Anything Can Happen Friday: Carpe Scriptum Verbum

I write every day. I have a computer full of non blog stuff. And that’s the issue: I have a computer full of stuff that just sits there…

So I entered a writing contest.

You have no idea how hard it was for me to do that.

You know that the scariest moment of my day is when I hit “schedule”. There is not a day that I press that I do not have second thoughts about. But I’ve established a pattern and now it’s all part of the process- write, tag, schedule. Done.

Now I have to expand. Now I have to get my other work out there. It’s my carpe scriptum verbum.

So I picked my least polished piece of creative non fiction- seriously it was a battle for the least polished– I dusted it off a little, paid an entry fee and sent my essay off into the void that is known as wait and see publishing hell.

Then I sat at my desk and blew a sigh…relief, gratitude, fear…

It’s done. My first piece is sent off to judging…

And now I’m finishing up the next piece to be sent off…

I needed to be proactive- the writing is fun and easy. Doing something with it is hard.

Do I need to do anything with my writing?


But can I really say I’m a writer if it just sits in my google doc file?

That’s debatable…

For now, I’m choosing to send it off. It was time to shake things up a bit.


I’m one of those annoying people who likes to finish books that I’ve started. Even if I read three pages a day and it takes two years, I’m usually one who holds it our till the end. My thought on this that I feel like I owe it to the author to read it cover to cover. I know- it seems pretty lame, but it’s my internal and unspoken contract with a writer- they wrote it, I started it, I’ll see it through.

However, I will admit that there are books that I have not finished. Obviously it pains me, because it is so against my character to just give up and shut the book forever.

Here I present to you the books that I know that I didn’t finish, or skipped an awful lot of the book, so much so it would be a stretch to say I’d actually read it:

  1. Great Expectations – Charles Dickens. Here’s the funny thing about this particular book: I’m doing the Barnes and Noble reading bingo, and one of the squares is “A book you skipped in school”. I was not the greatest of students, however, reading was the one and only thing I did do. I didn’t skip anything…except for a not so careful reading of GE. I TOTALLY skipped whole chapters and paragraphs and whatever. Now I am atoning and reading GE as part of the BN challenge. You know what? I still do not like this book. I mean, the writing is wonderful, and the descriptions are vivid, but SO MANY WORDS. SO MANY WORDS. Even though I want to read it cover to cover, I don’t know if I will make it.
  2. The Elegance of the Hedgehog– Muriel Barbery. “In our world that’s the way you live your grown up life”- simply do not finish this book
  3. Catch 22– Joseph Heller. Love the phrase, hate the book.
  4. Ulysses– James Joyce. This book, said LA, is a nightmare which I must put down
  5. Moby Dick– Call me long winded
  6. Eat, Pray, Love– In for the eating, on board for the praying, out for the love
  7. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo– Stieg Larsson- Then I discovered that I didn’t care about the main character
  8. Another Roadside Attraction– Tom Robbins- This is the only book assigned for a book club that I did not finish. I didn’t care because the person who chose it was 1) rude to me once and 2) rarely showed up for books other than her own

So there’s my true confession- these are the books that I did not finish.

Are you the type of reader that just pushes through, or do you have some books that you didn’t see to the end?

Which books just didn’t cut it for you? Which books made you throw in the towel? What are the books that you just couldn’t finish?

Author Bio

One of my book clubs is obsessed with finding out about the background of an author when we are reading a book. The first ten minutes of the meeting will be spent going over where they went to school, where they lived, what their family situation is.

I could care less.

I like to read a book for what is in between the front and back cover. I like the words included to tell me the story. I do not like to research the author afterwards. I don’t particularly care if the school in the book was similar to the authors school, or that the main character and the author both had two sisters. If I wanted to read the bio of the author I would have gone to their Wikipedia page and looked myself.

As a person who fancies herself a writer, I know that I bring things from my real life into my work- write what you know, as they say. I also know that when I’m writing fiction, I may not tell something the exact way that it happened, I may embellish or detract or just use one part of something. I might combine two people that I know into one character. And I guess I just wouldn’t want someone delving into my backstory and trying to figure out who did what to whom, so to speak…I want my words to be read as I created them in my head, not as a reader reading into anything that I put onto the page. And obviously, there are things I TOTALLY make up if I’m writing fiction, or I might overhear a conversation, or see someone on the street. My inspiration is everywhere- to try to figure out where I got an idea from seems silly. If I write a book, read the book– don’t dissect me personally.

Now I freely admit that I used to know a lot about the Bronte sisters (please don’t quiz me now though- I barely remember which one was Acton)- but that was only because they were the focus of my senior project. If you are studying an author I get that you must read about their lives and dissect them.

Do you like to read about the authors of books that you’ve read?


