Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Factors That Contribute to Creativity – Do You Have to be Brilliant to be Creative?

Some people believe that creativity belongs only to talented composers, architects, artists, literary geniuses, and multi-billionaire entrepreneurs. But guess what – we are ALL creative. We might not use our creative talents, because we might not recognize that we have them, but we are all filled with creative potential awaiting the right moment, the right exposure, or the right spark to coax that potential into something extraordinary.

During the summer months of my early years, I spent many days on one of Lake Michigan’s beautiful beaches. My mother would take my sisters and me to Lake Michigan’s southwest side near the Museum of Science and Industry nearly every day during the summer months. 

Memories wash over me of that time – sitting in the sand building my little castles and looking out on the water, daydreaming. I can still feel the kind of peace that calmed my soul and allowed me to become one with the Universe. All of the sights, smells, and sounds around me combined in such a way that my mind could drift into territories previously unexplored. Unbeknown to me back then, there sat my muse, awaiting my recognition of her. 

Even today I find my most creative (and peaceful) moments are the ones that involve water. Water in the form of rain brings on a melancholy mood that allows my mind to quiet and to relax enough to entertain the thoughts my muse introduces to me. Sometimes just the memory of being near water is enough of a catalyst to invigorate my creativity.

My creativity didn’t stop when I grew up, however. Though children are innately creative – give them any medium such as crayons, paints, blocks, or even boxes filled with string and large beads, and you can almost see their minds connect dots where none existed before. And though some people believe they're not creative, we should learn to understand that we are ALL creative IF we allow ourselves to pay attention to what arouses our curiosity, sparks our imaginations, and allows us to recognize relationships we never knew existed. The ability to create comes down to three important factors: curiosity, imagination, and the ability to connect two or more seemingly unrelated ideas.


One of the most important phrases for anyone seeking to create anything is, “What if?” Take an ordinary skein of yarn. Ten different people will look at that one skein of yarn and come up with ten completely different projects, just by asking themselves that all important question – whether they are aware or not that they are asking it –“What if?”

Give a paint set to a child and without the child consciously thinking, “What if?” that child will intuitively ask him- or herself that question with each stroke of the brush.

Give a thousand writers a topic to research and write, and you’ll get a thousand different papers showing several different viewpoints that draw several different conclusions. 

Vivid Imagination

We all dream. Whether we know it or not, we do. And in those dreams we find remnants of our imaginations. 

I was once given an assignment when I was 9 years old. That assignment required me to write one paragraph for each of five chapters in my spelling book. As a child who took everything literally and who was already very interested in writing, I took this assignment very seriously. A paragraph, I had learned, was a section of writing that dealt with one central thought.

The spelling words in each chapter, however, were completely unrelated. Tying them together took a vivid imagination and I think the seeds of my creativity were planted during that assignment. I saw connections I’d never made before, because I was forced to create them. 

And that takes me to the next factor that contributes to creativity.

Ability to Connect Two or More Seemingly Unrelated Ideas

Movies provide a great example of the ability to connect two or more unrelated ideas. Juxtaposition, oxymorons, opposites – creative minds can make connections that others don’t see until somebody points out the relationship between two seemingly unrelated ideas.

How does this method work? Try this writing experiment. Look around you right now and choose one thing in your line of vision. Now close your eyes, turn your head to your right, and open your eyes. What do you see? How can you connect those two things? Now look straight ahead. What do you see, and how can you introduce that third subject into your piece? 

When I look around, I see snowfall. When I close my eyes and then look to my right, I find a beloved picture of a puppy celebrating a birthday with a cake and 2 candles. Coincidentally when I look ahead, I see a refrigerator magnet of a snowman. 

In this situation, the relationships seem obvious. My mind settles on the snowman magnet after viewing the snowfall. I had forgotten the magnet was on my refrigerator, but because I saw the snow, and I knew my mind was going to connect whatever I saw, my eye ignored all of the other magnets on the refrigerator and focused instead on the snowman. 

