Writing 101 – Compose a series of vignettes

image from  The Richest

image from The Richest

When first we met I was young, too young to know better, too young to care. I loved the ritual involved, the burn, the salt and lime taste. You were cheap but I held my own, you didn’t make me sick.

When next we met I was a little older, a little more worldly and had learned some about you. The ritual still held the same fascination and you were soon my shot of choice. Others feared you but not me.

When next we met it was my birthday, a friend gave me a large bottle of ‘the good stuff’. You were shared with the crowd, consumed in one glorious evening. You were always welcome.

When next we met I was older, wiser, and enjoyed you sparingly. My tastes more refined but still festive. You still never made me suffer the way you did others, I loved you for that.

When later we met I cooked with you. Your flavor adding so much to grilled chicken and mixed into drinks I loved. I joked that after all these years you were still part of my festivities. My old friend.

The last time we met I was in your birthplace, Jalisco, Mexico. I toured factories and watched you being made. I learned about the process, the grading and about your proud history. I found some marvelous versions to sip, that no lime or salt is needed for the good stuff. I began to think of myself as a connoisseur rather than simply an enthusiast. We have come full circle my friend, from novice to master. Thank you for your wonderful (if fuzzy) memories.

Writing 101 – Reinvent the Letter Format

broken_heart I found a letter you wrote me, pressed inside the pages of an old notebook. It’s been so long I don’t exactly remember when it was written. You spoke of missing me while I was out of town, excitement at seeing me when I was due home that night and then a list. A list of the things you loved about me.

Loved. Past tense.

Reading the list makes my throat clench and blurs my vision with hot angry tears. You loved me, you loved me this much and still we destroyed it. I destroyed it. I’m so sorry.

You will never see this, our worlds rarely brush against each other, we’re very careful to avoid that. If I ever loved you I can prove it by letting you go, hoping for your happiness, owning my responsibility and swallowing my sadness. It doesn’t mean I don’t miss you though, because I do. Terribly.

Writing 101 – Hook ’em with a quote

image from Quotesgram

image from Quotesgram

I have a few quotes scattered around the house, some on refrigerator magnets, others scrawled on post-it’s stuck to my idea board. A good quote can motivate or make you think or crack a smile.

I love this quote from Dr. Seuss; the originator of letting your freak flag fly. It was okay to be different in a Seuss world. The quote’s a reminder to simply true to yourself. The perfect personal statement.

Writing 101 – Let Social Media Inspire You

A wonderful suggestion to leave your baggage at the door. To let a bad day go, to learn the life lesson offered and move on. It’s certainly harder in practice, but essential to mental and spiritual health. I know someone who can’t let go, who can’t get past the past, and every slight, every unfulfilled wish becomes something so much larger and ominous to him. Sometimes it’s exhausting to be his friend. I want to just throw my hands in the air and give up.

Writing 101 Daily Prompt – Uncertainty

I found the list of topics for today’s assignment daunting. Nothing was really resonating with me, and then I opened Facebook this morning and found an update from an old friend.

“I’ve been mulling over my thoughts in silence the last couple of hours, trying to nail down my feelings. Shame? Embarrassment? Humiliation? Then it hit me: anger. Pure anger. No one who works a full time job should have to go to the food bank to feed their family. What is wrong with this country?”

This week my friend had to decide between laundry soap or fruit. She owns no car, has no cable TV, has good credit, rents her house and is struggling to raise her high school aged son. She works full time at a university bookstore, doesn’t drink or smoke, doesn’t use drugs… and yet she struggles to survive.

In the U.S. we are at the start of what will no doubt be a very long election cycle. Later today I plan on sending a portion of my friend’s post in identical letters to our candidates, asking how exactly they can help. My friend is not alone, she’s one of the millions of working poor in this country, where basic needs aren’t being met, where their lives and future is uncertain. And I want to know what our presidential candidates are going to do about it.

Desert Island Discs

Today’s Writing 101 topic was to make a list. I love lists! I wasn’t entirely convinced I’d be able to finish this one in time to post it, but I’m going to give it a try.

I spent my twenties (and then some) working at Tower Records, a job I loved which gave me a lifetime of memories and adventures. Tower had a free magazine each month, Pulse and in each issue there was a section called “Desert Island Discs” which featured an artist or industry icon’s list of 10 albums they would want with them on a desert island. I’ve made this list dozens of times during my Tower years and many times since. Here is my most recent list (in no particular order):

The Beatles – Abby Road
The Smiths – Hatful of Hollow
Peter Gabriel – Passsion
James Taylor – Greatest Hits
Radiohead – OK Computer
R.E.M. – Reckoning
Bob Marley – Legend
The Police – Reggata De Blanc
Rufus Wainwright – Rufus Wainwright
Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan & Michael Brook – Night Song

** edited and updated with youtube links to listen to the albums (hopefully) **

Writing 101 – Make a list

It started with Pink Floyd. I would find myself explaining that I’m somehow missing the genetic marker to enjoy them the way others do. That it’s not for lack of trying, or failure to appreciate their musicianship, but simply a genetic defect. I have found over the years a few other things that many of my friends or lovers simply adored that I just didn’t ‘get’ the way I should. I present to you my list of genetic defects, those missing bits of DNA that I should otherwise possess but sadly do not so I am unable to appreciate the following as I wish I could.

1) Pink Floyd. I’ve tried for decades, I can like a few songs and appreciate them in the abstract, but there will never be a time when it will occur to me to listen to them on my own.
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Writing 101 – Why do you write?

Why do you write?

I started writing as a child because I didn’t like the stories being told. One of my first ‘long stories’ (as I called them) was the origin story of the characters on a TV cartoon I loved. The TV show never addressed how the unlikely group got together or where they originated, perhaps it was something the writers were going to address later but never did, but I felt compelled to write their story.

The next long story I wrote was a crazy dystopian future story that was heavily influenced by the cold war and the threat of World War III (it even had Nazis). I wasn’t trying to create a better reality, I think I was more trying to prepare myself for the worst case scenario.

I write now because I have something to say. I write this blog as a warm-up, the daily stretch on my novel writing marathon training. To stay in the habit, to ensure I’m moving forward and staying in practice.

There are so many stories to be told, so many ideas yet to see born on page (or on screen).

I write because I feel compelled to write.