The Perfect Word

Hubby and I have many conversations (some say arguments) about the perfect word.  We discuss the connotative and denotative meaning of words.  The grandchildren have been known to say,  “Opa, you use such big words.”  Hubby does tend toward the fustian*, but if left to him, the grandchildren will be more than ready for their college entrance exams.

My words tend away from the ostentatious to the common, and I find little need for vulgarity, although I will admit that when I burned my hand recently something vulgar may have passed my lips.  As one who aspires to be a professional communicator, I have no prejudice against certain words.  The words that communicate your message in the way you would like it to be received are good words.

So many people just don’t realized that what others hear, sometimes bears little resemblance to what is meant.  Toss in words few are familiar with, and your listener could lose your meaning.  Before you jump to the erroneous conclusion that am advocating talking down to your listener, rest assured that is not at all the case.

It is as Hubby, once a technical writer, always tells me about writing.  “Write so that you cannot be misunderstood.”  The same is true of speaking.  Build a little redundancy into your communication, so that new words can be understood, rather than out of reach of some listeners understanding.  It just isn’t a perfect word, if you leave your listener (or reader) wondering what the heck you mean.

I agree with T.S. Elliot.  Toss the “complete consort” of words into the salad, combining the old and the new.

* It is interesting to note that upon checking the spelling of the word fustian, and stopping to read the definition, that the word original denoted a course woven cotton or linen, and has come to denote a thick cotton fabric such as corduroy or velveteen.  Nice fabrics, but hardly fustian as in pompous or pretentious.  

Vegetal Beginning of a Story

Yesterday’s post seems to need a little clarification.  I hope you will forgive my vegetal beginnings of what I hope can be turned into something good.  I’ve written several essays that have been very well received, but yesterday may have been a little two dark.  Maybe this beginning would have been better written in my private journal.

Recent political rhetoric has stirred passions about how women are treated, and how women are valued.  As one who grew up with the Women’s Lib Movement during the 60’s, I was almost convinced that the discrimination and marginalization of women in the United States had come to an end.  The tolerance of sexist language and attitudes during our recent election shows that woman are not on an equal footing with men, even though one of the candidates was a woman.

In the story I tried to write yesterday, Appearances, I think I missed the mark.  Yes, it contained a collection of real events.  There were girls in the high school restroom every morning, monopolizing the mirror, but my personnel feeling about the situation were not so harsh.  I thought they didn’t need it.  However, make no mistake, we girls were judged and if you were willing to play the boys games, they were all over you.

I was painfully shy as the new girl in town.  I held back, they didn’t snub me.  Did they notice and try to make me feel included?  Come on!  This was high school.  We were all immature.  I was the shortest girl in the school, but not the only one with short hair, but the boys do love that long hair.

Only in retrospect do I realize the girls who monopolized the bathrooms, where doing what they couldn’t at home.  They also rolled up their skirts to make them shorter.  It is my understanding that even those in all girl schools did the same.  Why did we do it?  To be stylish.  Plus, we liked attention from the boys.  Our self-image was strongly influenced by boys.

Yes, there was some touching.  These were boys and girls who had known each other since kindergarten.  I was a total unknown.  Only one day, and I don’t know why, a boy put something, including his hand down a girls bra.  It started a free-for-all.  I would have decked any boy who touched me, but to be truthful, they knew I wouldn’t like it, and neither would my boyfriend, nor my male friends.

The teacher, was in chemistry, and was every bit at bad as described.  I should have told my parents, but I never did.  I was 17, I thought I should be able to handle things on my own.  My mistake.  That teacher was a bully to all the girls.  He absolutely said those things, day after day.  Going to the administration never occurred to any of us.  I didn’t need the credit to graduate, but it did affect my GPA, and I wasn’t allowed to go away to college and went to x-ray school instead, because my grades were not high enough.  My parents feared a lack of commitment to my education.

There were many nice boys in my high school.  Both boys and girls thought I was attractive, nice, kind, honest, and intelligent.

