The first (and most important) connection

sunset

I tend to go through phases in what I choose to write about here.  There have been politics phases, James Bond phases, Aaron Sorkin phases, family phases, phases devoted to the craft of writing as I see it.  Lately though I’m finding a lot of what I’m writing is focusing on the idea of connection.  Amanda Palmer’s video from a few weeks ago really slammed the back of my head against the wall.  My piece for Huffington Post Books about Ksenia Anske touched on this idea as well.  Because connection is how we make sense of the world.  We’re a vast palette of individual colors who want to blend together.  Yet there is a critical connection that we often fail to make as we throw our line out into the universe, hoping for the elusive nibble.  In our focus on the potential connections out there, we forget about the connection within – the connection to ourselves, to who we are, what we want, and how we feel.

Writing can be a purely intellectual exercise; a collection of arguments and supporting evidence, arranged in the most coherent order to maximize the strength of the opinion being presented.  Academia has thrived for thousands of years using this method, and our knowledge and scientific standing have been advanced immeasurably.  But the stories that stay with us through the generations are those that touch the more primal part of our brains; the part that feels.  We have this incredible disconnect, between aspiring to a higher stratum of intelligence while still being governed by passions that are as far from rational as can be imagined.  The best writing, and the writers who make the most lasting connections, are the ones who can tap into these passions and share them in a way that tells complete strangers, “I get it.  I get your pain.  And you’re not alone.”

I’ve been accused of being passionless on more than one occasion.  It’s a defense mechanism; a shield against loss and the pain that comes with it.  There was a story I read once about Julian Lennon, and how John once screamed at him that he hated his laugh, and to this day a laugh from Julian is very rare.  Similarly, emotional extremes are not my thing.  For me the thought of ripping off that bandaid and letting the agony pour through the reopened scar is tremendously intimidating.  Letting it loose publicly is even more frightening.  Yet one looks at what someone like Ksenia Anske is willing to admit to the world and one’s own history seems laughably tame in comparison.  I also consider it in the context of being a new father and not wanting my son to grow up thinking his dad’s a Borg drone.

There is great pain lurking beneath the armor – the pain of a lost father and mother, an adolescence and young adulthood spent wandering, feeling very much alone, not knowing what to make of this thing called life, feeling a sense of drift that persists to this day.  There is anger and regret over very bad choices and their lingering consequences.  There is frustration at the inability to articulate a clear vision of where I’m going and what I want.  This last one is brutal for a writer.  In creating characters you need to be able to define what they want, and how can you do this for a fictional person if you can’t even do it for yourself?  Without wants there is no reason for the journey – there is no story.

Even if I was to never write another word, I still need to connect to my inner self.  It’s very possible that once that connection is firmly established, the desire to write might fade away.  If I am truly satisfied with who I am and the state of my life, then I may stop asking those questions of strangers, stop seeking connection out there in the ether that is the global consciousness.  Stop noticing, as Amanda Palmer says, that this looks like this, because it just won’t matter anymore.  And yet there’s another, more tantalizing possibility – that the other connections will grow deeper, that things will make more sense, that I will be able to articulate a vision of substance, of meaning, of true passion.  I’ll know what I want and I’ll go after it at ludicrous speed, and those who don’t want to come along on the ride can eat my plaid dust.

If you fancy yourself a writer, you have to ask this very important yet somewhat awkward-sounding question of yourself:  Is all of me in this?  Are you writing the story of the sexy female vampire who runs her own shoe store and fends off the advances of a hunky foot-fetishizing merman because you have a deep, abiding need within your soul to spill your soul all over the blank page, or are you doing it because it’s a fun distraction and you’re tickled by the highly unlikely possibility of becoming the next Twilight?  Do you have what it takes to push past being ignored, past the hit statistics on your blog ticking down to zero, past people who greet your latest missives with apathy and indifference?  Is using your voice important enough to you that you can shake off the jealousy that can sometimes spike at the sight of others achieving great success by twists of fate, and say what you want to say anyway?  Fundamentally, are you passionate enough about it that it doesn’t matter if nobody but your significant other ever reads anything you ever write?  Intellectual exercises can be well-written, but they will never move anyone.  They will simply exist in a moment of time and be forgotten.  They will never connect.

