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Writing Because I Can’t Work At A Chinese Restaurant

At the start of my retirement, I have the chance to chase my dream of writing a book. I’m fortunate to have this sort of adventure and blessed with the support I’ll need to make it happen.

Support doesn’t equate with words on the page. Those have to come from me. Some days the words don’t come. By “some days”, what I mean is “a lot of them until recently”. Fortunately, what I mean by “until recently” is that I’m finally getting some chapters drafted that make sense.

But this isn’t about me writing a book. This is about when I wasn’t writing a book and how I regained my focus.

When the book wasn’t rolling at all, I thought about dropping the idea. More than once I voiced those thoughts; I always got a smile and a gentle “not yet” that sent me back to the keyboard. Still, the words didn’t flow. Frustration did. I spent some of my writing time looking at want ads. I was so discouraged that I started making notes to help assemble a résumé.

Kung-Fu Movie Night

“Hmm. your form is good” ” Yes, but I must kill you to avenge my master” (image via mydailymoviefix.blogspot.com)

And then came Kung-Fu movie night.

One of the things most of you don’t know about me is that I love old Kung-Fu movies. I know that they’re awful. That’s part of their appeal. They’re not for everyone, so some evenings when I’m alone I order Chinese take out and stream a movie with Shaolin in the title.

On a recent Kung-Fu movie night, I stopped by a Chinese restaurant to pick up dinner. There was a help wanted sign on the door.

Have you ever seen a help wanted sign at a Chinese restaurant? Me neither. But there it was. And as I sat there, waiting for my dinner to come out, I thought about the help wanted sign. I wondered what it would be like for me to interview for a job waiting tables in this place.

I Was Looking For A Job When I Found This One

Restaurant owner: You really want to work, here?

Me: Yes.

Owner: Well, this is unprecedented.

Me: Really? No one has ever applied for a job here?

Owner: It’s just that you’re not…well, perhaps it’s better that I say it’s just that we’re all…it’s just, you’re not what we’re looking for.

Me: But you really haven’t asked me any interview questions.

Owner: Fine. Tell me about your work experience.

Me: Well, I was a police officer for twenty-eight years and I specialized in hostage negotiation for twenty-two. I also…

Owner: Did you ever negotiate in Mandarin?

Me: Mandarin, like those little canned orange slices?

Why are mandarin oranges the only canned citrus fruit? (image public domain – wikimedia)

Owner: Yeah, Sparky, like the orange slices. Your food is ready. Don’t call us, we’ll call you. Of course, if you want more food, you should call us.

Write, Or Get A Job Peeling Tiny Oranges

As it turns out, my food was ready at about the same time my imaginary job interview ended.

While I drove home, I thought about the interview. If I couldn’t get through an imaginary job interview with a Chinese restaurant manager whose conversational style was oddly similar to my own, my prospects out in the world were not very good. The book, if I could get it out of my head, would be very good.

And so I started working on the book again the next morning. The dry spell ended. I’m going to give myself a fair shot to make this book thing work. It can’t be harder than learning Mandarin, can it?

The dream lives.

So does my smile.

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In The Shadow Of Writer’s Block, Creativity Lives

If I were writing more often, I wouldn’t have to dust as much. (public domain image – wikimedia)

I’ve written this blog for almost five years. My ability to express myself has grown over those five years. My writing delivers my message more powerfully than it did at the beginning. I read my initial drafts and they make me smile. Being creative is cool.

Of course, my regular readers might have noticed that my creativity has not flowed in quite the same way recently. When I have an idea, the words to express it just don’t come. The ideas aren’t coming either. I suppose the nice thing about the lack of ideas is that I don’t have to struggle to express myself if I’ve no point to make.

I’ve had short periods of struggle before. Those periods make me certain that I’ll pull through this somewhat longer phase. My writing will flow again.

And yet, in the midst of this Sahara-like dry spell of mine, I run across occasional oases of creativity. Read the rest of this entry »


A Writer’s Dirty Underwear Is Neither Dirty Nor Underwear

Semicolon

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m back from vacation. Hope you’re all still here.

I had a great time seeing almost all the people who are on my kidney list. I saw and did so much, including having a few adventures I’ve dreamed of for a long time.

I’m back and I’m happily tired. So I’m slowly restarting the writing machine with a rambling discussion of an incomplete thought.

