Hidden Kingdom (Chapter 2-adding page 9)

To see the complete Chapter 1, use the following link;https://catchafallingstarbook.net/2018/11/24/hidden-kingdom-chapter-1-complete/

2 Comments

Filed under artwork, comic strips, fairies, Hidden Kingdom, humor, Paffooney, pen and ink

An Unexpected Gift 

thor-ragnarok-end-credits-avengers-infinity-war-870508

This post is a movie review for Thor : Ragnarok , though I don’t really plan on talking about the movie very much.   It was an excellent comic book movie in the same tongue-in-cheek comedy tradition as Guardians of the Galaxy.   It made me laugh and made me cheer.   It was the best of that kind of movie.  But it wasn’t the most important thing that happened that night.

20171128_142504

You see, I spent the weekend in the hospital thinking I had suffered a heart attack during the Thanksgiving holiday. I thought I was facing surgery at the very least.   I knew I might have had an appointment to play chess with the Grim Reaper.   It is a lot to worry about and drain all the fun out of life.

Well, one of the things that happened that day, Tuesday, my first full day out of the hospital and, hopefully, out of the woods over heart attacks, was that I received my new replacement bank card because my old one had a worn out, malfunctioning chip in it.  So, I took my three kids to the movie at the cheapest place we could find.  I tried to run my bank card for the payment, and it was summarily declined.  I had activated it previously during the day, and there was plenty of money in the account compared to the price, but it just wouldn’t take.  So I had to call Wells Fargo to find out whatever the new reason was for them to hate me.  It turned out that it had already been activated, but a glitch had caused it to decline the charge.  While I was talking to the girl from the Wells Fargo help desk, the lady who had gotten her and her husband’s tickets right before us put four tickets to the movie in my hand.

The middle-aged black couple had lingered by the ticket stand before going in to their movie just long enough to see a sad-looking old man with raggedy author’s beard and long Gandalf hair get turned down by the cheap-cinema ticket-taking teenager because the old coot’s one and only bank card was declined. They were moved to take matters into their own hands and paid for our tickets themselves.

That, you see, was the gift from my title.  Not so much that we got our movie tickets for free, but that the world still works that way.  There are still good people with empathetic and golden hearts willing to step in and do things to make the world a little bit better place.  The gift they gave me was the reassurance that, as bad and black as the world full of fascists that we have come to live in has become, it still has goodness and fellow feeling in it. People are still moved to pay things forward and make good on the promise to “love one another”.  I did not have a chance to thank them properly.  I was on the phone with Wells Fargo girl when it happened.  The only thing that couple got out of their good deed was thank-yous from my children and the knowledge that they had done something wonderful.  I plan to pay it forward as soon as I have the opportunity.  Not out of guilt or obligation, but because I need to be able to feel that feeling too at some point.

I do have one further gift to offer the world.

20171129_085142

After we got home from the movie, I opened an email that contained the cover proof for my novel, Magical Miss Morgan.  Soon I will have that in print also if I can keep Page Publishing from messing it up at the last moments before printing.  It is a novel about what a good teacher is and does.  It is the second best thing I have ever written.

Sometimes the gifts that you most desperately need come in unexpected fashion.

6 Comments

Filed under commentary, compassion, happiness, healing, humor, illness, movie review, NOVEL WRITING, strange and wonderful ideas about life

Fundamentally Mickey

What does it mean to be fundamentally Mickey?

Whew! What a hard question to answer.

Mickey is a nickname, a cartoonist’s pen name, a wererat from Tellosia, the secret kingdom of fairies hidden in a willow tree in Rowan, Iowa, called Norwall in Mickey’s Hometown Novels.

Mickey is a cartoon mouse with purple fur who talks too much in writing and not enough in real life.

The difference between a John Green, author of The Fault in Our Stars, and a Mickey is that John Green became a recognizable personality on YouTube before becoming a published novelist. And he is younger with more opportunity to go and do what an author has to go and do to market a best-selling novel. Mickey markets worst-selling novels. But their writing styles and writing goals are remarkably similar. (Do you feel the urge to argue that point? You may have to buy and read a worst-selling novel or two to prove me wrong.)