Look, there are more than enough writers, both published and not, out there filling servers full of blog posts with advice on how to write, what works and what doesn’t (in their humble opinion, of course) and I don’t want to be that anymore.  The only advice I can offer is this, and it comes from the school of “those who can’t do, teach”:  You will only achieve what you want when you learn how to feel, when you have connected to everything you are.  When everything you do is to its fullest potential, and when you’ve smashed through the self-imposed mental barriers keeping you from experiencing all the joy, wonder and even the sadness that life has to offer.  When you cast off the stupid, pointless, time-wasting shackle of intimidation and become.

Thus endeth the lesson.  Let me know how you make out.  I will too.

Connecting the dots

Presenting this with (minimal) comment this morning.  So many writers look for validation in the wrong places; comparing ourselves to others who are far more popular, or financially successful, or better-looking, or seem to be able to compose aching beauty without effort.  This is Amanda Palmer at Grub Street’s Muse and Marketplace Conference, and she just nails the truth.  It’s a little over half an hour but if you can even just put it on in the background while you write your TPS report, it is absolutely worth it.  (I guarantee you will promptly lose interest in said report and give her your undivided attention.)

I Suck at Description

The sky was blue.  The sand was not.
The sky was blue. The sand was not.

That’s my mea culpa for the day.  If I had to rank my perceived strengths as a writer in descending order, description would linger odiously in the basement with the lawn furniture and the dresser my wife keeps reminding me we need to sell.  I’m good at dialogue, at proposing ideas and batting them around, at the exploration of questions of human nature and our place in the universe, but, ask me to put any of these items in a setting that leaps off the page and I will curl up in the corner of that setting sobbing like an infant afraid of having his wooby taken away.  Every time I go back through my novel for revisions and start to think, “hey, this isn’t so bad,” I encounter someone else’s work that blows me back through the wall and turns my confidence to lime Jell-O.  I just can’t seem to crack that important element and it drives me bonkers.

I’ve devoted a lot of self-examination to trying to figure out why this aspect is so difficult for me.  Some writers seem to be able to do it flawlessly.  Within a few short, concise phrases you know exactly where you are – your imagination is triggered and the setting shimmers into existence around you as though you had stepped into the holodeck and announced “Run Program.”  Writing, as someone famous whose name escapes me for the moment has observed (I think it was Joyce Carol Oates), is about creating atmosphere.  My focus, however, has always been on character, though, and how the characters interrelate, and that usually means dialogue, and lots of it.  (And of course, you run into plenty of writing advice that suggests too much dialogue is a bad thing.  Can’t win, can’t even quit the game.)  In a perfect world, this is how I would describe almost every scene, so I could get on with crafting conversations (from Waiting for Godot, by Samuel Beckett):

 A country road.  A tree.  Evening.

A few more words about Estragon trying to pull off his boot and we’re off to the races.  Okay then, you’re asking, why don’t you just write plays then?  I’ve written exactly one play, it was called Brushstrokes, a three-act examination of hidden love and the inability of men to admit their feelings tied together with a tenuous nail polish metaphor, and well, the less said about it the better.  That’s not to say I’ll never try another one, but in writing it I missed the ability to digress into stretches of narrative, to get into the heads of the characters and figure out what they were thinking.  It is not to suggest that novels don’t have to have structure, or limits for that matter, but they tend to be a freer place to play.  You can linger on a particular thought, explore its depths and its reaches, without worrying too much about a foot-tapping, finger-drumming audience waiting in exasperation for the next line.  It can be rather like the van that took forever to fall off the bridge in Inception without seeming to drag down the pace – again, depending on how you write it.  So it helps if you’re really good at that.

