Archive for the 'TW’s writing' Category

Cortege

Monday, September 15th, 2014

Written 11 September 2014

The mourners stand silent
The cortege passes slowly
No longer a row of coffins
Now long in the ground
Nor ever merely a list of names
Rather, a procession of lives
A profusion of stories
Now never to be told
Of birthdays uncelebrated
Of triumphs and petty jealousies
Utility bills and hospice care
Basketball games and divorces
Ice cream and beer on the 4th of July
Seder feasts and christenings
Children never to be conceived
Grown children without parents
Spouses, friends, cousins — mourners
They take the first rank along the route
They have no choice
While the rest of us stand behind
All of us numb — still, somehow —
To contemplate what was lost
At the hands of violent men
Perverse in their grasp
Of what it means to be human
And what it means to submit
We have been made to submit
To reality in the form of loss
— hopes, comforts, illusions —
We no longer cry every day
Nor shake our fists at the heavens
Now we proceed
Changed

“What do you write?”

Sunday, December 22nd, 2013

My one-word lifetime job description will always be “Writer,” even though I’ve worked in all kinds of other jobs. The question in the title of this post is the natural follow-up that people often ask when I tell them that. Since I need a better answer than “All kinds of things” or simply waving in the direction of this blog, I thought I’d give a better summary here for future reference.

1. Article writing for periodicals
Over time I’ve written many dozens of articles for newspapers and magazines, mostly local or in niches. I’ve covered all kinds of topics, with longish runs in book reviewing, business, environmental issues, and personality profiles. For a sample, check out this page at the Austin Chronicle, where I wrote a flurry of articles starting about a dozen years ago. (I did three or four times as many pieces as listed on that page, but some of them have been lost down the Internet memory hole.) I’m ramping up my periodical writing again in 2014.

2. Content Marketing
This has been my bread and butter for years, and I’ve written or edited everything from Web site copy to technical papers to sales decks. For three different employers, this has meshed with running their social media outlets as well. My particular stock in trade is the very specific niche of enterprise B2B technology content marketing. That means I’m good at learning how to talk about a new type of technology that is sold into big businesses, then translating that into all of the content that helps sell that technology. (If you’re not familiar with this use of the term, “enterprise” here means “sold to great big companies.”)

3. Blogging
Besides this blog, which rambles all over the place, I’ve run blogs for three different companies and done paid blogging for other venues. Much of this has been in the vein of technology and business, but I’ve also written on other topics such as wellness. Take a look, for example, at some of the “Life Balance” posts I wrote for CareOne.

4. Scholarship
I don’t do this anymore, but for a long time I studied history (the 16th and 20th centuries, at different times), religion, and international relations. Much graduate work was done, conference papers were delivered, etc. Maybe someday I’ll get back to that.

5. Fiction
One of these days, I’ll make my living making up stories, probably with a mix of literary and speculative fiction. Although I haven’t properly published anything yet, you can see some of my fiction experiments on this blog. (I’m partial to this little story.) I also sometimes write little tweet-length fictions with the #tinystory hashtag on my Twitter account.

Do you even know what the goal is?

Friday, November 16th, 2012

Don’t feel bad if you don’t. In my experience, many talented, ambitious people — even successful ones — don’t really know what they’re after. Or, if they know, they’re not willing to admit it and go for it. So if you’re unclear of your goals, realize that you’re not alone . . .

. . . but then get up and do something about it. I wrote my most recent CareOne column specifically to address this challenge:

How Will You Know When You Win?

Years ago, I learned a business lesson that’s as valuable as it is simple: When you’re setting out on a project, you want to have it very clear in your mind — and in the mind of anyone involved in the project — how you’ll know when you win.

In sports, it’s simple: you have a better score than your opponent when the game is over. If you’re a salesperson, it’s the straightforward question of whether you met your quota or not.

But not everything can be so simple.

So how will you know when you win in your own life?

I encourage you to read the rest on the CareOne blog and then let me know what you think.

Image source.

My best advice, in weekly column form.

Tuesday, July 31st, 2012

I’m a bad self-pimper: I forget to share my weekly columns for CareOne here.

CareOne helps people deal with their debts, but my role is to provide encouragement and advice about the other parts of life — fitness, relationships, and so on. In this week’s column, for instance, I talk about the need to make decisions:

Decide

There’s a lot more where that come — I’ve written more than 140 weekly columns for them now. You can find most of what I’ve written on their Life Balance blog.

And if you happen to have feedback, I’d love to hear it — either here or there.

Morning weights.

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

Early-morning
weights to make
the blood sing.

Quiet and
still, the air
begs to be
riven by
plate on plate.

Yoga if
it moves you,
or running;
the cold swim;
writing That
Thing which lurks
in shadows
of hurly-
burly days.

Pray, sip, think;
meditate,
prostrate your
Self to some
Thing larger—
or beyond.

Early morning
waits to make.

Image source.

Tiny Stories, Part 8

Saturday, August 20th, 2011

More tweet-length stories:

She knew the existential hunger wouldn’t be sated by any of her usual distractions. But she could not help herself.

~ ~ ~

“Is it ever going to change?”
“…No.”
“Then why keep acting like it will?”
“…Because I can’t stop wanting it.”

~ ~ ~

He liked her looks, and the way she commanded a room from the podium. But her repeated use of “utilize” was a deal-breaker.

