Carpe Diem – The Death of Robin Williams

The death and apparent suicide of Robin Williams saddens me. In addition to being a writer, I’m a comic actor and improviser and Williams is someone I’ve always greatly admired. I owned rainbow suspenders as a kid and quoted Mork and Mindy and his stand-up recordings all the time.

Williams once drew a doodle for a fundraiser that Live Bait, a small theatre company in Chicago, was having to raise money for their season. It was a fun and expressive drawing of Albert Einstein in a flying car in Williams’ flowing hand and it said, “Einstein traveling at the Speed of Life!”

I wanted that drawing so badly because I thought if I owned something Williams created, some of his creativity might rub off on me as well. Sadly, I didn’t win the drawing because it was one of the more expensive pieces to be auctioned off that night.

I did win a doodle by George Carlin, though. His drawing was a series of heavy straight lines connected in a series of angles. The straight lines seemed too stiff for the philosopher comedian, but I was glad to have it. If anyone has a copy of the Robin Williams drawing, I’d love to see a photo of it after all these years.

Like many, one of my favorite Robin Williams films is Dead Poet’s Society. 

One of my favorite moments in the film is when Robin Williams, as John Keating, kneeling on the floor speaking to his charges says, “We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life.

But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for. To quote from Whitman, ‘O me! O life!…of the questions of these recurring; of the endless trains of the faithless…of cities filled with the foolish; what good amid these, O me, O life?’ Answer. That you are here – that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse.

That the powerful play *goes on* and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?”

I ask this question of myself often.

Oh, Captain, my Captain, you will be sorely missed.

Flickr photo by Charles Haynes

Flickr photo by Charles Haynes

Anne Lamott on Williams’ suicide https://www.facebook.com/AnneLamott?fref=nf

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Steven Pressfield – Writing Quote Wednesday

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Writing quote created by Paul Jenny from Flickr photo “Black Marble” by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Don’t cheat us of your contribution! Leave a link in the comments section to your latest gift to the world and every being in it. Stories truly are the wildest things.

If you need a writing prompt to get you started, click through to my WRITING PROMPTS here.

You can find more of Steven Pressfield at his website: http://www.stevenpressfield.com/

Flickr photo by NASA (CC License)

Lambert – Wildest Word of the Day

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Photo by Michael Kearns

According to The Phrontistery (The Thinking Place) and their list of unusual words, lambert is a unit of brightness and light.

It was also the maiden name of my maternal grandmother (pictured above) who died recently after breaking her tailbone and having a heart attack as a result. She was 90 years old. Her oldest daughter, my mother, died at 42. My grandmother never quite recovered from losing her daughter so young and so the past 25 years have been hard on her.

I would like to celebrate the laughter and light I remember as a child visiting my grandmother by sharing this word of the day.

62 Days of Lunchbox Sketches in Under 3 Minutes

As working parents, our 4-year-old was in two different schools for daycare this year.

One of them provided lunch but for the other I had to pack him a lunch two days a week.

No matter how tired I was as I stuffed celery and juice boxes and bagels inside the Elmo lunchbox, I always included a quick Sharpie sketch on a Post-it note to let him know we were thinking about him during the day.

Sometimes the sketches were random things to make him laugh and sometimes they had something to do with what happened the day before. When I picked him up from daycare we would talk about that day’s sketch. It was a nice ritual and a fun way to let him know we care.

I saved the sketches and made this short video so he could remember them. I had to rescue them from the soggy lunchbox each day after school and some of them ended up more wrinkled and damp than I intended.

Shown together, the images tell a silly story of what happened to us and how much we laughed this year. Any images of commercial characters are parodies and not meant to infringe on any copyright.

Thanks for watching!

The music is Disco con Tutti, royalty-free music from http://incompetech.com/music/royalty-free.

Writing Prompt 05: World’s 10 Most Mysterious Photographs

For this prompt choose one of the 10 photographs from this fascinating video by Hybrid Librarian and write a story that relates to the actual photograph or the circumstances surrounding or suggested by the photograph. I’m particularly drawn to the photograph of STS088-724-66, the Black Knight satellite.

An alternative would be to write a story about an album of mysterious photographs that someone finds or is given.

  • Why are the photographs in the album?
  • What do they depict?
  • What does the protagonist need to do to solve the mystery of the photographs?

