselves. Ouch--my head hurts. 

         Did you see Transformers: Dark of the Moon?   What do you think of special effects laden films?  What is your preference: amazing special effects or good story?

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Monday, December 19, 2011

How Do You Perceive Value?

Pure-Gold-CoinsImage by digitalmoneyworld via Flickr

          A recent article by Rosanna Xia in the Los Angeles Times Business section was telling about the struggles of the greeting card industry to maintain relevancy when facing the competition of the internet age.  In the article, Susan January, president of the Greeting Card Association is quoted as saying, "As better products have become available people are more aware how certain embellishments, like gold foil and embroidery, increase the perceived value of the card and the perceived value of their relationship."

           Now, I've heard the term "perceived value" before but never gave it much thought until reading it within the context of this article.  Perceived value is the subjective worth that we place on something according to our own needs or wants.  The perceived value of an item might be artificially created by the marketing agent as in the case of luxury items or new products. Perception of value may also be influenced by availability and is the motivating way the law of supply and demand can increase or decrease prices.

           Perceived value can be dictated by the influences of the marketplace or it can be all in our minds.  When much revered technological innovation comes on the market, some people may wait in line to pay premium prices to be the first to have it in hand even though they know it will most likely be available at reduced prices later down the road.  Part of their perception of value includes the prestige of being the first to own a product and their strong desire to have it in their hands now rather than later.

         If gold were no longer perceived as valuable as backing for monetary systems or for jewelry and valued only in the context of its practical use in industry, the price of gold would undoubtedly plummet since it would no longer be coveted as something of extreme worth and prestige in ownership.

         The collectible market works in much the same way.  Certain things will gain a reputation of having a high potential of future worth and collectors will jump on board to pay premium prices.  We see past fads such as beanie babies or Hummel figurines where prices soared for a while and then dropped to ridiculously low prices leaving the investors unable to get any return on the money they put into their collections.  The marketplace will be influenced by economy and changing interests among other things.

         Artificial market manipulation is the mainstay of companies like the Franklin Mint.  Such purveyors of collectible merchandise entice speculative customers with advertising that suggests that whatever it is they are offering may increase in value eventually.  They don't make promises (read the small print), but in the minds of certain ones of us who are lured by the advertising, we want to believe that we are investing in an attractive item that might one day hold great value.  And I won't knock anyone for that--I've bought some of those things myself because I liked them and I wanted to believe I was making an investment in something of collectible value.

         However, I am straying from the real point that I want to make here--the thoughts that came to my mind as I began to contemplate the concept of perceived value.  As I pondered this concept, I began to think of perceived value as it applies to that which is not an item of merchandise or a service. What about the perceived value of friendships and interpersonal relationships, personal tastes and artistic evaluations, or accolades and kind words?

         It's a certainty that the topic I'm touching upon here could become quite lengthy if it were to be examined in its totality, so I'll focus on one aspect and then allow you to take it in your own direction.  

          For my part, I'll consider blog posts and blog comments (and I hope this is not becoming a redundant topic).  I make an attempt to produce some degree of quality in my posts and in my comments.  Even when I think I am going to quickly hash out something short, I will often get carried away and will write more than I had set out to do (this post for example).  When I comment, I try to leave something of substance.  I want my words to have more value than something I just slapped down to be saying something. I value my words.

         And now I'll toss the topic to you:  What do you attach value to and how do you perceive value?   What makes certain people valuable to you?   Why do you have certain passions or interests?    Excluding some of the obvious answers like those related to God, family, country,  or pets and the like; what are some tangible things that are valuable to you?

          Please visit my memoir blog Wrote By Rote.  Teresa from Journaling Woman is my guest and she has a special giveaway offer.  
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Friday, December 16, 2011

Deja Vu: Make Target Practice, Not War

Tunnelvision 06Image by fisserman via Flickr

        The Deja Vu Blogfest is hosted by D.L. Hammons,  Katie Mills, Nicole Duclerior, and Lydia Kang.  Its purpose is for bloggers to call attention to older posts that others may have missed or anything they feel is worthy of repeating on their sites.

       This was a little tougher than I had expected.  I set my sights on my earliest posts--the ones that have no comments and were therefore probably only read by a few people if anyone at all.  From the outset I tried to deliver quality goods.  I hope this entry is one you might enjoy.  I think this post tells a little more about what I set out to accomplish with my blog.