A dog playing in the snow isn’t a stretch of the imagination, but putting a white cake trimmed with gold and holding two candles into the picture takes a little thought, so I imagine a family of 5 climbing out of their car on a wintry day. The mom carries a birthday cake for their puppy who runs out of the doggy door to greet them. Mom trips and lands belly down on the snow. The dog leaps onto the birthday cake and attempts to devour it, but Dad rescues the cake.

But let’s go further with our creativity – let’s introduce a fourth element, current events. And here’s how my story played out.

Poochie stood by the doggie door when he heard his family’s car approach. After the final door was closed, he raced outside and tripped Mommy. A beautiful white cake trimmed with gold, perched with two candles, toppled out of Mommy’s hands and landed in the snow – upright. Still time for Poochie to devour it! Too late. Daddy swooped it up and brought it into the house where it somehow miraculously changed into a chocolate cake with blue icing. (I took liberties with the change of colors, because I can sometimes be dyslexic. The reference is, I'm sure you've heard, the current debate between the white and gold dress vs. the blue and black dress.)

Once you look for relationships between things you never noticed before, you’ll find them everywhere. They will sometimes seem absurd, but you may find humor in the absurd. Other times, those relationships will be so obvious, you’ll wonder why you never noticed them before.

So have fun! Ask questions! Use your imagination! Be adventurous! And allow yourself the luxury of examining your interests and exploring your skills to discover where your talents lie and where you can be most creative! 

Thank you for visiting!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

How To Write How To Articles and How They May Be Your Roadmap to Writing Success!

Most writers know that the words, “How To,” generate a significant number of responses. Plug “How to” into Google and an astounding 8.6 billion results appear! Of everything I’ve written since I started writing online, the posts that get the most reads are the How To articles I’ve written.

So with so many How To articles already on the web, how can a writer compete? 

The short answer is to give your readers what they want. If you want to write How To articles, look at what YOU can contribute that’s different from anything else your readers can find. 

In 2012, when I bought a skein of Red Heart Boutique Sashay Yarn, I read the label for instructions on how to crochet with it. I’d never seen anything like that type of yarn before. The instructions, however, were intended for knitters. So I made up my own technique and I shared my instructions on my All Craft Connection blog. The title I chose was one I looked for in my own search, and it’s the title I gave my blog – How to Crochet with Red Heart Boutique Sashay Yarn. To date, that blog is my most successful All Craft Connection blog.

You don’t have to include the words, “How to” in your title, though. As long as you offer your readers something they need and as long as your title conveys a message that will fulfill their needs, your title can read something similar to this title I wrote, Has Your Work Been Stolen? Here’s What to Do! It’s a How To article without the How To words mentioned in the title. The most important thing to remember in creating How To articles is to include words that your readers will most likely search when they look for someone with your expertise.

Any time you design, create, or innovate something that you know others would appreciate learning, write a How To article and teach them what they want to learn. Time saving, money saving, or life saving techniques are all good examples of How To articles you can write if you can truly offer readers information they’re seeking that they haven’t already found elsewhere. 

Have you come up with a new exercise program that works wonders for your mind, body, and spirit? Think of what someone would enter into a search engine. For example, someone might write, “exercises for mind, body, and spirit.” Your title could read, How to Exercise Your Mind, Body, and Spirit or Exercises That Work Wonders for Your Mind, Body, and Spirit. Anybody looking for that type of information could come across your blog. 

As long as you reveal in your title exactly the information you are trying to convey in your article, and as long as you deliver on the promise you made in your title, you will have targeted your intended audience and you will reap some benefits – readers! 

Still unsure of what you can contribute to the How To world? Think about what you have to offer your readers. Look at your interests, hobbies, skills, and experience. Where, among all these things, are you most passionate? What have you learned that you think you can teach others? How are your methods different from anything else being taught?

Just recently I created a unique style of crochet. I had been thinking about implementing the thought I’d had for a couple of years, when one day, I decide to just try it. Without getting too technical, it involved creating a chain from a ball of yarn, rolling the chain into a new ball of yarn, and then using that chain to crochet a cowl. The effect turned out even better than I thought it would, so I came up with instructions for the new way to crochet and wrote, Chain Crochet – Crocheting With Chains – a Crochet Experiment.  