Do you finish a book and go “Next”?

Why or why not?

I would love a little background info on you-

Like or Discuss

Is the purpose of a book club to pick books to discuss, or is it to pick books to like?

I hate when I go to book club and the first thing someone says is:

“I hated the book”

The books I typically “Like” are light hearted and the conflicts are not too egregious. Or a psych thriller that is just crazy enough to make it a page turner and surprise me in a good way. Or a book on personal growth that just makes me see things in a new light. But honestly, these books are not necessarily ones that I wish to discuss in a book club…these are books I read clearly for entertainment… I don’t have any expectations that these will be the great American novel. I don’t necessarily expect them to be “good”.

What is a “good” book? For me, it means the language has cadence- there is a rhythm to the sentences and their structure. it means the story makes sense, there are no plot holes. The author has started out with an idea and seen it though to conclusion, so continuity. The characters are true to themselves and show the appropriate growth or lack of. I think a book needs to be historically accurate if it is a historical fiction. If the book chooses to use multiple perspectives, all the perspectives have to have a clear and unique voice.,

The books I read for book club I expect to have a little gravitas- I expect that I will not like some of the things, because quite often good books come with real conflict. It is very hard to “like” harrowing situations, times when people treat others so poorly you want to cry at the inhumanity.

So, if you belong to a book club, what are the types of books that you want to read and discuss?

How important is it to “like” a book in a book club setting?

What makes a book “good”?

What does “like” mean to you?


What do you owe?

I recently read “Cloud Cuckoo Land” by Anthony Doerr. Doerr also wrote Pulitzer winner “All the Light we Cannot See”. These books are very different from one another in tone, genre, storytelling, etc. I thought both of these books were brilliant. I think Doerr is an exceptional author.

I know people who have read both of these books. Some are like me and thought both books were great. More people I know, however, didn’t appreciate Cuckoo as much. They were disappointed that it wasn’t like All the Light. They assumed the new book would be written the same way as the old book. They were disappointed in Doerr.

Do we, as readers, have the right to have expectations of an author?

Take me, for example. I wrote a post a few months ago. One person commented that it wasn’t “fun” and they read me to have “fun”. They were basically disappointed in me because I tried something different on my blog.

Do I, as a blogger, owe you, the reader of my blog, anything?

Do you expect me to write the same thing every day, in the same way?

Or do you accept that my writing and my blogs will evolve over time, as I evolve over time?

Do I owe you anything?

I hope that my writing is slightly different every day, sometimes for better and sometimes for worse. My hope is that I am consistently learning, and consistently growing. I hope my posts are different that they were last week, last month, last year, ad infinitum. I will be very sad if you tell me that my posts are the same- that you can assume the next words that I pen every time you read my posts…

I also need to occasionally visit the other side of the box. I did bloganuary to try something different- to see what it’s like writing from prompts. FYI- I don’t think it’s blogging- I think it’s answering questions and those are two very different things. I’m also working on a side project with another blogger that will take over my first Friday’s of the month.

Sometimes you need to try something new.

If fact, I think everyone should try something new every day when it’s possible. With writing, it’s possible to expand a little every single post…

But to the original question:

Do you have expectations of the writers that you read?

Do you see how I compared myself to a Pulitzer winner?

The Water Bottle

So I was on the subway.

The woman sitting next to me on my mainly empty car had a great reusable water bottle. My problem with most water bottles is leakage: I am very careful about finding one with a tight seal that isn’t too heavy. The water bottle she was holding looked perfect.

I asked her if she got it off Amazon.

She looked scared to answer me. She grunted a word. She looked confused as to why I was asking her a question.

Why would someone not want to answer a simple, honest question?

I realize that I am a person who tends to where headphones everywhere so that I don’t need to engage in conversation. I admit that I am the person who will be wholly absorbed in a book when she is on mass transit and don’t want to be disturbed. I know I am all kinds of anti social.

Something about this young woman made me think of none of those things. Something about the way she handled herself didn’t feel natural. Something about her reaction seemed off. It started to make me think.


You can now see why mass transit is my greatest source of inspiration. And my greatest source for overthinking.

The wheels in my head begin to turn as I now considered this person a “character”.

Why would she act this way? What’s her motivation behind her behavior? What’s her background?

As the 2 train rambled on its way to Eastern Parkway, I began to develop a story in my head. I made up an occupation, administrative assistant, based on her blandly semi professional pants and shirt. Stressed about something, by her slightly chewed nails. She just walked out of her generic office job in a huff. She’s mad at her co worker who stole her idea. She nicked that persons water bottle as she left the office. She’s going home to cool off in her tragically unhip apartment in her tragically unhip neighborhood of Brooklyn which seems to have passed by on the gentrification train…

I get to the Botanic Garden, my second greatest spot for inspiration and overthinking, take out my trusty pink notebook, and write all about this character I made up in my head, based on one tangible thing: a woman, in ill fitting clothes and ragged cuticles gave me an odd response to a question. I let my imagination give me the rest.

