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Showing posts from September, 2018

Five Things I Hate About Badly Written Books

For years I taught literature to secondary students. Most were reluctant readers so I would teach the elements of a novel or the short story by comparing them to popular TV shows or movies. A sit-com is a three-act play compacted into thirty minutes, so there is a premise, a situation to be solved, and the ending or resolution. A movie is its longer cousin, so we’d discuss a popular movie and separated it into its three acts. Once we did that, we turned our focus on the short story or novel we were reading in class. We all agreed a good story is a well-written story. Nothing irks me more than to spend my hard-earned money or waste my precious time on a book that fails to keep its promise to the consumer. If it’s a mystery, I expect to be surprised.If it’s a romance, I expect to see it develop.If it’s an adventure, I expect to raft the rapids. But please do not promise me a date and then take me for a boring ride around the neighborhood. I hate books that are badly written, badly plott…

How to Raise a Child

Several years ago, the mother of a newborn was suddenly overcome by the responsibility of raising a child, and she asked me how to go about it. First off, I told her she was a good person and she would be a good mother, but a good compass is to think forward and decide what kind of grownup she wanted her baby to be one day. If she wanted her child to be a kind adult, then train the child to be kind.If she wanted her child to be intelligent, then teach the child to read and learn and be curious.If she wanted her child to be polite, then teach the child manners. All of these traits have to be taught through example as well. If she wanted her child to believe in God, then she had to go and take the child to church. She had to show and live a Godly life.If she wanted her child not to use vulgar language or watch objectionable shows, then the mother could not prohibit the child and then use that language and watch those shows herself. It’s the same with eating broccoli or learning to like th…

The Insidious Abuse

There are moments in your life when you realize you’ve been walking around with your eyes half closed, seeing and feeling only what you want to admit to yourself. Several years ago, I was sitting on my bed, watching a special on spousal physical and sexual abuse, feeling self-righteous that even though I had survived a terrible marriage, it wasn’t abusive. Our divorce was taking twice as long to finalize than it should, but it gave me time to heal from the marriage and for the sadness to abate. As the show went to commercial, they announced the second half of the special would focus on emotional abuse, the one where the blows to the victim target the inside and not the skin. I considered turning the TV off; after all, it didn’t apply to me, but in my laziness, I didn’t get up in time. As I reached for the remote, it was like I had been sideswiped by an oncoming auto. It was like someone had turned the camera and was filming me.With my finger on the off button, I realized they were talk…

To a Humble Man

There are times when you don’t have anything to say.There’s this blank page in your brain that refuses to light up with words. This week was one of those days. I lost a cousin last week.His family kept his illness to themselves until they could no longer hide it.It was time to tell the family that his days were few and we should prepare ourselves for his departure. He was one of those kind people who always asked if he could help, always offered a smile or a joke, always stood in the background opening doors and allowing others to take center stage. We depended on his unpretentiousness to make us feel important. When compared to him, we are nothing more than pompous, self-important fools. Without him, we have no audience, no revelry, no wind to our sails. He blended into the background and we took him for granted. It took his death to make us realize how much we needed him cheering us on from backstage. He accomplished more in his short life than a dozen of us together will accomplish …