Are you Still Writing Letters?

I’d still be writing regular letters to penpals, Grandparents and/ or my niece but there is a problem with people not writing back. No letter writer is an island. Plus, there are the perks of shopping for stationery. (Not to be confused with stationary – not moving).

Of course my Grandparents can’t reply for sadly obvious reasons. Unless there are family skeletons in the closet I haven’t wandered into yet, literally. I lost touch with all my penpals from my younger days. We had less in common, less time to write and so it goes. My niece would likely write more if I sent her a few more letters in the mail. But, it’s discouraging to be in a one way conversation through the mail. Like someone who just nods once in awhile, leaving one person to carry the whole thing. But, she is a school girl still. About the age I was when I began writing letters to the Grandparents and penpals from all over the world.

Did you know they don’t teach the children how to write in school now? Printing, but not cursive writing. No handwriting, not the real kind. What a loss for all the coming generations. Cursive writing is elegant. I can remember how adult I felt when I was able to move up from printing to cursive. Not these days. Oddly, they don’t teach typing or keyboarding either. Is being unable to communicate a literacy problem or as long as they can read are we assuming they can get by?

CaptureTonight I joined the Letter Writers Alliance. I only wish it were Canadian, here in Ontario, so I could attend some events. I’m still glad to support the group and the cause of letter writing.

When did you last write (in cursive) a letter you sent in the mail to someone? I’d even count birthday or Christmas cards if you wrote a note to go along with it.

Perfunctory Moments

According to Miriam-Webster, the word perfunctory is-

Just kidding. I would never subject you to the moist handshake of essay openers. But while we’re on the subject, now is a good time to talk about your throw-away moments. The moments you have to get through the show the big plot point you can’t wait to write.

Take a woman about to discover a body. Or a killer. Whatever. How do you make the start of the scene stand out? To you, she may just be PERSON ABOUT TO DISCOVER BODY (housewife, 40s). To a good writer, she’s a woman in the middle of a day. Good day? Bad? Maybe she’s soaked from the rain. Maybe the paper bag of groceries is so wet it breaks. Perhaps a PEAR rolls to the front door of her apartment where the shadow of TWO FEET are visible under the door…

In some scripts the writer is so excited to drop a body (or discover one) the scene leading up to that moment could’ve been written by a computer program. I’m not even talking about a good computer program. A $4.99 in Fry’s discount bin, cutting edge of 1997 kind of program.

When your script is finished, go back to your big reveals – especially those after throw-away moments – and ask yourself if you really need to throw those moments away.

Every scene we read is time we give to your script. Throw-away moments let us know if you value our time as much as you value your own.

Source: Reader’s Lament: Perfunctory Moments

This post comes from an abandoned blog from 2013. I like this post. The idea of all the little moments in our day and how even the big events have little moments before, during and after.

How would you write the scene with the woman who discovers a dead body? What was her day like up to then, what mood was she in and how is it she (in particular) was in that right place and right time to find the body? She may not be the lead character in a story, just some woman written about and then not heard from again.

The Sadness of the Fixing Things Obsession

I don’t know what the psychological meltdown would be called… that never stopped me.

I have a problem with trying to fix things, restore old and forgotten things. I like history, that’s true. But, it goes beyond that. I like helping the lonely things.

I do know there is a word for people who give personalities to inanimate objects. I don’t keep a lot of stuffed animals. I do have books by the hundreds. Mostly everything else I feel I must fix I find in little online niches these days. (I had to stop buying things to save from the thrift stores but it wasn’t easy and they haunt me when I go in there to look around). Instead of buying these little treasures I post images to Pinterest, or Scoop.it. But, I’ve found myself back at the dmoz directory again and that gives me another outlet for my obsessions with all these little things.

Why do we feel responsible for things?

I know I do. I’m somehow obligated to fix these lonely, forgotten, sad things. Don’t ask me why. I don’t know.

It’s a burden. I take on more than I can possibly achieve and then I feel I haven’t done enough!

Enough is a good word. Don’t ask what is enough. When is enough is the real question.

You really need to set limits on your obsessions, whatever they may be. I have learned to not buy the little knickknacks at thrift stores. I can take them home but I can not save them. I can not read all the books I have (but I’m not willing to part with them). Just like ideas. I can get thousands of ideas but I can not work on them all.

So I’m fixing myself. It has up days and down days. Often it’s sad. It’s hard to let go of things, especially ideas!

But you can save your ideas. You can save a lot digitally these days rather than keeping a physical (hard copy) of every knickknack and photograph and book. Ideas can be saved too. Write them down and maybe you will even come back to them someday. A lot of them are worth saving but not all of them are practical enough to get your full attention long enough to complete them.

Be satisfied with enough. Learn to love what you do accomplish rather than feeling sad for all you couldn’t do. In the future they’ll have robots to do the work of a hundred people. I can give them a list of things to do right now!

Find a way to make your obsessions sustain you instead of undoing yourself trying to sustain them.

The Internet for Nuclear War

“It shouldn’t be too much of a surprise that the Internet has evolved into a force strong enough to reflect the greatest hopes and fears of those who use it. After all, it was designed to withstand nuclear war.”
Denise Caruso

Found this on a site today. Would the Internet withstand nuclear wars? I doubt we could still use it. Likely it would be a government and military service only at that point. Or, maybe like short wave radio, a few people would be able to access it on an emergency or partial basis.

