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:

Steven Pressfield – Writing Quote Wednesday

Writing Quote created by Paul Jenny from photo

Writing Quote created by Paul Jenny from photo

NaNoWriMo is almost upon us. Thousands of writers will be sweating out a first draft of 50K words between November 1-30, 2014. I took this week’s writing quote from Steven Pressfield’s inspirational manifesto – Do the Work! (I HIGHLY recommend you pick up this book if you don’t have it.) I think it embodies the spirit of NaNoWriMo – don’t try to control your idea, figure out what is is and wants to be and then bring it into being.

I’ll also be posting a more extensive post about Getting NaNoWriMo Done soon. Look for it over the next day or two.

Please leave a comment about your success or failure with NaNoWriMo in the past few years. I’m curious to hear how people have done in the past, whether you completed (and sent out) your novel after writing your first draft and what you hope to accomplish this year.

Thank you for commenting! I love hearing from everyone.

Harlan Ellison – Writing Quote Wednesday

Harlan Ellison Qo

Writing Quote created by Paul Jenny using Flickr photo by Cory Doctorow

I really love making these Writing Quote Wednesday posters for Stories are the Wildest Things. I get to look for images on that are listed as Creative Commons. I love doing research about the writers quoted and sometimes add their work to my TBR list. I learn something about writing and myself with each quote I publish.

I especially love that I’m quoting Harlan Ellison using a photo put on Flickr by Cory Doctorow (CC License) of two covers of pulp fiction novels by the “author of Sex Gang, Paul Merchant”, who also happens to be Harlan Ellison. (You should definitely click on that link to Sex Gang over at You’ll be amazed at what price that collectible novel is going for. If you buy it, let me know.)

Today’s quote is one that I originally saw on Twitter via Jon Winokur on @AdvicetoWriters. Jon has tons of great advice and I’ve been following his Twitter feed and the Advice to Writers site for some time. I’m always inspired by what he puts out there. Thanks for the inspiration, Jon!

Here’s a video from Harlan Ellison’s YouTube channel called “Pay the Writer” from Erik Nelson’s definitive Ellison doc, Dreams With Sharp Teeth. (Some NSFW language in typical Ellison style) Enjoy!

Please leave a comment about staying a writer, Harlan Ellison, Jon Winokur (or anything else you’re inspired to share) in the comments section. I love hearing from you.

Julio Cortazár – Writing Quote Wednesday


Julio Cortazár Writing Quote by Paul Jenny using royalty free photo from

Julio Cortazár, professor, translator, boxing enthusiast, prolific novelist, playwright, poet, essayist and master of the short story (i.e. a WRITER) was born in Belgium in 1914 to Argentine parents but emigrated to France in 1951. He was granted French citizenship in 1981 and he died in Paris in 1984.

His father left the family when he was six. His mother, a prolific reader, introduced him to the works of Jules Verne and in Plural magazine (issue 44, Mexico City, May 1975) he was quoted as saying, “I spent my childhood in a haze full of goblins and elves, with a sense of space and time that was different from everybody else’s.”

What is your more intense and compelling reality?

Send me your short stories to and I’ll read them on the Stories are the Wildest Things Podcast. You can hear the first episode HERE.


 Watch more about Julio in this YouTube video.