Adam Quirk

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Ten Rules of Writing

Those of us who have chosen writing as a profession, hobby, self-analysis tool, or escape hatch have presumably read at least twenty or thirty essays about “How to Become a Better Writer” or “Mark Twain’s Three Rules of Writing” or “How to Write Almost as Well as Hemingway’s Pinky”. 

This list is a compilation of all of the other lists I’ve read, distilled into ten simple rules that I have found to actually improve my writing.

  1. Write every day.
  2. Write first thing every morning.
  3. Write often.
  4. Don’t let things distract you from writing.
  5. Write about anything, just so long as you are writing.
  6. Write a large quantity of words.
  7. Write at least once a day.
  8. Use any tool you feel comfortable with to write.
  9. Write today.
  10. Write tomorrow.

A summary post will be forthcoming.

[UPDATE] In summary: Write.

Filed under writing

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Everlasting Sunset Cruiselines 
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Everlasting Sunset Cruiselines

Come join our crew of talkative and friendly young stewards and stewardesses on your final journey into the sunset. 

Our luxury airships will pick you up at one of three designated docking stations, and whisk you away into a continuous sunset. Our ships are designed to fly at the exact speed of Earth’s rotation, maintaining a glorious dusk on the western horizon for months at a time.

If you are in your final months, weeks, or days of life, why not spend them basking in the glow of a final, extended sunset?

Our EOL directors can arrange a beautiful ceremony for your time of passing. These trained professionals can organize a viewing ceremony for your loved ones back on Earth, who will gather and share stories of your life as your body passes away. At the end, you choose your own final resting place. The traditionalists can select to be buried or cremated back home when the ship completes its yearly voyage. Or, a more popular option is our new Sky Entombment ceremony, in which your body is sent hurling into the stratosphere. Your loved ones can watch from below as your remains burn out in a brilliant streak above their heads. “Better to burn out than fade away”, someone once said.

Ships are taking off monthly from LAX, LaGuardia, and O’Hare.

Sign up today!

Filed under writing essay advertisement words

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To:City Planning Board
Subject:Scenarios For The Proposed Walking Path Between Kroger and The Drainage Ditch: A Visioneering Exercise
It’s the coldest day of pre-autumn, and a mist has suppressed the town for days. The sun has been obliterated by blankets of dreary grey, and the squirrels have all but given up on life. They lay on their backs with their mouths open, incisors glistening with a mix of saliva and the mist. Occasionally one will roll over onto its side and sneeze. There are plenty of acorns to be gathered…but this weather. It’s just too much.
The drought this Summer burned plants to their husks. Now the brown, yellow, and dark brown weeds and bushes have begun to disintegrate as their dead leaves are weighed with cold water. The land is flat and brown and looks like moldy mushroom soup.
Look, there is a homeless man in a Colorado Rockies baseball jersey and boxer shorts. Into the puddle he goes, never to return. They live in there, you know.
How many piercings is too many for the smoking teens?
Outside the Kroger, the path begins to regain its original color. The rest of it has been painted with Krylon, decorated with chalk, and stained with blood. But the general manager at Kroger has organized a weekly cleanup effort for the sixty yards of Walking Path to the west of his parking lot. A group of neighbors joined him the first couple times, but have since retreated behind their living room windows. There have been real threats etched with chalk in the flowery handwriting of the fourth grade girls. They appear and disappear on their pink razor scooters at unreasonably late hours for school days.
Continuing the path southward across the abandoned oil depot’s gravel lot, we notice the Heroin Pigs have accosted an elderly woman riding back from the grocery on her mobility scooter. Their faces are scarred from rat claws, and their backs are raw from sleeping in a forest of chains and poles in the underground level of the oil depot. The woman shakes free from their clammy hands and attempts a getaway, but her scooter’s back wheels spin in the muddy gravel soup. They lift her off, and take her inside the depot, leaving the scooter and her groceries outside to rust and decay in the mist.
Past the depot, a wide field extends to the east of the path. A switchyard once bustled here. Now we find a rancid, poisonous wasteland of mutant grasses that only grow in arsenic. 
As we continue our leisurely stroll towards the drainage ditch, we consider the disgusting nature of humanity at its most basic and atavistic. We wonder why anyone would choose this life. We pass the second mile marker, designated by a bright green sticker on an empty can of baby formula suspended from a stick in the mud.
Finally we arrive at the drainage ditch, and notice all the human waste.  Our feet are tired from walking just a couple miles, as the lot of us have never moved more than a hundred feet at a time. We take off our shoes and socks, and toss them in the shit-covered water below. We have decided not to return to our homes.
The city has created an exciting experience for its pedestrian citizens. The tax dollars and labor that built this path were as well-spent as any other. There is a soup party later tonight at the convention center to celebrate.

