Friday, July 31, 2015

The Freelance Writer Is . . .

The freelance writer is a man who is paid per piece or per word or perhaps.

"The freelance writer is a man who is paid per piece or per word or perhaps."
— Robert Benchley

I've been feeling this a lot lately. Not that I have a lot of large invoices out there waiting to be paid, but every check represents bills paid, meals eaten, and a mind at peace.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Uncommon Spelling Traps 1

Some words get misspelled all the time. An online search for "commonly misspelled words" yields over 150,000 results. If you run into some of those common spelling problems, you have a wealth of resources at your command. I'm not going to repeat those here.

I'm more interested in uncommon misspelled words — words that are rarely used but easily misspelled. The following six cases are not-so-commonly used pairs of words that are related etymologically and are spelled nearly identically.

These are the words that even the best editors and proofreaders have to look up while they work.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

New Word Wednesday: tumulus

A tumulus is more tumorous (or even tumescent) than tumultuous, so there's no reason to raise a ruckus about it. These days, we don't have much call for tumuli, as the plural is spelled, but a good Christian might cause a tumult if a loved one is caught under a tumulus (or in one, depending on your perspective).

Monday, July 27, 2015

Writing prompt: A Bad Order

Egad! I forgot to post a writing prompt yesterday!

Well, here it is. Use the whole week to build a good story if you like.

Write a story or a scene that begins with a waiter or waitress bringing you or the main character the wrong order.

All Good Writing . . .

All good writing is like swimming underwater and holding your breath.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Thinking About Your Legacy

Scottish poet and essayist Alexander Smith once wrote, "I would rather be remembered by a song than by a victory. I would rather build a fine sonnet than have built St. Paul's." I've spent time — and I hope you have, too — thinking about what I want my legacy to look like. How do I want to be remembered?

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

New Word Wednesday: louche

Imagine, for a moment, that you're a 40-year-old editor, and you enter an adult spelling bee. Why not, it's for charity. You are the twelfth of fifteen spellers. The first speller steps up to the mic and is given the word potato.

'Oh, this first round is gonna be easy,' you think. You listen to eleven more words given and spelled correctly — nothing difficult. You could have spelled each of them without a moment's hesitation.

Then you step up to the mic, and the esteemed pronouncer looks at you and says, "Your word is 'LOOSH.'"

Monday, July 20, 2015

When Crap Is the Best You Can Do

Sometimes, when you feel like your writing is crap, you just have to tell yourself that writing crap is okay and then move on to the next thing. Everybody writes crap, but if you want to be a writer, you have to keep writing anyway.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Writing Prompt: Fictionalizing Your Earliest Memory

Everyone at some point in his or her life is asked the question, what's your earliest memory? It's one of those annoying questions that someone (usually your mother) asks when no one else can think of anything to talk about.

As annoying as that question is, I want you to think about it now.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Thanking Stephen King

Last month, I thanked Kurt Vonnegut for the large part he played in leading me into this life of writing. But before I was a writer, I was a reader.

This was a given in my family. My mother was a high school English teacher, and she and her two sisters — my aunts — were constant readers. When we all got together for holidays and birthdays, the three of them were always gabbing about what books they had read, and the would swap hardcovers so that each could share in the others' discoveries.

So becoming a reader wasn't really a choice for me. It was practically genetic. But what kind of reader I would be was up in the air.