How To Write Good

Of course I did not write this. Most of you have already seen it, or a variation of it. I just enjoy it so much I had to put my offering out into the cloud. Here you go:

  1. Avoid Alliteration. Always.
  2. Prepositions are not words to end sentences with.
  3. Avoid cliches like the plague. (They’re old hat.)
  4. Comparisons are as bad as cliches.
  5. Parenthetical remarks (however relevant) are unnecessary.
  6. It is wrong to ever split an infinitive.
  7. Contractions aren’t desirable.
  8. Foreign words and phrases are not apropos.
  9. One should never generalize.
  10. Eliminate quotations. As Emerson once said, "I hate quotations. Tell me what you know."
  11. Don’t be redundant; don’t use more words than necessary; it is highly superfluous."
  12. Tastelessness sucks.
  13. Be more or less specific.
  14. Exaggeration is a billion times worse than understatement
  15. Analogies in writing are like feathers on a snake.
  16. The passive voice is to be avoided.
  17. Go around the barn at high noon to avoid colloquialisms.
  18. It behooves you to avoid archaic expressions.
  19. Avoid archaeic spellings too.
  20. Don’t use commas, that, are not, necessary.
  21. Poofread carefully to see if you any words out.
  22. Eschew obfuscation.
  23. A writer must not shift your point of view.
  24. If any word is improper at the end of a sentence, a linking verb is.
  25. One-word sentences? Eliminate.
  26. And always be sure to finish what
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Power Outage

P.G.&E That’s
Pacific Gas and Electric Company
Just in case where you happen to be
Those letters aren’t familiar to you
like they are to my neighbors and me

Well, the thing is
They sent me this letter
Telling me that for the better
Part of Thursday
That’s today by the way
They would be turning off the power
And that from the hour
of nine am ’til three
There’d be no electricity

They didn’t want anyone to freak , so
They sent the letters out last week
So I can’t say it was a surprise
when at 9:20 my computer dies
and all the lights in my house go out

Around that time, I heard a sound
I looked outside my apartment
The pool guy was there with tools spread around
He was repairing a railing
There were power tools and parts all over the ground

“There’s no electricity,” I yelled from the deck
The man looked around craning his neck
He was trying to tell where the voice had come from
I said it again so he wouldn’t feel dumb

“You’re kidding,” he said with a grin on his face
“No,” I said. “P.G.&E sent a letter last week”
He stopped grinning and didn’t speak
He just looked down at his tools all over the place
“But, I’m all set up,” he said quietly, “How can this be?”
Before I came back inside, I said: “It’ll be back on at three”

I walk ’round my place, I flip a switch and then laugh
The force of habit is strong. I keep repeating this gaff
Oh well, I’ll wash the dishes I think
But the drain’s running slow, water’s filling the sink
I reach for the switch, the disposer is needed
So I flip, and I switch, but my switching’s unheeded

It was then I was struck, by how dependent we are
Without that sweet juice, I could never get far
No tv, no computer, and the skies were so gray
I could not even read, though it was nearly mid-day

And at once, I then knew, I would venture outside
I would get on my bike for a nice lengthy ride
As I passed the pool guy still repacking his gear
I gave thanks for the outage, ’cause it got me out here

[c] 2010 Christopher Milne

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Jack Mack

As promised, here is the most important book from my childhood. It mesmerized and delighted me. I was introduced to a whole new array of words; some of which I did not understand. But my hungry mind went after the understanding and I knew then that I was a logophile. It also sparked a lifelong love of this particular genre, the cumulative story. Now, with my apologies to the copyright owner, because I have no permission to do this; here we go!

Jack Mack
by Robert Paul Smith

Once upon a time
there was a man named John MacGregor
And so

for short
they called him Jack Mack.

He lived in the woods
and when he traveled
He carried his belongings
in an old sack on his back.

for short
they called him
Sack Jack Mack.

The sack was black of course
And so

They called him
Black-sack Jack Mack.

He didn’t always walk, sometimes he rode
On a yak.
So they called him,

Yak-back Black-sack Jack Mack.

What did he carry in the sack?

A tin tack
A toy train track
And a terribly tricky and somewhat sticky
rickety-rackety knick-knack

So everybody said,
"There goes Yak-back Black-sack Jack Mack
with his tin tack and
toy train track
not to mention
his terribly tricky and somewhat sticky
rickety-rackety knick-knack."

Where did he go?
There and back.
Where was there?

His somewhat slack summertime haystack.

Where was back?

His wintertime gimcrack shack.

So everybody asked,
"Is Yak-back Black-sack Jack Mack
there at his
somewhat slack summertime haystack
or is he back

at his wintertime gimcrack shack,
with his tin tack
and toy train track

not to mention his terribly tricky
and somewhat sticky
rickety-rackety knick-knack?

Or is he just halfway between
on the trail or the track
him and his yak
having a snack?

Everybody said,
"We don’t know. It doesn’t matter.
The important thing is
That there is a man whose name is

Yak-back Black-sack Jack Mack
who has a tin tack,
a toy train track, a terribly tricky and somewhat
sticky rickety-rackety knick-knack
who lives in a somewhat slack
summer haystack
or a
wintertime gimcrack shack

and that’s a fack."

I may try to add the wonderful illustrations by Erik Blegvad. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I have.

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This gallery contains 1 photo.

[c] 2009 Christopher Milne

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Who Were We?

Who are you?
Who were we?
Without shame I say
What we were has left a large gaping wound
In my life

Does it mean anything to you?
It means everything to me
What does that mean?
Would I, if I could
Put all the pieces together again
Make them get up and walk around?
I would not I think
Do that

But still I wonder
Who are you?

We were together
Struggling together
Laughing together
Crying together
Dreaming together
I thought we were together
When did that start to be
Not true?
Who are you?

Do you wonder as I do
Who am I?
As I wonder
Who are you?

[c] 2009 Christopher Milne

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Loss of Innocence

I am fifty two years old
I now view my life as phases
Each phase divided by the marker
of a loss of a particular piece of innocence
But enough about me

We were speaking of you
We were talking about your…

You asked for clarity
As if…
As if the rarity
of that faculty was not enough
already to make me cry

So is that how it is?
Accumulating wounds
Until, like how arsenic accumulates in tissue
Until, one is brought down
Like Gulliver
Besieged by scores of Lilliputians
A thousand bee stings

But, I’ve done it again, you see
I’ve meandered back from you to me
You asked for my advice
And now that’s twice I’ve shown such disregard
For what you say you’re finding hard
Hard! Let’s speak of the shards of pain
That accumulate. Is that our fate?

It seems that now for me
There is no film, no song
No face, no place, that doesn’t make me long
For a time that seems simpler, happier
Free of all those associations
But I am rational
I know it’s all in my mind
Without memory, we’re blind
to our pasts

But once more I’ve turned
Things back to me
That’s strike three
I’m out

[c] 2009 Christopher Milne

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