Posts Tagged ‘prompt’

etc

There are a large portion of words that make sense.
Undergarments: articles of clothing that you wear under your garments.
Tablecloth: a cloth that you put on top of a table.
These words just make sense.
However, I would say that the greater portion of words don’t make sense.

My friend and I recently had a thoughtful conversation about the meaning of words. Now you may be thinking that the meaning of words could elicit a philosophical discussion to rival Socrates, Aristotle, and Confucius (*sarcasm).

However, this conversation basically consisted of us repeating the word “shoe” over and over again, saying, “the more you say it, the weirder it sounds! Shoe, shoe, shoe, shoe, shoe!” We discussed the thought process behind the term “shoe.”

The way we imagined it was as follows: “I don’t like walking outside, it hurts my feet. If only there was something I could make to protect my feet… I WILL CRAFT THEM AND I WILL CALL THEM SHOES.”

I highly doubt it was anything like that, but whatever.

The next word we covered was the imponderable et cetera. You may recognize its shorthand, “etc. The word et cetera is of Greek origin, meaning “and other things,” or “and so on.” That makes sense, because that’s exactly how et cetera is used. But I just wonder why that particular combination of letters to describe “there are more items on this list, but I don’t want to write them all.”

I’m sure there’s a logical reason, but sometimes speculating is more fun.

I imagine someone just sitting at their desk in ancient Greece, writing a letter. He probably has an incredible jaw line, an impressive beard rivaling that of Grizzly Adams, and is most likely donning a fashionable toga. Let’s call him Leonidas (because why not?). His letter would sound something like this… hypothetically:

“Dearest Isidora,

I hope this letter finds you well. I wanted to share with you a story I recently read. It’s called The Odyssey. It was written by Homer, the guy who wrote The Iliad. There are a lot of cool gods and goddesses that make appearances in this story. It talks about Athena, Zeus, Poseidon..”

Leonidas has a thought.

He doesn’t want to list the rest of them. What could he write to indicate that there are additional deities mentioned in The Odyssey? He decides that he will just put “etc.” at the end, short for et cetera. He took the liberty of creating this word, because there should be a word that means, “there’s more, but I don’t really feel like listing the rest.”

Now Leonidas has this letter:

“Dearest Isidora,

I hope this letter finds you well. I wanted to share with you a story I recently read. It’s called The Odyssey. It was written by Homer, the guy who wrote The Iliad. There are a lot of cool gods and goddesses that make appearances in this story. It talks about Athena, Zeus, Poseidon, etc. I really suggest you give it a read! Until next time,

-Leonidas”

[Disclaimer: This post has little to no historical validity. I did not do well in my World Empires class. Also, Grizzly Adams was not an ancient Greek.]


 

I was thinking that if you guys have any words that you find exceptionally weird, you could write your own account of how you believe the word came to be. If you choose to do so, tag this post – I want to read them! Thanks for checking out this post! 

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I think vending machines have a personal vendetta against me. It’s not something I noticed at a young age, but after countless incidents, I began to wonder if they were conspiring against me. 

When I was a kid, I would always make my grandpa hand over all his quarters so I could put them in the 25 cent machine. Gum balls, plastic rings, temporary tattoos, you know the drill. I was always convinced that I would get the exact color, flavor, or design that I wanted. Obviously this was not the case. Never once did I get the Barbie tattoo I so desired. Instead, I ended up with a drawer full of temporary tattoos of dragons, flames, and skulls. I was very girly, and wouldn’t be satisfied with anything less than Mattel’s finest. And so began my lifelong battle against vending machines.

When I moved into my dorm last fall, I was happy to see a diverse array of vending options. There were lots of snacks, sodas, a machine with specialty drinks (Snapple, Vitamin Water, Starbucks Frappuchino, etc.) and best of all a refrigerated vending machine with yogurt, White Castle burgers, mini pizzas, muffins, and more. About a month into the school year, the refrigerated vending machine became neglected. Its supply dwindled until it was empty, and it was never refilled again for the remainder of the year.

I found solace in the regular snack machine that featured Doritos, fruit snacks, Cheetos, Skittles, and the like. Pretty much your standard snack machine. However, I quickly discovered a major flaw in this particular vending machine. I suppose it was an effort to provide more variety, but it posed a serious issue. Instead of nacho cheese Doritos being B7 and cool ranch being B8, the flavors were both in B7, alternating cool ranch and nacho cheese. I was particularly fond of the Combos. They’re delicious stuffed pretzels, with many flavor options for the filling. The nacho cheese Combos were the only ones I liked, but the machine offered cheddar cheese, pepperoni pizza, and jalapeño cheddar in addition to my beloved nacho cheese pretzel snacks. I was rarely lucky enough to find the nacho cheese Combos in the front.