I may not ever use the character I created that day. But I had a lot of fun writing a brief character description and some lines of dialogue. That’s the joy of writing for me: sitting down with my notebook or my computer and just putting words on a page. I do it for me, not for some greater goal or good. I just like to think of the who, what, where, when and how. I just like to write.

I love it when I come across something in my day to day that inspires me. Ideas don’t have to be loud and splashy- they can be subtle as well. I think sometimes when we get in a writing rut we forget that stories can begin with a whimper, and end with a bang. I think we forget that what appears mundane can be the start of a thrilling adventure… I think we forget that we just need a start. That it doesn’t really matter what the inspiration- anything can be a great story if properly told. But we only learn how to properly tell anything by practice…

Anything in your life can be a writing prompt. Use it. Write it. Or draw it. Or whatever way you choose to express your creativity.

Just get out there. Look around. Get inspired.

Writing Class

Over the summer, Gotham Writer’s Workshop gave a few free writing seminars in Bryant Park. They had established writers talk for ninety minutes or so about a writing topic. The one I chose to go to was on memoir writing, as I have become very interested in that topic.

What do we think about things given for free in an open park setting?

Let me begin by saying that Gotham did everything right. They hired a really good instructor, who clearly knew how to teach and be entertaining, as well as the whole published author thing. They had a lot of chairs and tables, and handed out notebooks and pens. The instruction part was awesome.

However. Free. New York City. Park.

These all make for let’s just say, interesting people in the audience.

The woman to my left- very chatty. While we were waiting for the class to begin, she told everyone around us how she drove in from the suburbs of Philadelphia to attend this. FYI- it was a solid presentation…but not that solid. She was also a hand raiser of the first order- OOO OOO pick me pick me…When the instructor asked simply “What is a memoir?” this woman practically leaped to the stage to answer. There’s always a very over enthusiastic person at these things who tend to try to steer the evening away and make it about them. There is nothing wrong in theory with being overly enthusiastic. However, a free class isn’t always the best place.

Of course, this being New York and all, when he picked someone to answer his second question, the person he chose to answer started out with “Why didn’t you pick me to answer the first question? I clearly had my hand up before the other person. I had a much better answer for that question than this one.” And proceeded to not answer the question.

We were given time to write based upon a prompt. When the instructor asked people to read, everyone used a fake name. The class was on memoir writing: the whole point is that it’s supposed to be one’s true memories of a time and place. One of the first things he said was “This is a memoir. You have to own your truth and put it on the page.” But yet…

He was also asked if you could use an alias for a memoir.

And then he was asked if you could make it a fictional memoir.

Of course, you can do anything you want- as long as you ask yourself why…and if it’s worth it.

We rounded out the night with another prompt and the ability to read it. The person who read proceeded to tell us how he’s homeless but just won the lottery in Georgia but needed money to get down there, but was really a millionaire, and could we just lend him $500 until his check cleared?

That being said, I did learn some good stuff from the class. I look forward to Gotham eventually getting back to in person, paid for classes, in a classroom.

I also look forward to what becomes of memoirs in the coming years.

Gratitude Saturday: November 6

Sometime last week, I reached 5,000 followers!

I am grateful to all those who have chosen to hit FOLLOW on their screens!

I am most grateful to the fifty or to people who comment every day, because those are the people who make me look forward to sitting at my laptop each morning!

I know that sometimes my blogs make people mad- to be fair, sometimes I do that on purpose (Sometimes- Sometimes people just get mad no matter what I write…). There’s a lot of hypocrisy going on around us, and sometimes I don’t know how much we see what we are doing. Sometimes there are things right in front of our noses, and we miss it. This includes me. I try everyday to take off my black suede pumas and put on a pair of cowboy boots, or docs, red patent heels or maybe some crocs and take a walk, just to see how different something feels. Sometimes I will write a post from the opposite viewpoint of how I really feel, just to try it on for size. Ever try to spin positive something you think is a negative? Try it. I promise you it won’t hurt…but just might make you think. If thinking outside the box is your goal, anyway… If thinking the same way about everything everyday is your thing, than have at it… Everyone has the right to their own opinion, and to keep that opinion every day of their life.