Many great writers are poets and can bring that sensibility to details as slight as a flake of ash falling from a burning cigarette, or the single flap of a hummingbird’s wing.  My description, by contrast, tends to be simple and straightforward.  What you need to know and no more.  Here’s an example from my novel:

Splinters of wood and crumbling brick from ramshackle buildings line the pockmarked street.  Lampposts bent by storms and vandals stand eerie sentry.  The rattle of broken window shutters is this rotting borough’s only tenant.

And another:

Dotted by whitecaps, the river is an icy gray.  Brine and rotting algae poisons the air.  The north side of the city lurks, cloaked, beneath frigid fog.  At the end of the jetty, a flat barge with a water wheel at its stern strains against the grip of the ropes anchoring it in place.  Creaking twin planks on its starboard side wobble under the boots of passengers laden with sacks and baskets who are shuffling aboard to claim a precious portion of the hard benches in the center of the craft.

One more:

A paved drive marked by a trail of brass lanterns on iron posts conducts us through spacious, garden-rich grounds, past a stone-rimmed lily pond watched by a gazebo, once-trim shrubs and dwarf trees grown wild with neglect.  The secluded manse that presides is half-hidden by branches yet still exudes wealth and pretense, as if trying to compete with its neighbors.  Long thin windows with black shutters adorn the exterior, while a portico supported by white columns protrudes over the front entrance.  A terraced second floor is set back on the high roof of the first.  A pointless relief of vine-entwined roses on the portico adds to the sense of superfluous money that permeates this place.

There is nothing technically wrong with any of these passages, but poetry they sure as hell ain’t.  Even looking at them sitting here out of context I want to rewrite them from word one.  One’s spirit crumples into crushed tinfoil at the possibility of being considered a candidate for a Bulwer-Lytton award, or as the latest Eye of Argon.  But you do what you can with what you have and keep trying to do better.  And though sometimes you gnash your teeth at the raw talent on display in some other people’s mere first drafts, you can’t let that stop you from moving forward.

The mistake that I tend to make and that many others probably do as well is in not having the description of the scene push the story forward in any way.  Think of it in terms of the last time you related a funny anecdote to your best friend.  You didn’t say, “So, I was at the grocery store.  It was a massive, soulless building painted in black and brown and the floor tiles bore the smudges of the soles of a thousand tired mothers dragging screaming children who were unable to comprehend the simple nutritional logic of why it wasn’t a good idea to eat chocolate at every meal.”  Your friend is sitting there saying “I don’t care!  What happened at the store?!”  You want to stage the scene and sprinkle in some color, but putting in that kind of description is like hitting the pause button.  It breaks the momentum and adds nothing.

Those who know what they’re doing, even writers who are incredibly journalistic and fetishistic about detail, like the late Ian Fleming, use that information to push the narrative – to tell you about the character they’re trying to sketch in your mind.  The sometimes excruciating manner in which Fleming waxes on about James Bond’s breakfast preferences still manages to tell you something important, that this is a man who defines himself very much by his tastes, and he is as much a social competitor with the villains he squares off against as he is a knight trying to slay the fearsome dragon.  It works, though, because everyone knows how Bond likes his martini, and “shaken, not stirred” has become entrenched in the zeitgeist (even if Aaron Sorkin insists it’s wrong).

Also, as human beings, we tend to notice individual details rather than the big picture.  This is crucial when you are writing first-person perspective as well because you can’t use that detached, “I SEE AND HEAR ALL” narrative voice.  When you spot an attractive person coming towards you, there’s probably one specific trait that strikes you first; their eyes, their smile, what have you.  And that characteristic will define them in your mind from then on.  That girl with the long dark hair, the guy with the shark tattoo on his right forearm.  (It does not have to be a visual characteristic either:  the girl who sings like a parrot with laryngitis, or the guy who smells like apple cinnamon soap.)  The same goes with scenery.  The tall building with the broken window on the top floor.  The car with the coughing exhaust pipe.  If your character has a particular perspective on the world, what they notice will flow organically out of that perspective as well.  Mine is accustomed to the peace of a silent forest, so the things she takes note of are what stands out to her as unusual – noise and artifice.  If I’ve done my job correctly, that should tell you something about her and how she views the world.  If not, then it’s back to the rewrite shed for another round of head-splitting angst and wondering why, despite people telling me contrary and often, I continue, in my own mind, to suck.