I didn’t stop there though. I also wrote a blurb on a different blog, my Crystal Butterfly Creations blog – Have You Tried Chain Crochet? I linked to the original article and thereby expanded my readership.

If you have more than one blog and your title fits with the subject matter in your other blog, link your blogs together. Also, if you think your post would generate any interest on Pinterest, Pin It!

To sum up – answer a question or fill a need, choose a title that others would type into a search engine, provide good quality writing with understandable instructions, and make your content unique. If you are writing something that YOU would have wanted to learn before you knew How To do it, you just might have written a winning post!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

What's That Word I Want to Use?

Have you ever been stuck on a word? You know what you want to say or write, but you can’t quite get it to come out of your mouth or onto the page? Or maybe you come up with a word, and it sounds almost like the word you want, but it’s not quite right? 

For example, you want to write the word, revolution, but instead you write, evolution. You know that something doesn’t seem write – oops! – right, but you don’t know how to correct yourself. 

Another example – you want to make a reservation for Howl at the Moon, but when you call, what comes out of your mouth is, “Yes, I’d like to make an application – I mean, invitation…” and the person on the other end of the line suggests, “Do you mean reservation?”

Yes! Thank you!

What is happening, you ask yourself? Have the wires in your brain crossed over into some inexplicable portion devoted solely to nonsense? No. Not really. But you have become a victim – a victim of malapropism. 

Comedian Norm Crosby made a living with the malaprop. He is still known today as The Master of Malaprop. I’ll be giving my age away here, but I used to watch him on the Ed Sullivan Show and the Dean Martin Show back in the 60s. And, at the age of 87, Norm Crosby, the master of malaprop, is still making audiences laugh.

So what is a malaprop?

A malaprop is an unintentional (or in the case of Norm Crosby, intentional) word employed when the word you want to use sounds similar to the word you intended to use but doesn’t make sense in the context of your sentence or story.

Use of the malaprop can be quite entertaining, although when you’re trying to make a point, it can be extremely frustrating! Unintentional use of a word in any setting will cause uproarious laughter when the actual meaning of the word you accidentally used is ludicrous in context. Some very famous and some not very famous people have accidentally used malapropism in their speeches and in ordinary conversation. Using malapropism can be both embarrassing and hilarious.

LiteraryDevices.net provides several examples of the malaprop. Here is just one from their list:

New Scientist, a magazine, reports one of its employees calling his colleague “a suppository (i.e. repository) of knowledge”.

And from Your Dictionary come these examples:

A rolling stone gathers no moths. (moss)

"The police are not here to create disorder, they're here to preserve disorder." - Richard Daley, former mayor of Chicago 

"It will take time to restore chaos and order." (former President George W. Bush)

"The law I sign today directs new funds... to the task of collecting vital intelligence... on weapons of mass production." (former President George W. Bush)

More examples of malapropism: 

To pronounce your words with a specific attention (intention), use the right infection (inflection). 

End your sentences with any of the following punctuation points – periods, question marks, or ejaculation (exclamation) marks. 

She doesn’t care. She’s so intensive (insensitive).

Does the malaprop have a cure? Well, if you are speaking and one pops out of your mouth, you probably won’t realize it until you see the reaction your words have on your intended audience. A simple apology will suffice and, if you have friends like mine, somebody will supply the correct word for you. 

If you’re writing, have somebody else read through your material. It also helps to have a thesaurus nearby if you feel your face scrunch into quizzical mode. I often know immediately when something I’ve written seems a little off. Having a thesaurus allows me to look up a word close to my intended word, and there among the suggestions is usually the word I want! 

Try to come up with your own malaprop and if you are too young to remember Norm Crosby, Ed Sullivan, or Dean Martin, I invite you to watch this YouTube video:

Graphic of Columbo by Prawny on morguefile.com

Monday, January 19, 2015

Writer, WAKE UP!

Previously published on Yahoo Jul 15, 2010

"WAKE UP! RIGHT NOW! Hurry! Before you forget to write it down."


To be honest, I don't know. Well, at least I don't know what her name is. I've been told she is my muse, and she is MERCILESS.

Leave me alone, I sigh, as I attempt to return to sleep.