Mickey thinks of himself as a nudist. He plans to revisit a nudist park this Saturday if his body doesn’t fail him again and prevents him from making that long drive. He essentially makes himself spiritually naked by revealing all his inner secrets and emotions by writing them all in this blog and his silly books. Some readers find that the naked people in his stories wreck their enjoyment of the books. But those readers generally have bad things in their imaginations that don’t necessarily come from the characters taking their clothes off. And not all of Mickey’s books have nudist characters in them. Most do not.

Mickey is not a real person. That is not the author’s real name.

But Mark Twain is not a real person either.

Neither is William Shakespeare. (You are welcome to argue that if you like.)

Mark Twain is on Mickey’s side about Shakespeare not being real.

Mickey believes there is real magic in the world. Of course, Mickey is pretty much crazy and claims to be a wizard. But he defines magic as, “”The use of undiscovered science or uncommon artifice by individuals who are gifted with possession of arcane and rare knowledge.”

But being fundamentally Mickey is not something I would recommend as a life course for anybody else in this world. Mickey is stuck with being Mickey in the same way that you are probably stuck being you. And we simply try to be the best Mickey or the best you that we can be because we don’t have any choice but to be the best of whatever we are stuck with being.

Leave a comment

Filed under artwork, fairies, humor, Paffooney

Hindsight

A collage of some of my drawings posted over a year ago.

The world is different now than it has ever been. More of my life is in the past than will ever be in the future, so looking back is really most of what is left to me.

I have a lot of good memories. In fact, my novels are mostly about those memories. But there has to be a bit of the bad memories too. There is no story without conflict. No life is lived and learned from if there has been nothing to battle against, nothing to overcome.

I hope we have learned something from the past few months. But experience has told me that we probably haven’t. We didn’t learn hard lessons before… as a species. It is more or less up to the individual to stay away from the pit traps the herd is heading towards.

But as we swiftly approach future troubles, we need to look once or twice into the rear-view mirror.

Leave a comment

Filed under collage

Brain-Free Writing

Quite often of late I begin a daily post with no ideas in my head of what the post is even going to be about. The pre-writing technique is known among English teachers and writing teachers as free-writing. But it is basically writing with a completely empty skull.

Of course, I don’t mean that literally. The skull in the picture is not mine, and the completely empty skull of which I speak is not the one in the picture. (That is really a ceramic aquarium decoration for scaring your tropical fish.)

What I did was simply start an essay without any direction or plan in mind, going wherever the insanely creative part of my brain led me. So, I started with the picture of the fairy girl sleeping instead of doing her writing. That led me to the notion that she was supposed to be writing just as I was supposed to be writing, but she had an empty mind just as I had an empty mind at that moment. So, the light bulb suddenly went on over my head. And then I managed to turn it off again before gravity made it fall down on my head so that it would merely bonk my brain and not also set my old gray hair on fire. And then I wrote down the title that the jumble of associatively challenged details inspired in me, “Brain-Free Writing.”

Steven Q. Urkel

So, then, when the initial surge of notions subsided, I resorted to another Paffooney picture, this time of an old TV character with obviously defective but plentiful brain activity. I selected this old drawing from my WordPress gallery because I often identify with Urkel. I am awash in a world of ideas unique to me, and incapable of smoothly integrating into polite society because of random massive brain farts and social awkwardnesses.

And the Urkel picture inspired me to do a comparison paragraph. Dilsey Murphy here is a character from my own novels who is also brainy and somewhat socially awkward. She, however, is different in her fundamental character make-up from Steve Urkel in that when she turns serious about her goals, in spite of shyness and awkwardness, she gets to the point of what she wants to accomplish, and she doesn’t mess up in the way that Urkel does. She has an underlying practicalness that Steve lacks. I am like her in many ways. In fact, it is that very practicalness that led me to start from nothing and churn out this finished essay.

