Tuesday, May 23, 2017

My Team Lost Last Night


One of the reasons I fell in love with HoneyBunch was his love of sports.  He made it clear that the woman he married had to love the Dallas Cowboys. (I did.) I told him the man I married had to love the San Antonio Spurs.  (He did.)
          We both agreed baseball was best watched live, but he kept secret that he has a terrible TV addiction to professional golf, though I would have agreed to marry him anyway.
          This love of sports runs in his family.  His parents are avid St. Louis Cardinal fans, his older brother races cars and yachts, and his younger sister lives at the gym.  In fact, she and her daughter teach classes there.
          My family was never much interested in sports.  Only my sister Mari and I have ever taken a gym class aside from those required in school or college.  Mari and I have joined gyms, taken dance classes, and walked or jogged many a mile, and our kids carry on the legacy. Both her daughter and my three have been in extracurricular sports and can watch a game with a better-than-average understanding of the rules. 
          I love games and sports are just that – physical games. Like in life, they have rules.  There are breaks, and there is bad luck.  The good guy doesn’t always win, but sometimes, the real winner isn’t the one with the trophy – it’s the one who demonstrated the most persistence, integrity, and courage. 
          The San Antonio Spurs lost their bid for the NBA Western Conference Championship, but I could not be prouder to call them my team. I have been a fan of theirs since the mid-seventies.

          Football season is a long way off, and until then, we will be watching a lot of professional golf on TV. 

Monday, May 15, 2017

My Life is a Series of Plan B


Every time the movie The Martian comes on TV, I watch it.  It does not matter how much of it I have missed.  I love it all.  I have the book on my TBR pile but have not had the time to read it.  I hear it is better than the movie, but for now, it is me and Matt Damon.
I love the character Mark Watney and I love the way Matt Damon portrays him.  The determination of the human spirit to succeed against steep odds speaks to me.  At the end of the movie, when Mark Watney introduces himself to the astronaut candidates, he voices the theme of the movie: to succeed in life, you solve one problem, then the next, then another, and so on.
I totally agree.  Life is a mixture of courage and confidence.  Courage is the embodiment of all the good traits inside a person, and confidence is trusting in those traits to get the job done, no matter how impossible, uncomfortable, or challenging.
Life is never giving up hope. It is Plan B after Plan A blows up in your face, followed by Plan C and D and so on until you run out of alphabet and you start using numbers. It is fighting until the very end.
I have had my share of challenges, some sad and some silly.  All of them have made my life memorable.  One key I use when in doubt is to ask myself, “If I do not do this, will I regret it?”  If the answer is yes, then I find the courage or the confidence to try.  It does not always get me the result I wanted, but I have never regretted trying.
One of the most amazing secondary themes of the movie The Martian is the resilience of the character.  He persists with patience and hope and humor. And grace. He knows himself better than anyone.  He knows what he needs to keep going.  He depends on himself, his intelligence and perseverance, and he goes to it in a methodical manner. At the end when he cries, it is because all his sacrifice pays off. 

Life is never giving up on yourself. 

Monday, May 8, 2017

Unexpectedly, The Adverb Turned into a Swan!


          Contrary to some self-help advice, the adverb should not always be the first to go in the revision of the first draft.
          Yes, it is often overused, but it is also misunderstood.
          Most often the rule of thumb is to eliminate all adverbs, especially those with an -ly ending, but a better measure is to read the sentence both with and without the adverb.  If the sentence is stronger without, then do without the adverb. Another common piece of advice is to eliminate the adverb and substitute the verb with a stronger version, one that blends both the original blah verb and the overworked adverb.
          But better yet, why not look at the adverb from a new perspective?  Use it to change the meaning of the verb; use it to contrast with the verb, and not just to modify or intensify the verb.
          Do not look at the adverb as a simple -ly annoyance no one wants to claim, but look at all its many versions.  Besides the single-word adverb, which when used to contrast with the verb can be very effective, remember your high school English classes.  There is the adverbial clause, the adverbial infinitive, the adverbial participial phrase.
          The adverb is a swan; not just an ugly duckling. (Pun on the -ly ending.)
          Let’s review:
1.      Opening adverb (at the start of a sentence and separated by a comma):
Mistakenly, adverbs are usually the first to go in the revision of the first draft.
2.    Delayed adverb (tucked inside the sentence and surrounded by commas):
Beginning writers are advised, indiscriminately, to eliminate all adverbs and replace them with stronger verbs.
3.    Adverbial clause (a clause – has a noun and verb in it - that explains the verb further):
They edit all adverbs, slashing as they go, although the original sentence was stronger because of them.
4.    Adverbial infinitive (an infinitive – to plus the verb - that explains the verb further):
The trusting, new writer sometimes sacrifices his voice to pacify general advice.
5.    Adverbial participial phrase (-ing word that creates a phrase (non-sentence) that explains the verb)

Studying the correct use of the adverb, the writer can contrast and manipulate it to create lyrical prose.  

Monday, May 1, 2017

Have Blog – Will Write


With over 340 million registered blog sites worldwide (as of 5/1/17), why do I blog?  What makes me think any of my postings will ever matter?  Well . . .
1.      I have this burning desire to write.  It has been my lifelong creative outlet.  I am lost without a pen or paper within reach. Others paint.  Some act or sing or dance.  I write. I have been blogging once a week for the last six years.

2.    Like any other talent, it must be harnessed, practiced, and perfected.  Not all my posts are masterpieces, but blogging forces me to find ideas, shape them, and present them in written form to an audience.

3.    Blogging exercises my writing voice.  Does it appeal to an audience? Do they want to read more?

4.    Having to blog on a regular basis musters my mental muse whether it wants to be mustered or not. Coming up with a weekly blog teaches me discipline and responsibility both to myself and to the reader.

5.    It builds a body of work.  It is a visual resume.  It increases my readership and my SEO.

6.    Claiming my domain and using it as my blog name protects my brand and my platform from others.

7.    Blogging has taught me a lesson about keeping my voice genuine, uplifting, and responsible to the reader.  I try to never give advice that would hurt the reader in any way.

8.    It has become an example of my writing range – biographic, humorous, introspective, fictional. I have used it as a reference on several occasions on queries and applications.

9.    When folks ask about blogging, I can point to my six years of experience, my over 350 blog posts, and the analytics that come with my dedication to this writing form.

10. Bogging has given me feedback that I use as I evolve as a writer – not just in the exercise of writing but also in marketing and in keeping abreast of the latest internet media. With over half of the world’s population on the Internet, a true writer/author needs to be able to employ this canvas.