Tag Archives: funny

To Plot or Not to Plot: That is the Question

 

To plot or not to plot: that is the question:
Whether tis better for the story to first
Plan the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune
Or to cast your hero into a sea of troubles
Unplanned and unprepared? To plot; to pants;
To choose. And by choosing to cast yourself
Into heartache and the thousand natural shocks
That writers are heir to, ’tis a common dilemma
Faced by all who write. To plot; to pants;
To try; perchance to fail: ay, there’s the rub;
For in that plot or lack, what thoughts may come
To throw you off your story’s course
And give you pause; there’s the respect
That makes calamity of so long planning;
For who would bear the whips and scorns of prose,
The long hours spent, the hardships borne,
The pangs of ignored loves, the dinner’s delay,
The disregard of hygiene and the coffee,
The quiet toll the life of writing takes,
When you yourself could better your story tell
With a plan in place? But if with a plot,
You grunt and sweat under a weary fear,
And the dread of something planned to death,
And prefer the undiscover’d country from whose bourn
All magic springs, and find the mystery will,
Make you love your story better than any other
Then write of things your plan speaks not of.
Thus overthinking does make cowards of us all;
And the best answer to the question
Is hidden in the first of your thoughts.
Plot or Pants as you think is best.

I put this together as an answer to the question “Should I plot or not?” when it was recently asked by a new writer in the Writer Unboxed Facebook group. After spending so much time getting it right, it seemed a shame to let it vanish into the interwebz as a comment on someone else’s post. So here it is, recorded for posterity. I hope you enjoyed it.

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It’s Only Cute the First Seven Hundred Times

Big BrotherAs a parent, there are several milestones you look forward to on your child’s journey to adulthood. Learning how to walk, for example. Or, in the case of boys, managing to use the toilet without peeing all over the floor (and walls, towels, spare toilet paper, etc). Maybe even that magical day when your child finally moves out of home.

But I digress.

One of the biggest, most magical milestones of all is when your little bundle of joy starts to talk.

Both of my boys have been what we in the parenting business refer to as “late talkers”. That’s to say that, unlike my friends’ children who were saying real words by eight months old, my boys didn’t say their first words until well after they turned one.

(But I can assure you, they quickly made up for it by talking incessantly.)

Regardless of when it happens, though, there’s a magical moment when your child looks up at you and calls you Mummy. And your heart melts.

In most cases, Mummy is a child’s first word. Sometimes the second word if they choose to say Daddy first.

Have I mentioned before that my kids aren’t like other kids?

Big Brother’s first word was ‘cheese’. This was followed quickly by ‘car’, ‘tyre’, and then ‘Mummy’. (‘Daddy’ didn’t come until after he’d mastered ‘truck’, ‘shoe’, ‘train’, and ‘sky’.)

So on that wonderous day, when Big Brother smiled at me and said, “Mum,” I stated with absolute certainty that I would never, even get sick of hearing him say my name.

Little Brother was a bit different. His first word was ‘Ta’. Which was nice. And then ‘Mummy’.

See, look how cute he is:

Dear non-parents,

This is not cute.

I mean, it is. But…

Do you know how long my “I’ll never get sick of hearing Big Brother say my name” resolution lasted? Less than a week. It may have even been less than a day.

Why?

Okay, I’d like you to do something for me. I’d like you to watch that video of Little Brother again. It goes for 15 seconds, so I want you to listen to it four times in a row. That’s what it’s like to experience one minute of my life.

Now listen to it 240 times in a row. That’s roughly one hour.

Still think it’s cute?

Ah well, there’s always the next major milestone to look forward to.

How old do kids have to be before they can move out of home?

Did you make any crazy, impossible to keep resolutions before or soon after you became a parent?

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Dramatic Tension Runs in the Family

Big Brother is five years old, and is a born storyteller if ever there was one. He makes up stories to tell to his brother. He makes up stories to tell to us. But his favourite thing is to create “puppet shows” where he can set the stage with his toys and then use them to make up a story. Then, it’s the toys who have the starring role.

Some days it’s a joy to listen to.

This is one of those days.

Knight

His story today went something like this:

Sir Silver and Sir Black are facing off on the top of a tower. There’s a dragon nearby, and a T-Rex across the river.

Sir Silver: You’ll never get away with this!

Sir Black: Haha! Yes I will! And now I’m going to kill you for NO REASON!

Sir Silver: Noooo! I’m going to hit you on the head as hard as I can! *bash*

Sir Black: *crying* What did you do that for?

Sir Silver: Because you said you were going to kill me.

Sir Black: But I was only playing a game. I wasn’t really going to kill you.

Sir Silver: Oh. I’m sorry. I didn’t know you were playing a game. Do you want to be friends?