Leave a comment

Filed under Paffooney

The Education of PoppenSparkle… Canto 7

Canto 7 – Dat Killah Nite

When Fairies die, at least, when the good ones die, they do not leave a corpse behind.  The magical energy they are made of, originating from the sun, disperses into the air, sometimes leaving tiny bones behind, but usually leaving nothing. 

When the corrupted minions of the Unseely Court, the evil Fairies, die, they turn back into the mud and clay they were originally animated from.

So, a battlefield of a great Fairy battle would look exactly like the Arcanum looked as the little band of Fairies led by Flute entered into its vastness.

“The bodies of Gobbuluns are everywhere,” said Flute as he pointed out several lumps of Wartole-shaped mud and clay.  There were a couple of Cyclopes-shaped mud piles as well.

“There was a huge battle here?” asked Tod.

“Obviously.  First the dead Trolls, and now this.”  Flute shook his head sadly.

“Did our side win?” asked Poppy.

“There’s no way to tell.  If the Fey Children won, there should be living soldiers and Fairy beasts on the field.  The dead have returned to the air.”

“But, Flute, perhaps the winners have already left for home.  You don’t know for sure that we lost.”  Tod looked extremely upset.

“We shall see.  We must search the battlefield,” said Flute as he picked up a fallen banner from the Castle Cornucopia.

Glumly they continued to search the battlefield.

Suddenly, little Schtinker in Poppy’s lap became highly agitated.

“Dat killah nite!” cried the squirming boy Sylph.

“What are you talking about?”

The Sylph pointed at a silhouette on the top of a nearby knoll.  It appeared to be an armored Sylph knight astride a ridinghawk.  Next to him was a younger Sylph astride a pigeon.

“Hail and well met!” called the knight.  “You are late to the battle, Prinz Flute.”

“Lord Lancelot!  How did the battle go?”

With a short swoop, the hawk brought the famous knight near to where the roosters had stopped.  To their credit, neither rooster flinched at the presence of a red-tailed hawk.

“We would’ve lost had not the yon squire known as the Rascal and I cleverly used my immortality as a Storybook to slay the remaining Gobbuluns from the air after the Legion of Cornucopia overwhelmed the Dark Lord Ebon Sneezer.”

“None other of the Cornucopians survived?” asked Tod in horror.

“The Castle Guard remains at Castle Cornucopia,” said Lord Lancelot.  “All the rest are dead.”

The Rascal on his pigeon fluttered up.  “Lord, we must return to the castle quickly!  The Storr and Lord Toxiss will be sending a siege army there.  They will be overwhelmed without us!”

The Rascal looked at Lancelot with an expression of urgency on his young, dark-eyed face.  The knight looked back at him exhausted and pale.

“We go, then.  Prinz Flute, we need your aid, both magical and swordical.  Or our ally, King Mouse, will be lost.”

 Almost immediately the hawk launched into the air.

The Rascal looked at Flute and his companions, smiled a weak, dispirited smile, and took off on the pigeon.

“We no go wid dat killah nite!” protested Schtinker.  “Heem will murdah all ob us!”

“What is the urchin saying?” asked Tod.

“I think he saw Lancelot kill the other trolls and is afraid he will kill us too,” said Poppy.

“Nonsense.  He’s a great knight and trusted friend.”  Flute shot a disgusted glare at the child.

“Heem let alla guyz in heem armies fit furst,  den heem killah alla Trollz wayne dey iz dead.”

“Is he saying that Lord Lancelot wastes the lives of his troops even though he’s immortal himself?” asked Glitter.

“Surely not.  The little stinker doesn’t really know how to speak the Slow Ones’ English,” said Tod.

Poppy tried to calm Schtinker.  But he was deeply agitated.  And as to whether Schtinker could talk or not, she wondered at the fact that Lancelot had used the word, “swordical.”

“The situation is dire, no matter how you look at it,” said Flute.  “So, we go to Castle Cornucopia immediately.”

They spurred the roosters to run to the northwest.  But Poppy did not feel good about it.

