Odds & Ends – January 7, 2021


Looking for a piece born, kicked around, and rejected sometime between May and June of last year, I stumbled across a piece I published on another site.  Wandering around the archives, I often get lost that way.  There’s not a thumb big enough to hold my place while I explore things unrelated to the object of my search.  Things, up to that point I’d forgotten.

I see a shiny object, I have to pick it up and give it a good look.  You’ve done the same. Thinking just now, why didn’t this receive better press? Does it need rework? 

This one didn’t get good press because I clearly announced to my “peers” it was a less-than subtle reminder to spend more energy prior to “publishing” on the site.  Save “Streams of Consciousness,” that old site was not a blog.  Even then, not an excuse.  As bloggers, we tend to (we shouldn’t) pay less attention to flicking-off bits of dust, polishing murky spots, and insuring accurate perspective.  Some there on that site probably took it personally (some should have, it was intended that way) and then took offense.  It wasn’t the first time I’d chastised my peers – a task I always undertake with a healthy dose of self-deprecation.

Here’s the piece. Unedited.  What do you think?

Personal Precepts

Write like it’s important, like it matters.  It is, and it does.
Write like someone depends on you, they crave your words.  They do, they might.

Edit like there’s no tomorrow.  There’s not.
Edit like it doesn’t hurt.  Expect it to.

Revise like you erred.  You did.  Fix it.
Revise for the precise word.  It exists.  Find it.

Read aloud like a love song to yourself.  It should be.
Read with meaning.  If there is none, ask why?

Listen to what you wrote.  More with heart than ears.
Listen to the words’ music.  Melodies of color, texture, and emotion.

Wait, if it’s not ready, for it to mature.  It will.  So will you.
Wait on beginning and ending suns.  They herald new passions.

Watch your audience. Their eyes will say more than their mouths.
Watch for a reader’s hesitance.  Seen, you missed the mark.

Explain only if asked.  You might be, but don’t expect it.
Explain when asked, only what you said.  Not what it means.

Apologize only for punctuation.  But try; commas are seldom fatal.
Apologize otherwise for nothing.  It’s your soul and your truth.

Tolerate failure.  It foreshadows success.
Tolerate imperfection. It is an itch to scratch.

Trash the whole epic. Often that’s noble.
Trash self-doubt.  If you have no faith, no one does.

Let your characters talk to you.  They will write your story.
Let your story embrace your moral.  All three of you will be stronger.

I often ignore these reminders.  It shows.

© SPWilcen 2020 on Prose 7/2/2020

Attributable quotes?

The key there was the word ‘fatal.’  I went there recalling an old rip of something attributed to Robert Fulghum: “Sticks and stones may break our bones, but words will break our hearts.

Which goes back to Alexander Wm Kinglake and beyond.

Which likely goes back to biblical reference as suggested by this resource, and is well documented here.

What I sought was in another folder, “Scratchpad,” much like my recently purged WordPress “Pending” folder. Moldering in a section entitled “Non sequitur” under the heading, “On Second Thought.”

So I offer from my notes of May 2020 something I believe has stronger impact:

Sticks and stones may break some bones, but words is always fatal.

In parting

There were several other unmounted gems there with “sticks and stones.” For example:

Bubba Chester was fond of saying,

   “You can fool some folks all the time, but you can’t fool all the folks none of the time, accounta some them summiches is onto ya every time.”

I strongly suspect Bubba might have attributed that to Jacques Abadie in a smoother form circa 1684, but in so doing, his statement would lose some of its piquancy.  A staunch Democrat, Bubba certainly wouldn’t, as many do, credit Abe Lincoln.

I realize the thread runs thin in “all the folks none of the time.”  Maybe shoulda been “all the folks much of the time.” If you agree, don’t fault me.  Take it up with Bubba.

Published by spwilcen

Retired career IT software engineer, or as we were called in the old days, programmer, it's time to empty my file cabinet of all the "creative" writing accumulated over the years - toss most of it, salvage and publish what is worthwhile.

22 thoughts on “Odds & Ends – January 7, 2021

    1. Thank you for your input. Am getting a shade of different philosophy especially from those who write to exorcise devils. I understand that but hold in reserve if you make your work public and it is less than the best it can be given your current mindset, you deprive your audience of some bit of truth. Reading has been for me all my life learning and growth; writing my opportunity to return the favor. Still a voracious reader – that because others’ thoughts still enlighten, educate, and amuse. Every one of the writers I know. Do well today, sir!

