The Big DumpTruck

Throwing Little Thought Pebbles at Your Windshield Since 1996

Month: January, 2011

Useless Writing Advice

I do not have the ability to give advice on being a better writer. I have the ability to give advice on just about anything and everything else, including how to choose a tomato (no skin flaws and it should smell like a tomato), but being  better writer? Well, I suppose I could try, if that’s what you’d like.

Expensive Equipment Helps Create Better Prose

I think this is a gimme. You need the most expensive writing equipment you can find. Take out loans. You need top of the line everything. There’s a pen for sale at the local mall for $10,000. You need that pen. Everything you write with that Bic you stole from a waitress is pure crap. Gerbils can’t even be bothered to shred the paper you write on with your less-than-10k pen. You’ll also need a top of the line Mac laptop, iPad and an iPhone 4. As for the latter, if it isn’t white, you should go turn in your MFA.

Live in a Home with a Real Working Fireplace

If you can’t simulate the working conditions of Charles Dickens or Emily Bronte, what hope do you have of ever convincing a soul that your writing is even passable? You need the sound of a crackling fire as background noise. You need to poke at the embers when you’re having a hard time trying to come up with a new way to describe the angst of the twenty-something. You should just stop writing and call a Realtor. Now.

Burn Candles that Smell Like Lemons

This is a controversial one. I know there are people who would argue with me on this, but you’ve come to me for useless writing advice, so you had best listen to me. Get some lemon-scented candles. You see, what these will do is to trigger strong memories of your mother/aunt/grandmother with the Lemon Pledge obsession and you will get some great material out of remember how much you hated that your mother/aunt/grandmother couldn’t cook/clean/express love. It’s great stuff!

Buy New Camera Equipment

I don’t know that it will really help your writing, but I’m trying to justify a few purchases I’ve made in the past year, so just indulge me, would you?

Get a Metric Ton of Sleep. Nap Like You Mean It.

I can’t say enough about naps and sleeping. I bought flannel sheets and I could live in my bed for the rest of my life. I could be Grandma Georgina, and we would start to wonder again how the four elderly people who never left the bed went to the bathroom after eating cabbage soup 3 meals a day. I promise not to eat cabbage, but I still will probably need to go to the bathroom. Some things can’t be helped.

I think this will help you write better. I won’t know, because I’ll be too busy sleeping to read your book.

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Useless Writing Advice

I do not have the ability to give advice on being a better writer. I have the ability to give advice on just about anything and everything else, including how to choose a tomato (no skin flaws and it should smell like a tomato), but being  better writer? Well, I suppose I could try, if that’s what you’d like.

Expensive Equipment Helps Create Better Prose

I think this is a gimme. You need the most expensive writing equipment you can find. Take out loans. You need top of the line everything. There’s a pen for sale at the local mall for $10,000. You need that pen. Everything you write with that Bic you stole from a waitress is pure crap. Gerbils can’t even be bothered to shred the paper you write on with your less-than-10k pen. You’ll also need a top of the line Mac laptop, iPad and an iPhone 4. As for the latter, if it isn’t white, you should go turn in your MFA.

Live in a Home with a Real Working Fireplace

If you can’t simulate the working conditions of Charles Dickens or Emily Bronte, what hope do you have of ever convincing a soul that your writing is even passable? You need the sound of a crackling fire as background noise. You need to poke at the embers when you’re having a hard time trying to come up with a new way to describe the angst of the twenty-something. You should just stop writing and call a Realtor. Now.

Burn Candles that Smell Like Lemons

This is a controversial one. I know there are people who would argue with me on this, but you’ve come to me for useless writing advice, so you had best listen to me. Get some lemon-scented candles. You see, what these will do is to trigger strong memories of your mother/aunt/grandmother with the Lemon Pledge obsession and you will get some great material out of remember how much you hated that your mother/aunt/grandmother couldn’t cook/clean/express love. It’s great stuff!

Buy New Camera Equipment

I don’t know that it will really help your writing, but I’m trying to justify a few purchases I’ve made in the past year, so just indulge me, would you?

Get a Metric Ton of Sleep. Nap Like You Mean It.

I can’t say enough about naps and sleeping. I bought flannel sheets and I could live in my bed for the rest of my life. I could be Grandma Georgina, and we would start to wonder again how the four elderly people who never left the bed went to the bathroom after eating cabbage soup 3 meals a day. I promise not to eat cabbage, but I still will probably need to go to the bathroom. Some things can’t be helped.

I think this will help you write better. I won’t know, because I’ll be too busy sleeping to read your book.