"NOOOOOOO! Wake up! You know you'll never remember this great idea if you wait for morning!"

She's right. Too many times I've told her, yeah, thanks, you annoying muse presence, but right now I really need my sleep. I'll remember it (whatever it is at the time) because it's such a common theme - it will just come to me during the day.

She rolls her a-MUSE-ing eyes.

I plead with her.

I promise I'll write it down tomorrow. Something will remind me, and that will force me to write it down then, OK? So leave me alone now, PLEASE?

I turn over, grab my pillow, hug it tightly, and ignore her incessant chatter in my head. She laughs and pokes me once again.

I cover my ears with my pillow. It doesn't help. She's in my head and she's taunting me. "Waaaaaaaake uuuuuuuuuuuppppppp!"

OH, COME ON! Really? You're going to do this to me again? You KNOW I have a hard time sleeping. I was just having a really good dream.

"I know!" She responds. "Write it down."

I roll over again, promising her I will remember when I awake IF I EVER FALL ASLEEP AGAIN!

I never remember my ideas in the morning. The idea has probably been zapped by another writer who saw the gleam from the idea cave and mined the diamond immediately. I, however, tug the blankets under my chin and beg for sleep.

Eventually, after arguing with her for another hour, kicking and fighting her the whole time, I am able to fall back to sleep, only to awaken minutes later with another great idea.

STOP! Can't I get just a few hours of sleep? P-L-E-A-S-E!

"NO! Get up now! Why do you think I'm here? Do you think I enjoy fighting with you night after night?"

FINE! I relent, but all I'm going to do is put the essence of it into my iPhone.

"Fine," she replies, "That's a start."

And THAT is why I have a lifetime of ideas I will never live long enough to use, and THAT is why I suffer from insomnia. (I'm tempted to stick out my tongue right now and blow air through my lips, Lily Tomlin style, but I don't know how to spell that sound.)

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Do You Use Apostrophes Correctly?

After reading a post written by a fellow writer on Persona Paper about the correct use of apostrophes, I was struck by the fact that I have never addressed apostrophes in this blog. For that reason, rather than drag you through a number of paragraphs before I introduce you to that article, I'm just going to direct you to English Mechanics: Using the Apostrophe written by Ruby3881. If you have problems with apostrophes, I highly recommend reading her post.

Friday, January 2, 2015

How to Report Internet Crimes!

Previously published on Yahoo Contributor Network December 27, 2011. All information currently relevant as of January 2, 2015.

If you're tired of people stealing your email address and using it fraudulently to approach every person in your contact list, or if you or one of your loved ones has been criminally attacked on the Internet, read on. 
In partnership with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C) and funded in part by the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) , the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), formerly known as the Internet Fraud Complaint Center, is the Internet's watchdog, and it works diligently to prevent Internet crime. 
IC3s Mission 
The mission of IC3 is "to serve as a vehicle to receive, develop, and refer criminal complaints regarding the rapidly expanding arena of cyber crime." IC3 investigates your stolen email, along with other Internet crime complaints, and if IC3 feels the perpetrators are in violation of the law, it refers complaints to the proper authorities, whether they are local, state, federal, and/or international. Many of these agencies participate in Cyber Crime Task Forces and partner with IC3 to prosecute Internet criminals. 
Won't Changing Your Password Help? 
You may have already learned that changing your password does nothing to protect you from criminals who continue to send deceitful emails to all of your contacts using YOUR email address. Once these Internet miscreants have your email address and your contact list, no matter how many times you change your password, they still have your email address, and they still have your contact list; they will continue to harass you, your friends, and your relatives. 
Even though they have access to your email contacts, you should change your password anyway - to prevent future attacks. Using a combination of capital letters, lower case letters, and numbers for your password will make stealing your email address difficult for Internet criminals. It might help to get a different email address. 
Before You Contact IC3... 
If the Internet crime is email related, before contacting IC3, try contacting your email provider. Google suggests you make sure you have a secure connection before you send or receive any emails, which means that instead of seeing http in your url, your url should read https. Click Google to contact them if you are having problems. 
To report stolen email addresses at Yahoo, click Yahoo
Disreputable con artists sometimes send emails pretending to be your email provider. I have received numerous emails purporting to come from one of my mail providers - mail.com - asking me for my password and personal information, because, the email claims, a computer glitch has caused my email provider to lose all of my information. 
But when I look at the sender's email address I notice the email is not from mail.com and therefore is not an official mail.com email. If you have a mail.com email address and are experiencing this same type of fraud, send an email to service@mail.com
RED FLAG ALERT: If emails arrive filled with grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors, suspect criminal activity. Quality organizations never send unprofessional emails, nor do they set up unprofessional web pages.