      1. Couldn’t agree more, an avid reader myself, I learn something new still almost every day. And other people’s thoughts hopefully make us question our own preconceptions. And an enlightening day to you, sir!

  1. I guess I’m different. Not a “real” writer. (Aside from not really sitting down and writing anything.) I, however, write for myself. What excites me. What interests me. The story I have to tell FOR Myself. If I try writing for particular people, I miss the rest of the audience. Don’t write like someone depends on your words; it puts blinders on what you could be writing. The things you could be saying. If you write for yourself a story that you believe in, that you want to follow up on, other people will find it.
    But what do I know? My blog has been up almost 15 years and I still have less than 10k visitors.

    1. I consider you a writer of the first water. Your vantage point (to me it seems) pragmatic and aligned with the “blog” idea, and spot-on. You see, the “other” site was a “creative” place, a writers’ workshop, with stated intent to help writers help other writers become better writers, not a blog site. Which, with an influx of children, became more a social page, a place to “dump” junk. When attempting creative works many failed to exercise even the most rudimentary care for clarity and form, expecting praise for inferior work. Without written variety, reading holds no interest. Writing for yourself, your polish amuses, entertains, and whether you care to admit or not, enlightens. Not that you write FOR anyone else, but if someone else reads you, they should be able to understand. Mission accomplished, eh? Thanks for your valued input, Doc. Again, I am encouraged to grow.

  2. I think there’s a lot of truth in there, I think a good anything is polished and polished, and we probably sould all polish some more. But in saying that, I’m kinda mindful that some writers have polished as best they can.
    But I think it’s quite disrespectful to our readers, if we expect then to stick with any old crap that we write. I never get involved in “stream of consciousness” stuff for that reason.
    But would I say anything? No, it’s easier just to skip.

    1. “Polished as best they can.” Which brings me to my opinion that many writers attempting creative works shouldn’t. WP is sometimes a declared blog site, where “stream of consciousness” is expected and except for gems, transient. Transience which suggests informality and rough edges. It is clear where writers present more than “for breakfast today I had…” When a (creative) idea as vehicle for philosophy or moral or entertainment is what’s afoot, it is work, art, and should be polished to best benefit the reader, intended or otherwise. I too, hold criticism on creative pieces unless it is solicited, then “approach the bench” privately. Thanks, again, Mr. Bump for contributing sage perspective to my education.

      1. I certainly have an attitude, when I post something, that it should be perfect. And, okay, it never gets there., but I’ll do what I can.
        I wonder if every (blgger/writer) could say that? I bet some couldn’t.

  3. Oh the wisdom that comes with age. If only we could live to be 200 (kill that thought straight away!).
    A good piece my friend. The two couplets about revision and explanation made me stop and think. Mr Bump is right when he says we should not be posting any old crap! There is no reason why we can’t continue to polish a piece once it has been posted though.

    1. “Live to be 200”? Hell, I’m having difficulty with my first century! Don’t recall any of the authors so far commenting as writing “crap.” That’s because they are writers (by trade or by natural skill) not bloggers, even if blogging is their declaration. When I post and find mistakes, with no one watching, I blush crimson, correct myself. Not to do so is an affront to my readers and suggests I am illiterate and something of a boob. I am both, but trying not to be. Thank you MP, for contributing to the education of spwilcen. Your input, everyone’s input, is most highly valued. If I cannot at some point become a real writer, I need to go to trade school and learn masonry or welding. Which, stay tuned, I may well do.

      1. 😂😂 ……..and don’t be so self effacing! You are a real writer, whatever that means? Some of the stuff you produce is brilliant!

      2. You are most flattering, but I cannot afford compensation. I follow some pretty durned good writers. Sets the bar high. Eureka! Solution! Stop following good writers! Easy-peasy. Whyn’t it occur to me before? Oh. Stop? Then not learn these good things? Conundrum…

    1. Thank you for dropping by. Now, all I need do is follow my own advice. What is it? “Physician, heal thyself.” Jesus, as recorded by Luke.

  4. Brilliant as always SP! Very interesting suggestions. However when I revise my work I don’t usually make changes, those I do during the re-writes a step before but I like your narrative. Take good care my friend and all the best,

    1. I’d consider re-write an edit. Semantics and regardless, what ever works best. Thank you my Andalusian friend for taking time to chat this late evening. Zooks! It occurs to me Valencia is south(ish) and east, on your Iberian peninsula, but are you Andalusian? So much to learn! Good evening, Sir.

      1. No, I love Andalucía and their culture but I am actually from the north, Asturias, we live in Valencia because it has the best weather and best beaches in Iberia. All the best my friend,

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