       I'll start with a set up of what was happening on Tossing It Out at that time.  My first few posts described something about who I am and what I was planning to do with my blog.   My post of Wednesday September  23, 2009  titled "Who Am I? & Who Are You?" was an introduction of me to the readers. I began that post with a quote from one of my favorite poems:
To-day we have naming of parts. Yesterday,
We had daily cleaning. And to-morrow morning,
We shall have what to do after firing. But to-day,
To-day we have naming of parts.
from the poem "Naming of Parts" by Henry Reed
       On the following day, September 24 2009 I continued with my theme:

Make Target Practice, Not War

        Today we have what to do after firing.  Though some blogs are forums for rants and raves, I don't want to be guilty of  incendiary provocations. I don't want to be just shooting off my mouth or shooting from the hip. This ain't no cowboy blog pardner. I mean, I like cowboys and westerns and such, but I'm not intending for a gunfight at the OK Corral or anything like that. I just want to sit around the campfire and jaw a bit.

        I enjoy a good debate and I will follow through with that when the situation calls for it, but hopefully always in good clean fun. I ain't got nothin' against nobody in particular.  There might be some ideas, lifestyles, movements, or the like that I don't particularly like or agree with, but I'm usually happy to chat about any of it. So civil debate, yes-war no.

      In other words, using the metaphor of words or the blog as a gun, I'm just doing target practice.  I'm not out to attack anyone or hurt anybody.  Not to say I might not get careless at times, but hopefully if I do hit anyone it will only be a flesh wound.

       What to do after firing?  When it's just casual target practice, after firing I would want to take a look and see if I hit my target and see  how I could improve in the future. I've never been a gun guy and have only fired a gun a few times, but I'm not against guns by any means.  

      One of my friends who does own guns and is pretty knowledgeable about them once told me about how he once stood a bayonet upright in the ground, fired at it to where the blade split the bullet in half to where the bullet halves broke two glass bottles standing behind the bayonet. He experimented with the shot a number of times before actually breaking two bottles with one bullet, but when he finally did it I guess it was pretty impressive.  Oh, and two other friends of mine were there to witness the feat and they corroborated the story.  I have no real reason to doubt it.

        The point of all this is if you're doing target practice, after firing you fire again trying to correct any aiming errors you had the first time.  Then you keep firing to perfect your shooting skill.  When you're done you put the weapon away in a safe place.  Sometimes you will need to clean the gun again. Care and maintenance will keep the weapon in good working order.  And whenever you're ready to use it, your gun's ready.  Bang!

       I think I prefer the juggling metaphor better.  It conjures a more peaceful image.  Clowns and costumed performers or people just having fun in the park tossing their props into the air. Skill and dexterity all honed by hours of practice. And it's good exercise.  So are you ready?  Okay I'm going to toss it to you. Ready? Here it comes.  You got it?  Toss it back.

       Did you catch that?  Hope you enjoyed this look backward.  Now continue on to visit some of the other bloggers experiencing flashbacks today.

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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A Me in My Sonnet

writingImage by found_drama via Flickr

            Have you signed up for the Deja Vu Blogfest brought to you by D.L. Hammons?   It's a fun way to dig back through the blog archives to present one of those early posts that may have been missed or a post that is special in your eyes that you want to highlight.  Do you have an oldie but goody that you'd like to share with the rest of us?   Friday is the day to do it.  Start digging for buried blog treasure now and sign up on D.L.'s page.         

           I think it's kind of fun and enlightening to look through ones old writing samples to see where you were then and how far you've come since.  A while back Deniz Bevan at The Girdle of Melian brought up the subject of reading old writing and sharing it on ones blog.  Since we're were on the topic of Deja Vu and last week I talked about and shared an example of some of my old writing, I thought in this post I might share a bit of a flashback from the 1970s.