When to Report Cyber Crime 
If you have already contacted your email provider and your issue has not been resolved, the only other way to stop Internet criminal activity is to report the crimes to the Internet Crime Complaint Center. (Clicking the link will take you directly to their web site.) 
Some spoofers are more a nuisance than they are an actual threat. Get a new email address if you have to, and alert your friends of the change. If, however, the spoofing has crossed the line into threatening or harassing emails, such as cyber bullying, ask friends and relatives to forward the stolen email to you. Once you have the information from the email that purports to come from you (or even if it comes from some other source), report it to the Internet Crime Complaint Center. 
Filling Out The Internet Crime Complaint Center's Questionnaire 
When you enter the web page for the Internet Crime Complaint Center you will see a questionnaire. Include as much information as is available to you. The IC3 questionnaire alerts the FBI that your email address has been stolen or that other crimes have been committed against you. If the crime is an email crime, copy the email address of the sender and paste it into your complaint. Copy and paste any name that appears next to the sender's email address as well. Include the date of the email and all other information contained within the fraudulent email. 
Sometimes the only information you find in the email, other than the sender's email address, is one link to a web site. Other times perpetrators promise to send you money in exchange for your social security number, bank routing and account numbers, pin numbers, and other important personal information. Often, a money exchange has already taken place and you or your friends are out thousands of dollars. 
If the crime has been committed on a social networking site, include the date, the name of the recipient, and copy any conversations that took place. 
Whatever your reason for reporting the incident(s), either your email address - your email identity - has been stolen and your Internet friends are getting barraged with unsolicited emails that appear to be coming from you, or you are suffering from comments made about you or to you on social networking sites.

Too Many Types of Internet Crimes 
An Internet thief, who claimed to be one of my cousins, requested money from all of my cousin's contacts stating that he was stranded in another country and needed our help to come home. His sad story revealed that all of his money and credit cards had been stolen. I forwarded the suspicious email to my cousin who confirmed my suspicions - the email was a scam. Had any of my cousin's contacts fallen for the fictitious email, they might have been out hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars. 
Another scam is the job offer scam. With the economy forcing so many people out of work, job offers that appear in your inbox seem promising. But look at the sender. Does it come from a company to which you applied? If you hit the reply button, does it take you to a company whose name you recognize? If not, do not click any links that are provided in the email and do not respond to the email. 
Chances are, if the email seems suspicious and the sender is asking for personal information in exchange for the promise of a job offer, it probably is. If you follow through by clicking the link, you will have just become the victim of a crime. Report it. 
Not Enough Information to Report? 
Reporting Internet crime is not a long process - you just fill out the questionnaire provided by The Internet Crime Complaint Center. Not all of the information requested in the form will be present in the email. That's okay. Give whatever information you have. The important thing to remember is that the more often you report Internet crime, the more likely YOU won't be bothered by it. 
By allowing people to repeatedly use your email address to solicit YOUR friends and relatives, you are giving the offender your permission to harass people about whom you care. Your friends may decide to stop opening emails that come from you. Or worse, they will unknowingly participate in organizations they believe YOU have endorsed. If you don't want your friends and family members cheated by unscrupulous Internet thieves, report the criminals.