Leave a comment

Filed under fairies, humor, magic, novel, NOVEL WRITING, Paffooney

Pencil, Pencil, Pen, Pen, Pen…

Yes, students actually eat pencils in class.

My daughter forgot her pencil case in school over the weekend. Now, for normal students, this is no really big deal. But for the Princess, like it is for me as an amateur artist, the pencil case, with her colored pencils and pens in it, is one of the most necessary things for life.

Of course, we did not have an opportunity to go back to school for her pencils and pens. So, panicky, she texted her teacher whereupon the pencil case in question was found and put aside for her until early this morning. She then stole my pens and pencils for the weekend, depriving me and causing me to be the one with the anxiety disorder and heart palpitations.

Of course, pens and pencils were always a critical issue when I was a teacher for 31 years, plus two years as a substitute teacher. Unlike the Princess, students in an English classroom NEVER have a pen or a pencil to write with. I swear, I have seen them gnaw pencils to pieces like a hungry beaver or termite. And they chew on pens to the point that there is a sudden squishy noise in their mouth and they become members of the Black Teeth Club. (Or Blue Teeth Club for the more choosy sort of student.)

A piece of an actual classroom rules poster.

Having students in your class who actually have pencils and pens to learn with is a career-long battle. I tried providing pens for a quarter. I would by cheap bags of pens, ten for two dollars, and sell them to panicky writers and test takers with a quarter (and secretly free to some who really don’t have a quarter). I only used the pen money to buy more cheap pens. But that ran afoul of principals and school rules. A teacher can’t sell things in class without the district accountant giving approval and keeping sales tax records. Yes, the pencil pushers force teachers to give pens, pencils, and paper away for free. I finally settled -on a be-penning process of picking up leftover un-popped pens, half-eaten pencils, and the rare untouched writing instrument apparently lost the very instant the student sat down in his or her desk. These I would issue to moaning pencil-free students until the supply ran out (which it rarely ever did) at no cost to myself.

I also tried telling them repeatedly that they had to have a writing instrument, or they needed to beg, borrow, or steal one. And if they couldn’t do that, I’d tell them, “Well, you could always prick your finger and write in blood.” That was a joke I totally stopped using the instant a student did exactly what I said. A literalist, that one. And it turns out you can’t read an essay that a student writes in actual blood.

But, anyway… My daughter is safely in school now and no longer panicking because she has her precious pencil case back in her possession. And she probably will not ever make that same mistake again. (And she will probably not return my pens and pencils either.)

Leave a comment

Filed under humor, kids, Paffooney, pen and ink, self pity, teaching, Uncategorized

Naked Honesty

Life is very complex, an endless puzzle that never seems to have all the pieces made to fit properly.

My writing life has not been going well of late. A book reviewer from the Pubby book-review exchange recently gave me a review with nothing but very positive words for the book Cissy Moonskipper’s Travels, and yet, he only gave it three stars out of five. It seems dishonest. Four stars mean you liked the book. Three is a tepid response. I would never give a three without explaining why I didn’t like the book. I prefer honest reviews to weaselly wording and tepid responses. I’d rather be told why it is not good enough flat out. I suppose, as someone who dabbles with being a nudist, I would prefer naked honesty.

This picture is naked honesty, not porn. No one is having sex. No one is sexualized. Both of them are nude.

Naked honesty to me is a metaphor. An important metaphor. It stands for not hiding anything, whether it is something embarrassing, something to be ashamed of, something to be proud of, or something you hide because society tells you that you must. Just like when you are standing in front of a crowd of people, some who know you, and some who don’t, and you are completely naked so that they can see everything. Warts, tattoos, scars where you burned yourself on purpose, bulges of fat, birthmarks… everything. That happens in real life in gym dressing rooms, public showers in campgrounds, and other situations like that that people who aren’t me take for granted as being innocent.

