Friday’s Odds and Ends

Heading into the Labor Day weekend, we who are still safe and dry are conflicted about doing the usual end-of-summer celebration. At least I am a bit. I can’t imagine how horrible it is for all the people affected by Hurricane Harvey. I am thankful that most of my relatives in Houston were not flooded out, but thousands were and if we think in terms of community and state and country being one big family, then my family is suffering.

On Thursday there was a fire at a chemical plant in Crosby, TX and 15 deputies were taken to the hospital after being exposed to the noxious black smoke. Residents in a 1.5 mile radius of the plant were evacuated.

While water is slowly receding in the worst flood areas of Houston, the people there are still under water and many have lost everything in their homes. And the situation is bad in Port Arthur and the Beaumont area as well.

My heart breaks for everyone who has been affected by the storm.



These tips are from an article, Outlining For Pantsters, on Writer Unboxed by Tracy Hahn. Her definition of being a pantster is:

If you’re a pantster, you just get in the car and drive. You introduce yourself to your characters and let them navigate; you allow yourself to become their instrument.

That is basically how I have always written, so I was intrigued by the title of her article. The thought of outlining seems to defy the idea of heading out on a story path with no direction.

Tracy explains that she does write like a driver who has no map and no destination in mind, but that is for the first draft of a story. When that is complete, she makes a chapter-by-chapter outline. Ouch!!

In the article at Writer Unboxed, she cites the various benefits of doing that, which are very helpful. She catches timeline issues and consistency issues, among others, and I highly suggest you read the whole article to find them all.

I do that chapter-by-chapter outline as I write the first draft, noting what happens in each scene and the timeline – which can get messed up so easily. I do that in a spiral notebook that is on my desk next to my computer so it is convenient for making those notes. That is done when I am finished with the writing session as I don’t want to stop the creative flow. I think I am doing what Tracy suggests, just in a different way.

Writers, do you outline? Before or after the first draft? Curious minds want to know.


Shortly after take-off on an outbound, evening Aer Lingus flight from Dublin to Boston, the lead flight attendant nervously made the following painful announcement in her lovely Irish brogue:

“Ladies and gentlemen, I’m so very sorry, but it appears that there has been a terrible mix-up by our catering service. I don’t know how this has happened, but we have 103 passengers on board, and unfortunately, we received only 40 dinner meals. I truly apologize for this mistake and inconvenience.”

When the muttering of the passengers had died down, she continued, “Anyone who is kind enough to give up their meal so that someone else can eat, will receive free and unlimited drinks for the duration of our 10 hour flight.

Her next announcement came about 2 hours later: “If anyone is hungry, we still have 40 dinners available.”

Why did I get divorced? Well, last week was my birthday. My wife didn’t wish me a happy birthday. My parents forgot and so did my kids. I went to work and even my colleagues didn’t wish me a happy birthday. As I entered my office, my secretary said, “Happy birthday, boss!”

I felt so special. She asked me out for lunch. After lunch, she invited me to her apartment. We went there and she said, “Do you mind if I go into the bedroom for a minute?”

“Okay,” I said.

She came out 5 minutes later with a birthday cake, my wife, my parents, my kids, my friends, & my colleagues all yelling, “SURPRISE!!!” while I was waiting on the sofa… naked.

I love this next joke. Two of my Young Players told it at the Weekend of Comedy at the Winnsboro Center For the Arts, and they had great comedic timing. Johnny also did not say “freaking” as the event was a family-friendly affair.

Teacher: “If I gave you 2 cats and another 2 cats and another 2, how many would you have?”
Johnny: “Seven.”
Teacher: “No, listen carefully… If I gave you two cats, and another two cats and another two, how many would you have?”
Johnny: “Seven.”
Teacher: “Let me put it to you differently. If I gave you two apples, and another two apples and another two, how many would you have?”
Johnny: “Six.”
Teacher: “Good. Now if I gave you two cats, and another two cats and another two, how many would you have?”
Johnny: “Seven!”
Teacher: “Johnny, where in the heck do you get seven from?!”
Johnny: “Because I’ve already got a freaking cat!”

That’s all for me folks. Whatever your plans for this holiday weekend, be safe, be happy and have fun.

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