A “tough love” open letter to a disgruntled wannabe

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I’m sorry that you’ve been sold a pack of lies. It’s not the lies you think you bought, though. To say that I “never started writing for the money” means that I started writing in fifth grade. I sat by the lakeside, on the trunk of a fallen tree, with a notebook on my lap, a pen in my right hand, and my dog leashed on my left wrist. …


The friction of our furiously moving fingers ought to singe the keys

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Enid helped the hapless Rhonda to her feet, all the while glaring at Colin and me. Colin began to wither again, his fingers slowing, his typing less joyful, more carefully deliberate. I, defiant as ever, glared back. I’d learned typing in middle school, and could type 97 words per minute while carrying on a completely unrelated conversation. It was one of my few real talents.

Enid stalked our way. Our eyes were locked. Colin’s relief was palpable, and I summoned all my protective instincts to fortify my own…


Photo by veeterzy on Unsplash

Listen! Listen, as nimble fingers tap
Staccato beats across the keys,
Pausing —
A caesura before pouncing, trouncing!
Clash! go the dissonant thoughts,
The clamoring words.
What a mumbling jumble as letters,
They tumble!
How freeing it’s been, divorcing
Sense for Seuss and reason for raisins —
The tiniest taste of mint-flavored paste.
Feral words run roughshod
Through hallowed halls,
Where tusks of long-dead mammoths droop
In shame. No one’s to blame;
Except —
Maybe —
The man who first figured out
That if we chopped and ground the solid stump
Of a stolid tree in a heartless machine,
We could pour out our longing,
Our lush, verdant forest dreams,
Our love —…


Advice to the “new writers” out there

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I read this thought-provoking piece over coffee this morning:

My first thought was, “Nobody owes you a damned thing, newbie.” But then I finished the first cup, and poured a second, reminiscing over my days as a new writer. During which time, more experienced and published authors said, repeatedly, “Nobody owes you a damned thing, newbie,” and they were right. “Pay your dues” was a recurrent theme.

But what does that mean, exactly?

1The first step towards being a writer is to be an avid reader. Not a voracious consumer of “how to…


A wise old owl once said, “We need a diversion!” and dropped Chekhov’s rat on top of the typewriter.

Photo by Joe Green on Unsplash

Be sure to read the preceding chapters first:

“You catch on quick,” whispered the young man, snorting as he attempted to stifle a laugh.

I smirked. My fingers tap-danced across the keys and the room turned perceptibly faster. For the first time in as long as I could remember, my words felt powerful. The rat had now fashioned Rhonda’s hair into a bouffant up-do resembling a medieval castle. It climbed down to her shoulder, where it scanned the room with sharp…


From Middling to Some Day, past Never to Late, we’re all hoping to make it to that elusive Deadline

Photo by Archie Carlson on Unsplash

Breakfast was hot coffee. Black. Strong enough to lift me out of my stupor and get me moving. Mrs. Minchin wasn’t kidding when she said that the town of Late ran on frenetic energy. As soon as I set down my empty mug, Tom was there to clear it away with brisk efficiency. Mrs. Minchin snapped her fingers, reminding me that it was time to earn my keep. “$50 a day, plus meals and the room. You’ll have to do your…


Lady, you were not meant to be the bird’s breakfast

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Elegy at the Bird Bath

Lady, who told you you could swim?
You were meant to fly;
Not to float upon your own reflection
Waiting for a clever robin,
Or a hungry, ill-tempered jay
To pluck you from the placid pool –
Cool on a bright, June morning –
To pick you, all blushing red
And speckle-freckled
For their breakfast appetizer.

Lady, you were meant to bring me luck.
To dine, yourself, on sweet little aphids.
Oh, how they rejoice at your downfall!
But Heaven helps those who pray for their prey –
The…


“Better Late than Never,” they said, but they had never met the Inner Editor.

Photo by Ahmad Ossayli on Unsplash

YOU’RE LATE.

That’s what the sign said. YOU’RE LATE. Above that, someone had written the word “IN” in red Sharpie marker, complete with proofreader’s marks to show that the word ought to appear between “YOU’RE and LATE.” Someone else had written, in flowing purple script, the word “always,” crossing out the inserted “IN”. Below that was a Post-It Note: “Better LATE than NEVER!” to which someone had replied with a graphic depiction of a person sipping a tropical drink on the beach while flipping off the…


The sleepiest of sleepy little towns that time forgot.

Photo by Chile G on Unsplash

I’m pretty sure that I was pushed, but I managed to catch myself as I tumbled out of the train and onto the Maybe Station platform in the town of Some Day.

Where was everybody? I went into the station to look for a map. A bored teen sat behind a windowed enclosure. “C’aye help you?” she slurred.

“Maybe…” Hah. “Do you have a map of the area?” I asked.

“A what?”

“A map.”

“Don’t you have GPS on your phone? Like, everyone around here just uses Google Maps.”

“Oh. Sure…

Holly Jahangiri

Writer and Kid-at-Heart, often found at https://jahangiri.us. Subscribe to my (free!) Newsletter: https://hollyjahangiri.substack.com

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