Friday, November 28, 2008

A Writer's Postal Excitement Scale

To all you writers out there---and you know who you are---here's a little trip down memory lane for all the submissions you have sent to magazines, journal, editors, agents, publishers and anyone else who is in the business of publishing what writers write. If you have your own stories of rejection and elation, I'd like to hear about them....

A Writer's Postal Excitement Scale
By Bill Kirk
(Published in Absolute Write, October 2007-- )

1. No response from the publisher….

The editor must be still thinking about it. So it's been a year—some people are thorough.

2. Your original outgoing envelope, returned unopened—manuscript still inside, with no notes, no form letter or any other indication that anyone or anything besides a Pitney-Bowes mail sorter has touched it....

I wonder what that little pointy finger next to the “Return To Sender” stamp means?

3. A returned SASE with nothing inside….

Must have liked it so much they made copies and are still passing them around the office!

4. An SASE with a pre-printed, unsigned and unmarked form letter....

Ya gotta love the extra effort and attention! Hey! There’s still a chance, right?

5. A returned SASE with a SIGNED letter and a box checked—no, wait, six boxes checked—with the reasons for the rejection....

Now we're talking! I can feel the love. Someone actually read me!

6. A returned SASE with a SIGNED letter and an encouraging rejection note—like, "I read this twice before throwing it away." or “Next time, don’t waste your postage on a SASE”….

OMG, this must mean they’re going to pay the return postage next time. Quick! Send them something else—preferably before the postman drives away!

7. A returned SASE with a marked up manuscript—in color crayon—and three Cheerios inside....

Finally, some feedback! OK. So, the editor could have her 3-year old child on the payroll. Besides, some kids are prodigies.

8. A returned SASE with the manuscript inside, marked up with legible comments like, "This is truly beyond belief! In my 25 years as an editor, I've never seen anything quite like it...."

Be still, my heart! Finally, someone who really understands me.

9. A returned SASE with a form letter and a signed hand-written note asking to see more….

Time to start looking through the car ads for that Jaguar I've been wanting....

10. A returned SASE with a SIGNED letter and an anticipated date of publication... sometime within the next ten years....

OK. I’m adding this puppy under my name at the bottom of my email messages!


Thursday, November 27, 2008

For The "txtng" Generation

If you can read the following .txt rhyme right off the bat, you are without question among the ".txt generation." In fact, you are totally there if most of these words actually appear to be spelled correctly.

For those of you who may miss a few lines, you are probably still safe as a member of the ".txt-geezer bridge generation." You understand what is being said sufficiently to translate for people who are reaching for their red pencils to correct the spelling.

The rest of us are firmly planted in the ".txt-challenged generation." The rhyme makes absolutely no sense and you are wondering why anyone would even write such stuff down. But that's OK. You are not expected to get it. And your thumbs are too big anyway.

Just in case you are curious about the actual words in the .txt version of the rhyme, or what the rhyme might look like in English, a translation is provided below. Enjoy.

CallN Plnz
By Bill Kirk

My Dad bawt me a cell ph.
It’s realy wA 2 QL.
U won’t bleev w@ it cn do—
I’ll shO u aftr skool.

It ltz me d/l muzc;
Snd pix, gmes n stuf.
It evn hlps me do my Math,
N f that’s nt nuf,

It hs a dxNre;
N evry country’s map—
Jst ask me whr a rivA s.
I’ll fnd it ina snap!

There’s O1 sml prob—
It’s nm @ ll.
Bt sumday mayB I shd lern
To actuly mak a cll.

Translation for the .txt challenged:

Calling Plans
By Bill Kirk

My Dad bought me a cell phone.
It’s really way too cool.
You won’t believe what it can do—
I’ll show you after school.

It lets me download music;
Send pictures, games and stuff.
It even helps me do my Math,
And if that’s not enough,

It has a dictionary;
And every country’s map—
Just ask me where a river is.
I’ll find it in a snap!