Looks Too Good To Be True 
Sometimes an unsolicited email appears to be so attractive you can't help but wonder if you really will "inherit" a million dollars. Even though you know it can't be true, the thought of becoming instantaneously wealthy is exciting, but if it Looks Too Good To Be True (click the link), it probably is. 
Looks Too Good To Be True is a web site linked from the Internet Crime Complaint Center. Looks Too Good To Be True is "part of a joint effort between the United States Secret Service, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) and the Financial Services Information Sharing and Analysis Center (FS-ISAC)" devoted to protecting consumers by arming them with knowledge about the latest Internet scams. 
Looks Too Good To Be True instructs its readers about the different types of fraud, including money scams, phishing scams, and work at home scams. They even provide authentic work-from-home job opportunities. Looks Too Good To Be True also issues consumer alerts. If you click "Victim Stories" on their site, you will see the range of Internet crimes committed by "unscrupulous manipulators of the con game," to quote from one of the Victim Stories. 
Revealing Personal Information 
I have had to report Internet crimes myself, especially when I have received emails offering to send me LOTS of money if only I would reveal my social security number, banking information, address, and phone number. Fortunately, I know better than to divulge any personal information, including passwords. No reputable company will EVER ask you for your password, even if the company requesting the password is a company you often use. REPEAT - NO REPUTABLE COMPANY OR AGENCY WILL EVER ASK YOU FOR YOUR PASSWORD! 
After you fill out the IC3 questionnaire, your part is over - the FBI will not harass you for reporting Internet crimes. I have filled out several forms at The Internet Crime Complaint Center, and never once have I been contacted by the FBI, nor have I received any spam as a result of reporting the incidents. 
When I receive a suspicious email from one of my email buddies, I email my contact directly and ask if he or she had sent the email. Once my email friends know their email was hacked, they can contact their email provider or, if that doesn't help, they can contact the Internet Crime Complaint Center themselves and report the crime. 
Protecting Your Email Contacts 
You can protect contacts in your email list by using the BCC command whenever you forward emails. BCC stands for Blind Carbon Copy. Internet thieves can't steal email addresses of contacts whose names and email addresses they can't see. The next time you forward an email, put yourself in the "Send to" box and BCC all of your other contacts; the recipient of the email will see only his or her name in the "To" portion of the email. 
Sadly the people who get scammed the most are gullible, vulnerable individuals who want to believe that what they are reading is true. Internet thieves prey on such individuals. If you have your email identity stolen, or if other Internet crimes are committed against you or your loved ones, such as cyber bullying (which occurs often on social networking sites), you owe it to them and to yourself to report the crime, even if you haven't lost any money.

In Closing 
Be vigilant of not only your own emails, but also of those delivered to your children or grandchildren and to your elderly parents or grandparents. The thieves and manipulators are no longer sneaking in through windows and doors - they are already inside your home. 
For more information about preventing cyber crime, please peruse these Consumer Alerts links provided by The Internet Crime Complaint Center: 
Remember the words of Edmund Burke, "All that's necessary for the forces of evil to win in the world is for enough good men to do nothing." (I'd like to add, "and women."

Saturday, December 6, 2014

We Who Call Ourselves Writers

Once upon a time, in the dreary dark ages before laptops and computers, a form of expression called a typewriter existed. Fledgling and successful writers both sat before this antiquated piece of machinery and, with correction tape and Liquid Paper nearby, produced manuscripts they hoped would be published.

If their words were slashed by editors, they revised their material, because they really wanted to see their words in print. If they mailed off their manuscripts, they waited weeks and sometimes months before hearing from the publisher.

More importantly, they really cared about the craft of writing and spent endless hours learning how to structure their sentences and their stories in a way that would entice their audiences to read the words they so meticulously placed on the page.


And when their work was published, they beamed with excitement, because they felt rewarded. 

Today, a lot of people, who call themselves writers, sit at their computers and randomly throw words on a page. They post those words on websites around the world and then rapidly scan through other poster’s words, liking, commenting, and hoping that the recipients of their comments will read their own scattered words. The posts they “write” sometimes make no sense, but they get comments and likes, and they make money.

Those of us who care about our words wonder if any other profession produces such sub-par material. Imagine an accountant randomly throwing numbers on a report and getting paid just because he had the ability to count and now that his work had been published, he now had to gather together with other accountants and share numbers, so they would all get paid, no matter how meaningless were the reports.