To:
City Planning Board

Subject:
Scenarios For The Proposed Walking Path Between Kroger and The Drainage Ditch: A Visioneering Exercise

It’s the coldest day of pre-autumn, and a mist has suppressed the town for days. The sun has been obliterated by blankets of dreary grey, and the squirrels have all but given up on life. They lay on their backs with their mouths open, incisors glistening with a mix of saliva and the mist. Occasionally one will roll over onto its side and sneeze. There are plenty of acorns to be gathered…but this weather. It’s just too much.

The drought this Summer burned plants to their husks. Now the brown, yellow, and dark brown weeds and bushes have begun to disintegrate as their dead leaves are weighed with cold water. The land is flat and brown and looks like moldy mushroom soup.

Look, there is a homeless man in a Colorado Rockies baseball jersey and boxer shorts. Into the puddle he goes, never to return. They live in there, you know.

How many piercings is too many for the smoking teens?

Outside the Kroger, the path begins to regain its original color. The rest of it has been painted with Krylon, decorated with chalk, and stained with blood. But the general manager at Kroger has organized a weekly cleanup effort for the sixty yards of Walking Path to the west of his parking lot. A group of neighbors joined him the first couple times, but have since retreated behind their living room windows. There have been real threats etched with chalk in the flowery handwriting of the fourth grade girls. They appear and disappear on their pink razor scooters at unreasonably late hours for school days.

Continuing the path southward across the abandoned oil depot’s gravel lot, we notice the Heroin Pigs have accosted an elderly woman riding back from the grocery on her mobility scooter. Their faces are scarred from rat claws, and their backs are raw from sleeping in a forest of chains and poles in the underground level of the oil depot. The woman shakes free from their clammy hands and attempts a getaway, but her scooter’s back wheels spin in the muddy gravel soup. They lift her off, and take her inside the depot, leaving the scooter and her groceries outside to rust and decay in the mist.

Past the depot, a wide field extends to the east of the path. A switchyard once bustled here. Now we find a rancid, poisonous wasteland of mutant grasses that only grow in arsenic. 

As we continue our leisurely stroll towards the drainage ditch, we consider the disgusting nature of humanity at its most basic and atavistic. We wonder why anyone would choose this life. We pass the second mile marker, designated by a bright green sticker on an empty can of baby formula suspended from a stick in the mud.

Finally we arrive at the drainage ditch, and notice all the human waste.  Our feet are tired from walking just a couple miles, as the lot of us have never moved more than a hundred feet at a time. We take off our shoes and socks, and toss them in the shit-covered water below. We have decided not to return to our homes.

The city has created an exciting experience for its pedestrian citizens. The tax dollars and labor that built this path were as well-spent as any other. There is a soup party later tonight at the convention center to celebrate.

Filed under essays writing stories

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A Story About Squirrels, a Mockingbird, and an Austrian Oboist

He wears his beard as a long, loose bib. His hat is short and Austrian-looking, like the rest of him. He carries a large wooden oboe slung across his back.