Now you may think my experience with high school is unique.  I assure you these things still go on in high schools.  I volunteered at the local high school when our boy, our youngest, was in high school.  What I saw were boys and girls groping each other in and around the school, behavior that in the late 60’s would have gotten us detention, and possibly a paddling.  Teachers walked by without a word.

I asked about the proper response to the public displays of affection, and very physical reactions to each other these young people were engaging in.  It was not considered a problem.  So why was I there?  I lasted about three weeks.  Maybe my experience is still unique.

Maybe it was only that school?  I think the teenage pregnancy rate illuminates the issue. For several years the teenage pregnancy rate has declined, but 7 percent to 12 percent pregnancy rates still exist depending on ethnicity, for a total of 249,078 babies (2014).

So I am asking for some feedback that can turn this embryonic story into something worth reading.  Maybe a story can change attitudes where demonstrations can’t.

 

 

 

 

 

My Original Idea

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When I entered junior high, I discovered Greek Mythology.   When I was 13 I  came up with an original idea.  What if mythology was based upon real people.  What if all the Greek heros and gods were people who came as settlers to our world,maybe because of war on their own world.

Who knew that at 13 years old, I was an ancient alien theorist.  (The idea behind a History Channel  show.)

In 1978 Battlestar Galactica came to television.   When I thought of the idea, I was a child, and when the television show came out I was a young mother following another path.  I was not the writer, producer, nor director.  This was only one of a long line of my ideas that came into being thanks to the efforts of others.

Original ideas float through the air around us, and many of us may respond to these ideas nearly simultaneously.   Having a good original idea doesn’t make it yours. Having an original idea is an invitation to get to work.  You can’t copyright, license,  nor sell an unformed idea.   You can take your idea and run with it.  You can craft the idea into your vision.

This doesn’t mean others won’t be working with the same original kernel of idea.  There may be several people working with the same basic idea.  Each creation will be as different as each individual.

As proof, I offer our daily prompt.  We all start with the same word, but there are no two postings alike.

Writing

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I plop into my chair before my computer and pull up a blank page.  Okay, I’m writing. Now.  Time for creativity.  My blog has followers, waiting for the next gem.  Nothing.  Just write, what?  Anything, anything at all.  I can’t think of a single thought, my mind is totally silent, unlike at 3 am when I would rather be asleep.  What did I think of then?  I am clueless.  Apparently, nothing was keeping me awake.

So maybe if I just get my fingers moving, so I type the alphabet: abcdefghijklmnopqristuvwxyz  abcdefghijklmnopqristuvwxyz  Okay, now what?  ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRISTUVWXYZ!  Okay, my fingers are loosed up.  I’m ready to go.  Nothing, but silence.

I practice meditation and then the noise in my head jumps from one thing to another, going on and on, a free association of all that is going on, right and wrong, negative and positive, personal and world events.  So I mediate for a while, and time passes, and still nothing.  Nothing except, what ever made me think I could be a writer!  Writers have stories, things to say.  I’ve got nothing.

Writer’s block.  The inability of a writer to think of anything to write.  This state can go on for days, weeks, months, and years.  No inspiration.  No solution.  Nothing but grocery or chore lists.  We are out of mayo I write to Hubby.  This is the level of creativity I’ve been reduced to.  Give up?  Though in the towel?  (Great!  I’m reduced to cliches.)  Quit!

But wait.  The daily prompt triggers a memory. “Plop, plop.  Fizz, fizz.  Oh what a relief it is.”  Another thought, families have trouble just plopping into a chair to have a dinner together.  Another thought, about Fizzy’s on a picnic with my family plopping into a glass of water.  Another thought, about plopping into my chair and writing.

Okay, not the most exciting of posts, but not every day can be a winner.  At least my readers can relate.  Posting every day is an ambitious goal.  One I have yet to maintain for long.  But one more thing.  A good picture could save this.  Yes.  I may get lucky yet.

Now to go read some really great posts by others.

 

 

Difficulties

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At my desk.

Have you ever watched a baby?  Everything a baby does, is exploring and learning.  You can just see the spark of understanding in their eyes, and understanding stimulates curiosity, and each new thing learned brings with it delight.

