Good morning, old friend

good morning old friend

A recently encountered statistic: Fewer than 50 percent of readers read the whole book. Any book, even the best sellers. That seems hard to believe, but if true …

Getting people to start reading the book is, well, just the start. The challenge is to get them to turn the page and keep reading, then turn the next and the one after that. Arouse their curiosity, get them to care enough to find out what comes next.

And no – it’s not about “their” curiosity or “them.”

The challenge is to arouse your curiosity, get you to care enough to find out what comes next.

We were taught in the radio business to talk into the microphone as if we were chatting across the kitchen table with an old friend. Radio announcing is not a public speech, the theory went, it’s a conversation. And so is writing, isn’t it?

The idea is to reach out as if it was one-on-one communication, because that’s exactly what it is: one soul talking with another.

Thanks for sitting at my kitchen table and caring enough to listen.


Dancing with the muse

dancing with the muse

“Do that again.”

He folded the page back, not wanting to stop, and instructed the magic pen to pull more thoughts and scenes out of his fingers. How was this happening? How did the pen do that?

“Come on, more stories, more magic, more connections!”

But the pen just sat, poised seductively over the page, tantalizing him. He set the stylus to the paper in hope of spurring it into action again.

“Come – on – write something, for the love of God, Montresor!”

And slowly, haltingly, the words came again. Here was a woman who never knew why the house made that groaning sound at night until she opened the door that was never opened. Here were the Mars explorers who found that all the observations of dead Mars were wrong and all of the speculations of living Mars were dead on the money. Here was the scrap of paper that finally explained where the expression came from and told the story of the first person ever to be found “dead on the money.”

And then it went cold again, that magic pen.

Finally, it wrote, “Enough. Get up from your chair and give yourself a life. Fill your lungs with air and your ears with chatter and your eyes with a world. Then come back here, pick me up and exhale. I’ll be ready for you.”

72 hours earlier

Different - dreamstime_s_1045911

“Excuse me?” I said, somewhat incredulous.

“We’re going to have to commit you.”

“What are you talking about?”

“You exhibited signs of mental deficiency and imbalance, so we’re taking you in for a voluntary 72-hour hold and examination.”

“Signs? What signs?”

“Signs of mental deficiency and imbalance.”

“Yes, you said that,” I said. “What did I do? What are the symptoms?”

“You said something inappropriate to a co-worker.”

“What did I say?”

“I’m embarrassed to repeat it.”

“Which co-worker?”

“That’s confidential.”

“OK,” I said, dubious. “What else?”

“What do you mean?”

“You said ‘signs,’ plural. What other evidence do you have of my mental deficiency and imbalance?”

“Well, for one thing, you’re raising your voice.”

“Wouldn’t you?”

The other paused a beat too long. “No.”

“You wouldn’t raise your voice if someone falsely accused you of being crazy?”

“Please; we don’t use that word.”

“Well, I do,” I said. “THIS is crazy. I’m not going.”

“You have to.”

“You said it’s a voluntary 72-hour hold and examination. If it’s voluntary, I’m not going.”

“We’re taking you in to protect yourself and the community. Under the court decision Sherman v. Peabody, we have the right to detain you voluntarily for 72 hours while we –”

“It’s not voluntary if I have to be detained!!”

“See? This is why you need help. You’ve lost an understanding and respect for authority.”

Disclaimer: This is fiction, as far as I can determine.

The place

the place

“Is this the place?” he asked, wary.

“What place is that?” asked the burly man who was a cliche of the burly bearded thug who loomed over every cornered person in every movie and taunted them with his power.

“The place where I figure our everything that’s been happening or –”

“– the place where you die?”


“Could be both.”

“That’d be kind of sad, don’t you think? For me to figure out everything and then die before I could apply the knowledge?”

“Kind of sad, yeah,” the bearded man said. “But that’s life.”

No one is guaranteed a sunset

Life is about enduring to the sunset,
attempting to thrive until the sunset –
because the night is dark
and you’ll need light, and food, and shelter
to make it to the sunrise.

No one is guaranteed a sunset.
But probably, you’ll be there when the sun goes down.
Your days are probably numbered in the tens of thousands.
So make this day worthwhile
so you can rest tonight and think,
“That was a good day,”
so a week from now you can rest and think,
“That was a good week,”
And “That was a good month,”
And “That was a good year.”
All in all, it’s a good life.

There was this story …

there was this story

“Why did you tell me this story, old man?”

The young man seemed agitated, the old man calm.

“What do you mean by that?”

“Just answer the question,” the young man said. “Did you think I would learn something? Did you want to warn me about something? Did you wish to frighten me? inspire me? belittle me?”

“I had no such intentions,” the old man said, a little too strenuously. “I just wanted to tell you a story.”

“Why that story? Why tonight?”

“It seemed like this night was the right night for this story.”


“Well – I suppose I don’t know why, exactly,” the old man said. “I just felt the sinews of this evening and started to tell. Before I knew it, it all was told.”

But they both knew. The story loomed over them, surrounded them, convicted them, and ultimately changed them. And the most sobering thing was: The story could never be untold.

May 30 …

be silly - web

Him: “May 30 birds of paradise fly up your nose.”

Her: “What?! What did I do to deserve a congested sinus?”

Him: “Oh – nothing. I was just looking at the calendar and making a joke.”

Her: “Maybe try something more romantic – May 30 roses share their fragrance with you today.”

Him: “May 30 happy moments touch your life.”

Her: “May 30 friends tell you how much they love you.”

Him: “May 30 kisses tickle your neck.”

Her: “Ooooh! That’s much better.”