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Have a Laugh about Language, Writers and Writing

Writers, It’s time to laugh at ourselves.
A visitor to a certain college paused to admire the new Hemingway Hall that had been built on campus.

“It’s a pleasure to see a building named for Ernest Hemingway,” he said.

“Actually,” said his guide, “it’s named for Joshua Hemingway. No relation.”

The visitor was astonished. “Was Joshua Hemingway a writer, also?”

“Yes, indeed,” said his guide. “He wrote a check.”


A linguistics professor was lecturing to his English class one day. “In English,” he said, “a double negative forms a positive. In some languages, though, such as Russian, a double negative is still a negative. However, there is no language wherein a double positive can form a negative.”

A voice from the back of the room piped up, “Yeah, right.”


There was once a young man who, in his youth, professed his desire to become a great writer.

When asked to define great, he said, “I want to write stuff that the whole world will read, stuff that people will react to on a truly emotional level, stuff that will make them scream, cry, howl in pain and anger!”

He now works for Microsoft writing error messages.


A screenwriter comes home to a burned down house. His sobbing and slightly-singed wife is standing outside. “What happened, honey?” the man asks.

“Oh, John, it was terrible,” she weeps. “I was cooking, the phone rang. It was your agent. Because I was on the phone, I didn’t notice the stove was on fire. It went up in second. Everything is gone. I nearly didn’t make it out of the house. Poor Fluffy is–”

“Wait, wait. Back up a minute,” The man says. “My agent called?”


How many mystery writers does it take to change a light bulb? Two. One to screw the bulb almost all the way in, and one to give a surprising twist at the end.


From the pen of Paul Ogden

  • A chicken crossing the road is poultry in motion.
  • A backward poet writes inverse.
  • No matter how much you push the envelope, it’ll still be stationery


From http://bit.ly/N4pjcW
A Spanish speaking bandit held up a bank in Tucson. The sheriff and his deputy chased him. When they captured him, and the sheriff, who couldn’t speak Spanish, asked him where he’d hidden the money. “No sé nada,” he replied.

The sheriff put a gun to the bandit’s head and said to his bi-lingual deputy: “Tell him that if he doesn’t tell us where the money is right now, I’ll blow his brains out.”

Upon receiving the translation, the bandit became very animated. “¡Ya me acuerdo! Tienen que caminar tres cuadras hasta ese gran arbol: allí está el dinero.”

The sheriff leaned forward. “Yeah? Well..?”

The deputy replied: “He says he wants to die like a man.”


Can you add a joke or funny thought about writers, writing or language to this pitiful collection?

Author, No One Has Your Back

In his post, The Illusion of Patronage, Seth Godin points out that we can no longer depend just on our writing for success. We must engage with our fans, our reading public, through speaking and business ventures.

This is one of those good news, bad news things.

For energetic writers entering the publishing world, eager to rub shoulders with their fans at Tweetups, be interviewed on Internet radio, post loads of videos on YouTube and promote their latest book on a t-shirt, this is good news.

For old-school writers still banging out their manuscripts on a Remington Rand, refusing to blog, tweet, link or friend, and who think Kindle is what fuels the fireplace, this is bad news.

Long ago Mr. Rogers told us about the part we play in our success in his song “You’ve Got to Do It”

Actually, someone does have your back.

It’s you, building, serving, nurturing and maintaining your own tribe.

An Author is an Amateur Writer Who Didn’t Quit

Richard Bach encouraged us to never stop trying. “A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.”

That’s great advice from a wonderful author. The only catch is that many amateur writers don’t aspire to become professionals, at least not at first. They often just want to tell their story, right a wrong, share a solution to a problem, or offer motivation to people struggling with problems they once had.

Does this sound like you?

Almost everyday I meet amateur writers who have been churning out amazing work, but have never published it.

Like the

  • poet who has readings with friends and family but hasn’t collected his work in a book or ebook where we can all enjoy it
  • the gourmet cook who has created amazing recipes scribbled on sheets of paper stuffed in a recipe box
  • the home gardener who has figured out a foolproof way to nourish perennials that anyone can follow
  • the social worker who has kept a journal for years chronicling her successful techniques in working with many struggling families

You see, a  published author does not have to write massive tomes, winding novels or an aloe vera cure for skin cancer.A published author is an amateur writer who takes an entertaining idea, a solution to a problem, a stirring memoir or a collection of inspirational poetry and gets it into print or digital form where we can all enjoy and benefit. With so many improvements in the publishing industry this has gotten easier than ever.

To see your book published, however, is not in the hands of the publishing industry alone. You must do something unpublished writers never do.

You must finish.

Not when you feel like it, but consistently, feverishly, obsessively, until you end up with a first draft.

The first draft is called a rough draft, but it is more than that. It is the magical first step to becoming an author. Every author, whether famous or not, has to meet this challenge using whatever energy, time or resources are available to him or her.