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The Secret to Attracting Spammers

I have been on the Internet for about 16 years now. The Internet as we define it today. Prior to that, I ran a BBS out of my bedroom on a dedicated phone line. One person could be logged in at a time. It was great fun, but can you even imagine if the Internet could only support one user at a time? I’d be so annoyed at the busy signals!

Since moving to WordPress (when Blogger inexplicably kicked anyone with their own domain and server space to the curb – Ev wouldn’t have let this happen back when he owned the company. Back then, I even paid extra for my level of membership, because I thought it was worth it. But I seriously digress.) I haven’t had much trouble with spammers. I actually haven’t had many comments at all. Or readers. I think that might be my fault, for neglecting the site while I went crazy playing with Twitter. Banging out 140 characters is easy. Writing longer pieces takes more work, and who on earth wants to have to put effort into anything these days? Hell, I just watched an episode of Victorious on Nick because it was set to record on the DVR and the TV changed channels and I was too lazy to get up to find the remote. That would be work.

And then, Loyal Reader Angie pointed out in an email that my comment functionality was turned off. That happened during an upgrade, I swear. So I think I fixed it. Well, I know I did, because I’ve gotten hammered (for me, anyway) with spammy comments on one single item on the blog. Not across all articles, just on the one. You don’t see them because I set all comments to be approved by me until you’ve previously had one approved. The post in question was about a little Mexican girl who hangs out with a monkey and a backpack. I won’t mention her name because I don’t want to have the spammers attack this post. Of course, they could have picked the word monkey as a trigger and now this one will be a problem too. We’ll see.

So in conclusion, if you want spammers, write about Ora-day. She’s popular.

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Upon Photographing My Son

It’s not unusual for me to take photos of my son. I have a lot of them. A LOT of them. I took one of him today picking up dog poop in the back yard.

I like to take pictures of him, I think because it is tied to my fear of loss and my hatred of growing older and my tendency to hoard things, including memories. Every snapshot captures a moment, and when I look at it later, I remember the circumstances under which I took the photo. Someone was angry and only pretended to smile for the camera and then later we had ice cream and that fixed everything. Or the last time we all went on an outing somewhere before the place closed and was torn down.

I may or may not have an irrational fear of losing things. Places, people, products. They discontinued my soap recently. It’s just one in a long line of products that have been taken away; my favorite flavor of Kool-Aid, my favorite jarred spaghetti sauce. A true hoarder would have had a case of the soap the hallway, so the loss might not be felt for a year or more. Me, I had one bar left when I found out. I’ll find something else that I like – maybe not as much, but it’s just soap. I will adjust to the loss of my soap.

I have two specific photos I’ve taken in my life that I would call morbid. One of was of my grandfather, in his casket. It didn’t occur to me that people didn’t take photos at funerals, but I was just a little kid, I owned a camera, and my parents said it was okay. All the flowers were so pretty; why wouldn’t you take a picture? But looking back, it is an odd photo. I remember taking it. I remember my grandmother looking at me, and me thinking she was checking to see if I was crying. My cousin was crying. I felt guilty because I wasn’t. All that comes back to me when I even think about that snapshot. The other morbid photo was one I took of my son when he was 15 months old. We were taking him in for surgery that morning, to get ear tubes to prevent the constant infections he’d had since he was born. Horribly common surgery for babies, but you have to sign all those papers that say you understand the risk, and any parent who doesn’t break out in a cold sweat signing those may need some kind of intervention. I took the photo the morning we were going in for the surgery. I couldn’t not take one. He was happy, in his red PJs and had bed-head. That’s how I would want to remember him; that this was how he looked, right up until the moment of whatever fate had in store for him (and us.)

Luckily, the surgery went fine, changed our lives for the better, and he just turned 13 last week. I still take his picture all the time. Some part of me just wants to capture all the memories so that I won’t forget, won’t ever forget. Places and people and products get taken away from me all the time, and I guess the only way I can fight back is to take pictures and store them on hard drives, DVDs, shoe boxes and in photo albums. I hoard memories, and if I take a picture of you, don’t get annoyed with me; I’m trying to hold on to you tightly the only way I know how.

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I’m Too Young For This Shit

I know, the movie quote is “I’m too old for this shit” but really, my point is that I’m too young for it. I’m almost a baby! I’m pretty sure I just graduated from kindergarten a year or two ago. I remember we put cream in a Mason jar and everyone in the class took turns shaking the jar until we made butter. We made butter, I tell you! A group of 5 and 6 year olds! It was my single greatest accomplishment from my public school career. I don’t even think it was better than the time I made a terrarium in elementary school (during the same program where I learned how to decoupage and do macrame. Ahh, the 70s.) But wait, I am far too young to have ever been in school (or even BORN!) in the 70s!

You know what? Let’s forget I even mentioned it. Carry on.

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