Sir Black: Okay.

…and that’s when the horde of zombies attacked.

Do your children delight you with their storytelling abilities?

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It’s Funny Because it’s True

Building Blocks

“Mummy?” called five-year-old Big Brother.

“Yes?”

“Can you come and look at my building?”

I sighed, but abandoned the sink full of dirty dishes, shook my hands free of most of the soapy water, and walked to the playroom. Big Brother had built an impressive tower of blocks. “That’s great!” I said. Enthusiastically.

“Thanks,” he said, already paying more attention to his building than to me.

I returned to the kitchen.

Two minutes of silence.

“Mummy?”

“Yes?”

“Come have a look at it now.”

“I’ll be there in just a minute,” I said, trying to get just one more plate clean.

“Okay, but don’t be long.”

One… one thousand… two… one thousand … three …

“Are you coming?”

“Coming!” I shook my hands again and returned to the playroom. There were an additional four blocks on the tower. “Looking good,” I said.

“Thanks.”

Return to the kitchen. Stick hands in water.

“Mummy? Come have a look now!”

“I’ll be there in a minute,” I said. Seriously, he hadn’t even had time to do anything yet!

“Okay. Are you coming now?”

“In just a minute.”

Two-year-old Little Brother wandered past me into the playroom. I sighed and followed. This could only end in tears. (Probably mine.) In the past, the only reason Little Brother ever wanted to go near the building blocks was so he could destroy whatever his brother was working on.

But not this time.

By the time I got there, Little Brother had stacked a few blocks on top of each other. “Brother!” he yelled at the top of his lungs. “Brother!”

“Yes?” said Big Brother.

“Look! Look!”

Big Brother looked up from his building and nodded, “That’s good, Little Brother.” Then he looked at me. “Look at my building, Mummy!”

He’d added another half-dozen blocks. In all fairness, it was pretty awesome. “You’re doing a great job,” I said. “What’s the bit on the side?”

“A stable for the horses.”

“Great job.”

Then I returned to the kitchen.

One… one thousand… two…

Little Brother’s shrill voice. “Brother! Brother! Brother! Look!”

Big Brother. “That’s good.”

Silence.

Little Brother again. “Brother! Look! Brother! Look!”

“That’s good, Little Brother. Mummy! Come look at my building!”

I sighed. I knew it was too good to last. “Coming,” I called.

I walked into the playroom to see Little Brother proudly waving his hand in front of his older brother’s face and pointing to his own building. “Big Brother! Look! Look! Look!”

With a frustrated sigh, Big Brother stared at him. “Little Brother, you don’t have to show me every single thing you build, you know.”

Ah, sweet irony.

I don’t think either of them understood why I collapsed into near-hysterical laughter.

 

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The End of the World!

I was in high school the last time I remember the world coming to an end. Grade nine, to be exact. It was September, 1991.

It was a big deal.

For weeks before the big event, TV and radio personalities talked about little else. (Disclaimer: I was 14. I may have ignored the other news stories.)

Finally, the big day came.

But before it came End of the World Eve.

As my friends and I were leaving school, we gathered together to talk about what we expected to happen on the morrow. Would there be fire? Flood? Nuclear weapons? Zombies? Nobody knew. But one thing was for sure.

Why bother doing homework when the world’s only going to end anyway?

So, being rather unfamiliar with the real meaning of hedging our bets, we all vowed to “hedge our bets” and not do any homework.

The world was coming to an end. What did it matter if we completed twenty polynomial equations and wrote a 500 word essay on some book we’d never actually bothered to read?

I have sad news.

The world didn’t come to end that September day in 1991.

Even worse, we all got lunch detentions for not completing our English homework.

Even worse, two of our number did their homework anyway.

I tell you this story so you can understand why I treated news of today’s coming Apocalypse with some small measure of trepidation. I’d been there before. I’d put my faith in the world ending, and been sorely disappointed (and punished). I wasn’t ready to open myself and risk having my heart broken again so soon. It’s only been twenty-one years.

(Gods, I’m old.)

And as the clock ticks over from December 21st to December 22nd, I leave you with this message:

Kaboom

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I Come From a Land Down Under

It’s tough being Australian on the internet. Between the misspelling (it’s HUMOUR not HUMOR, people!) and the assumption that Christmas happens in winter, it can be downright discouraging. Especially when so many people seem inclined to believe that Australia is a country full of Crocodile Dundee clones keeping kangaroos and koalas as pets and yelling “Crikey!” at the top of their lungs.

So I decided it was time to set the record straight. Because being Australian is about more than just drinking beer and fooling tourists with our off-beat sense of humour.

