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Zestful Blog Post #300

Before I get into this post, I want you to know I’ll be teaching online this coming Saturday, January 26, in the Writer's Digest Virtual Conference for Novelists. Mine is the kickoff slot, at 1 p.m. My one-hour presentation will be “Supercharge Your Plot.” This is the earliest notice I can give, which I know isn’t much. But we’ll have a good time, so consider joining me and the other fine presenters. I might also note that Royal Caribbean canceled the sail date of the mystery-writing / forensics cruise I was so excited about, due to mechanical issues with the ship and drydock conflicts. But we’re hoping to reschedule that trip, again in partnership with Royal Caribbean and GoTravel.

On to today’s business.

I’ve been blogging weekly for almost six years now, ever since You’ve Got a Book in Youlaunched. And I’ve been thinking of taking a break, or ending the blog permanently. One’s life has seasons. I feel the need to spend more time creating other stuff, doing different things. And as I watched post #300 approach, I thought such a nice round number would be a good place to conclude, or at least pause, this blog. Zestful Writing has led to a lot of cool interactions, both in the comments section and via email, and I’ll miss that. Writing a weekly essay also makes you come up with ideas, think through your points and support them, and write as clearly and concisely as you can. That’s been valuable.


But thinking up a weekly post, writing it, making a photograph or sketch (or find a free image on line), cropping and editing that image, uploading the whole thing and responding to comments—all that takes up my writing time and energy for a day per week. That’s a pretty big commitment. I intend to make a book from the best of these posts, after I get through some more projects first.

Which, yeah. Having given a lot of consideration to the questions I posed in last week’s post (Zestful Blog Post 299), I know I need to write more books at a brisker pace. Need to explore my fictional worlds further, and invent new ones. I want to write more nonfiction, including more good stuff for writers, and I want to teach more workshops, both in person and online. I need to simplify things where I can. As I’ve noted here before, one’s time is a zero-sum game, and our days on this earth are finite. If you know what your mission is, it’s a sin not to serve that mission. I intend to put out my newschats a bit more frequently, so if you’d like to keep up with me and all forthcoming work, please be sure you’re on that list, which is a different list from this blog. Sign up HERE.

I guess one should never say never, so who knows but what I might start this blog up again someday. But for now, farewell. Do stay tuned via the newschat, because I want to keep in touch with you. After all, you’re why I’m here.
Love,
Elizabeth

What do you think? To post, click below where it says, ‘No Comments,’ or ‘2 Comments,’ or whatever. If you’re having trouble leaving comments on this or other blogs, it’s probably because third-party cookies have been turned off in your browser. Go into your browser settings and see if that’s the case. Then turn them on again in order to leave comments. [Photo by ES]
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Zestful Blog Post #299

This post is dedicated to Katy Deutermann, who last Saturday passed from this life to the next after a sudden fierce illness. She was an avid reader of this blog and a fan of my books. And along with her husband Steve, she was a special and much-admired friend. Hi, Steve. (Who remains a special and much-admired friend.)

Most of us have lost comrades/acquaintances at a young age. A few of our schoolmates, perhaps, didn’t live to see their 20thbirthday. Grandma and Grandpa go, then our parents. Along the way, you lose a friend or two before their time. God forbid you ever lose a child. Then the losses accelerate. And you realize, well, at some point I’m gonna be next.


And you think:
·       What am I doing?
·       What am I really doing?
·       What am I supposed to be doing?
·       Whose company do I cherish the most?
·       Who do I want to share a table with?
·       What is a quality life?

The seasons of life—and of work—come and go. Nobody gets it perfect. And that’s as beautiful as perfection itself. What’s a pretty good use of today?

What do you think? To post, click below where it says, ‘No Comments,’ or ‘2 Comments,’ or whatever. If you’re having trouble leaving comments on this or other blogs, it’s probably because third-party cookies have been turned off in your browser. Go into your browser settings and see if that’s the case. Then turn them on again in order to leave comments. [Photo by ES.] Thanks for looking in.
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Zestful Blog Post #298

[This week’s blog is a meaty excerpt from my article in the current Writer’s Digest magazine, February, 2019.]