Anyone else struggling with this stuff?  Let me know.  Let’s help each other out.

Twitter Story Challenge #1: Ruby Red

So I had this idea today, that you take someone’s random tweet and use it as the first line of a short story.  I haven’t written fiction in a while and have not written short fiction in particular in even longer (I’m thinking maybe since early in the last decade, horror of horrors) so this might turn out to be a complete hot mess.  But practice makes perfect, and here goes.  The tweet I chose was from Brian Ray, who’s a member of Paul McCartney’s band as well as an accomplished musician in his own right.  And a very nice guy whom I’ve had the fortune to meet in real life.  I don’t know why, then, the story turned out to be so dark.  I’m actually having a really nice day.  Anyway, first the tweet, and then the story.

BrianRayTweet

I dreamt we were in a hallway and everything turned red.  Not blood red, my dreams aren’t that morbid.  But I looked at Ruby standing next to me and watched shades of persimmon, crimson and coral slither across the walls like oily tentacles, infecting the drab greens and browns of the drywall and the peeling old paintjob.  Spilling out onto the floor, the rush of red seeped into the pile and coiled itself around the ashtray at the far end, in front of the window.  I couldn’t be sure why this was happening now, or why this peculiar maroon plague had chosen to intrude upon my mind at that particular moment.  Was there some unknown, buried, Freudian reason for it, or was it just my unconscious mind’s way of redecorating an otherwise boring scene?  I mean, red is hardly my favorite color.  Give me a deep royal blue or a fresh, citrus yellow.

Ruby didn’t seem to mind, or even notice.  Long, toned legs strolled down the hallway on thin leather heels, oblivious to the changing colors swirling around her.  “Room 444,” she whispered, her eyes flitting across the brass digits nailed to the doors that were mutating into burgundy as we passed them.  She stopped at the last door on the left, swiped a keycard through the lock, and stepped through.  I followed, my steps languid and halting as if someone had turned up the gravity a touch too high.  Red continued churning in front of me.  I wanted to be out of this hallway, somewhere safer, less vivid.  I longed for the placid tones of builder’s beige.

Room 444 had no red in it.  It was an executive suite with a raised queen bed done in blacks and browns.  A wooden desk, or at least a plastic-that-looks-like-wooden desk, was shoved into one corner.  There were no windows.  Ruby was sitting on the bed, legs crossed, hands folded on her knee, facing me with the sense of calm that usually only comes at the behest of a large injection of horse tranquilizer.  It could easily be mistaken for boredom, but that couldn’t be the case.  We’d been looking forward to this for a long time.  She’d planned every last detail.  She’d told me through instant messages for weeks and weeks how excited she was.  I had to disable all the sound and vibration alerts on my phone to keep my wife from finding out.

I wanted to say something suave and masculine, but I felt confidence drain out of my body like an accidental stream of urine down a pantleg.  “Uh…” dribbled out from between my lips with the vitality of the world’s most timid prairie dog, any pretense at me taking charge of the situation vanishing as quickly as the sound of that single syllable in stale hotel room air.

“Well then,” Ruby said, and she leaned back on her palms, uncrossing her legs and tilting her head back, allowing her tantalizing ginger mane to tumble backwards.  She was bored, I could tell now, and I wondered where the playful, seductive minx who’d lured me away from a loving wife of fifteen years had gone.  In a way, it seemed just as well.  I wasn’t in any condition to do anything.  I couldn’t understand why I was so tired, why lifting a foot for a single step was like trying to wrench a fifteen hundred pound anvil from the floor.  I lurched towards her and crumpled to my knees.