Do you still think about nuclear war? Or have you moved on to other options like biological warfare? There are so many options, thanks to science and the governments controlling the science and how it is used and distributed.

Write a short story about surviving in a war. Don’t make it too fictional. Base it on your own life, where you live, who you know, etc. But don’t get depressed over the writing of it. Remember science fiction, is fiction.  Have some fun too. What would you like to see happen? How successful would you be at surviving and making do with what you have?

Web Rings are not All Dead

I have found:

Webring Software

Ringlink software available at SourceForge.

Ringmaker software at Orca PHP Scripts.

Draupnir Ring Manager for WordPress sites.

Webrings for Writers

I’m not sure how active these are but it gives me hope. All the others I checked which were on web applications were abandoned, dead or not functioning. At least this proves it can still work. Webring.com and Ringsurf haven’t managed to entirely kill every last webring.

Not-A-Webring

Drinker with a Writing Problem 

Find a Writing Partner Online

Free interactive site bringing together writers, co-writers and sources for collaborative writing projects in any medium

CaptureSource: Co-Writers.com

I found this link today while looking at Dmoz. It’s an active site. For me, this seems like an interesting way to find someone else to trade ideas with. Better than joining a writing group and then not being able to participate enough to get noticed and meet anyone.

The Art of Coffee at the Keyboard

Who says you can’t glue yourself to your computer and still have a fancy, hot coffee? We want it all and we want it good. So, I’m coming up with ways to have better coffee, without having to put on your coat and be kind to any others in line at the coffee shop.

Make a Stand

Even the oldest, most worn-looking coffee mug, will look fancier if you put it on a pedestal, a short one. I use an old mouse pad I didn’t want to throw away. It elevates my ordinary coffee to a slightly new level. It also makes coffee circles a quick clean up. Just rinse the mouse pad instead of having to clean things off my desk first.

DIY Coffee Art

Of course you can learn how to do your own coffee art. But, that would take time and more equipment than I have on hand. Instead… use a clear glass coffee mug and add cream (or milk, etc.) slowly. Let it swirl around and create patterns. Don’t stir it until you’ve enjoyed the art.

If that doesn’t work for you go with a coffee doodle. Create your own stencil with your last rejection letter. Once you cut out a shape place the stencil over your coffee mug and let some cocoa powder, or cinnamon drift down. It works better if you don’t drink it black but I’m not telling you how to drink your coffee.

Seasonal Coffee at Home

Add a dash of flare to your coffee with cinnamon, a teaspoon of hot chocolate powder,  a touch of pepper, a lick of salt or little vanilla. Make your own pumpkin spice with actual pumpkin pie spices which you can buy in most grocery stores I’ve ever been in. A bit of extra festivity needed… try liquor. I’ve got whiskey at my desk to add when the coffee gets too cold.

Another idea (if you don’t mind crunchy bits between your teeth) is to add doughnut sprinkles and other small but edible things to the outside lip of your coffee mug.  I don’t highly recommend this. But, I don’t add sugar to my coffee, it may be a great idea for those who do like sweet coffee.

Milk It Up

Heat and then froth your milk. You will need some creativity if you don’t have a frother. A French press pot is nice because it can double as a milk frother (just don’t become a wild and crazy plunger and end up getting it stuck, or breaking the pot). Microwaving the milk does an okay job. Don’t walk away while it’s in there and then remove the milk from the surface (unless that milk clog thing doesn’t bother you).

Frothy milk does change the taste of the coffee. It’s creamier. You can use skim milk and get more froth, likely due to having less fat content in the milk.

Put a Lid on It

I will drink cold coffee, by necessity. I don’t love it. Somehow, coffee gets much colder, faster, at my computer desk than it does any where else in the house. I’ve tested this theory countless times.

I tried buying fancier coffee mugs, those thermal types with take-out coffee lids. They didn’t make much difference and they were a nuisance to wash since they are not dishwasher happy. Instead, I now put a lid over my coffee. Any bit of paper works well. An entire letter still in the envelope does a better job and it gives me something to do with the bills I don’t want to open yet.

Another plus side to having a lid – it keeps the bugs out. I admit I have ignored the odd tiny floating fly when I really did want to finish my coffee, but those occasions were rare. Likely there were more occasions when I just didn’t notice the little floaty thing or it sank… well do you really want to go into the details?

coffeeart

Now you have some ideas to help you with your coffee while you write away at the computer. Hope this helps!

Note: I don’t know the source for this image. I found it on another site which had reposted a lot of images. It just suits this post so well. 

Filler Words are Really, Actually, Like, You Know… Wasting Time and Space

Some expressions can like really screw up the way you communicate, you know?

Source: These Six Filler Words Are Undermining Your Credibility | Fast Company | Business + Innovation

I used to work harder on not using filler words. I would add “that” to the list from Fast Company. What are your own worst junk words?

Anyway (a transitional and lazy filler word), we can’t write the way we speak to a friend. Keep your writing just formal enough to avoid losing readers to the written version of ummm…..