You want to write better. You want to write more.

Ann Linquist I’m Ann Linquist, freelance writer and online writing instructor.  Whether you’re interested in writing fiction, creative nonfiction, or effective business documents, I invite you to explore this site and find out how to reach your writing goals.

Icons of Childhood

We all have our icons of childhood–special objects or places that epitomize what it meant to be a kid.  Here’s one of mine, and I’d like to hear about some of yours.

The flat spot between the back seat and the back window of those big sedans from the 1950s and 1960s.  

Remember being small enough to find that the perfect place to crawl into and take a nap while Pop or Mom drove at night or on a long trip?  It wasn’t perfectly comfortable, since those back windows used to curve, and the space was tiny.  It was cozy, however.  Much nicer than trying to sit between two bigger sisters who made you take the middle of the back seat where there was a big hump on the floor pushing your knees up into your chest.

Practice Being Accurate

If you’re here, you are a writer, and you pay attention to words.  Here are some vague terms that are constantly thrown around, and as a writer, I’m increasingly annoyed.  Here are my attempts at suggesting clarification.  Please feel free to add your own phrases and interpretations.

The Establishment:  This description is as insulting as “you people.”  It could mean anything from the local County Supervisors and your local library staff, to the House of Representatives, all lobbyists (from gun rights supporters to environmental activists) to the Joint Chiefs of Staff.  Time to define our terms and find exactly the right words to capture what we mean.

Elites:  Who are they? Are they people in power like a county supervisor or the sheriff?  Do all elites live on the east coast or are they also rich movie stars?  Do you get to be one if you are educated?  Is the head of a union an elite? Does it mean you’re a boss?  Are you an elite if you supervise six people who run popcorn, funnel cake, and cotton candy stands at the local county fair?  Another meaningless term.

“I read somewhere that people are saying….”  Let’s all agree, once and for all, that the phrases, “people are saying” or “they say” do not represent credible sources.  These phrases mean nothing since somewhere people are also saying that the earth is flat.  One more logical fallacy.

Globalization:  This sounds like a tidal wave that will engulf us all.  But what is it really?  Is it a secret plot against people who hold low wage jobs in America?  Is it something “the elite” and “the establishment” are conning us with so they can get richer?  Is it here to stay or can we destroy it with a suicide vest?  Perhaps it is the logical result of the technology that increasingly links us all at the speed of light.  Perhaps it’s the result of better nutrition, cleaner water, and more available medical care across the globe.  A bad thing?  Something to accept or vilify?

Wall Street: Another vague generalization.  Does this term include only the people that work there or perhaps anyone who has a 401K?  If I work on Wall Street, invest in stocks, or live nearby, am I evil?  Where does Wall Street begin and Main Street end?  Sure wish the media would stop using vague terms.

Main Street:  My mental image of Main Street is very Midwestern U.S.  There are the late 1800’s storefronts, refurbished to bring in new shops, many of whom go out to business in six months.  The competition is rough out there because of malls and places with huge parking lots.  But somehow, Main Street never seems to evoke manufacturing or farming.  So misleading.  I know many farmers, but they don’t ever think of themselves as Main Street.

Immigration:  Another term that has become over generalized so that demagogues can use it to scare people and get attention.  Some questions that might add clarity are:  Are there “good” immigrants and “bad” immigrants?  Like my friend from India who came over in 1985, went through all the bureaucratic steps, and become a citizen–is he now a bad guy?  Is the country of origin a rule-out?  (Syria, Mexico, or any country with darker skins?) If all the immigrants were from Great Britain, Germany, and France, would this be an issue?  If we all agree that prejudice against our immigrant grandparents was unfair, how did immigration somehow become bad?