            The following poem was from an assignment in a Writing of Poetry class that I took at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.  I don't recall the exact date, but this probably comes from about 1973.  This particular assignment was to write a poem in sonnet form.  From my dreamy-minded love-longing self of college days, here is my sonnet.

paper-life - "femme fatale"Image by MagdaMontemor via Flickr

She is the question without an answer. 
Though I try to comprehend her meaning, 
I fail, losing my view of that gleaming 
Vision I beheld.  Then, like a dancer, 
She pirouettes from sight, my last glance her 
Hands acknowledge .  I linger in dreaming, 
Probing her significance, then seeming 
To gather the impression that man's her 
Basic prey.  Laughing, she throws her head back, 
 Swoops down with painted claws, tears out my heart. 
I, stumbling at her feet, weak from the attack-- 
I look up.   What love might she impart? 
Deeply I search for meaning in her face, 
But comprehension my mind has erased.

        Do you save your old writing?  What have you seen when you reread writing from younger days?  


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Monday, December 12, 2011

How To Blog Better: An Interview with Blogging Guru Mitch Mitchell

        Today my special guest is blogger extraordinaire Mitch Mitchell.  I've been following Mitch's blog I'm Just Sharing for over a year now and have found it to be not only entertaining, but also extremely helpful and informative.   Mitch stays on top of the news about social media so he's become one of my go-to guys to help me get educated about the subject. 

         I asked Mitch to join me here on Tossing It Out to provide a sample of what he does on his blog and give my readers a mini-lesson on becoming better bloggers.

       I always enjoy reading your blog, Mitch.   My audience at Tossing It Out is varied, but I think most of us are interested in how to blog better. You provide good insight to things we might want to consider in relation to our blogs.  Today I'd like to ask a few questions that I think might be helpful to my readers:

Arlee:     Writers are often told that they should have a platform that includes a blog. What should writers be most focused on when it comes to blogging?

Mitch:    All bloggers should realize that the purpose of blogging is one of these 3 things: inform, educate or entertain. Once you get past that then the thing to focus on, in my opinion, is honesty. I see so many posts that look just like what someone else wrote, and in my mind it's not honest and the person didn't really give anything of themselves. In essence, they're being phony and dishonest in their presentation. One can let others learn a lot about them without giving up everything, and when we make people comfortable, they respond positively. And who doesn't want more positivity in their lives?

Arlee:    Time is limited and greatly limited for many of us. How do you recommend that bloggers get the most bang for their buck when it comes to blogging activity?

Mitch:    If you have problems with time but still want to blog, I recommend scheduling the time to blog into your calendar. Even one post a week will give your blog some benefit and if your content is appealing, people won't mind that kind of schedule, even if they're clamoring for more. Schedule an hour a week, if you need that long to put a post together, even if it's over the weekend, and get it done if you really care about blogging to begin with.

Arlee:     Can you tell us the nutshell version about SEO (search engine optimization) and why it should be important to us? Is it important to all of us and how do we determine this? 
Mitch:      SEO stands for search engine optimization, and it's the process of setting one's website up in a way that encourages search engines to come on a regular basis to determine what it is you do so that you can compete online with others that do what you do. You can get a brief lesson on it here:  
 Its importance to blogging depends on what your purpose for blogging is. If it's business then it's really important to think about SEO; if not, it should still be on your mind, but your first consideration should be your writing. Actually writing should always be your first consideration since that's what helps to set you apart from everyone else. You can check out this link to tell you what the 3 most important parts of SEO are:

Arlee:    Recently on your blog you've been talking about alternate media approaches such as video blogging, podcasting, etc. Who should consider doing this? Why would we want to do this? How do you recommend a person get their feet wet without a big investment in equipment?

Mitch:      There are a number of people who are more comfortable speaking than writing and have a message they want to convey to others. Those are the people I'd recommend to at least look into doing this type of thing, though it comes with limitations, such as the fact that there's no real way to do SEO for either of them and, for people like me who speed read, it can slow us down to the point where, if there are too many videos or podcasts, I might decide to skip a lot of them. As far as a recommendation based on price I bought my webcam in December and only spent $35 for it. Sure, it's limited to staying on top of my monitor, but it gets the job done. I believe a camera that's a bit more mobile can still be purchased for less than $100. Very few of us need to buy really expensive equipment to get going unless you're looking to do some really fancy stuff with it. Video is a nice way to add something new here and there to your blog as well.

Arlee:       Why would writers and others want to read your blog?