I didn’t know it, but I was mentally ill until about age 16. Anybody queer was considered mentally ill until 1973, when the American Psychiatric Association removed the diagnosis of homosexuality as a disorder (though ‘sexual orientation disturbance’ endured in the DSM until 1987). Like millions of LGBT children and adults, I knew I was different, and not in a socially acceptable way. We didn’t even know there were millions of us. We thought maybe we were the only one.

Back then, a person who wanted or needed to explore the queer lifestyle had to be extremely circumspect in their hunt for information and validation. The words queer, fag, homo, and lezzie were dreaded slurs, used by even young children who didn’t know what the words meant.

The word “queer,” however, has emerged as an acceptable term for any kind of alternative sexuality or sexual orientation. LGBT, which stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender, is the clunky yet useful initialism that surfaced in the 1990s. The addition of Q, meaning queer, includes pretty much any sexual/gender variation, including intersexual, asexual, cross-dressing. Not everybody agrees to these shorthand helpers, but in the interest of simplicity, I’m using queer here as an all-inclusive term.

Porn shops, peep shows, and underground bars, of course, were early refuges and—sad to say—cultural centers for queers. But if you were young, you were kept out, and if you were of age, you risked exposure, with whatever consequences, from arrest for ‘perversion,’ to expulsion from school or work, to ostracism by family, friends, peers.

Enter literature. You figured maybe there were books that captured the experience, right? So, alone, you hunted through library card catalogues and the stacks, looking for something—anything—to read. If you didn’t feel safe bringing a book to the librarian to stamp and check out for you, you stood in the stacks and read it there, shifting from foot to foot, ready to jam the book back into the shelf if anybody came by. Whatever books, that is, you could find.

What is queer literature? Basically, anything in which the main character or characters are queer, and where a queer lifestyle is featured, where queer concerns are addressed. Coming-out stories were, and remain, popular.

Why is queer lit even a thing? Because people are tribal; readers are tribal. We like to read about characters who reflect us because it’s a way we can learn how to deal with life and its challenges. Queer readers had been mentally editing / head-editing the novels they read for years, changing one character or another’s sex in their minds. Highly unsatisfying—and totally beside the point of queer existence.

The roots of modern queer literary themes can be found in classical mythology. Some of the gods enjoyed emotionally close relationships with male pals, for whom they would kill or commit vengeful mayhem. Apollo, especially, was quite close with Carnus, Hyacinth, and Cyparissus. Herakles (or Hercules) cared deeply for Aberdus, Hylas, and especially Iolaus, who helped Hercules prevail against the multi-headed Hydra.

Moving forward in time we find the Satyricon (1st century A.D.), a fictitious work by the Roman courtier Gaius Petronius, and The Tale of Genji (11th century) by Murasaki Shikibu. These works included frank depictions of male/male relationships, after which queer themes more or less went underground—that is, they were disguised or hidden in story elements, for centuries. An example can be found in Dracula (1897) by Bram Stoker, when Count Dracula seizes Jonathan Harker with the cry, “This man belongs to me!” In the seafaring novel Billy Budd, begun in the late 1800s by Herman Melville and first published in 1924, there’s a possible homosexual triangle involving Billy, Claggart, and Captain Vere.

Queers hunting for a literary hero might have come across Oscar Wilde (1854-1900). You found a career of literary talent and accomplishment, but then you looked into his life, and wow. “Gross indecency,” they called it. Prison time, they gave him. He died penniless.

Women interested in exploring same-sex relationships had to look harder, and there wasn’t much to find. You had the fragmentary poetry of Sappho (c. 630-570 B.C.). Maybe you came across Radclyffe Hall’s depressingly-titled The Well of Loneliness (1928), wherein the main character, Stephen Gordon (a woman), is arguably suicidal by the end, though she doesn’t quite get around to it onscreen, as it were.

Then maybe you read about Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas, guardians of the Paris avant-garde in the Jazz Age. Well, what was that relationship about? Hm. Super hard to tell. Then you read Ernest Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast and you came across a little passage of dialogue that appears to record an overheard quarrel between two lady perverts. Great. Just great.

Sadly, due to cultural standards and expectations—we were all mentally ill, remember?—the queer characters had to die, or more ideally, kill themselves out of shame. Lovely.

A few examples out of hundreds:
Carmilla (1871-72), the title character in Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu’s serially-published novel;
Martha Dobie in The Children’s Hour (1934), play by Lillian Hellmann;
Sebastian Venable in Suddenly Last Summer (1958), play by Tennessee Williams (among other Williams characters who get killed off or at least humiliated for being different);
Brig Anderson in Advise and Consent (1959), novel by Allen Drury.