Oh, wait. Maybe it’s not.

Anyway, today I’m over at Twinisms, one of my favourite (and favorite) blogs, guest posting about some of the common misconceptions about Australia. With some good ol’ Aussie humour (and humor) thrown in. Go over and read it.

Click here.

Or here.

Or even here.

Come on, click already.

And once you’ve read my post, be sure to check out the rest of the blog. Seriously, Bridget from Twinisms is one of the funniest, irreverent and down-to-earth people in the known universe. Plus, she’s got twins. Two sets. Because that’s just how she rolls.

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The Value of Regret

Regret has a bad name these days.

Sometimes it feels like you can’t go five minutes without seeing a motivational meme decrying regret as the greatest of all possible mistakes.

Live with no regrets!

Never regret your past, it made you who you are in the present!

Never regret anything because at one time it was exactly what you wanted!

Somehow, we’ve got the idea that regret is a bad thing. There’s a strange idea out there that a regret is something you would change, if given the chance. That by regretting something, you’re admitting that you wish you (and your life) were different.

But, hang on. Is that what regret is really about? Let me grab my handy Macquarie Dictionary and have a look.

Regret: -gretted, -gretting.

  1. to feel sorry about (anything disappointing, unpleasant, etc.)
  2. to think of with a sense of loss; to regret one’s vanished youth
  3. a sense of loss, disappointment, dissatisfaction, etc.
  4. the feeling of being sorry for some fault, act, omission, etc. of one’s own.
  5. (plural) feelings of sorrow over what is lost, gone, done, etc.
  6. a polite and formal expression of regretful feelings

In that defiintion, there is absolutely no indication that regret is based on the desire to change your past actions. Rather, regret is a feeling associated with sadness, sorrow, disappointment, and loss. It’s a feeling engendered by taking responsibility for doing or saying something about which you later feel sorry.

Saying that you want to live life with no regrets is like saying you never want to feel sorry for anything; that you’ll never look back on a situation with a sense of loss or disappointment.

We all have regrets. Some are big and some are small. Some are things we wish we could change. Some are things we wouldn’t change for the world — although we feel sorry for the effect they had on other people. Having regrets is normal. Having regrets is good.

Do you know the value of regret?

Regret teaches us what not to do. If we didn’t feel regret — if we never felt sorry for our actions — then we’d keep doing the same things, and making the same mistakes, over and over again.

Regrets teach us how to be the person we want to be.

break by Anonymous -

When I was ten years old, I had a fling with a boy named Stephen. It was pretty hardcore.

  • On Wednesday, I told my friends to ask his friends to ask him if he wanted to go out with me.
  • On Thursday, he told his friends to tell my friends to tell me that the answer was yes.
  • On Friday, we smiled at each other across the classroom.
  • On Saturday and Sunday I doodled our names together inside love hearts, and practiced signing my name with his surname.
  • On Monday, we sat across from each other at lunch and avoided making eye contact.
  • On Tuesday, he told me I was dumped.

Like I said, hardcore.

A week later, I found out Stephen was seeing one of my friends. They were spotted holding hands after school. I was furious. Clearly, he needed to be taught a lesson.

Twice a year, the school held a variety concert. Anyone could nominate themselves and their friends to do a performance in front of the school. And every concert, Stephen sang Summer Holiday to public acclaim. It was very much his song. He was famous for it. (Within the school, anyway.) So, I decided, that should be the means to get public revenge on him for breaking my ten-year-old heart.

I signed up to sing in the concert as well. But not just any song. Oh, no. I signed up to sing Summer Holiday. First. Ha! That would teach him!

It didn’t take me long to regret that decision. In fact, I regretted it the moment I walked on stage, in front of hundreds of students, teachers and parents, and realised one important thing.

I didn’t know the words.

break by Anonymous -

Would I go back and change what I did? Maybe. Or maybe not. Because I learned a couple of valuable things from that experience.

  1. Revenge is a fool’s game, much more likely to make an idiot out of me than you. Don’t do it.
  2. At the very least, don’t try to get revenge on by competing with someone in the arena where they’re strongest!

That’s a true story. Although it’s clearly not the biggest regret of my life, it illustrates my point: Don’t be afraid of regret.

Regret is not a bad thing. Sure, dwelling on your regrets will get you nowhere. But neither will dwelling on your successes. So stop dwelling and start living. Accept your regrets, embrace them, and learn from them. Just don’t expect them to disappear.

And now I’ll leave you with a quote from Katherine Hepburn:

I have many regrets, and I’m sure everyone does. The stupid things you do, you regret… if you have any sense, and if you don’t regret them, maybe you’re stupid.

How do you feel about regret? Do you have a funny regret you’d like to share?

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