But sometimes things happen, and natural curiosity can get derailed with other feelings, such as anxiety due to a perception of being judged.  Sometimes this perception of being judged is within.  Some people are so sensitive to the reactions of others, that they become self-conscious.  Being self-conscious isn’t all bad.  When self-conscious, we are aware of the reactions of others.  Even before we have a clear understanding of what these reactions mean, we make the connection between our action and the reaction.  Some of us will repeat behaviors in an effort to elicit a certain reaction, like laughing.  Some of us are so concerned with the responses of others, like laughing, that anxiety is experienced and  we hide what we are doing until we feel it is fit for the public.  Each person is different.

I’m not sure where on the spectrum I fit.  I have been told that as a small child I was happy, outgoing and free.  Introspective and circumspect are words that have been used to describe the adult me.

As a child, I had a difficult time learning to read.  There were many reasons for this:

  • My German father and grandparents spoke with an accent.
  • I spoke English with a German accent when I started school.
  • Grandma would help me practice my reading.
  • The laughs of my classmates were my first clue that something wasn’t correct.
  • My ear was accustomed to a German syntax.
  • I didn’t attend the best schools.

So there may have been some reasons for becoming more introspective as I matured.

I did learn to read, but grown up reading to my own baby, I could barely get the words out while reading the little baby books.  Reading on my own, I took as long as I needed to read things (and I was a very slow reader).  It seems strange to me now, but even with the slow arduous process of reading, I loved it.  Stories so entranced me that I would read them over and over again.  (Doing this contributes to reading fluency.)

I guess I can’t really blame my family for being skeptical about my desire to write.  I read everything.  I took writing classes.  I studied and practiced, and the miracle of miracles happened.  The girl who could barely read, who was completely self-conscious, who can’t define more than a few parts of speech, and could not diagram a sentence, became a reporter and writer.

I owe all my success to the power of stories.

No Crying in Art

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The greatest luxury is creativity and art.  Even more of a luxury than viewing art is the honor of being creative.  It doesn’t matter what your creative outlet is, you are entirely in control of  its expression.  The nature of the arts is one of searching and discovery.  Like a child reaching for crayons, we seek the expression of something within us.

When number one son was a boy, he complained he was no good at art.  I took the children to the Cleveland Museum of Art.  There were pictures (like the one above) that had number one son thinking he was indeed good at art.

I gave my children cameras when we went on vacation.  Each child took very different pictures with their cameras.  Number one son took pictures of spreading vistas, and to his dismay, his sister took close up pictures of flowers, bugs and rocks.  The good son took pictures with people in them.  There was no right way to take the pictures.

As a writer I have known the self-doubt that others have expressed.  I questioned my talent, which has prevented me from sharing my work, but never completely kept me from writing.  It was actually dabbling in other forms of art that taught me my most important lesson.  I took up black and white photography to learn how to see shadow, texture, and framing.  I took up regular photography be of the color of nature.  But it was sketching and painting that in a class with other’s that showed me no one is happy with their efforts.

As a first time painter I got encouraging compliments on my painting, while the experienced people in the class complained about how awful their pictures were.  I thought all the pictures were great.  I wanted to tell these artists,

“There’s no crying in art!”

If you compare yourself to people you admire, you could believe you have no talent. Instead of comparing yourself to other creative people, study their work.  Figure out what it is you admire about the work of others, and what it is you would do differently. This will give your work more richness as you discover your creative path.  Practice makes perfect applies to any creative endeavor, but if you wait to be blessed with perfection from on high you will never delve into creative waters.

There may be rules to your art, but feel free to break the rules.  Worst case, you will learn why to follow the rules, and have a good laugh.  Each creative effort is an opportunity to explore and have fun.  So many things I’ve hated and put aside for some future time turned out to have a nugget of insightful beauty and creative sparkle.