There was a good bit of driving and time alone on my trip. Alone time in the car provided me with a chance to sing and not have anyone ask me things like “do you know more than one note?”*

I took time between songs to solve the world’s problems and think about writing. Read the rest of this entry »


Dear Spammer

A lot of bright people read Blurt. It appears that you’re part of that bright group, because here you are again. I hope that you know that I appreciate your return and your supportive comments. Because of that, I can’t say that I will be devoting an entire post to any of your comments.

However, a spammer just left a comment on a piece I wrote about candy corn back in 2010. That comment I will do a post on.

English: Candy corn, specifically Brach's cand...

What’s it all about? (Photo credit: Wikipedia, public domain)

I believe in handling unpleasantness privately, praising publicly and communicating in a format where all parties are comfortable. Since this spam was intended for publication on my blog, I’m comfortable with responding here, in public.

The Spam

Here is the spam note from someone named Maik:

What i do not realize is in reality how you are now not actually a lot more
neatly-appreciated than you may be now. You are so intelligent.
You recognize therefore considerably in terms of this subject,
produced me in my opinion consider it from a lot
of numerous angles. Its like men and women are not involved unless it is something to do with Girl gaga!

Your individual stuffs outstanding. Always take care of it up!

The Response

Dear Maik,

Thanks for recognizing that I’m under appreciated. I too, have a hard time realizing that I’m not actually as appreciated in reality as I am in my fantasy life. In that fantasy life, women swoon and men seek me out as a role model, a buddy and a mentor.

Transferring that to reality, where it belongs, doesn’t work. Because I struggle with understanding that I am not actually as appreciated as I could be, I make the mistake of shunning potential golf buddies because, hey, swooning women. Sadly, it seems that not being highly appreciated leads to minimal swooning.

If you put the fantasy versus reality thing aside, I’m intelligent. You are intelligent for recognizing that. Your intelligence eclipses the fact that you call yourself Maik when everyone else spells your name M-i-k-e. You could be better than using some pretentious misspelling of your name to garner attention. You could be, you’re just not.

Mike, a writer’s task is to move people to consider and imagine his vision. I’m thrilled to hear that you are going to consider candy corn from different angles because of what I had to say. Hearing that from your ilk makes me want to say that my work here is done. It isn’t. I’ve got more opinions, Mike. I won’t rest until you’ve read them all.

Spam, served with corn kernels

Spam, served with corn kernels (Photo credit: Wikipedia, public domain)

No, I’m not nearly finished with you, Mike. I’m not finished because despite all the effort I put into my candy corn essay, you missed the point. How dare you come here and try to compete with the wisdom of the vast Blurt readership by saying “its like men and women are not involved unless it is something to do with Girl gaga”.

It is nothing like that. You’re the only one who says it is.

It’s just candy corn. Until you understand that, you’ll stay in my spam folder, where you belong…with your friends who want to sell me designer handbags, optimize my blog for search engines or optimize me for better girl gaga.

Good day, sir.


Sometimes It Isn’t What You Write, It’s What You Write On

English: Southwest Airlines 737-300 N310SW. I ...

The scene (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When I find something to write about, I make a note to myself about it. Topics that I am eager to handle are a big problem. I want to sit down and go right to work. Life doesn’t always allow for that.

The idea for a post on Airport Pizza came to me last week. In the few minutes I had between forming the idea and boarding a plane I stored the first few lines of the post in my phone. Read the rest of this entry »


Airport pizza

When I was in high school, I had an English teacher who insisted it was always wrong to write using absolute terms like always or never.

It seemed strange to me that a person could have an absolute rule against absolutes. Besides, if we were not meant to use always and never, why were those words in the language?

Mr. Arthur Is Always Partly Right

Italy's worst pizza - Milan airport

With all due respect, sir, the proof is on the crust. (Photo credit: Florizel Media)

Mr. Arthur could never answer why the words existed, but always red-penned my papers when I used them. I don’t write for Mr. Arthur anymore, so I use the forbidden words. Read the rest of this entry »


We All Need Space, Especially Al.

Long ago, I realized that for men named Lou, the only possible nickname is Big Lou. Big and Lou just fit together. They bring a certain toughness and a particular image when they are combined. Lou is just a guy. Big Lou is someone you don’t fool with. Lou has a few friends. Big Lou, he has people, if you know what I’m saying. Read the rest of this entry »


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