In mid-century American queer literature, Tennessee Williams keeps cropping up, especially with his play Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1955). The gorgeous character Brick doesn’t love his wife, the equally gorgeous Maggie—why not? There was this guy, this football teammate of Brick’s named Skipper. Brick and Skipper. Something there. But what, exactly? Maybe even they didn’t know. Skipper killed himself. OK, yeah. Read between the lines, friend.

Many good writers wrote closeted—about sexually ambiguous characters, with some between-the-lines stuff in there. Truman Capote and his Other Voices, Other Rooms (1948) might be an example. Patricia Highsmith edged into queer themes with her series of five books (1955-1991) featuring the character Tom Ripley, who appears to at least be bisexual, if not homosexual. She wrote a frankly queer-themed novel, The Price of Salt (1952) early in her career, but under the pseudonym Claire Morgan.

Contemporary queer lit is inextricably tied to the gay pride movement that ignited with the Stonewall uprising in New York City in 1969, named after the bar where members of the queer community rebelled against the police, who routinely raided such places and racked up arrests on ‘indecency’ charges and other crimes. Stonewall was a watershed moment that led to the LGBT rights movement.

Rights were fought for, rights were gradually won, and queers could come out a little more. There we were, blinking in the sunlight. More visibility meant more opportunity to get queer literature out there.
[End of excerpt. For the full article, which discusses the emergence of modern queer works as well as the current scene, hustle out to your local newsstand or go to www.writersdigest.com.]

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Zestful Writing by Elizabeth Sims by Elizabeth Sims - 7M ago

Zestful Blog Post #297

[I constructed the following story from usages and spellings I found while browsing on Reddit. If you’re not familiar with Reddit, it is the current most interesting social media platform, and happens to be populated largely by guys in their teens and 20s.]

I was watching the playoffs when an ad came on for some new car. The main person in the ad was a famous movie star who has turned into nothing but a corporate shrill. You know who I’m talking about: stalky build, wearing a sole patch, which are so last week, right? His last picture was a real dousey, take my word for it. I do recall when it came out, I made a B-line for the theater because I use to think he was cool. Before I got there, though, I stopped at an ATM machine to get money to buy a ticket, but I forgot my PIN number. After racking my brain for like 10 minutes, I remembered it. Later, I wrote my PIN number on my ATM card as a preventative measure against forgetting it again.

Let me just tell you about that movie, which starts with a grizzly crime where some guy stabs a college sorodity girl because she wouldn’t go out with him. It all seemed realistic, so I figured the movie wouldn’t be to bad. It seems the killer’s mom tried to reign him in, but she was a baffoon, and just couldn’t control him. She must have weighed 100 pounds soak and wet. Plus she didn’t understand her son very well and what he was up against in this fast pace, doggy-dog world we live in. The murderer keeps leaching off his mom, borrowing money to buy drugs, even while the cops are figuring out who did it. There’s another friend who tries to ween him off the drugs with no success.



The hero cop starts to hone in on where this guy lives, which is a coldasack at the end of a long street of nice houses. They intercept a message that the murderer sends to the government, trying to black male them into paying money to stop a bomb or something. This doosh thinks he’s going to pick up a fortune from the government to keep him from blowing up a kindergarden. Then there was something about too much partizenship in the government, but I somewhat lost track. I almost walked out of the show at this point, but I wanted to be polight to the ticket-taker whose this really pretty girl who was in my art class and who told me she highly reckon mended it. I use to be scared of talking to her, but now that I’m more mature, it was EZ-PZ. By the way, have I ever mentioned I’m a conasuer of movie-theater popcorn? Even though I’m lack toast and tolerant, I can eat movie popcorn because there’s not real butter on it, but it tastes like it. Another words, sometimes fake can be good.

OK, so somehow the cop figures out that the killer and his squad car partner are one in the same. A bunch of other stuff happens in a world wind of action, with the proverbeal apoclyeptic shoot out. Plus the killer cops’ mom commits sewer-side because she’s so sad and blames herself. That’s as much as I can remember.

I told the pretty ticket-taker Noah fence, but I don’t agree with your feelings about the movie. She was cool about it. Maybe we should get married. I’m a pretty funny guy. Wouldn’t it be hirlaous if I asked her and she said yes?