Mitch:      I talk about blogging often and writing here and there as well. However, I think people might like to read my blog because I try to be conversational and a storyteller, no matter what it is I'm talking about. You never know what I'll say or how I'll say it, and it's not a bad technique. Those who are interested in styles of writing might be interested in how I go about it, and if they look at some of the comments will possibly see other posts they might enjoy as well. It's a safe place for all, even if a topic might be deemed controversial. Luckily, I'm rarely that; or am I? :-)

           Controversial sometimes, but he's always nice about it.  My thanks to Mitch Mitchell for this teaser about what awaits on his blog.   I strongly encourage you to check it out and subscribe if it looks like a place you will want to revisit.  I'm there often and after you've stopped in I think you might be too.

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Friday, December 9, 2011

I Wrote This Post Fifty Years Ago

         Before I ever knew that there would be an internet or that I would have a blog, I wrote this post.  I was just a kid--in the fourth grade.  It was 1960 it was.

          I alluded to the writing sample that follows in my post on Monday 12/5.  As I explained in that post, my teacher at the time, Mrs. Kingston, showed us a picture that she had taken from a magazine and told us to write a description of it.

           As I recall, the illustration of what was probably a scene depicting a nighttime sea battle during the American Civil War showed a massive fiery explosion in the water.  Men in a dinghy near the blast are drawing back in terror and shielding themselves from the powerful force of the eruption.  At least, this is what I remember and I will have to rely on this memory since I don't have a copy of that picture.

          Mrs. Kingston gave me an A and some encouraging compliments. She then mounted the paper on a larger piece of yellow construction paper and after reading my paragraph to the class, she passed it around to the other classes in the school and eventually mounted the paper on a bulletin board outside the school office. I experienced my first thrill of having my writing read by others and hearing the words spoken in public.  It was a writer's high that I never wanted to lose.

          The following is the collection of adjectives, metaphors, and similes that was the paragraph that set me off on my course of writing aspirations.

                            Burnt and Salty

       There is a smell of fire and smoke.  You can taste salty water from the ocean.   It was fire from the ocean.  It was like a volcano from the bottom.  It looks like a huge ghost coming out of the sea.  The sky looks like the heavens are on fire.  The sun fell into the sea.  A sea dragon is shooting flamey fire out of the rough water.  It feels like a steaming hot furnace.  The sea looks like thousands of geysers shooting water.  Even though it is dark it is light.   It is a geyser of steaming flamey fire.  You can feel water and fire shooting into your sweaty face.  Your clothing is shabby.  Your face is burnt and scarred.

          So from my fourth grade self here is some sort of insight to my writing style perhaps.  I'm not sure what was influencing me at the time, but I do recall reading a great deal back then.  I'm not sure whether to thank her or curse her, but Mrs. Kingston, you played big role in why I blog today.

           Do you have a particular teacher who influenced your desire to write?   Have you saved any of your old schoolwork or writing samples from childhood?   Did you have aspirations to become a writer when you were a child?

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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Insecure Writer's Support Group: Pearl Harbor Day

FILE--Three U.S. battleships are hit from the ...Image via Wikipedia

         Today, December 7th, is the anniversary of the "date that will live in infamy".  These were President Franklin D. Roosevelt's words about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.  This attack on a U.S. military base was the 9/11 of that generation.

         The world had experienced a decade of economic depression and was in the throes of societal upheavals. Mighty powers were on the rise in Europe and Asia as the winds of war began raging over the continents.  Though the United States was in a different hemisphere, there was plenty for our citizens to feel insecure about.

           In many ways the world has bigger threats than we did back in 1941.  We get our news instantaneously now and there is an illusion of more transparency in what we know about what's going on.  But the surprises keep coming.

           We have plenty of threats to be insecure about these days: nuclear weapons, cyber-attacks, civil unrest, financial collapse, and on and on.  The world has always been an insecure place but now the possibilities and probabilities of something truly horrendous, or at least massively disruptive, loom over us like a cloudy day that never clears.

           As writers we likewise have a forecast of doom and gloom heading our way.  A tough economy with high unemployment is causing more prospective authors to pursue the writing dream, creating more competition.   E-books threaten the publishing industry while internet threatens the print media.  There is a strong possibility that there will be less places for writers to turn to in order to have their work published pushing more writers into self-publishing and finding more creative ways to reach the buying public.

