One life. Six words. What’s yours?

This phrase is from the cover of a book that I came across in the bookstore that changed my writing. The book, Not Quite What I Was Planning: And Other Six-Word Memoirs by Authors, contains a collection of personal stories written in just six words. Ever since opening this book, I’ve been addicted to writing in just six word phrases. In fact, I’ve kept a six-word diary for months now.

I thought I’d share some favorites.

This one speaks to me:

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This is how life should be:

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I frequently pray a similar prayer:

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Maybe it should say Mommy Dee:

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Can’t help but wonder what happened:

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Couldn’t have said it better myself:

Must remember: people, gadgets.

That order.

   ~Brian Lam

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Writing in six words: fun exercise!

Maybe something you’d like to try?

Updated post originally published December 2012.

Sing On!

This morning when I started working and signed on to my computer, I received a message that’s been making me crazy for over two years. I decided it’s time to repost a message I published my first month of blogging. I just need to vent!

From December 9, 2012

We’re in the midst of a singing on epidemic! I’m all for singing, and what better time of the year to sing than Christmas. Christmas carols, holiday songs, popular songs…sing! However, the sing on message has nothing to do with music or song.

Yesterday, a headline in the local paper read: Sings of Life at Rainbow Springs Visitor Center, an article about the rebuilding of the visitor center after a fire. The headline made three such references to sing instead of sign in a single day. Earlier, while reading information about adding the Evernote clipper function to my computer, the directions instructed readers to first sing on to the Evernote application, and the final example of the incorrect use of sing is the most embarrassing. Every day when working in my classes with Florida Virtual, the following message appears: Your session has timed out due to inactivy. Please sing in again.

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What makes this one the worst is the fact that not only teachers, but our students receive this message when their session “times out”. And did you notice the word inactivity is also misspelled? It’s been that way since August (2012!). Wouldn’t you think someone at a virtual school would notice and change these glaring errors? What a bad impression it leaves! I hope my students don’t think I send that message.

So by all means, sing on! But if you’re writing, please check your spelling. Spell check can’t catch the use of the wrong word. Do you mean sing or sign? Sign on!

 

DAM Font

You already know I love things that are written by hand despite the fact I spend so much time using a keyboard for my own writing. Well, I found a website I think I need to try, writingfonts. If it’s true to its claim, I can have my handwriting converted into a font. I even get to name it!

According to the website for only $9.95 and a few minutes time I can leave behind Courier, Arial, and Times New Roman and replace with my handwriting. A font I’ll name DAM (my initials)…fun!

This looks like a good compromise to wanting the personalization of handwriting and the ease of keyboarding. Another thing I’ve added to my to do list for the summer!

 

i before e except after c

charlotteswebAt the end of the book Charlotte’s Web, Wilbur asks Joy, Arania, and Nellie – Charlotte’s three daughters who stayed behind in the barn, “Are you writers?” referring to the skills of their oh so famous mother. Their reply…”No, but we will be someday.”

While I wouldn’t call myself a writer, I think Granddaddy, who WAS a writer would appreciate the fact that both dad and I have made an effort to preserve family stories in writing, and we value the written word and feel it’s important to send written messages at times. (Can you believe that when your dad and I were first married we would respond to Granddaddy’s letters by writing on the back of the envelopes his letters came in?  He couldn’t understand how teachers could live in a house with no paper.  I must admit that I now agree.  We were really pathetic!)

The written word makes it possible to preserve memories, provide instructions, and present yourself to others. Charlotte’s important messages in her web were life-saving, and you may remember she was always concerned that she used just the right word to convey the message. She also checked spelling so her message had the intended impact.

While you may not need the reminder, I want to make sure you pass on these skills to future generations as well as keep them in mind as you write. So  I’d like to share some basic writing tips relating to spelling, grammar, and such. If you’re going to take the time to write, don’t let readers miss the message due to sloppy writing skills.

Top Ten Writing Tips:

1)  Watch your spelling. This is where the title of this week’s memo comes in. The rule states: i before e except after c and in words that say “ay” as in neighbor and weigh (the next part I added) and in words that are weird, like weird.  (I know this is a tip that Meghan has shared with others.) Many people don’t like this rule because they say there are too many exceptions – but I find it pretty useful and when all else fails, use a dictionary or better yet, dictionary.com.

2)  Know your purpose to decide what style to use. This is a weakness for me. Who needs capital letters, punctuation, and standard spelling when texting? Only crazy perfectionists like me. Texts, tweets, and email, or Facebook messages to friends should be written in the quick informal style. Just be careful not to let it carry over to more serious writing.

3)  Be careful with words that are homophones. Principal or principle? Stationary or stationery? Praise, prays, or preys? Maybe the best plan is to just “pray” that you’ll use the right (not write) word, but (not butt) if in (not inn) doubt – look it up. A mistake with one (not won) of these words may be (not bee) the difference between getting a job or (not ore and not oar either) being passed (not past) over.

4)  Understand when to use an apostrophe. This may look like a continuation of the homophone tip. It’s = it is while its=belonging to it. They’re=they are, there=a place or point of action, their=belonging to them. You’re=you are while your=belonging to you. I’ve been a frequent critic of WESH news for their inability to use these words properly and on a trip to Wakulla Springs it became apparent no one knows how to use its. (Sarah can verify this is true.) An apostrophe is needed in a contraction (which should be avoided in formal writing anyhow) and in possessive nouns. These are some of the easiest mistakes to make so always double check.

5)  Use punctuation and capital letters. Again this relates to number 2 above, but writing in all lower case letters was unique and creative when e.e. cummings wrote this way. In fact, it was his trademark but now many people have decided that capital letters and punctuation are no longer necessary. Not true for formal writing! Save this for a fun, informal or creative purpose. (Emily’s  business cards would be a good example of an appropriate use of using lower case letters exclusively to present fun and creativity. If you haven’t seen them yet, ask her to share.)

6) There is no such word as I’s. I must admit that I had never seen this word(?) written until two years ago when a parent sent an email stating that “her mother and I’s concern…” to which I laughed my head off. And then just recently I received a tweet stating that “my husband and I’s weekend…” This time I wanted to cry because it seems this is becoming an epidemic. If you’re ever tempted to use I’s to show you own something, think of another way of wording the sentence so you can use the word my or mine.

7)  Proofread your work. This is my least favorite thing about writing, but it’s by far the most important so you should probably do it more than once if it is an important piece of writing.

8)  Ask someone else to proofread your work if it’s really important. It doesn’t matter how many times you read your own writing, you’re still likely to miss something because you know exactly how it’s suppose to sound. Someone else will see your work with fresh eyes.

9)  Don’t depend on auto-correct or spell check features on electronic devises. In fact, I hate auto-correct. Sorry, but my iPad is NOT smarter than me. I know what word I want to use. Let me check myself. And while I love spell check, it makes me lazy. If a word isn’t identified as misspelled by the computer, then it must be correct. But I know that’s not true. See tips 2 and 3.

10)  WRITE!  Don’t be so worried about making a mistake that you don’t write. Your words are infinitely more important than your use of conventions. Share your thoughts, memories, feelings, and write. Write notes, write cards, write letters, write blogs, and write emails. Write texts.  Write reports and recipes. Mostly though…just write. Be like Charlotte and Granddaddy – real writers! (Thanks so much for writing thoughtful messages in my Mother’s Day cards…best gift of all!)

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Mom
BTW – how many writing mistakes did you find?