How about a wannabe musician who never picked up an instrument, but who bought CDs made by other artists who now felt obligated to buy the wannabe’s cacophonous piece of you-know-what, because he previously bought their music?

Nowhere but in the writing field (today anyway, when people are abandoning the traditional form of publishing in favor of online publication) do people feel obligated to return the favor of reading everything written by everyone who reads what the writer has written.

Writing may be losing its artistry. If everyone calls him- or herself a writer, maybe writing is no longer as prestigious a career as some of us thought it was. Have you witnessed “singers” who appear on talent shows who believe they can sing? Put those singers into the world of the writer. They post their “talent” on YouTube and whoever watches it is now obligated to watch every YouTube talent show created by everybody who watched theirs.

Have we taken equality on a tangent? Shouldn’t talent and skill speak for itself? Can you imagine Paul McCartney having to listen to everyone who ever listened to him?

Let’s go back to books and blogs. Can you imagine JK Rowling reading every single book or blog written by everybody who read her work? And yet that’s how online writing seems to work. You read me – I read you. Some people even expect a return on their comments and get miffed if you don’t return a read, a like, or a comment, like for like, comment for comment.

Well, what if we don’t want to read each other’s work? What if I write something that doesn’t interest you in the least? Will you feel that you have to read my work because I read yours? 

When did one-to-one, read-for-read begin? Not until recently did it occur to me that the whole process was ridiculous. I was, in some cases, reading garbage (I’m going to take the liberty of revising the following content, but keep in mind that what you are about to read is so common that it breaks my writer’s heart to know that people are getting paid to write such things) – “today I slept in and it felt great and now I’m going to go to the couch and maybe I’ll get something to eat and then I’ll maybe go outside or not, but it looks like today is going to be a boring day and I’m just trying to fill up space so I can get paid for this post).

Why? Why would I waste my time reading comments that don’t amuse, entertain, or enlighten me in some way? I can understand, though, why people take shortcuts or post online (I write numerous blogs myself) – due to the merry-go-round traditional publishers force writers to ride.  

In the 1980s, for instance, I wrote a book for children, aged 2-8, to help them recognize signs of child sexual abuse. I found a publisher who loved the book, but my labor of love had to go before the “board” for approval. The publisher held onto the book for nearly a year before telling me – that because I called body parts by their actual names – the board didn’t think people would accept the book. Maybe they would have preferred I call the male anatomy a baby-making device and women’s breasts milk factories. I don’t know, but, according to the publishing house that almost published my book, the world wasn’t ready for me yet.

Rather than publish the book myself or go through another year, I held onto the book, made a PDF file of it, and decades later posted it online. Today you can find it free by clicking the link: You Are The Boss of Your Body: A Guide to Preventing Child Sexual Abuse.

I wrote another book in the 1970s, published it in the1990s, but pulled it for personal reasons, because I wrote it in a rage, and I had created something so destructive I was afraid people would actually duplicate it.

Today another book I wrote sits on Amazon, The Bountiful Book of BLOG IDEAS: Your Guide to Generating HUNDREDS of IDEAS for Your Blog, which you can find by clicking the link.

Despite the fact that I’m competing with possibly MILLIONS of “writers” from around the world, I continue to write. With the advent of independent publishers, many of us have found a new venue for sharing our words and our worlds. Independent publishers provide more one-on-one attention and will tell you whether or not your work is worthy of publication – remember, though, sometimes your personality won’t click with the publisher. If you have done your homework, and you are proud of your “baby,” keep looking.

Of course, you can always publish your book yourself. And if people want it, they’ll buy it. Fortunately, Amazon allows us the opportunity to preview books before we purchase them.

For those of us who truly are writers, whether we scribble our words on paper, type into a computer or on a laptop, or speak into a microphone, let’s give ourselves a break – you do NOT have to read everyone who reads YOU. However, you won’t know what you’re missing if you don’t check out those writers’ works. I have found some very enjoyable bloggers and writers, and I'm happy I took the time to read them. Give those writers/bloggers a chance, but don’t feel obligated to read everything.

And if you’re looking for a publishing house, consider contacting the independent publishers, Humor Outcasts Press or Shorehouse Books.


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