          With the uncertainty and the challenges ahead I am sometimes hesitant to keep pursuing writing as anything more than a hobby.  And yet with writing dreams of my past left unfulfilled I could be dooming myself to an empty space within if I don't continue to chase the dream.

          The quandary remains.  Will writing ever pay the bills?  If not, who will pay the bills?  The writing as vain pursuit haunts me as much as the possibilities that tempt me with some vague promise of success in some unknown point of the future.

           So I write and build up my fortress of words.  A backlog of blogs waits for future readers to come.  Or is that all just digital detritus that will eventually drift into the oblivion of unread folly.  Will my kingdom of stories see its date of infamy one day?   Is there a writer's equivalent of Pearl Harbor?   Can this writer gather his inner forces to fight back to win the war against insecurity?  It's my plan, but still I can't help having the doubts sometimes.   Maybe I should write a story about it.

.Do you like surprises?  Do you like to surprise others?:    I'd like to surprise another blogger who I doubt will read this.  I'm asking any of you who don't mind to go to the Heim Binas Fiction blog Wednesday post (that's today if you're reading this on Wednesday) and wish her a happy birthday.  For her birthday she's asking for bloggers to share a favorite song by linking to it, quoting lyrics or whatever.   I think she'd be thrilled to hear from you.      And thanks from me! 


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Monday, December 5, 2011

Who Reads Your Writing?

RibbonsImage by Miss Millificent via Flickr

           The next round of the Insecure Writer's Support Group is coming up this Wednesday.  Today's post might sound like my contribution to this amazingly successful blog hop that Alex J. Cavanaugh started a few months back, but it's not.  Call this post a prelude, part one, or just the question that's probably on many of our minds much of the time.

            When I was in fourth grade we were given an assignment to write a description of a picture prompt that our teacher gave us.  Mrs. Kingston, our teacher, raved about my work and was so impressed that she mounted my handwritten paragraph on a large piece of yellow construction paper along with the picture that prompted the assignment and sent it around to all of the classes in the school to be read as an example of good writing.  It was then posted on a bulletin board near the office for all to see.

             Last year I found that writing sample.  It was not all that good, but I guess for fourth grade work I can see what the teacher saw in it.  What this experience did for me however was to whet my desire to be read by others.  I felt a certain sense of honor that my writing had been read by someone else and had achieved a sort of acclaim.  Then, more than ever before in my young writing life, I had a desire to write and to be read.

             When I write, I try to say something that will somehow touch others or give them pause to reflect on something I've said.  I feel an obligation to write as well as I can and to write better with each new piece I write.  Even if it is an email or a comment, I attempt to say what I'm saying in a manner that displays some degree of quality.  Okay, I'm probably a hack in many ways, but I try.

             In the earliest days of this blog, I went for weeks wondering if anyone was out there reading my words. Eventually, through the efforts of my commenting, I drew readers to hear what I had to say.  But if I had never left a comment on another blog would anyone have ever read what I had written?  My mother would have and sometimes my kids and a few friends might have.

             I'll admit that I'm floundering and tossing it out there to you who are reading this post--if anyone is reading it.   Sometimes I question why I write these blog posts.  I guess it's a compulsion of sorts.  I feel a need to fulfill my personal commitment to post on my assigned days.  It's not a job and I've set my own bars for accomplishment.  It basically comes down to the why I write question that I touched upon in my post of a couple weeks ago.  If I write, who will read it and why?

            I'm sure that I'll touch upon this topic again someday unless it becomes something I no longer think about.  However, as long as I continue writing I'm sure the question will nag at some part of me.   I hope to eventually have a book published, but I wonder who would read it.  I think a big part of the answer to that question is up to me.

              Who reads your writing?    Do you faithfully maintain a blog schedule even if you don't feel like posting any content?   What milestone in your life convinced you that you wanted to write for others to read?

              Let's see who reads this:  I'd like to surprise another blogger who I doubt will read this.  I'm asking any of you who don't mind to go to the Heim Binas Fiction blog on Wednesday and wish her a happy birthday.  For her birthday she's asking for bloggers to share a favorite song by linking to it, quoting lyrics or whatever.   I think she'd be thrilled to hear from you.  

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