Humor, On Writing

Choose Laughter

17 Nov , 2018  

Any time you have a choice between tears and laughter, choose laughter. Crying only adds insult to injury by giving you a stuffy nose.

Dear Constant Reader, has it really been weeks since we had coffee and a chat? At first, I found the emails vaguely insulting: No fewer than four friends forwarded, to me, articles on how to write; writing prompts; non-fiction writing advice; fiction writing advice; links to writing challenges – you get the picture. At first, it was demotivating. “You think I need this? This? Is my writing that bad?” I burrowed deeper under the covers. I threw myself into work, which has lately been the equivalent of one and a half full-time jobs, anyway. In anticipation of taking all the vacation I’ve hoarded, working on this current project, I ignored my blog even more. Last night, a little voice (snickering in my ear) suggested maybe it was all just a hint. Maybe these friends were trying to jostle me out of my apparent writing coma with little things: “Just tap the keys…”

It didn’t help that my doctor now, apparently, thinks I’m “geriatric” and gives me little word puzzles to assess my mental status: “Spell ‘world’ backwards.”

“I’m sorry, but that isn’t even a challenge,” I mutter. “Can I try ‘floccinaucinihilipilification’ backwards, instead?” I don’t actually say this. I can spell it forwards in my sleep. Backwards, it might make her wonder if I’m drunk. “d-l-r-o-w,” I grudgingly answer between clenched teeth. When I was in 8th grade, our math teacher stunned me by teaching the class the decimal system: Repeat after me: one, two, three, four… No, really, he was serious. …five, six… I, the utter incompetent when it came to math, raised my hand and asked, Could we do this in Base 8, just to keep it interesting?  Oh, yes, I did. I wasn’t even being sarcastic about it. I just…couldn’t.

Next question: “Give me a sentence containing a noun and a verb.”

I ponder a moment, then realize speed is more important than crafting a short, pithy, Hemingway-esque sentence. “How about, ‘The meteor hit the doctor’s reception desk, causing all the patients to cancel their appointments.'” Cheshire Cat smiles sweetly, all the while thinking, Diagram that, biotch. I think she’s psychic. Pretty sure she heard me thinking it.

The only one I struggled with was the spatial relationship puzzle: Sketch a pentagon right-side up with a slightly overlapping one to the right, upside-down. I mean, it wasn’t even an oral  instruction that required me to remember the difference between a pentagon and a hexadecagon and a stop sign – I just had to copy the printed picture from her questionnaire. Mentally, I was back in grade school, taking some IQ test. I’d have done doubles on analogies and timed reading comprehension, just to get out of spatial relationship puzzles. Oh-please-God-not-the-shape-thingies!! I felt panic creeping in, trying to slam shut the steel garage doors in my head. Those little things have caused me brain freeze since I was six. I passed, of course, but had a perverse urge to give her an elaborate house-tree-person drawing, instead, complete with creepy shadow in the attic, snakes in the apple tree, and a little child-scribbled Rorschach blot on the ground at the mother’s feet. Instead, I proved I can’t draw a straight line without a ruler to save my life.

So, here I am, proving to you that I can still craft a sentence. Forgive me, Reader, for I have sinned. It has been thirteen days since my last post…

Oh, thank God my doctor didn’t ask me to compose a Villanelle – I might still be sitting in her office!


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14 Responses

  1. Rummuser says:

    You are forgiven. You are after all human!

  2. Alana says:

    I don’t think I could spell “world” backwards now. I don’t think I could spell “world” backwards when I was 10. I nearly failed English in 10th grade because I couldn’t spell, and the teacher also thought I didn’t participate in class enough. And I’m terrified of the shape-thingies, too. I nearly failed mechanical drawing in high school, but that’s a story for another comment.

  3. Shilpa Gupte says:

    The week before last, I, too, had developed an aversion to anything to do with blogging. I didn’t even touch my laptop for the entire week. All I did was eat, read and draw. Yes, I was so addicted to drawing that week, that I was contemplating shutting down my blog and beginning an art blog!! But, last week, thankfully, I regained my senses and got back to blogging, afresh.

    You ought to take that break, Holly. If it doesn’t come from within, there is no point in just writing one word after the other and finding the exercise too much to handle. You already have one and a half full time job to deal with!!

    • “You ought to take that break…” 🙂 Of course – and how often have I said that to others!? I think writing, drawing, art, photography, music, pottery – all are different ways we express what’s in us. And we can’t use the same “words” of that “creative language” all the time. I see each as a subset of the other. My vocabulary may not include all the words of music, but I enjoy listening when other speak. I don’t have a good way to express myself in pottery, but I appreciate it in others. Sometimes, what’s in us is still and silent and visual (or visually loud, but not so much in words or music). We can’t write if the thing that needs to come out isn’t WORDS.

      • I challenge you to rethink that last sentence. For years, I made an effort to describe things to others in non-conventional ways. It began as a child, when I tried to tell my dad about the inferior quality of some off-brand hotdogs: “They taste like dog food!”

        Having never actually tasted the latter, I never fully understood how I could have made that association, until years later, when I realized that I was really trying to say that the smell of the hotdogs were similar to our pet’s canned dog food; thus I assumed the two would taste the same.

        Other descriptions, like exquisite pain and vivid dreams, evoke a need to put word to the sensations. My latest, feeble attempts are trying to describe the exact sounds of my brand of tinnitus. These sounds are nothing like those described in the dictionary. LOL



      • No, I wrote what I meant to; when I say “the thing that needs to come out,” I’m referring to the creative urge. Not to the urge to find the perfect verbal expression of a challenging concept to write.

  4. Shilpa Garg says:

    This is my first visit to your blog and I love the way you write.
    Going by this fun and refreshing post, I dont think you had writing coma ever. I will be back for more!

    • No, I was never in a writing coma. 😉 I roll my eyes when someone says, “Keep writing.” I know they mean well, but if they knew me at all, they’d know my response is always, “Try to stop me.” I do hope you’ll come back for more. That’s what keeps me writing in PUBLIC, anyway. The highest praise, for me, is “I had fun reading this.” So thank you for that, and I do hope you’ll be back.

  5. Go and say two Our Fathers and three Hail Marys!!
    Oh dear, I’ll have to join you too, I’ve been having a brain freeze and rehashing old posts! 😉

  6. Hahaha! Your posts always get me out of any bad moods that are still lurking around.

  7. Now, about OUR project(s)!!!!


    I know it is cliché, but I simply wait for inspiration. I never understood the obsession with blogging on schedule. Even when I was in the thick of the CommentLuv Reciprocity Movement, I wrote when I felt like it. Thankfully, I almost always feel like writing…

    Happy Thanksgiving!



    • The only reason to blog on a schedule – well, there are two: readers (imagine if the newspaper only came out when journalists felt inspired?), and search engines (bloggers get forgotten quickly if they don’t feed the machine SOMETHING).

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