Combos-Coupon

I went downstairs around midnight one night to get a snack to carry me through the rest of a research paper. I swiped my meal card once. Pepperoni pizza. I swiped my meal card again. Cheddar cheese. I swiped my card once more. Pepperoni pizza again. This was followed by another bag of cheddar cheese Combos. I swiped my card AGAIN. Jalapeño cheddar. See, I wasn’t joking when I said that vending machines conspire against me. But once the jalapeño cheddar bag fell into the bottom of the machine, where a feast was quickly accumulating, I saw the nacho cheese combos in all their glory.

Finally! I swiped my card and carefully entered A4. The spiraling arm began to release my beloved snacks… Wait. It stopped. The nacho cheese Combos dangled from the A4 slot, but they didn’t fall within my reach. This is not a joke; this is my life in a nutshell. There were people in the lobby, so I didn’t want to violently shake the machine, demanding they release my flavored pretzel snacks. I saw that a bag of cheddar cheese Combos were next in queue. I kept my cool and swiped my card again, and entered A4. My nacho cheese Combos were released, followed closely by the exceptionally repulsive cheddar cheese Combos. I opened the bottom of the machine to retrieve my snacks. I struggled to push the flap back to extract my winnings, realizing that the trough where the snacks fell was full.

I was going to make a spectacle of myself, cradling 7 bags of pretzel snacks back to my room. Should I leave them? Someone left a snack that I was fortunate enough to discover once. I was excited until I discovered that it was an oatmeal raisin cookie, no doubt abandoned in a quest for a honey bun. What choice did I have? I grabbed the snacks and tried to make a clean escape. Of course the elevator was full of people. By the time I reached the 7th floor where I lived, I had given away the bags I didn’t want and rid myself of the less desirable flavors, left only with one bag of nacho cheese Combos. This became a regular occurrence in my quest for nacho cheese goodness.


 

My first thought when I read The Daily Post’s prompt, Vending Wishes, was that I would create a vending machine that dispensed ideas. In theory, it would be groundbreaking. If you were experiencing writer’s block, all you would have to do was go to the vending machine for some inspiration.
Ideas for horror fiction in B8. Romance in F6. Crime drama in G3.
Then I remembered my struggles with vending machines.

Something would go wrong, no matter how simple it seems. I would likely spend 30 minutes in front of the idea vending machine, trying desperately to bust writer’s block and get that idea for a mind-blowing fantasy novel as I flooded the machine with unwanted ideas for comic strips, biographies, and children’s books. 

iStock_book_typewriter_writing (1)

 

“A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.” -Thomas Mann

To anyone reading this blog who is a writer (more than college essays, less than Ernest Hemingway) I know you’ve been in the same boat. Sure, it’s comforting to know that even the most renowned authors like Stephen King and J.K. Rowling struggle with writer’s block, but that doesn’t make it any more pleasant as you sit in front of a blank page waiting anxiously for something to happen. All the how-to articles tell you to “just write.” They claim that all writing is good writing (*scoffs*) and that it doesn’t matter what you write. Just begin to get the ball rolling. It’s not always that easy when you absolutely can’t think of anything. Every writer has their own technique for writing; some are highly ritualized – same time, same place on the third Wednesday of every month, while some write best in a spontaneous decision to jot down some ideas while you’re drinking a macchiato at Starbucks. Once I get going, I will be glued to my laptop for (literally) hours on end. Other days, when I just can’t muster up anything interesting, I give up after about 30 minutes (if we’re being honest, the last 20 minutes were probably spent browsing Pinterest).

It’s hard, for me anyway, to create a fool-proof formula for success with writing. I would venture to call it impossible, in fact. There isn’t a technique that will magically turn me into Charles Dickens every time I sit down at my computer. So, I come to you all for advice. What is your technique? What is the process that you go through when you have a successful (or unsuccessful) writing session? Do you have any tips that you find helpful in either busting writer’s block, or keeping you focused on your writing.

One technique that I really think helps break writer’s block is to go online and find “story starters.” You can Google it, and find them for any and all genres. They are either prompts for you to write about, or a basic thought for you to elaborate on and build your story from. (Like I said, you can find them for any genre, but here are some horror story starters.) Even if these prompts don’t serve as the premise for your next New York Times best seller, they can help you brainstorm. The prompt will inspire a new thought, and you can build and build, and before you know it you will have the premise for your next New York Times best seller.

Please don’t hesitate to post a comment telling me about your writing techniques, and tips on how you overcome the dreaded writer’s block. I’d love to hear it, so let me know! Thanks everyone!

“You just have to trust your own madness.” – Clive Barker