That’s when the red invaded again.  Encroaching onto the safe blacks, browns and beiges of the executive suite in a gentle tide, lapping and retreating, moving further inwards with each wave.  I felt a warmth slide up my insides as the red moved closer, parts of me turning fuzzy, feeling like one of those TV channels in the upper 800’s with no signal.  My breathing sounded louder, harder.  Air in my lungs was soup I had to push out with the muscles in my chest.  Ruby did not react.  Her eyes watched the popcorn ceiling above us as its hue too darkened from driven snow to Mouton Rothschild, the kind we’d shared together the night we met at that conference in Frisco.

My hand went to my side as the TV static spread over me, fuzzing the loudest at a spot just below my ribs.  Gravity pulled on me now with the force of a thousand suns, and as I struggled to force a plea of help up through my throat, Ruby stood and let me see the white flash of the stainless steel blade hitherto concealed in her left hand.  “Take that, you cheating son of a bitch,” she spat, and she placed a heel on my shoulder and shoved.

I was too numb to sense the tile floor meeting the edge of my spine.  Too numb to notice the click of Ruby’s shoes as she made her exit and let the door close quietly behind her.  And too numb to be truly aware of the warm pool that now spread out from beneath my body to meet the narrowing sea of vermilion that mixed with it, using swirls and splashes of what was left of my life to scrawl an eerie abstract design around what the police would undoubtedly find a few hours later, once the guy in the next room noticed the smell.  They say red is the color of passion.  Yet even passion has many different tones, and can drive different people to different ends.

I laid my head back down in the sticky warmth and watched all the reds come together.  Shades I’d never seen and would never see again.  Cerise, blush, dahlia, russet, titian, garnet.

But not blood red.  My dreams aren’t that morbid.

Twitter bios: Who are you, really?

@MobyDick.  Whale.  Love eating krill and plankton.  Not fond of one-legged captains.  #GetOverItAhab
@MobyDick. Whale. Love eating krill and plankton. Not fond of one-legged captains. #GetOverItAhab

On Twitter, we are what we say.  We have the opportunity to craft a complete online identity through what we talk about, who we talk with and what we share.  I have met some amazing people through Twitter and had some engaging, thought-provoking and downright hilarious conversations, with folks I might otherwise be terrified to approach were I to see them out on the street (Russell Crowe, looking in your direction, mate).

Disappointing on occasion though are the Twitter bios people write for themselves.  A mere 160 characters to sit on your Twitter account permanently and try to encapsulate who you are and why people should be interested in you.  Folks who are using Twitter strictly as a marketing tool are the worst, describing themselves as flatly and as soullessly as the plastic widgets they’re attempting to push on you.  And some traits are dropped in so commonly and so lazily as to lose all meaning – “coffee drinker,” for example, which is about as distinguishing as saying you’re an “oxygen breather.”

I’m also puzzled as to why some Tweeps waste characters with “Tweets are my own,” “Retweets are not endorsements” and “I follow back!”  I understand that if you want to mouth off about how badly last night’s Stanley Cup playoff game went, you don’t want anyone to possibly infer that your profane criticism of the refereeing reflects the official views and positions of the ABC Company.  I think most people are smart enough to understand that although we all work, we all have private lives as well.  My Twitter life is entirely disengaged from my work life, even though there are people I work with who follow me (and I follow them).  But I don’t talk about work.  EVER.  I don’t say where I work and I don’t bitch about work.  Look, I’m at work all day, every day, and I have enough of it on my mind without it spilling into my social media life too.  Saying “Tweets are my own” is just dumb though.  Of course they’re your own.  They’re not Phil’s, and they’re not Uncle Frank’s, and people get that.

