Will’s Wisdom

Feeling in the mood for some lighthearted wit and wisdom to kick off this week, so when the name Will Rogers popped into my head, I decided to go with it:

“Even if you are on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.”

“Don’t let yesterday take up too much of today”

“Why don’t they pass a constitutional amendment prohibiting anybody from learning anything? If it works as well as prohibition did, in five years we will have the smartest people on earth.”

“When I first started out to write and misspelled a few words, people said I was plain ignorant. But when I got all the words wrong, they declared I was a humorist.”

“It’s great to be great, but it’s greater to be human.”

“There is nothing as easy as denouncing … It don’t take much to see that something is wrong but it does take some eyesight to see what will put it right again.”

“A fanatic is always the fellow that is on the opposite side.”

“Everything is changing in America. People are taking the comedians seriously and the politicians as a joke.”

“I don’t make jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts.”

“I am going to jump out some day and be indefinite enough about everything that they will call me a politician, then run on a platform of question marks, and be elected unanimously.”

“There are two theories to arguing with a woman. Neither works.”

“Everybody is ignorant only on different subjects.”

“This would be a great world to dance in if we didn’t have to pay the fiddler.”

“If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went.”

“Always drink upstream from the herd.”

Will surely had a way with words! And now, amused and emboldened, let’s all write on!

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Something Wonderful

The Mist and All

Dixie Willson

I like the fall,
The mist and all,
I like the night owl’s
Lonely call —
And wiling sound
Of wind around.

I like the gray
November day,
And bare, dead boughs
That coldly sway
Against my pane,
I like the rain.

I like to sit
And laugh at it —
And tend
My cozy fire a bit,
I like the fall —
The mist and all —

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Snow Story

I don’t know where you are right now, but here in Montclair, New Jersey, we’re experiencing a thrilling adventure…another SNOW DAY! I know, I know, for some people this is a trial, but for me, it’s a treat. When I was a kid, I considered “SNOW DAY”  two of the most glorious words in the English language. It meant NO SCHOOL! HOT CHOCOLATE! PLAYING CARDS! GOOFING AROUND! READING BOOKS!

I can still see my beloved sister Judy reading one of her favorite stories, Snow Bound with Betsy. Could there be a more perfect book title for a snowy day? Sometimes I wish I had a copy of that book. But then I realize that I don’t even need it — just the title is so evocative, that it summons up happy memories in an instant. Books are like that, aren’t they?

I’m not spending the day in a snow fort made of blankets the way we did when I was a kid, but I am all set to enjoy my snow day. Luckily, I don’t have to travel. I have my children’s novel revision to work on, so I’ve got plenty of work. And I’m well provisioned — an absolute snow-day must. Sillycow Hot Chocolate with Marshmallows! Hazelnut Coffee! Fire Wood! They’re all on hand — everything I need for a fun and productive snow-bound interlude.

Sometimes it’s a gift to have a “time out” — a day where the outside world waits quietly on your doorstep. A day where you can plan and dream, ponder and write. It’s the perfect time to let your imagination soar. May we all be safe and protected, and warm and cozy. Write on!

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Pep Talk

Norman Vincent Peale is widely known as the “Father of Positive Thinking” and he shared his philosophy of life in a small raft of books that remain among the enduring classics in the self-help genre. Just to give us all a hearty dose of optimism today, here’s a gathering of his words of wisdom from one of his best-selling books, Positive Thinking Every Day:

“Self-trust is the first secret of success. So believe and trust in yourself.”

“If you want to get somewhere, you have to know where you want to go and how to get there. Then never, never, never give up.”

“Never use the word impossible seriously again. Toss it into the verbal wastebasket.”

“Stand up to your obstacles and do something about them. You will find that they haven’t half the strength you think they have.”

“How you think about a problem is more important than the problem itself — so always think positively.”

“Help other people to cope with their problems and your own will be easier to cope with.”

“Joy increases as you give it, and diminishes as you try to keep it for yourself. In giving it, you will accumulate a deposit of joy greater than you ever believed possible.”

“Go at life with abandon; give it all you’ve got. And life will give all it has to you.”


