Friday, February 28, 2020

Professor Hamilton's Advice To Writers

Professor Hamilton stood before his last class of the semester.
Hamilton himself was moderately successful as a writer. While a professor he’d slowed down his production, but wrote three novels in the last ten years and a nonfiction work on writing.
Professor Hamilton smiled at his class. “Fifty-two students this semester, some serious, some not, most who are serious show promise. And those who don’t show promise, don’t give up. If you don’t give up, you will likely succeed where those who show the most promise fail?”
This is the last day of class,” Hamilton said. “What is it you want to hear? Any questions?”
How long did you write before you published your first novel?”
Hamilton grinned. “Forever, or so it seemed. I wrote for ten years. Finally I wrote something good. Then I wrote a couple of things good. And then I was able to sell all my bad stuff.” He chuckled. “Somebody had to pay for all those years. I had people to pay back.”
The class laughed.
Another question,” Hamilton said delighting at the opportunity.
What was the best writing advice you ever received?”
It was all good,” Hamilton said seriously. “Of course, you can’t use all of it, because some of it is conflicting. So here it is: find your own voice, write your own story, write it honestly, if not sure about grammar make it a quote, bad spelling justifies the existence of proofreaders and nowadays we have spell-checks, and don’t try to be fancy; write simple.”
Another question,” Hamilton beckoned.
How much do you take the advice of editors?”
Listen to them,” Hamilton said. “Then listen to yourself. You are the author. That word eventually becomes an authority. Think of it this way; if you write 500 pages and edit it yourself to 400, the editor will edit it down to 300. If you started with 300 they will whittle it down to 200. If you hand them something less than 200 they’ll say that’s not enough. Write your best. Keep a little in there for the editor to feel good about himself, but if you are sure of something stick to your guns. Remember, editors are jealous of your ideas.”
Any more questions,” Hamilton said.
That seemed to be all the class had.
Write good stuff,” Hamilton said. He waved and winked.
The class stood and applauded.
Hamilton stopped and held his hands up to quiet the students.
There’s one more thing,” Hamilton said. “Some of you will write and sell. Likely my words will go unheeded. Careful what you write. Your writing may awaken demons in people or make goodness arise. When I was young my mother had me read nothing but good. That’s why I always tell my students to write good stuff. Don’t allow your minds to wander into the perverse and call it creativity. Write a story that is good rather than one that will titillate. Write about virtue, character, principle, and goodness. Your work influences people. If you have that special gift to write well, write about good stuff.”
Hamilton nodded politely and exited the side door.

Friday, February 14, 2020

Looking For Kindness

Henry opened the door to the lobby for the old lady. She was neatly dressed, lightly perfumed, recently to a salon and serene in appearance.
She smiled. “Thank you, young man.”
He walked faster than she did and got to the open elevator door. He stepped in, turned as he was about to push the button for his floor, and noticed the old lady was walking toward the elevator also. He held the door for her.
Thank you again,” she smiled.
What floor,” Henry asked.
12th,” the old lady said.
Henry pushed 12.
You are so kind,” the old lady said.
I suppose you find that people aren’t as polite as they used to be, there‘s a lot of rudeness nowadays,” Henry said as the elevator slowly moved up.
She smiled. “You have been very kind to me this morning, may I share a kindness with you?”
I’d like that,” Henry said.
A long time ago I used to think the same thing,” she said, “and I began to count the acts of kindness compared to the acts of rudeness. To my surprise when I looked for kindness I found it. In fact, it outnumbered rudeness 10 to 1. I just rechecked my figures a couple of days ago and nothing has changed.”
Thank you,” Henry said.
Here’s where I get off,” she said. “Have a nice day, young man.”
You too, ma’am,” Henry said, “and by the way that’s kindness, one and rudeness, zero.”

Monday, February 3, 2020


When can I pick up my laundry?”
Any time after five PM on Thursday.”
What if I show up at midnight?”
No problem, we’re open 24/7.”
It means we’re open 24 hours 7 days a week.”
Why didn't you just say, all the time?”
Because that’s what 24/7 means.”
Not really. It doesn’t tell you what happens after seven days. After being open 24 hours a day for seven days you might close up for a week and where would my laundry be?”
I assure you we will always be open.”
Why not say for eternity?”
Well, I suppose it’s because this place won’t last for eternity?”
You seem so sure. Can you at least give me a time-framed beyond seven days and eternity.”
Everyone assumes 24/7 means all the time.”
Everyone doesn’t.”
I didn’t.”
Okay, almost everyone.”
Than why not at least give yourself some leeway on your hours? Almost 24/7.”