Writing

Friday Night Writing Thoughts

Posted on May 31, 2013. Filed under: Public Relations, Writing | Tags: |

English: Jack Kerouac by photographer Tom Palu...

English: Jack Kerouac by photographer Tom Palumbo, circa 1956 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Stephen King says he writes 1,500 words a day.

Chris Brogan says he writes 4,000 words a day.

Flaubert could struggle to get a single sentence written in a day.

Thomas Wolfe dashed off 10,000 words a day, then worked off the stress by prowling the streets of New York for hours on end.

Thinking about this, I figure I top out at about 5,000 words a day. That seems like a good day’s work.

Jack Kerouac wrote On The Road in 3 weeks. Seems like a good 21 days’ worth of work by Jack, although Truman Capote famously dissed Jack by saying, “It’s not writing, it’s typing.” Bit harsh, that, don’tcha think, Tru?

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At The End Of The Day, We Move Forward No More Forever

Posted on September 20, 2012. Filed under: Media Commentary, Ramblings, Sporting life, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

English: Don Mattingly in Dodgers dugout.

English: Don Mattingly in Dodgers dugout. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Just two words of wisdom for today: Talk Normal*

Case in point:

“What I really want, at the end of the day, is to make sure we do the right thing for Clayton moving forward. I know we’ll do the right thing for him, so that’s not really a concern.” – Don Mattingly, Los Angeles Dodgers manager, speaking about injured pitcher Clayton Kershaw. (Quote from Sept. 18, 2012 Minneapolis Star Tribune, Sports, page C4)

Rewrite (just for our purposes):

“What I really want — and what this organization wants — is what’s best for Clayton.”

Editorial notes:

“Moving forward” – a transition phrase, perhaps once notable for being novel, it now sounds as empty of meaning as “awesome.” Delete with extreme prejudice. (See also: “going forward,” its equally obnoxious sibling.)

“At the end of the day” – what’s with this end of the day stuff? Do the cows come in at the end of the day? Of course they do. Was Rome built in a day? Of course not. Can we not get through one day without hearing someone, somewhere, in a position of somber authority, speaking of their earnest ambition to conclude something of a serious nature by the end of the bloody f’ing day???

No Offense Intended, Don

Sorry, Don Mattingly. I don’t mean to pick on you. I know you mean well. It’s just that, to see two such mindlessly over-used clichéd phrases in the same sentence, for God’s sake, it defies comprehension. It drew my attention, and I took a grammatical hack at it — somewhat like you used to have your fun battering a lazy down-the-middle fastball back in the day.

Editor’s note:

“Back in the day” – yadda, yadda, yadda, sounds like an early Jersey Boy phrase that went viral via some TV cop show outa New York and now passes for virile man-talk. Backinnaday ya know. Pack it in, back-in-the-day sayers. It’s lost most of the street smart cred that it had back in whatever day it slunk out of.

So, at the end of the day here, let’s quit embracing cliché-talk in our speech, okay?

Editor’s note:

“Embracing” — a psycho-babble-ish distortion of a perfectly good word — to embrace, to clasp in the arms. Now used with great unrestraint to show affinity, as in “she embraces the culture,” or “the author embraces the poor, the oppressed, the disenfranchised, the forgotten and the immoderate.” If those are the author’s people, so be it. Actually, it’s not so far-fetched to assume that a writer of the depths, such as a Dostoyevsky, actually does emotionally embrace the lives of some such as the Russian dispossessed, as he did with great feeling and insight. Not to banish non-physical/romantic references of embracing from the vocabulary, then, but to urge more judicious use of the word at minimum. (Note: no mention of being more judicious going forward!) Gandhi may well have embraced all of humanity. Most people have a hard enough time embracing close family members, much less the multitudinous masses. (No embracing on the job. That goes without saying.)

Well, then. That puts a period to the cliché problem for now.

* A nod to Tim Phillips, author of Talk Normal, Stop The Business Speak, Jargon and Waffle, published in 2011 by Kogan Page Limited, an excellent book in which the author argues that people are more effective when they just talk like normal people do.

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Living Life, One Hollywood Line At A Time (Homage to Frank Pierson)

Posted on July 23, 2012. Filed under: Media Commentary, Movies, Society, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Hollywood Sign

Hollywood Sign (Photo credit: AtomicPope)

Memorable movie lines such as this come along rarely: “What we got here is failure to communicate.” Frank Pierson wrote that line while creating the script for Cool Hand Luke, the 1967 film that starred Paul Newman as a southern prison chain-gang member.

Pierson died today Hollywood writer dies. He also wrote the script for Dog Day Afternoon, and perhaps most unfortunately for him published a piece in the old New West magazine about the behind-the-scenes goings-on of Barbra Streisand, Jon Peters and Kris Kristofferson during the filming of A Star Is Born. Then as now, spilling the beans about the real lives of Hollywood heroes got you nothing but trouble with the studios.

Who among us, has never felt the urge to utter that line about the failure to communicate in response to a communications breakdown? (“Communications breakdown,” in itself a phrase made memorable by Led Zeppelin.)

Were You Paying Attention?

Hollywood, by God, supplies ready-made answers to a lot of our problems, personal and societal.

For example, one response to someone observing that “what we have is failure to communicate” is “You can’t handle the truth!” as mouthed by Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men.

Supposing you can’t handle the truth? It’s not the end of the world. Not if you’ve got good drugs, or, as Lily Tomlin put it, “Reality is a crutch for those who can’t handle drugs.”

Don’t Let The Unreal Get You Down.

Don’t take that flight from reality too far, though. Beautiful as life may look through rose-colored glasses, it’s also true that beauty can be a killer as seen in the demise of the love-addled ape in King Kong (“It was beauty killed the beast.”).

However, “Love is a many splendored thing,” as noted in the 1955 film of the same name.

Still, if love doesn’t work, we can still be friends, can’t we? “I found out what the secret to life is: friends. Best friends,” says Ninny (Jessica Tandy)  in Fried Green Tomatoes.

Girl Can’t Be Too Careful.

It might be easy for some to find friends, but caution must sometimes still be observed, especially in certain cities. “That’s a nice girl, that. But she ought to go careful in Vienna. Everybody ought to go careful in a city like this,” says Popescu in 1949’s The Third Man.

The same could be said about New Orleans, as Blanche DuBois (“I have always trusted in the kindness of strangers”) discovers in A Streetcar Named Desire. Although it was not strangers but her own sister’s husband, Stanley Kowalski — he who is famously “not a Polack” — who does her in.

A man’s got to know his limitations, according to no less an authority than Inspector Harry Callahan (Clint Eastwood in Magnum Force). So it is that I have come to the limit of my blogging time today.

Before I go, let’s go one more quote: “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get.” Straight out of the mouth of the gumptious hero of Forrest Gump and I’ll add that the same is true for writing. Sit down at a keyboard and start typing away, you never know what you’re going to get. Maybe something like this blog post, sometimes.

You could have asked Frank Pierson. His greatest one-liner just appeared on the page one day when he was working on the Cool Hand Luke script.

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