He appeared suddenly in the corner of my expansive semi-forested back yard, as oboists occasionally do. In the time since he arrived, a dozen or so tree squirrels have gathered at his feet, and are currently seated indian-style awaiting…something.

He takes out a comb, removes his hat, and traces an s-curve across the top of his head, front to back. His subjects are patient, and more are arriving every minute. They come in pairs and alone, bounding in from every direction including up.

Placing the comb in his pants (the front part, he has no pockets), he dons his hat and begins to breathe deeply from his stomach, warming up for something. As he breathes, he swings his oboe over to his front side and rests it on his barrel of a chest. The squirrels begin to mutter, or make mutter-like squirrel sounds, in anticipation of…something.

As the Austrian oboist raises the reed of his giant instrument lipsward, an angry mockingbird swoops down into the squirrel audience, screaming in rage. He pecks a young female right on the forehead, and it tumbles backward into the paws of her lover. Or it could be her father or brother. Who could possibly know?

The mockingbird knows what is about to transpire, and his pride depends on being the best musician in the yard. He has spent his entire life practicing songs. He knows over 1,000 different melodies, most of which he composed himself, some of which he lifted from that fucking cardinal named “Generator” that all the ladies seem to like. But even with the cover songs, he makes them his own. He’ll add a sparrow chirp to the end of a long run of cardinal cheeps, and end with a brand new worbble-worrble guttural thing that makes it completely his own. A true master of remix and a genius of composition, the mockingbird.

But the mockingbird is also a jealous dick, as the kids say. He can’t bear to be outdone in his own yard, especially by some bearded fop in a silly little hat. He swoops back down and plucks another squirrel in the tail, screeching a terrible hawkish tantrum as he dives. The squirrels are completely enraged, or scared, or confused, it’s impossible to say. They are most definitely agitated in some way. 

This continues for some time. The mockingbird continues his pattern of screaming, diving, pecking, and retreating thirty-two times. On the thirty-third, just as he reaches the bottom of the dive, just after he pokes a relatively calm and somehow unaware squirrel in the back of the ear, the Austrian oboist knocks him out of the air with his oboe. A baseball announcer would say the batter just dug out a sinker and drove it into left.

The mockingbird flies beak over flashy white tailfeathers, back, back, back over the seething hoard of squirrels. They cock their heads cutely to watch their tormenter land gently in the crabgrass in front of the hackberry tree.

The mockingbird, stunned and broken, props himself up with his beak and begins stumbling away into the Vinca vines. But before he enters the miniature jungle of vines that would hide him while he nurses his wounds, he turns to face the crowd, smiling. 

At first I can’t be sure - it’s hard to deduce a smile from a beak - but then he starts laughing. And it is no defeated laugh, as you might expect from such a defeated bird. No, it’s the laugh of the Austrian oboist’s daughter Amanda, which the mockingbird had heard some weeks ago in town as she was playing with friends at the market.

The broken bird is gleefully giggling in Amanda’s voice, flapping his non-broken left wing in rhythm with the laughs, as the Austrian oboist watches in absolute horror. The mockingbird rises up onto a twig, and with a final piercing cackle, tumbles backwards into the jungle of vines behind him.

The squirrels fall silent. Slowly, singularly and then in pairs, they turn back towards the stunned woodwindist in search of reason, and some sort of path forward, out of this terribly uncomfortable situation. 

The oboist takes off his cap, wipes the downy feathers from his instrument of death, and begins to softly blow the familiar-to-most-but-not-squirrels melody of Taps. The squirrels react appropriately, however, despite having never heard the tune. Taps is one of those compositions that resonates its intention without context. And so the squirrels bow their fuzzy little heads towards the yard, and either pray or pretend to. One cannot know.

Filed under short story stories writing

Public Domain Mark
This work (Bullemhead blog, by Adam Quirk), identified by Adam Quirk, is free of known copyright restrictions.