Writer love notes initiative

Filed under: Fun — marcia at 1:56 pm on Monday, July 23, 2007

Today, I read a post on StreetTech that gave me an idea for something I think as writers we should all take the time to do every once in a while: Let other writers know when their work has inspired us or simply made our day a little brighter.

Gareth Branwyn was relating his stories of the handful of times in his 25-year writing career when someone bothered to let him know that his writing had affected them. The most dramatic example:

I had a guy come up to me, after a talk years ago, who said that the Happy Mutant Handbook had literally saved his life. He’d decided to go through with the grim deed the coming weekend. But in the meantime, he’d happened upon the HMH in a bookstore, bought it and had spent the weekend reading, postponing his date with the big sleep by the hour. He ended up being so tickled, so inspired by the book, he’d decided not to off himself by the time he’d finished. And so, there he was, at the podium, thanking me for saving his life. This utterly stunned me, the idea that my work had, in even the smallest way, helped save the life of another human being. It made the months and years of little-to-no positive feedback well worth the wait.

We know first-hand how sometimes it can feel like we’re writing for no one but ourselves (and maybe our loved ones). So I initiate this Word Pirates initiative: Let a writer know something he or she has written meant something to you and had a positive impact on you. Heck, even if it’s a well-thought-out comment on a blog you read frequently, go out and give some rewards. Maybe you’ll get some, too.


You’re a rummy, but no more than most good writers are

Filed under: Fun — marcia at 1:30 pm on Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Quick. Think of a really famous American writer. OK, is this person an alcoholic? Probably! The profession is filled with souses!

Writers – and other artists – are known as booze hounds. No surprise there. But I still find it really fascinating. I am hard-pressed to make a list of great writers that isn’t at least half, if not more, full of dipsomaniacs. (I’m running out of kicky names for alcoholics here …)

Of the Americans (as in American-born) who won Nobel Prizes in literature, there are only two who aren’t alcoholics (as far as I know). And they’re the women. Way to go, Pearl S. Buck and Toni Morrison!

1930 – Sinclair Lewis
1936 – Eugene O’Neill
1949 – William Faulkner
1954 – Ernest Hemingway (This post’s title is supposedly something he said to another famous drunk writer, F. Scott Fitzgerald.)
1962 – John Steinbeck

I don’t know what conclusions to draw. I discourage you all from becoming alcoholics. However, to end on an up note, here are some pirate-themed cocktail recipes. Cheers!


2 oz. Gin
1/2 oz. Sweet Vermouth
2 Dashes Bitters
In a mixing glass filled with ice, add the gin, sweet vermouth and bitters and stir well. Strain into a chilled martini glass.

Devil’s Poison
1 oz. Jack Daniels
1 oz. 151 Bacardi Rum
Fill a shaker with ice, pour the Jack Daniels and 151 Bacardi Rum into shaker and shake. Strain into a shot glass.

2 oz. Dark Rum
3 oz. Water
Pour the rum and water into an old fashion glass and stir well.

Talkin’ ’bout one of my favorite writers

Filed under: Fun — marcia at 11:45 am on Thursday, June 29, 2006

David SedarisI imagine that many people discuss David Sedaris like they would a band who became commercially successful following years of extraordinary indie popularity that was never supposed to make them so famous that even cheerleaders and jocks would listen to their music despite not owning their obviously superior earlier albums.

(My sister was all like “‘Me Talk Pretty One Day’ is sooo funny.” And I was all like, um, yeah, but it’s no ‘Santaland Diaries.’ And she was like, “What’s that?” Can you believe it!?)

I couldn’t give a rat’s patootie if it’s fashionable to like him or not. He’s an effin’ dynamo, I tell you what. He does what he does well. Here are some specific, and to me inspirational, examples of why he is an effective – and successful – writer.

(Read on …)

Writing prompts … McSweeney’s style

Filed under: Fun — marcia at 3:25 pm on Saturday, May 6, 2006

The good folks at Timothy McSweeney’s Internet Tendency are always good for a giggle. Here are some excerpts from a list they did that had me laughing out loud. Enjoy!

From “Thirteen Writing Prompts” by Dan Wiencek:

Write a scene showing a man and a woman arguing over the man’s friendship with a former girlfriend. Do not mention the girlfriend, the man, the woman, or the argument.

Choose your favorite historical figure and imagine if he/she had been led to greatness by the promptings of an invisible imp living behind his or her right ear. Write a story from the point of view of this creature. Where did it come from? What are its goals? Use research to make your story as accurate as possible.

Write a story that ends with the following sentence: Debra brushed the sand from her blouse, took a last, wistful look at the now putrefying horse, and stepped into the hot-air balloon.

Imagine if your favorite character from 19th-century fiction had been born without thumbs. Then write a short story about them winning the lottery.

A husband and wife are meeting in a restaurant to finalize the terms of their impending divorce. Write the scene from the point of view of a busboy snorting cocaine in the restroom.

If you write something on any of those prompts, I demand you send it to us so we can post it here.

Click here to read the full list.

You may also click here for another writing-related funny from McSweeney’s.


Filed under: Fun,Writing Opportunities — marcia at 2:28 pm on Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Bitch magazine is looking for pieces about “Green.”

When I saw the word “Green,” I first thought of naive and inexperienced. What comes to mind for you? It would be an interesting exercise to take one word like this and turn it into an idea.

Words are powerful beyond their literal meaning, so I think there are a lot of ideas that could come from riffing on a single word. Some of you may want to give it a shot, whether for this publication or as a writing exercise on your own.

The magazine calls itself “the feminist response to pop culture.” As an aside, there’s a good example of a word with all sorts of action going on beyond its literal meaning.

Here’s the call for submissions:

Green: It’s environmental. It’s jealous. It’s money. It’s even, sometimes, a little nauseated. You can see the possibilities, right? Potential pieces might include an exploration of intentional communities; the trope of jealousy between women in romance novels; the feminization of the environmental movement; an in-depth look at pop culture’s female financial gurus; and gender and the stoner comedy. Pitch deadline: June 1, 2006

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