I use naked honesty in this blog a lot. Also in my novels, and in my artwork. As a survivor of a sexual assault when I was ten, committed by an older teenage boy, dealing with naked truth is a critical thing to me that I need to talk about. I found comfort and healing in contact and conversation with nudists. I was deprived of the ability to be comfortably naked from the age of ten to the age of 35. That deprivation interfered with being in the shower room with other boys during P.E. classes and after sports practice and competitions. It also interfered with my ability to befriend others and confidently talk to girls. I had to struggle to identify myself as a heterosexual male. I narrowly avoided meltdowns and anxiety attacks in numerous situations like those seemingly innocent ones I was just now describing. It made me a bit of a social outcast. And it definitely interfered with my love life until I was 38 and finally able to marry.

So, basically, I healed myself with explorations of nudity. I thought about it. I found ways to expose myself to it without risking any crimes or mortal sins. I associated to a limited degree with naked people. (I had a nudist roommate for a year in grad school. And a former girlfriend was a big help in that her sister lived in a clothing-optional apartment complex in Austin, Texas. I never was myself naked when she dragged me there. But I learned a lot about nudists from nudists there.) I began drawing nudes.

You may have noticed that my drawings of nudes tend to be either children or child-like young adults. I can assure you that they are never intended to be any sort of child pornography. They are innocent nudes. I never drew a child nude from a live model without clothing. I have done portraits of nude children from photographs, but only with parental consent forms somewhere in the process. Live nude models I have drawn were consenting adults posing in an art class, except for one case when the request was from the boyfriend and the young lady herself while she was doing the posing. That was awkward, but that boyfriend was my efficiency-apartment roommate who had previously explained to me about being a nudist. I never drew him, but he was naked most of the time within the apartment. I also drew nudes from photographs in nudist publications. I don’t draw genitals very often, and never in a way that is inviting the viewer to think “pornography.” I can draw adult nudes, and have done so, but it is less comfortable because of the sexual aspect and how it tugs at that old traumatic fear.

It is psychologically very freeing to be socially nude around other nudists who simply desire that same naked honesty from me that they are presenting me with. Nudists look at each other eye to eye rather than staring in ways that are only appropriate in certain more private situations. It is not about sex. And lewd behavior in public is always against the rules in the places and situations that nudists share together. After a while, seeing naked people around you seems perfectly normal.

This is a copy of the portrait of my roommate’s girlfriend.

There is also a downside. If you spend all your time dealing in naked honesty, you become overexposed… even if you never show off your own penis, and nobody ever seems to be paying attention to anything you write, draw, say, and do. Your deepest, darkest secrets are out there. Everything is exposed. If you read this far in this essay, you already know my darkest secret… being the victim of a sexual assault.

I worry that someone will read my work and put together who he was, this person who did a horrible thing to me and made me fear that he would kill me if I told anybody what he did to me. And his life ended a few years ago, and I was finally free to talk about it and begin to make peace with it… and forgive him. (not for him… I forgive him for me… I need to be able to get past it… and be naked without fearing what his ghost will do.) And I hope no one ever learns his name. I have forgiven him. And his family doesn’t deserve to have to know about this thing he did. As far as I know, I am his only victim. He has a good family, that I know don’t deserve to be linked to something he only made the mistake of doing once while he was alive. No matter how terrible that all may seem to you.

I am not a pedophile, even though I am a Democrat because of how I vote (and I won’t believe that Joe Biden is one either, no matter what they say on FOX News.) I am in no danger of becoming one (I was never one when I was a teacher with access to underage people who looked up to me, and I certainly can’t be one now as a retired teacher without even any grandchildren around me.) So, my obsession with nudism and innocent nudity really should not be a problem.

But I know I have been focussing on it too much. Other writers have stopped following me on Facebook and Twitter once they discovered I was associated with nudists and nudism. I have gotten criticism on some of my novels because of nudity in the story and nudist characters. But that doesn’t really represent even half of my books. I do write about many other themes as well. Still, viewership by potential readers is down on WordPress since they removed ads from my blog for too much adult content. I need to focus on other things more to get a healthier balance.