There’s only one small problem—
It’s nothing much at all.
But someday maybe I should learn
To actually make a call.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thanksgiving Dad

In honor of the meal Americans will celebrate as a nation tomorrow, here is a story---more of a one-sided dialogue really---about a father's telephone conversation with his daughter on the occasion of the first Thanksgiving meal she has cooked under her own roof. It's somewhat in the style of a Bob Newhart telephone sketch. Dedicated to daughters everywhere but especially to our daughter, Lisa.

Enjoy. And Thanksgiving blessings to all.

Thanksgiving Dad
By Bill Kirk

Good Morning, daughter! Is everyone up?
Have you had any coffee—at least your first cup?

Is all the stuff ready to cook the big meal?
Is the turkey thawed out? Have you broken the seal?

Remember to take out the small bag of parts;
One neck and a gizzard—I once found two hearts!

You did all your shopping; bought all on your list?
You’ve checked everything so nothing was missed?

There’s stuffing and dinner rolls, broth and green beans;
Potatoes and ham hocks—we’ll bring the tureens.

The bird will cook best, will be nice and browned,
At three-twenty-five—fifteen minutes a pound.

It’s sometimes quite tricky, to get the temp right.
Gas cooks a bit faster.... Oh, you learned that last night?

Before you get started, did you take out the rack?
And we’ve always used a brown paper sack.

You’ll need lots of time to fix the big bird.
If you want any help, just give me the word.

What about onions? Is there chopping to do?
Should I bring mashed potatoes? Is there cider to brew?

Do you have the cranberries; the pickles and such?
Don't forget that good gravy, takes just the right touch!

What did you say? Don’t chop, stir or pour?
I don’t need to make a last run to the store?

But what do you mean, you’ve changed the meal plan?
There’s not a meal crisis? You don’t need the Old Man?

“That’s right, Dad,” I heard our young daughter say.
“There’s no bird or stuffing to mess with today.”

“We've all eaten turkey since we were in cribs.
So, this year, instead, we’re having prime ribs.”

I sat there quite stunned as I heard the sad news,
And was suddenly struck by a case of the blues.

Then, clear as a bell, I knew what to do.
My panic was gone. My doldrums were through.

“Oh, don’t worry daughter, your prime rib’s a ‘go’!
Lucky for you, there’s a trick that I know…!”

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

To Blog Or Not To Blog?

As the saying goes, there's a first time for everything---this is my first official blog post to my first official blog.

Admitedly, blogs scare me---I just don't get it. I mean really, why are so many people blogging away out there anyway ? It's as if no one has anything else to do (he says as he keeps typing into his own blog). Truthfully, I never thought there was any particular utility to blogging. But now, by virtue of being here, I have a blog and I am a blogger. By now someone must have said, "I blog, therefore I am." If not, you saw it first here.

You can find a blog on pretty much any subject, with hundreds of people sharing their views and opinions. If I had more time, I might spend it browsing the blogosphere, seeking validation of my own views or challenging those of others. But with only so much time in the day, this blog will focus instead on the question, To write or not to write? And I will hope there may be a few other writers out there willing to share their thoughts on the question.

For me, the answer is there is no question. Writing is what brings me both joy and frustration. But in the end the joy I find in the writing itself always seems to win out.

In this blog, the common thread will be writing in whatever form or aspect that seems to interest me on a particular day, in a particular moment. Sometimes you may find a snippet of rhyme; other times a piece of a humorous story line from times past; a slice out of a Suttertown News story I wrote 15 years ago or something more recent.

From time to time, there may also be a bit of grousing about my muse having taken her leave---no doubt a common experience shared by almost anyone who has struggled to find the thinnest thread of an idea for a story.

If anything strikes a resonant chord, please feel free to leave a comment. Opinions from all stripes are both solicited and welcomed. That's it for this Starlog entry. I'll look for you around the water cooler.

Kirk, Out!