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Zestful Blog Post #296

One day when I was a little kid, I was feeding my budding morbid fascination by looking at pictures in LIFE magazine of a terrible accident involving the Flying Wallendas. They were a circus high-wire act, their breathtaking finale being a seven-person pyramid on the wire, with no safety net. During a performance in Detroit, my hometown, one of the performers lost his balance and the pyramid collapsed, killing two and paralyzing another. My mother, passing by, remarked, “You know, you’re related to them.”

I was dumbfounded, but no more information was forthcoming. Eventually I learned a little more about the alleged connection, on my father’s side of the family. Which helps explain how easily he would jump up and grab the clothes pole in the backyard and flip himself over it, then sling himself down with complete gracefulness: had to be genetic, right? Many times I’ve thought about the Wallendas, especially in recent years when seventh-generation Nik Wallenda made huge, net-free crossings of places like Niagara Falls and the Grand Canyon.

And I think about doing things that are risky, and about writing, and about working without a net. When you don’t have a net, you have to pay better attention. If you fall, you can take others down with you. This could promote fear and over-caution if we let it.


[The disaster unfolds. Photo by Don Sudnik]

Because to be honest, comfort zones have value. Without some level of comfort, you won’t consider taking a risk at all. It’s just that if we build up too much safety, too much comfort, the comfort zone can become a cocoon that becomes a coffin. Much of the nets we build are illusions anyway. As you can see, I haven’t fully figured this stuff out.

Specific ways to work without a net:

- Writing outside your genre / trying something totally new.
- Writing about family members or close friends.
- Writing outside your sex / race / socio-economic level.
- Making your writing public: There’s no net, nowhere to hide when anybody can post a review of your work.

What are the rewards? Working without a net can be salubrious to one’s heart and guts. Nets take away the danger, and the point is, danger is part of the art. This is a huge thing that many artists spend their lives trying to deny. Then there’s the fact that a net can hurt you too: The Wallendas worked without one because if you fall, you can bounce off the net and fatally hit your head on the nearby concrete. (As one Wallenda did, before the Detroit disaster.)

Self-publishing is a lot like walking the wire without a net. If you quit your publisher, or your publisher quits you, do you run back to the platform, or do you keep walking the wire on your own? Will anybody respond to this writing?

When Nik Wallenda was on the wire above the Grand Canyon, the wind shifted, and he was buffeted. The wind is like the zeitgeist. It can shift, and it probably will shift, and we will be buffeted. We shrug and go on.

Is the bottom line really that there are no nets? There is no such thing as complete security, much as we might wish for it. The key to writing well (and of course the key to life) is to embrace the risk, let it all hang out, and accept the outcome wholeheartedly. Only by accepting risk (while not being reckless), can truly extraordinary art come out.

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Zestful Blog Post #295

One day a few months ago, a pair of swans (pictured below) appeared in the pond across from our upstairs window. We were like, WTF? That is so cool! We began watching the huge gorgeous birds avidly as we got ready for our day. Marcia, particularly, was enchanted, and set out to know how the swans got there.

After some sleuthing, she learned that our neighbors across the way (strangers to us) decided they wanted swans. Their house backs up to the pond, which is the property of a golf course. Our houses border the course. The neighbors checked with the golf course management and the local vigilante—er, homeowner—associations, who all said, hey sure, swans would be cool! So they ordered their swans from whatever swan ranch, set up a care plan for them, and are looking after them.

The swans glide around and nibble the vegetation and small critters like worms and mollusks in the pond, which has a couple of islets in the middle. The neighbors set up a little swan shelter, which looks like an upside-down playpen, on shore for when they want shade. Early every morning, one of the neighbors brings out a red bucket and puts out some swan chow (presumably to ensure adequate nutrition in addition to what might be available from the pond). The swans come up and have breakfast, then they go back to the pond and its various social activities. Ducks, herons, grebes, ospreys, and other species enjoy the habitat too. Side note: reportedly, swans will chase off troublesome geese that like to hog all the food in a small pond.


[Merry Christmas, if you celebrate it, and/or happy holidays to you from Marcia and me—
and the swans.]