We have to watch our own egos. Trust me…it may not always seem like it, but I really do try to hold my ego in check. As stated…sometimes I want to shock you into thinking or feeling or doing. But remember- when I use a story as an example of something, that story is true. Maybe my writing might bring out a nugget of something, but I tell you what I see in front of me, what I learned, and how it made me feel. I just might do it backwards, or flip it upside down, but you get it. The story is true, the way I write it is probably to prove a point. The exception to this was my one week experiment which I really had no idea what I was doing but knew I had to try it out. FYI- it shook up something in my brain and now I am writing fiction based on an idea I got from that. And I really like it so far. That’s why you need to think and try new things and did I mention think outside the box?

Ok- speaking of things I did not know what I was doing, I thought that this would be a quick one graph post saying thank you. But why write one graph when you can write a really long post?

I am grateful for all of those who follow, who like, who comment, and even those who don’t like. You are all valuable to me as a blogger and as a person.

Thank you.

PS- looking for alternate word for sometimes- suggestions?

It’s Nice

I don’t like lackluster words. In fact, when asked a question, I pretty much forbade my family from the use of the words boring, interesting and fine as acceptable answers when given without a qualifier. To me, these words lack substance and don’t really explain the way that you feel. While I sometimes use these words myself, I do try to avoid as often as possible. But of all the words that people use and I hate, the number one word on my list is:


How was the show? It was nice.

What’s your kids new significant other like? They’re nice.

How’s the food. It’s nice

What does the responder mean by any of these statements? And I don’t mean NICE said with any inflection or said as NOYCE, which is a common phrase these days…

I mean the actual word NICE.

So I looked up the etymology of the word NICE:

Thank you Oxford Languages for the following:

Latin origin- Nescire- definition- NOT KNOW

which evolved to:

Latin- nescius- IGNORANT

which evolved to:

Old French-nice- STUPID

Archaic Meaning- Fastidious or scrupulous

Is a word that took it’s meaning from stupid and ignorant really the word that you want to use to say something good about something else?

How was the show? Stupid. How’s the new girlfriend? Ignorant.

Obviously, the word nice has transformed itself over the years to mean:

Pleasant, agreeable, satisfactory

My first question is: If you actually mean to say pleasant, agreeable or satisfactory, why wouldn’t you use those much better words? When someone says pleasant, I can conjure up a mind picture. I know exactly what they mean. Same with satisfactory and agreeable. Word pictures.

Let’s think on this for a moment: If you said your son’s new person was “satisfactory” what does that actually mean about your possible future in law?

So when you say something is nice…what do you really mean? Pleasant, agreeable or satisfactory? See how NICE becomes a non descript word? When you refer to someone/something as nice, I don’t know if you mean pleasant or satisfactory- and there is a world of difference between those two word choices. The only thing I do know is that I probably won’t see a show, eat a meal or expect much of a person when they are labeled as NICE.

With the plethora of gorgeous and explicit words in our lexicon, why do we overuse the same tired words?

Have we gotten lazy while we are speaking?

Let’s revitalize our conversations and word choice…

After all, we don’t want to be ignorant or stupid…

Oops- I meant NICE…

Stereotypical Fiction

As long as we have fiction, we will continue to have stereotypes.

I know. That’s a pretty bold statement to start off a Monday. I’m basically saying that we will never stop judging and assuming one’s character based on certain traits and characteristics and mannerisms. Well, as long as we keep writing books anyway.

X drove a Mercedes. When you read that sentence, what does the word Mercedes bring to the story that car doesn’t? Wealth, privilege, debt, flash?

If I said X drove a Mercedes, wore a pinky ring and Italian leather loafers what do you see in your mind?

I I said X drove a Mercedes, wore a Swiss watch and donned bright white tennis sneakers, what do you picture in your mind?

If I said that X drove a 1972 Mercedes, wore birkenstocks and no jewelry, what would that tell you?

If you thought gangster, WASP and hippie are you stereotyping? Are you assuming the final tally based on the digits, even though I never used the words gangster, WASP or hippie?

Are you an old fashioned stereotyper? Or are you just deciphering clues?

Is the whole process of show not tell an exercise in how to stereotype?

I watched a medical drama last night. The character in the hospital bed said “Girl, you have to see the Doctor, He fly.” If you read that line of dialogue in a book, would you make any assumptions about the character? Would it be stereotyping if you made an assumption about the speaker of that dialogue?

When we read fiction do we make assumptions based on description? I wrote in one of my passages last week “couch with welcoming back support”. I was, as someone said, trying to denote that the speaker was at least in middle age. Young people never look at a piece of furniture and wonder about it’s comfort, or how easy it will be to get in or out of it…but some older people do. Not every person of a certain age thinks about the comfort of a chair…but some do… Is it wrong to guess the character I was describing was oldish?

So, do we rid our lives of fiction so that we can lead a life with no judging others based on characteristics?

Or do we just learn to deal with the fact that humans stereotype, always have stereotyped and always will?