Polarizing:  How easy it is to get angry and fight.  How we love our own anger (“I feel it so strongly, it must be right!”).  How soothing it is to find someone to blame for any injustice done to us (whether by family member, government, or some suspect ethnic group).  How comfy and self-satisfying it feels to identify with “us” and suspect “them.”  What is much more difficult is to pause and consider how much we are alike, how those people who are somehow “them” are also struggling to make it through adolescence/young adulthood, raise families, or deal with aging parents.   We’re all struggling to find meaningful work, a place to have shelter, cook whatever we can find, and protect our loved ones from all problems.  Coming together is hard; fighting is way too easy.

 

This is Galumphing

It’s time to fit some totally unrelated people, objects, and actions together into a scene or story that makes perfect sense.  I’m stretching as far as I can to come up with the weirdest group of items, but I’m sure you can do this.

  • Raspberry jam stain
  • Weeds on the driveway
  • Walking as fast as you (he/she) can
  • Zero defects
  • Pharoah
  • Tony Bennett

Hey, this could be worse!  I left out the Nazis, the end of the universe, and purple nose cones.  Count yourself lucky.

Descriptive Words That Don’t Typically Go Together

It’s mind bending and somewhat creative trying to picture these expressions:

~Elmer’s scowl was coldly demented.

~Nina wore a lacy smile.

~Old Beanwhooper sat with one leg ajar and the other removed at a distance.

~Uncle Raemon was the first to let out with a barn melting zinger.

~My boss is always so ultra banjo-man.

Now that I’ve indulged myself, perhaps you can find a way to fit one or two of these into a scene.  Feel free to find your own descriptions that challenge us to peel through our own mental images.

Poems of the Day

For those of you who are new to this site, Poems of the Day are written with great abandon, not care and attention.  They come from within, allowed to be weird, accepted as quick rather than craftsman-like.   I will put one of mine here, and I encourage you to do the same.  Accept your wild inner postures and let them out onto the page.  Say “yes” rather than “oh no.”  Just write.

Poem of the Day 05/11/16

“All shall be well” –Julian of Norwich

But I sleep alone in the wrong bed.

“Que sera, sera”  –Doris Day

The path leads down and away

“Sometimes the magic works, and sometimes it doesn’t.”  –Old Lodge Skins in Little Big Man

I scream and cry, and only then grow silent.

“Things fall apart; the center cannot hold” –Yeats

But the kitchen is clean.

“Ring around the rosy, a pocket full of posies.”  –Children’s nursery rhyme

Nature grows thin when love is gone.

“Time is on my side.”  –The Rolling Stones

I ache, listening to the clock he made.

“He who can destroy a thing, controls it.”  –Frank Herbert, Dune

I stare.  I wonder.  I wait.

“Where go the boats?” –Robert Louis Stevenson

The Rubber Ducky…

is angry.

The Thrift Shop of the Future

Gladys parked her new Super Streamer floating recliner in front of the reconstructed twenty-first century reconstruction of a 1900 store front. The full display windows and winsome partial-glassed in door welcomed her to Ye Olde Antique Shoppe, a store which ran side by side with a number of other reconstructed reconstructions of storefronts. They were all so cute, she couldn’t resist shopping ON HER OWN FEET instead of using her Easy-Shop clip on glasses with the instant delivery function. She felt she had discovered quite a unique hobby. Wouldn’t her international Creative Clam Cookery cyber club friends be jealous when she shared her replay of this adventure!

She pushed open the door and heard the tinkle of the bell announcing her entrance. All around her were racks of strange clothing items, actual glass and ceramic dishes, plus kitchen appliances she did not recognize. What was that silver item with the two slots in the top and the charmingly antiquated electrical cable coming out the back? She leaned over a black square item about a foot square with a label that read “George Foreman Classic Grill” and wondered if it was something she might hang on her wall. She could start a collection of obscure ancient appliances for this month’s wall decorations in her ninetieth story apartment. Her wall installations proved she was an artist; everyone said so. Good thing her Super Streamer came with large side pocket storage. She giggled. So many choices!

Out of the corner of her eye, she noticed a proprietor emerging from behind a curtain.