Neil Gaiman – Writing Quote Wednesday


(Credit: Writing Quote created by Paul Jenny using Flickr photo by Clinton Steeds)

As I was driving to Home Depot to buy a piece of plywood for my brother-in-law’s Thanksgiving table, the name Jack Dunphy popped into my head from nowhere. I had no idea where it came from or who Jack Dunphy was, but my subconscious or the aether or a daemon or something told me I should remember that name and look it up when I got back to the house.

It was raining the kind of rain that feels like someone has poked holes in a bag of ice and is letting the water drain on top of your head. We loaded up the board and drove home, dried it off, sanded it down and put it on top of the table we’ll be using to celebrate the holiday.

When we finished, I went to my laptop and typed in Jack Dunphy. This is who Jack Dunphy is:


(Credit: Flickr photo by Peggy O’Connor)

He was a ballet dancer, novelist, a soldier during WWII and the lover of Truman Capote. He was married to and divorced from Joan McCracken. He was from Philadelphia, my hometown.

So why did his name jump into my head?


I don’t remember reading any of his novels or knowing his name in relation to Capote. Why does this happen?

When I first thought of the name, I remember thinking, “That would make a great name for a writer.” Ha!

The next thought I had was that I should use it for the name of a character in a horror series. The Jack Dunphy novels. Then, because I didn’t have my cellphone with me, I told myself to remember the name so that I could look it up when I got home.

In some ways I’m disappointed that the name is of someone famous. I was really hoping I could use it for a story. But now that I’m writing this post, I realize there are so many ways I could use this random discovery. I could tell a similar story about a person inspired by Jack Dunphy. I could use the name anyway. I could combine the name with another name. I could read some of Jack Dunphy’s novels and see what they inspire.

Who knows why the universe wanted me to connect to this interesting person Jack Dunphy? But searching for the answer will lead me on yet another fascinating journey. I hope you’ll follow your random thoughts and ideas to their conclusions as well. Please leave me a comment about any times this might have happened to you, I’d love to hear about it.

Videos from Discovery News you might find interesting:

Don’t Stop Daydreaming

What Kind of Bored are You?


Other books by Jack Dunphy you might be interested in:

Amanda Palmer – Writing Quote Wednesday

(Credit: Writing Quote created by Paul Jenny using photo by GaborfromHungary)

(Credit: Writing Quote created by Paul Jenny using photo by GaborfromHungary)

Amanda Palmer’s new book The Art of Asking” is now available on Amazon. It seems she got caught up in the Amazon/Hachette brouhaha that’s been going around in publishing circles. For now, the publishers have declared themselves satisfied (according to this Times article).


The reason I chose this quote for Writing Quote Wednesday is that I recently watched Palmer’s TED talk (after finding out more about her from Ksenia Anske) and was thinking a lot about her ideas of “asking” people to support you as an artist. She says you can’t make people buy what you create. You have to ask them to.

You can watch the talk here:

If you don’t have the time to watch the video, she also mentions that when she was working as a “living statue” street performer people would sometimes drive by and yell, “Get a job!”

That “get a job” mentality that is heaped upon anyone who dares to make a living in the arts is so pervasive, so insidious in our culture, that we even say it to ourselves.

I find myself saying “get a job” as I sit down to create a world from nothing but my imagination and life experience. I’ll be working on my latest story and that little voice in my head keeps saying, “Get a job! What are you doing with your life?”

There is a guilt and shame that I feel sometimes when I am doing my own creative work. I think, “I’m not working for someone else, so it must not be of value. Get a job.” People don’t consider it a job, or they think that because I enjoy what I do that it is somehow less difficult than other forms of work. The amount of time it takes to create something new can be immense. You have to take the time to play and think and consider and fail and rebuild and learn and do. It might look like play to someone from the outside, but those of us who have done it know that it is a lot of hard work, too.

I find myself saying it when I’m in the middle of a performance and the audience is sitting on the edge of their seats and I can feel them listening to what I’m saying. I can feel the connection between us and then I start to worry if it will last. Suddenly, that voice again, “Who do you think you are? Get a job! This is too intimate. This is too risky. This is too…” fill in the BLANK. It takes me right out of the moment of creation and into the worry about survival. Where is the next job coming from? How will I survive?

I find myself saying it when the bills come due and the bank account is bleeding out. “Get a job,” that insistent voice says. Those people who love me most have said it over and over again. Not directly, but in hundreds of little ways they may not even be aware of. The strident tones of voice. The sideways glances. The looks on faces.

Sometimes, when I’m feeling brave, I answer the voice back. I say, “Quiet down, you. I have a job. I create for a living. I take nothing and make it into something. I am working for someone else – the people who want to hear my stories. My job is to be in collaboration with them. To ask, without shame, for people to share in this journey with me.”

That shuts him up for a little awhile.

It’s time to be brave again. I’m asking you now. Please support the Fiction Unboxed short story anthology “Beyond the Gate” by downloading it on Amazon. It’s FREE. (It’s also available on other major booksellers.) Then leave us a short review. We’d love to hear from you.

I’m also working on the novel length version of my story “My Strength Will Ease Your Sorrow” from that anthology. I ask that if you’d like to know when it’s available, please sign up for the email list.

If you feel inspired, please share your “get a job” and “asking for” stories in the comments section.

Thank you for all you do!

Here’s more Amanda Palmer to make your day brighter:

Also, please stop by Amanda’s Blog.

Anne Lamott – Writing Quote Wednesday

Anyone else having trouble just writing and not editing as you go?

I tend to go back and start fixing things right away, because I can’t seem to let the words just sit there on the page. I feel like I have to shape them as I go and it’s slowing me down. I have to remember that I’m trying to get a first draft done quickly so that I can go back and shape it later.

I have to keep telling myself, “It’s supposed to look like this.”

What do you do to keep writing when all you want to do is stop and put the pieces in the right place? Leave me a comment or send me a suggestion on Twitter. Have a great writing day and keep me posted on your NaNoWriMo progress.

Writing Quote created by Paul Jenny

Writing Quote created by Paul Jenny

Show Me Your #WriMoFace!

Paul's WriMo Face

Paul’s WriMo Face

Day 3 and I’m behind. I had huge travel days recently. I went from Newark, Delaware to New York City, New York City to Pleasant Valley, New York. Pleasant Valley to New Paltz, NY. New Paltz back to New York City. New York City to Poughkeepsie and I head back to Newark, Delaware tomorrow. My head is spinning and I’ve had about five hours of sleep in the past two days.

I worked on my NaNoWriMo novel on my phone, my tablet, and my wife’s computer. I had dreams about it last night. I still haven’t entered an official word count on the WriMo site because I’m waiting to dump everything into Scrivener. As I was working on it today at Starbucks, I decided to take a break. I opened up Photo Booth on my wife’s Mac and snapped a photo of me working on my novel. Then I thought it might be fun to see what everyone looks like as they are working on their novels, so I wrote this quick post.

Here’s what I want you to do. Take a selfie of you working on your novel and share it on Twitter with the hashtag #wrimoface or just include a link in the comments and we’ll be able to check them out. (Extra points for creativity, mine was pretty boring.)

Have fun everyone! (I’ll be posting word counts later tonight and I hope to be caught up.) If you need support, don’t hesitate to reach out. Keep writing. Your stories are the wildest things!


(P.S. This is my 100th post on Stories are the Wildest Things. Thank you for your support!)