When you write a story using this prompt, please send me a link. If you have any other ideas based on this prompt, leave a comment. Thanks for sharing!

Stories are the Wildest Things.

Philip Pullman – Writing Quote Wednesday

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Writing Quote created by Paul Jenny with Flickr photo by Joseph Voves

I like to say we human beings live in story like fish live in water. Take fish out of water and they can’t live, they flop around gasping for breath wondering, “What happened?”

The same is true for us. We ask the same question, over and over again, every day of our lives.

“What happened?”

When we don’t answer that question we feel just like those poor fish.

When we experience anything, major or minor, we tell a story to relate it to those we care about (or to anyone who will listen). We want to share our experience with others and let them know, “This is how it is for me.”

I’m grateful that I get to do that every day as part of my human being-ness. I chose Mr. Pullman’s quote today because it puts the importance of story right up there with shelter, nourishment and companionship.

Please leave a comment about something that happened to you recently that made a big difference in your life. I’d love to hear about it.

Stories are the Wildest Things.

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Watch Philip Pullman doing an Open University lecture about his writing on YouTube.com

Flickr photo by Joseph Voves (CC License)

Harlan Coben – Writing Quote Wednesday

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Writing Quote created by Paul Jenny with Flickr photo “Kali Sweats it Out” by Abhisek Sarda

This gorgeous photo by Abhisek Sarda perfectly embodies this quote by Harlan Coben and how I feel right now working on the first draft of my MG adventure novel.

Kali is the Goddess of Time, Change and Destruction, and I feel like she is always close at hand any time we begin a creative act.

I sit down at the keyboard, inspired, ready to get more words on the page. As time passes, I begin to sweat because the story I have in my mind isn’t flowing as easily onto the page. With mounting desperation, I wrestle with my characters as they threaten to change and destroy the original idea of where the story is going.

But the beauty of Kali and the wisdom she imparts is that she is the “ultimate reality” and her change is inevitable. Like a devotee of Kali, I have to give in time and change and destruction. Resistance is futile. She is a goddess and she demands our full attention with her three eyes, four hands, skirt of human hands and necklace of skulls.

So do our stories, for they are the wildest things.

“O Mother, even a dullard becomes a poet who meditates upon thee raimented with space, three-eyed, creatrix of the three worlds, whose waist is beautiful with a girdle made of numbers of dead men’s arms…” (From a Karpuradistotra hymn, translated from Sanskrit by Sir John Woodroffe)

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Watch Harlan Coben talk about his early writing on RT Book Reviews on YouTube.com

 

Annie Dillard – Writing Quote Wednesday

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Created by Paul Jenny using a Flickr photo by Julie Jordan Scott

Annie’s writing keeps me thinking deeply about the writing process and I keep a copy of “The Writing Life” on my desk to refer to often. If you don’t have a copy, pick up one HERE.

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Watch this inspirational writing video by WritingAlchemy.com about Annie Dillard’s The Writing Life and her idea to “follow the line of words“.

Soccer – Wildest Word of the Day

With all this talk of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, I started thinking about the origin of the word “soccer”. A lot of countries other than ours call it “football”. We’re often made to feel bad and wrong for calling it soccer. But where did the word come from and which one is more “correct”?

I did a bit of searching around on the internet and found a lot of different sources by Daven Hiskey wrote a great article called “The Origin of the Word ‘Soccer'” that is one of the best.

According to Hiskey, the word “soccer” preceded the word “football” by about eighteen years.

Apparently the word soccer came about because British school boys had a habit of  speaking in slang by adding-er to the ends of shortened forms of the words. Thus, rugby became “rugger” and Associated Football, the original name for the sport became known as “assoccer” which was shortened even further to “soccer.” Legend has it that the first use of the term came from the Oxfordian (Oxer?) Charles Wredford-Brown who was asked if he’d like to play a game of “rugger” and he replied that he preferred to play “soccer.” This supposedly happened right around 1863, shortly after the creation of Associated Football. It was considered a sport for gentlemen and played by the upper classes but quickly became popular with the middle and lower classes as well. When this happened, around 1881, everyone shortened the name from Associated Football to just football.

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Charles Wreford-Brown from Myfootballfacts.com