~ ~ ~

He wanted to ask out the cute blonde in the cutoffs. But he was not the type of guy who asked out cute blondes in cutoffs.

~ ~ ~

He wanted his move to Brooklyn to change his narrative. But even after the outbreak, he hadn’t envisioned Hipsters vs. Zombies.

~ ~ ~

When the band started warming up, he found out the skinny girl in the flannel shirt was the shred guitarist. His heart thumped.

~ ~ ~

“Please.”
That’s all she said.
He turned away.

~ ~ ~

“That was amazing.”
“Yep.”
“I think that might be the answer to world peace.”
“I don’t think so.”
“We could try it.”
She giggled.

~ ~ ~

She came into the bar and laid eyes on him. She was everything he had ever wanted. As she had been for 40 years.

~ ~ ~

She had strong opinions about the project, and was sure they were going down the wrong path. But she had mouths to feed. #tinystory

~

Previously:

Image by JD Hancock.

Tiny Stories, part 7

Monday, June 20th, 2011

More fiction that fits in a single tweet.

In the elm outside his window, a mockingbird cycled through a dozen bird calls without ever using its own. He could identify.

~ ~ ~

Of course he was a gentleman about it. He was always a gentleman about things. Which was itself part of their problem.

~ ~ ~

That woman, in those jeans, made him think of the first time his high school girlfriend played “Happiness Is a Warm Gun” for him.

~ ~ ~

What kind of barrier was 6,000 miles and an ocean when faced with the combined power of Twitter and true love?

~ ~ ~

Resisting plastic surgery, she bore a dowager’s regal face. But years of tennis & sunscreen had given her the legs of a teenager.

~ ~ ~

Calls went unanswered, e-mails unread. He sat through meetings without ever looking up. He could only think of what he had lost.

~ ~ ~

“Oops.” *

~ ~ ~

When he listened to that song, he thought of the wrong woman.

~ ~ ~

She called him “sweet.” He liked that, but wished she’d believe he had a salty side.

~ ~ ~

His confidence was like the wax in Icarus’ wings. Her incandescent good looks were like the sunshine.

~

* My daughter wrote that one.

~

Previously:

Image by JD Hancock.

Tiny Stories, part 6

Monday, June 13th, 2011

More stories that fit in a single tweet.

She had the debilitating habit of never — never — saying her real opinions out loud. Her mother had taught her that.

~ ~ ~

He wished for fame, money, & a playboy’s lifestyle. But he had all the wrong short-term appetites for achieving them.

~ ~ ~

Abe was tempted to see himself as a magnet for problems. For starters, his mother had named him “Abraham.”

~ ~ ~

He had been a drinker, he had tried psychoanalysis. Now he found his therapy under a barbell.

~ ~ ~

Sure, he would have taken more — as much as she wanted to give him. But in that moment, all he wanted was to dance with her.

~ ~ ~

Her upbringing tried hard to teach her never to expect anything — but it was a lesson she desperately wanted to avoid learning.

~ ~ ~

They worked in the same building, but wouldn’t have met without the fire drill.
“Where are all the good men?”
“On another floor.”

~ ~ ~

He couldn’t make sense of it — hadn’t she loved him? — even through a sleepless week. He gave up & put The Black Keys on repeat.

~ ~ ~

He thought she wasn’t his type, until he found out she loved Tar Heel basketball. That was the beginning.

~ ~ ~

He had always taken it seriously, being a dad. But some things were more serious than others. E.g, explaining The Ramones.

~

Previously:

Image by JD Hancock.

Where does happiness come from?

Wednesday, June 8th, 2011

x

“Happiness comes from within.”
–The Buddha

That’s the idea I had in mine when I wrote this week’s Life Balance column for CareOne, “Happiness From The Inside Out.”

Too often we let our external conditions dictate how we feel — but in fact those feelings come from within, and we have a huge amount of influence over our own state of mind and well-being at all times.

For more of my thoughts on this, please head over to the Life Balance blog.

Image by Tarah Dawdy.

Tiny Stories, part 5

Thursday, May 26th, 2011

After too much delay . . . more stories that fit in a single tweet.

Her choice in the category of “Favorite Album Ever” told him that he could never, ever fall in love with her.

~ ~ ~

He was successful, & cute. But she couldn’t decide whether his misogyny, his drinking, or his self-loathing was most revolting.

~ ~ ~

She couldn’t rid herself of him. She wasn’t stuck on his love or the sex or the money. She was addicted to the struggle.

~ ~ ~

Desperate to do something big – & get laid – he dreamed of starting a social-hookup-network called Qwiki. But the name was taken.

~ ~ ~

He’d always hoped to cut a dashing figure. But the pretty woman talking to him at the party had already forgotten his name.

~ ~ ~

He’d been happily off the market for years, but it didn’t hurt his feelings to be flirted with by a slim woman in the beer aisle.

~ ~ ~

She had a saucy mouth. He couldn’t stop looking at that mouth. He would learn that she also had the conscience of a dragonfly.

~ ~ ~

She looked tough and beautiful. For the first time in his life, he wished he had tattoo sleeves.

~ ~ ~

Believing that she would die without any of what she wished for in life, she settled on trying not to be miserable.

~ ~ ~

His vest, tie, and shades were just so. He thought he looked cool. Others thought he looked like a waiter who just got off duty.

~

Previously:

Image by JD Hancock.