This is why I blog.  My blog is the perfect testing ground to see if I actually can write every day.  My blog is also a testing ground for different kind of writings. September 6, 2014 I wrote my very first poem. After learning what a Tanka is from a posting on WordPress, I wrote  A Tribute Tanka.  I have now written ten poems, and begun a personal study of poetry.  (Remember that list of categories you have written about?  Mine is on the bottom.  Feel free to click on it for my complete poetry collection.  Feel free to leave a constructive criticism.)

Remember:  There is no crying in art.  So indulge in creative play.

 

Fearless Writing

Editing and censorship are two things that concern me as a writer.  Here at WordPress our writing  and blogging is not checked by an editor, there are no facts checkers.  There is no one to make sure we fit within some established editorial guidelines, or send us back for rewrites if we go off the rails.  We make our own editorial policy.  We are our own editor and editorial staff.  Any censorship does not come from authorities above, but from within.

If you have been following  April’s Perspective for a while, you have stuck with me though some lean writing times.  These lean times are often called writer’s block.   This particular block was more thinking about what I want to write about and what I don’t  want to write about, rather than an inability to think of anything to write about.

There have been many emotional things in the news.  Politics, terrorists, violence of all kinds have created anger, frustration, and fear.  With thoughts dominated by events and emotions I find it hard to know what to say.  I try to take the reporter’s position of neutrality.   I don’t want to be in the middle of every issue.  Yet, I can not always avoid the urge to editorialize.

I have had personal concerns in addition to these worldly concerns.  I am not sure which family members may be reading, and less sure about what their reactions will be if they are reading.  On one hand, I long to share what I think with my family.  On the other hand, I fear to be found wanting as a writer, and maybe even as a person.  I fear that if I show too much of myself no one will be reading.

Writing has always been a way to explore my feelings. In a moment, I may rant and rave, and express extreme positions.  Upon reflection,  my feelings become more clear, and my words become refined as I learn what it is I really feel, and what I really wish to convey.  This is editing.  Editing is finding the best way to make an opinion clear for writer and reader.  Editing is rooting out errors and perfecting the writing.

It is censorship to avoid writing something due to a fear of rejection.  It is censorship to avoid writing, because you fear the ire of those who disagree.  Censorship due to fear is the worst kind.  It is not censorship by the government.   It is not censorship  by  management, and higher-ups.  It is self censorship.

Newspapers, magazines, news organizations of all kinds have people who do editorials.  Editorials are a respected form of expression.  People get paid for editorials, and base entire careers upon editorials.  Editorials are collected in books, re-read, and studied.  Not everyone is going to agree with an editorial.  If someone does not disagree with an editorial, does it mean everyone is in agreement.  If that is the case, don’t bother.  Editorials are designed to provoke thought and discussion.  Self-censorship halts both thought and discussion.

These are the thoughts I have had while not writing.  These are the thoughts I have seen other writers and bloggers struggling with.  I hope long time readers of my blog notice more fearless writing.  I hope all of you will be more fearless writers.

So Dramatic

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In Public Square, Cleveland, Ohio

An ambulance with lights flashing drives up to the emergency room door, where doctors and nurses are waiting to receive the patient.  No!  Not one ambulance, but two, and we learn a building collapse, or traffic accident or shooting, has taken place. Injuries are grave, and everyone gets to work, knowing life and death hang in the balance.   Families in panic beg for information, doctors skirt personal issues, ordering tests, stopping bleeding, and fighting death.  Then the drama is ratcheted up with an overflow of patients and no other hospital to send patients to, every doctor and nurse is treating multiple critical patients at deaths door.

Dramatic ?  Yes!  This is one of my favorite shows, “Code Black.”  Medical shows make good television because of the potential for drama.  Other good choices are police shows and who done its, legal dramas, and soap operas.  Just sit back and ask yourself what is the worst thing that could happen?  What is the worst choice this person could make?  These bad events and bad choices add to the drama, but if the show is coming to an end, watch for the lucky break for a satisfying conclusion.

These dramatic shows manipulate our emotions to keep us watching, and keep us coming back for more. Our favorite books do the same thing, and I would wager our favorite blogs do a little of this also.