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Willard Wonders

Dr. Willard Funk, the widely admired dictionary publisher, was once asked to perform a monumental task on the part of a wordsmith: choosing the 10 most expressive words in the English language. Here, to entertain and engage you, is our boy Willard’s top 10 list:

the most bitter word — alone

the most tragic — death

the most reverend — mother

the most beautiful — love

the most cruel — revenge

the most peaceful — tranquil

the saddest — forgotten

the warmest — friendship

the coldest — no

the most comforting — faith

Mmmm … what a fascinating exercise! Which words would I choose, I wonder? To my mind, there’s something powerful, provocative, and useful about this challenge — something that might enliven our work. It may be worth coming up with our own expressive-word entries. Which would you choose? Something to ponder and play with as we all write on!


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Asa’s Tea

“We are such stuff as dreams are made on.”   William Shakespeare, The Tempest

“Asa’s decaf fruit tea” – when I woke up this morning, this phrase was floating in my head. I can only recall a fragment of the dream that triggered it – something about a group of people dancing around a fire. That’s it. Nothing more to go on.

Is this a message from my subconscious? Am I supposed to be including someone named Asa in my children’s story? That might work. Or write a short story about Asa? Who knows? Not me!

Dreams are like that, aren’t they? Often you can only remember a tantalizing fragment or a fleeting scene when you wake up, though I’ve certainly had dreams from time to time that were so vivid and complete I felt compelled to jot them down. They are sitting in a file somewhere.

Dreams my be elusive, but they are surely among the most valuable tools in our creative kitbag. I’ve read stories of scientists who solved thorny problems that had bedeviled them for years in a dream: I think the double helix model of DNA came to one of its discoverers one night.

And here’s a fascinating fact: The author Robert Louis Stevenson depended heavily on his dreams for story ideas. Whenever he was short of cash, which was often, he would call on his “brownies” –- little dream-inducing sprites — to send him a saleable story concept. According to Stevenson, the dark, tangled tale of Jekyll and Hyde came to him in a dream. It began as a short story and he later expanded it into a novel. Impressive!

Where’s all this going? I’m not sure. It’s like the phrase I woke up with rattling around in my head: It’s just the whisper of a theme that I can’t quite pin down. Still I may find a use that for the name “Asa.” And I did manage to conjure up this post from my wispy nocturnal ramblings.

Think I’ll Google “Asa’s decaf fruit tea” and see what happens!

How about you? Have you ever found helpful writing fodder in your dreams? If so, I’d love to hear about it as we all write on!

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Unknown Soldier

This Sunday on the 11th hour of the 11th day of  the 11th month, we marked the 100th year anniversary of Armistice Day, World War I — the “War to End All Wars.” In honor of Veteran’s Day, a lovely meditation on heroism:

American Hero
by Mary West Jorgensen

“Our history is studded with heroic names. These names compose a world roster from which almost every nation may choose one and say: He is ours! We produced the clan from which he sprung. See how he spells his name! That is how his family spelled their name years ago, here, in this land.

“The tale of heroism runs true from Valley Forge to Gettysburg, from the Argonne to Guadalcanal. How is it possible to select one and say of him: He is the bravest of all?

“Therefore, I choose one who lies in Arlington beneath the inscription: ‘Here rests in honored glory, an American soldier, known but to God.’

“Of him we know three things: he was an American, he died for freedom, he sleeps in the comfortable keeping of the Lord of Hosts.

“He is a symbol of heroic qualities, of the vision of Washington, of the humanity of Lincoln, of the courage of MacArthur, of the faith of Rickenbacker, of the sacrifice of Kelly. He is, moreover, a symbol of the common man who dies daily in order that freedom may not perish from the earth.”

Within the Tomb ogf the Unknown Soldier lies an unidentified American serviceman who died in battle in France during World War I. The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is guarded every minute of every hour of every day by his fellow soldiers, who consider it a great honor to protect this nameless hero. Blessings upon those who keep this silent hero safe and upon all those who have protected us and still stand watch to keep us safe. Their tales are so important to share and remember. Write on.

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