“Retweets are not endorsements” is another one that to me, is a waste of space.  I mean, I suppose there’s the fear that you might retweet somebody’s joke about airline travel only to find out a few weeks later that he once got arrested for masturbating in a park, and suddenly you’re a supporter of public self-pleasure by association or some such nonsense.  Look, I can think Braveheart is a great movie and no one would ever accuse me of sympathizing with some of the reprehensible views that Mel Gibson has espoused publicly.  When you retweet something, it’s because you thought that particular statement was worth sharing again.  You’re not suddenly a staunch enthusiast of everything that person has ever said.  I think this is one we just need to agree on collectively and then, just as collectively, remove it from every single Twitter bio on earth.

Finally, announcing “I follow back” or using the hashtag #TeamFollowBack is, as Ricky Gervais has said, a little bit sad.  It pretty much guarantees that people will only follow you to bump up their own numbers, and not because they are truly interested in hearing what you have to say.  I know I’m going against the advice of every single Internet marketing specialist here, but I think of Twitter as what the cable companies will never offer:  an opportunity to pick your own channels, a la carte, without having to pay for or suffer through programs you don’t want.  You can very easily build up a massive following by just following everyone you can and unfollowing those who don’t follow back, but what does that get you in the end?  An awful lot of noise.  I follow people who will add value to my day, and that’s my sole criterion.

So, what should you put in your Twitter bio?  Well, I’m not saying mine is the epitome of awesome, but I think it’s pretty good, and here’s why.  When you click on my profile, this is what you’ll see:

Writer, novelist-in-waiting, HuffPoster, Anglo, James Bond and Aaron Sorkin-phile, happy liberal, lover of martinis, women and song, preferably all at once.

1. Writer, novelist-in-waiting, HuffPoster:  Chuck Wendig has a great line about how you’re either a writer or you aren’t, the word “aspiring” sucks, and that you shouldn’t differentiate just because you may not necessarily get paid for your words.  Right now, I don’t make money for anything I write.  I hope that will change soon, but it doesn’t stop me from writing.  Ergo, I am a writer.  I say “novelist-in-waiting” because I do have one finished novel, but to me, “novelist” suggests that you have more than one.  I don’t yet.  When I do, the “in-waiting” will fall off.  And again, just because I haven’t published it and no one’s paid to read it doesn’t mean a thing.  It’s a novel, I wrote it, it exists.  Finally, I should think it’s fairly obvious why “HuffPoster” is there.  23 articles and counting, so yeah, that one I can back up with solid evidence and the hateful comments that go with it.

2. Anglo, James Bond and Aaron Sorkin-phile:  A small sampling of my popular culture interests.  I have been enamored with all things English since probably the first time I heard someone speak in an English accent, which, given the second item in the list, was probably in watching a James Bond movie.  It also covers Monty Python, the Beatles and the majority of my taste in music, movies, books, the lot.  And I’m an Aaron Sorkin fan because his writing helped me find my own writing voice.  (Which reminds me, I must get to that in another post sometime as I believe I did promise it a while back.)

3. Happy liberal:  I don’t talk about politics on Twitter (or here) as much as I used to because the anger and hate that it stirs up on occasion (read: constantly) is becoming a bit stomach-churning in my old age.  But in a way, this is a shorthand message to politically inclined folks who might like to follow me that this is where I start from.  If you’re a worshipper of all things Ronald Reagan, free market libertarianism and neo-conservative warmongering, I don’t think you’ll find me very interesting; in fact, I may make your blood boil.  I certainly won’t be seeking you out so I can crap all over your home feed with bleeding heart, namby-pamby communism.  Let’s just agree to disagree and leave each other alone then.  On the other hand, if you think we should base decisions on science, ensure that the rich pay their fair share, stop paving planet Earth indiscriminately and live in a society where we look after each other and help boost each other up, if you believe that government can be a force for good when the best people are involved in it, if you believe that a small group of committed citizens can change the world because it’s the only thing that ever has, then sign on up, glad to have you, I might even follow back.