But I still stand before you metaphorically naked. What you see is what I am. I say what I have to say in all honesty, naked honesty. I conceal no secrets from anyone that aren’t secrets that belong to someone else to tell. And it is freeing, this kind of truth. It makes you naked. But it feels right.

1 Comment

Filed under artwork, drawing, feeling sorry for myself, Liberal ideas, nudes, Paffooney, strange and wonderful ideas about life

Sunday Silly Artistical Posts

I like to dig through old piles of artwork I have done to re-purpose things and mash things together to make weird art salad.

Xeribeth the Sorceress and her parrot Herkimer

I used to play a Dungeons-and-Dragons-like game called Talislanta with groups of adolescent boys, most of whom had previously been my students in middle school. It was a weird world where weird things made artistical challenges for me that taught me to be a better and more imaginative artist.

Xeribeth was a member of an almost-human race that had yellow skin and wore colorful face tattoos. She also had to be somewhat alluring to trick adolescent boys into undertaking dangerous and possibly suicidal adventures (meaning characters who only lived on paper might die and have to be re-rolled with dungeon dice.)

Zoric, being a green Cymrillian wizard, gave me numerous opportunities to create Kermit-the-frog-colored portraits. And he was a player character, so his greed and penchant for unwise actions decided on in the heat of battle (like turning himself into a fish-man while adventuring in the waterless desert) didn’t come from me.

Playing those games gave me training as a story-teller as well.

My efforts to see color with gradually worsening color-blindness led me to create eye-bashing color compositions that attempt to portray realistically things and feelings that can’t possibly be physically real. Thus I gradually became, over time, a surrealist (a juxtaposer of unlike and jarring things to deliver a visionary picture of reality) (How’s that for surrealistic gobbeldegook in definition form?)

Rabbit castles are the obvious answer

I often solve the problems of my life by drawing something and making cartoonish comments with serious consequences.

Little people and Slow Ones like us have different problems but share the same world.

Ultimately, it boils down to the fact that the world on the inside of me is decidedly different than the world on the outside of me. But I have to live in both. And I can do that by drawing my colored-pencil Paffooney stuff, posting it, and writing about it on a silly Sunday.

1 Comment

Filed under art editing, artwork, cartoons, commentary, goofy thoughts, humor, Paffooney

Picking Pictures Pusillanimously

Does it take courage to post a picture like this? Or is it cutsie-smoochy safe for work? She almost has an indication of breasts. Is that not evil? Maybe I shouldn’t post this.
Is this picture too violent? If you are not looking closely, the rat might seem to be inside the dog’s bloody red mouth, instead of riding on his back as he gives a stupid, rat-friend grin.
And is this picture racist? Why is she blue? is that some goofy type of BLM statement about not caring what color a person is? Or is it intended to belittle Space Smurfs?
Should I be ashamed of posting this portrait? The girl is actually a transgender character. That’s frowned upon where I live. Should I be trying harder to avoid frowny people commenting on my posted pictures?
This portrait could be ageist! Am I making fun of old white guys in farmer’s overalls? Is it supposed to be a joke about conservative old coots?
This portrait looks demonic! His eyes follow you no matter where you stand or flee to. One should never post such a picture in the Bible Belt.
So, I guess I’m in big trouble posting this. Just because I think it is innocent nudity and basically beautiful does not mean that it is not offensive and wrong in the eyes of some viewers. And some will seek it out for entirely the wrong reason. So, should I be pusillanimously afraid to include it? Probably.
I guess Mickey is not pusillanimous. But then, did you even know what it means?

Definition of pusillanimous

lacking courage and resolutionmarked by contemptible timidity

1 Comment

Filed under artwork, humor, irony, nudes, Paffooney

Crab Apple Pie

image from https://noshingwiththenolands.com/crabapple-strawberry-tart/

I was spending time with a certain cynical youth who likes to insult me and argue about every one of my faults as a human being, telling me that such treatment is meant to improve me to meet a standard that only he thinks I need to live up to when it occurred to me; Crab Apple has two meanings.