The first draft is not perfect. It may be choppy, tentative and in need of many revisions. It’s not ready to go to print yet, but it has to come first.

When do you write?

Whenever you can.

Will you sit idly sometimes wondering if you’ll ever think of another word to write? Absolutely!

But you keep writing, and you don’t wait for ideal conditions.

–You don’t wait until you can get away to a Walden Pond where you can write in a pristine setting free of  interruptions.

–You don’t wait until the kids are grown or until you can afford the latest computer or pen.

–You make time in your day or night to sit down and begin to organize your scraps of paper, journal entries or random ideas into an order that can be understood by another person.

As a matter of fact, if you are going through struggles in your life right now, write about them. You may not end up publishing all of this, but what better time to hone your writing skills than now while you are in the heat of your challenges. Besides, it is therapeutic to talk about what’s happening in your life, even if it’s just in your journal for now.

Here’s a message I got from an aspiring author
Hi Dr. Brown,

I am a procrastinator. I have not gone to the website that you suggested to take the training to learn how to write my book. I need motivation. I have a burning desire to write but my current life situation does not lend itself to privacy to write. I currently live with my mother who has a pacemaker and is 80 years old. I have to spend time with her and my mind is not clear to write. I have writers block. I am also working a part time job in [deleted her location] and having problems getting accustomed to the culture since I left the South due to the racism but now that I have returned it is very prominent and I am not accustomed to the type of culture that I am forced into in the work environment. I can’t stand living in the past where people are prohibited to learn and advance. This is what I am experiencing.

My response to her

You express some of the same pain and challenges that other writers undergo. Add to that your return to the South and living with your mother and it definitely makes for a writing challenge.

On the other hand, some writers find that when they make time to journal about their struggles they feel better and after many, many entries often have the makings of a great book.

Do you write down your feelings and experiences? Get your feelings and thoughts on paper/computer and watch what a relief it’ll be. Instead of being blocked, when you write about what you’re going through, you’re likely to have a gush of writing.


There are many ways to go from first draft to published book. The one essential element is YOU, the writer willing to finish a first draft. Another vital element is OTHER AUTHORS with whom you can connect, collaborate, and  get encouragement. A third vital element is A PUBLISHING COACH, like me, willing to be your partner in choosing the best publishing path while avoiding the potholes to get you to your goals. If you would like to have a conversation about your writing project, I’m ready to explore ideas with you. Drop me an email at flora@florabrown.com Contact me at learn more.

The Writer’s Life: The Road to Success is Paved with Rejections

Rejections are a fact of life for writers. First, your work is rejected in bits and pieces by you until you finally agree to let that certain set of words go out into the world seeking its audience. Then it begins to be rejected by those who look for future profits between every line.

Sure, you’re disappointed.

Some rejections are quite routine. Form letters. Heartless.

Other rejections are warmer. The executioner actually takes a moment to say “I’m sorry. This piece is not for us.”

The best rejections are the instructive ones. They gently let you down onto a cushion of suggestions, ideas and hope.

What do rejections mean?

In spite of their initial sting, rejections are not about the quality of our work as much as they are about a message landing in the wrong mailbox. No such person at this address. You have not found the audience for your book yet.

Rejections mean you have successfully given birth to your ideas. You have been brave enough to expose your thoughts, musings, ideas, characters and beliefs to the world, with no idea of how they will be received.

Most important, when your writing is rejected, it’s not you personally who has been rejected. It just means that your work has not found its rightful place, but is one step closer to doing so.

When your writing is rejected, you have joined a prestigious group of other brave men and women. There is not likely a successful writer who has not had his work rejected. Some are legend.

Dick Wimmer, a longtime Agoura Hills, CA resident, once held the record for being history’s most-rejected published novelist. After 162 rejections over more than 25 years, his 1989 breakthrough, ‘Irish Wine,’ finally enjoyed acceptance and publication.

He went on to teach English and creative writing as well as edit a number of well-regarded nonfiction books about sports. He also wrote the screenplay for the 1982 TV movie, The Million Dollar Infield, featuring Rob Reiner.

Wimmer died at age 74 in May 2011.

Rejections are about more than just the prose you pen and propose to publishers. They are also about perseverance, belief in yourself and tenaciousness.

Do you think you could have kept faith in your manuscript to submit it to publishers 162 times?

What Will You Write About?

Many writers wonder what to write about. One place to get started is to go back through your memories. Some are warm and fuzzy, while others are sharp and painful. Either way, they are great starters for your writing projects.

One way to recall those memories is to visit your old photos. Today while I was taking a break from my work, I picked a few photos from my past and recent history and made the following video using Animoto. They have a free version, stock photos and music and more advanced versions for longer videos.

Maybe creating a video like the one I created below will inspire your writing and give you content for your blog and social media accounts as well.