4. Lover of martinis, women and song:  Yes, I do love me a martini.  All kinds – dry, fruity, decorated with chocolate shavings or plastic parasols, doesn’t matter.  It’s a drink of sophistication that makes a man feel comfortable in a jacket and tie – a throwback to the era when class and erudition was the real swag.  I’m old-fashioned that way, I suppose, but in a time when being a man seems to be a race to the bottom of a beer and nacho-cheese soaked barrel, I’m proud to be an anachronism.  A lover of women?  Yes, dear goddess yes, in all facets.  Not a day goes by where I don’t ponder a particular woman or women in general with awe and admiration.  I love them for their indomitable strength, their ability to take every setback life throws at them because of their gender and say, “is that all you’ve got, little man?”  I love their minds, I love their senses of humor, I love their ability to see right through us, to strip away our phoniness and our pretend selves and force us to figure out who we really are.  I love the music in their laughter, the poetry in their tears.  I love their connection with who they are and the world they live in.  I love the scent of their hair, the softness of their skin, the tone of their legs, the elegance of their hands.  I love that I’m married to the most incredible woman on the planet, that I’m the brother of the second most incredible woman on the planet and that I’m privileged to know so many of their sisters.  And I love to celebrate women in the words I write – which, I suppose, is the meaning of the “song” here.

5. Preferably all at once:  Because a perfect evening is listening to my wife croon Ella Fitzgerald while I sip a Vesper.

There you have it – not saying that it’s perfect or that it won’t ever change.  But if you want to get to know me, it’s a good place to start.  Then you have to let my words do the rest.

Putting it out there then:  How do you describe yourself on Twitter?

We get letters, again

mail

You know what they say; put it out there, you’ll get it back.  So wasn’t I just tickled to see some of these exciting responses to my recent open letter to spammers!

 First of all I want to say wonderful blog! I had a quick question that I’d like to ask if you do not mind. I was curious to find out how you center yourself and clear your thoughts prior to writing. I have had a tough time clearing my mind in getting my ideas out there. I do take pleasure in writing however it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes are generally wasted just trying to figure out how to begin. Any suggestions or tips? Many thanks!

says “Anti Aging Face Cream.”  Well, Anti Aging (may I just call you Aging?  I mean, we all are, no sense dwelling on the fleeting nature of life here, and I have no way of knowing if you’re really someone’s aunt, no matter how many picnics you spoil), this is actually a pretty legitimate question even coming from a bot trying to put a link on my site to bump up its Google ranking (and boy, have you got the wrong site).  I don’t center, I don’t clear my thoughts.  Stormy thoughts are where some of the best ideas come from.  It’s better to let things spill all over the page in a messy first draft and worry about the logic and the order later.  Let the right brain go unfettered first and then use the left brain to clean it up.  Does that help? Good luck with your complexion!

Napoleon writes:

Great work! This is the type of info that are meant to be shared around the web.  Shame on Google for now not positioning this submit upper! Come on over and visit my website . Thanks =)

How is sunny Elba these days?  I guess living in exile two hundred years in the past there’s little to do but surf blogs to gum up with nonsense.  Think I’ll pass on visiting your website, I know the inferiority complex you have and I can’t imagine how you’d feel, being dead and all, to be confronted by a living person who can write in proper sentences.  I appreciate the attempt at levity with the smiley face though, that was awesome, dude.

Trust But Verify opines:

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Well, I feel for your personal tragedy in this case, but you commented on the post about why I thought it wasn’t a good idea for authors to reveal who they think should play their characters in movie adaptations.  I mean, I’m really sorry you were so horrified that you wanted Christian Bale and your fans preferred Pee-Wee Herman.  I can’t speak to the years of therapy you’d require to purge that horrendous image from your mind, and you have my sympathies.  If there’s one thing I’m sorry about it’s that I can’t get to know all of you, as you say.  The fact that you don’t exist is the main reason, so don’t go putting it all back on me, you douchey little phantom, you.

Golden Retriver labrador woofs:

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I am stunned, STUNNED that you were able to type this out with your paws when your owner was clearly not looking.  Are you from that Dog with a Blog show?  It totally kicks Game of Thrones’ ass all over the dial.

And… delete, delete, delete, delete.  Try again, bots.  Thanks for playing!