Real life drama is just as riveting.  I have been on the edge of my seat watching the parties elect their candidates, and watch how the candidates try to position themselves to look good (before flags, before military boats) while making the other candidate look bad by repeating every bad thing that may have ever been thought about the competition.  We watch reports of war, and rumors or war.  We watch as gunshots fly and bodies mount up.

Some people will argue that trouble in the world is aggravated by the fictional and real representations of violence.  I would argue that fiction and news can show us not only the worst, but the best of what we can be in a crisis.  We can see the way people band together to help each other in crisis.  We can see many reach out to give comfort in times of suffering.  We can see that there are those who reach out in times of suffering due to injustice.

Real life is not a dramatic show for our entertainment.  Real life has complicated issues that we cannot solve in an hour.  Our entertainment may show a reflection of real life and a hint of the complexity of the issues of life, but it can’t provide solutions.                                                                                                                     #

Journey from Reality to Fantasy

 

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At Universal Studio, Orlando

Daily Prompt:  Journey

Michelle Zacharias, a Canadian artist living, creating and writing in Japan posted a blog about an artist show by Arthur Huang  titled Memory Walks-Is This the Way I Went?   Huang documents the journey he makes through his day on the canvas of eggs.  Strange.  Interesting.  Why do I even like this?

Many of us document our days with photos, notations on calendars, journals, or blogs.  We document our health concerns with notations of test and doctor appointments.  We document the significant events in our lives with pictures and announcements on little cards saved in boxes.  We post on social media, the big and the small, to save what we think is funny, cute, touching, and outrageous.  Our journey through life is saved in boxes, on shelves, in bits and pieces.

We travel and explore, and document every step.  But sometimes, we just want to escape from our everyday reality.  Lacking cash for a flight to paradise, we still have an easy escape.  A journey into fiction.  We can hop on a train from platform 9 3/4 and go on an adventure where the good guys always win, where friends never let you down, and magic is a part of everyday.  This same magic happens with any good book.  The thrill of adventure, digging for treasure, traveling to far away places, falling in love, and fighting (and winning) the good fight.  All of the world is between the pages of a book (or the pages on your tablet).

If the journey you desire has not been written yet, perhaps you are the one to write it.  Your journey is only limited by your imagination.

May the creative road rise up to meet you.

(Yes I took the picture above.  Need to learn how to create a watermark for my pictures.  So much to learn.)

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Curious?

I mentioned my alphabet book in my last post and I know you are curious, so here is a sample. Don’t hold back the comments. The lack of response from publishers gives me no place to go. So without further ado, here is the first four letters of:

Alphabet Alliteration:
The Advanced ABCs

By: April E. Sutton

Amazing A announces its name for all to hear in April and angle, but can be shy as an apple blossom. Katie has her a inside, but that doesn’t keep her quiet.
Allyson and Allen like to eat apples. (Did you notice a word that has an a so shy it hides in the word without a sound?) The word is eat. Don’t be sad or angry. Every letter has a place in a word for a reason.

Bubbly B bounces off the lips. Bound at the beginning, or bumping around inside a word, B blossoms on your lips. Without B, Bees would be ees without a buzz, and bed would be ed! Without B, what would happen to Brad, broom, or boom? Boy-o-boy it would be bad without B! There would be no balls, bats, boats, or bean bags. Without B, Benjamin couldn’t balance on a beam. Without B, there would be a ban on bamboo, bananas, birds, and the Band-Aid.

Clever C causes confusion. C is for cat the story goes, plus car, cap and cub. C not only has a hard sound, but a soft sound also. C is also for circus at the city center. For one cent you can see the camel.
The calm calico cat is certain Chad’s caged critter tastes like candy. Cindy, a clever child, carves cheese for the coy cat and carries him to a chair. Chad’s caged critter gets another candle on his cake. Crazy!

Daring D dances down the page. Down in front, or at the end, dedicated D dances on your tongue. Dandy D gives us dogs that dance, dice and darts, deals and dates. With D our days delight in daring deeds.
Dad and David dine on delicious dates. Daughter Debbie does difficult drama in Dayton. Dan and a dauphin dive until dawn. Dazzling dandelions decorate the dining table.

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