We enjoy the show in the mornings. And we have learned that if you have the proper space and about $2,500 and you want a pair of White Mute Swans, well by God, you can have them. The deeper truth is hey, what would make you happy? Admittedly, not everyone is equipped to afford and care for a pair of swans. But is there something that would bring you joy, for the hell of it? Have you gotten into the habit of thinking it’s just not within reach, or even practical? Perhaps now is the time to challenge that thought. Perhaps it’s time to order your swans.

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Zestful Blog Post #294

Exploitation Works

Exploitation is a thing, and it can be used. I wrote about this a few years ago, but want to give you some more specifics here. There are successful authors who appeal to the deepest-held beliefs / prejudices / yearnings of their audiences, once they’ve found them. Exploitation feeds on and encourages the time-honored us-versus-them dynamic. That’s not a comfortable dynamic for everyone all the time, but it resonates somewhere in every human heart.

A simple example might be a young adult book wherein a brave, outrageous cadre of students overthrows the mean old teachers, showing them they’re not so smart. The teachers learn from the students! Something that doesn’t often follow is the answer to the question: Now will the new rulers be kindly overlords? George Orwell’s Animal Farm explored this question, and as we might remember, things don’t look so great at the end of the story, which is a new beginning for the animals on the farm.

Exploitative stories often rely on stereotypes, which themselves represent a fascinating subtopic. To whom does the stereotypical mean Republican appeal? A hardcore Democrat might say, “That’s no stereotype! That’s simply reality!” To whom does the strong-but-dumb boyfriend stereotype appeal? How about the lazy immigrant? The suffering artist? The kind-hearted criminal? The trigger-happy cop? The angry-yet-somehow-perfect-in-every-way revolutionary?

It’s not by accident that more male readers enjoy (and buy) thrillers with strong, brave protagonists who win in the end. Not by accident that more women like romances where the plucky protagonist gets the handsome swashbuckler in the end. With a big, perfect wedding.

Novelists, filmmakers, religious leaders, and politicians have learned exploitation works. It’s button-pushing, and for what it is, it can be effective. There is, of course, the danger of exploitation backfiring on you, making you seem like a vindictive, unimaginative boob.



[Ivan was definitely Terrible]

But seriously, look closely at the novels you read and see if you can figure out where the exploitation is. Not all of it is heavy-handed; you can find subtle examples all over the place, and you can learn from them. Key into your emotions as you read: Why does some character or plot twist appeal to you? Why does another make you uncomfortable?

Our challenge as authors is to reject cheap, obvious exploitation, but embrace the good kind! Don’t be afraid to be conscious of what you’re doing; don’t be afraid to calculate. We want to dive deep to engage—and, really, control—our readers’ emotions. The best way to do this is get to know your characters really well. Respect them, and look for their complexity and depth. Then think deeply about your ideal reader.

Is your ideal reader a 40-year-old divorced airline pilot? Well, you can certainly create a main character who happens to be a 40-year-old divorced airline pilot. Wouldn’t just about any guy or gal like that want to be a hero in the air? Yes! It’s easy. You don’t have to make your pilot bring down the plane safely while killing all the bad guys with a ballpoint pen, but you might make your pilot do something hard and satisfying, like navigate around a mountain in the fog without instruments. (Can pilots do that? I don’t know, but you’ll research it.) And hey, your ideal reader might have a secret desire to do something really bad—like enter the underworld of drug smuggling. Well, your character can do that, and you will make sure they’re supremely successful at it! You can dream up all kinds of good ideas from this perspective.

Play matchmaker between your readers and your characters! Be shrewd! Make exploitation work for you. Your readers will love you for it.

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Zestful Blog Post #293

A few weeks ago Marcia and I went to the local medieval fair and enjoyed ourselves thoroughly. We stopped to watch one of the games, where you slam a steel pad with a sledgehammer to make a heavy slug ride up a vertical rail. The harder you hit it, the higher the slug flies, the chief goal being to make the slug strike the bell at the top, producing a ringing sound that attracts the attention of all nearby, who gaze admiringly at absolute strength personified. You buy five tries for a dollar or a shilling or a peck of meal or whatever. A young teenager was trying. He really wanted to hit that bell, but kept falling short. The bearded, leather-jerkin-wearing man running the game advised him, “Squat as you bring the hammer down.” He did so. Magic. Ding!