Image borrowed from; http://ediblecapitaldistrict.ediblecommunities.com/recipes/crab-apple-syrup

Crab apples (which ominously come up on Wikipedia as genus Malus) are generally mistrusted as eating apples. Alternatively known as “wild apples”, they are often bitter to the taste. Hence, the association with the chronic complainer, the dyspeptic dude, and the hen-pecky female. Crab apples are the fruits of unpleasant people-trees.

So, how does one deal with crab apples? I always tend to fall back on the homily, “When you are given any kind of fruit, make it into pie.” And yes, the links under the pictures will actually yield recipes. I know it is a metaphorical over-simplification. But, if I do not enjoy being critiqued for the hair in my ears and the werewolf hair sprouting under my eyes, or the way I say, “I’m sorry!” too much, I am going to use those fruits to make a pie of surreal comedy in a WordPress post.

I saw a guy on the highway speeding around me at well-over the speed limit, turning around to give me a look at his middle finger, probably trying to predict how many IQ points he will have left when he crashes into whatever is ahead of him that he can’t see because he’s grinning and glaring at me behind him. There’s an apple for this pie.

The impatient clerk in the tax office gives me the “Are you really that stupid” glare and attendant sigh as she suggests that I step to the side and correct the mistakes in my paperwork so she can mistreat the next person in the incredibly long line that she wants me to return to the back of. There’s another apple.

Image borrowed from this website; https://www.abelandcole.co.uk/recipes/rosy-crab-apple-pie


In today’s world, it really doesn’t take long to have enough apples for your pie. In fact, I am looking at a huge pie now with loads and loads of crab apples in it.

1 Comment

Filed under commentary, feeling sorry for myself, goofy thoughts, humor, metaphor

Spinning Wheels of Thought

Picture borrowed from; https://www.townsends.us/products/colonial-spinning-wheel-sp378-p-874

I start today with nothing in my head to write about. I guess I can say that with regularity most days of the writing week. Sundays in particular are filled with no useful ideas of any kind. But I have a certain talent for spinning. As Rumpelstiltskin had a talent for spinning straw into gold, I take the simple threads of ideas leaking out of my ears and spin them into yarns that become whole stories-full of something to say. And it is not something out of mere nothing. There is magic in spinning wheels. They take something ordinary and incomplete, and turn it into substantial threads useful for further weaving.

Of course the spinning wheel is just a metaphor here for the craft of writing. And it is a craft, requiring definable skills that go well beyond merely knowing some words and how to spell them.

My own original illustration.

The first skill is, of course, idea generation. You have to come up with the central notion to concoct the potion. In this case today, that is, of course, the metaphor of using the writing process as a spinning wheel for turning straw into gold. But once that is wound onto the spindle, you begin to spin yarn only if you follow the correct procedure. Structuring the essay or story is the next critical skill.

Since this is a didactic essay about the writing process I opened it with a strong lead that defined the purpose of the essay and explained the central metaphor. Then I proceeded to break down the basic skills for writing an essay with orderly explanations of them, laced with distracting images to keep you from dying of boredom while reading this, a very real danger that may actually have killed a large number of the students in my writing classes over the years (although they still appeared to be alive on the outside).

My mother’s spinning wheel, used to make threads for use in porcelain doll-making, and as a prop for displaying dolls.

As I proceed through the essay, I am stopping constantly to revise and edit, makeing sure to correct errors and grammar, as well as spending fifteen minutes searching for the picture of my mother’s spinning wheel used directly above. Notice, too, I deliberately left the spelling-error typo of “making” to emphasize the idea that revising and proof-reading are two different things that often occur at the same time, though they are very different skills.

And as I reach the conclusion, it may be obvious that my spinning wheel of thought today spun out some pure gold. Or, more likely, it may have spun out useless and boring drehk. Or boring average stuff. But I used the spinning wheel correctly regardless of your opinion of the sparkle of my gold.

Leave a comment

Filed under humor, insight, Paffooney, strange and wonderful ideas about life, teaching, Uncategorized, writing, writing teacher