It was just like splitting firewood when we lived in the forest. After experimenting with various methods, I found that iron wedges and a small sledge worked best and safest for me. (Just a hatchet for splitting kindling.) You set the round you want to split on end, on your splitting stump, and you find a crack near the edge and tap in your wedge. And if you do it enough, you learn that setting your legs apart, then swinging the sledge over your head and straight behind your back, then bringing it down on the wedge with a fluid squatting move, results in the most force. Crack!


We moved along and watched the axe-throwing game. Some axes bounced off the plank targets downrange, and some stuck with a satisfying thunk. I asked a young woman who had just stuck two axes in a row what the trick was. “Step into the throw,” she said, then turned away, rared back, and stepped into another throw. Thunk.

For the games and wood-splitting, the secret of success was to fully commit. Put your whole self into it. Leave the familiar world behind.

We remember learning to ride a two-wheeler, where you had to relinquish a certain amount of control in order to get the thing going. It was hard to make the commitment to take both feet off the ground and pump those pedals, but the concrete sidewalk was a good motivator, wasn’t it? Being tentative was lethal. Once you were under way, you gained a different kind of control, and you were zooming along in a completely new environment, separated from ordinary gravity by the unfamiliar miracle of gyroscopic force. And every time you got on your bike from then on, you learned to minimize the length of time you were liable to fall over. You learned to get those pedals going smartly, just as soon as you push off. You learned to commit, and put your whole self into it.

Aren’t so many more things like that: Ziplining. Striking a match. Getting on the school bus. Releasing an arrow. Saying, “I do.” Writing a story.

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Zestful Writing by Elizabeth Sims by Elizabeth Sims - 8M ago

Zestful Blog Post #292

I’m always suspicious of anyone who claims to “like people.” Because, my gosh, what a motley assortment we are.

As writers have been told a thousand times, the best fiction is character-driven. We know that, and we prove it to ourselves over and over. Which do you remember better, the sequence of events surrounding the stolen gold in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, or the feeling Huck and Jim had for each other? (If you’re sitting there thinking, “What stolen gold?”, then I rest my case and can knock off early for a beverage and a snack.)

Katherine Anne Porter said, “The only thing I know about people is exactly what I have learned from the people right next to me.” She knew that to write about people, we have to pay attention to them.


...and there they all are...

But dammit, we don’t have to like people. Liking has nothing to do with it. All we need to be is fascinated by people. Awed by people. Horrified by people. Inspiredby people. And not just so we can portray them convincingly. Because through people, other people, and through creating and writing about characters, we find out things about ourselves. We explore and nourish ourselves. And we have the best chance of producing good writing. Now go out and steal some gold.

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Zestful Blog Post #291

Warmest wishes to you and yours for a very happy Thanksgiving. Beyond health, family, friends, this imperfect gorgeous country, and Marcia, I’m thankful for:

·       My readers and their parents for having given birth to them, and this means you, dear blog friend
·       Russet apples
·       My mechanic
·       My students at Ringling College of Art and Design who take my class seriously
·       Godiva Pearls
·       Starbucks wifi (for I am a coffee whore and too cheap to buy my own phone hotspot)
·       JB Weld
·       Professional hockey
·       People who take on tough tasks and do them as best they damn can
·       Scout Finch
·       Peanut butter toast
·       Hospice workers
·       People who donate to hospice houses
·       The 1972 film Cabaret
·       The Ludwig drum company
·       Bowls of cherries


  
·       Boats
·       Sister Wendy Beckett
·       Falcon Heavy 2018 and Starman
·       Dame Judith Anderson
·       Videos of cute dogs on Reddit, which have made me feel more warmly toward dogs
·       Colin Fletcher
·       Gas station pastries
·       Graphite, always
·       Hunter Thompson
·       Readers who send me emails saying how much they like my work, which can turn a bad day right around
·       Leonard Bernstein
·       Four Roses Yellow Label
·       Saying yes
·       Saying no
·       You know what I mean
·       I love you

What are you thankful for today? To post, click below where it says, ‘No Comments,’ or ‘2 Comments,’ or whatever. If you’re having trouble leaving comments on this or other blogs, it’s probably because third-party cookies have been turned off in your browser. Go into your browser settings and see if that’s the case. Then turn them on again in order to leave comments.
If you’d like to receive this blog automatically as an email, look to the right, above my bio, and subscribe there. Thanks for looking in. Photo by ES

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