Make it Real… but Not Too Real…

I've never been very good at making things real. At least, I haven't been very good at this lately. I used to be an avid fan of the inspirational writer and professional "uplifter," Susan Ariel Rainbow Kennedy. As a newly-minted college graduate who couldn't quite get a piece of writing to past the tenuous first … Continue reading Make it Real… but Not Too Real…


The Smothering Arms of English

A neighbor of mine, he's trying to improve his English, and he'll sometimes say the wrong word. I usually know what he means, but he's asked me to correct him anyway. This seems like it should be rude of me, but for the sake of my neighbor's education... sure, why not? My neighbor, he's a … Continue reading The Smothering Arms of English

There’s nothing private about full disclosure couture

As I was waiting in line at the chemist yesterday, I bore witness to a pharmacy assistant and customer discussing the latter’s new medication at what had to be the upper limit of their respective volume ranges. Not only was I--and everyone within twenty feet--aware of the name of said medication, I also knew which … Continue reading There’s nothing private about full disclosure couture

The Slippery Slope of Constructive Criticism

My husband thinks I've become a bit too, er, verbose when I offer criticism to others. "You're not wrong about the things that you say," Ted told me recently. "But you need to work on your tone." "Is that so?" I replied, my tone sharp. "Give me one example." My husband reminded me of an … Continue reading The Slippery Slope of Constructive Criticism

Editing Away the Exhaustion

It's amazing how much any kind of creative work is improved by a good night's sleep. I just worked the sound board at a three-day festival, and manning the "audio pit" for a long weekend is exhausting work. At the end of the second day---Saturday, by far the longest and most tiring day---my band had … Continue reading Editing Away the Exhaustion

Ask Ceil – It’s Raining Baseballs

Dear Ceil, Why is the slow, boring game of baseball so popular in America? Napping in Napierville Dear Napping, It's late May and you're watching a game. It's two outs, bottom of the 4th and your team is coming up empty in an 0--1 game. The most exciting thing that's happened is, because of the … Continue reading Ask Ceil – It’s Raining Baseballs

Writers Groups for Loners

Writing is a solitary activity--which is probably why I have always gravitated to it. I've never been what one might call "social," or "someone who has more than three friends." Growing up, I tended to prefer my own company to just about anyone else's. I'm suddenly reminded of my not-so-wild high school days: While the … Continue reading Writers Groups for Loners

Overusing Em Dashes

Em dashes are overused, and overusing them is the mark of a hack writer. Or so goes the conventional wisdom. In case you're asking wondering what I'm talking about, an em dash is a long dash---like that. The name is a typographer's term: An em dash is the same width as the upper-case letter m. … Continue reading Overusing Em Dashes

Ask Ceil – Dreaming of Love

Dear Ceil, What should I get all of my lack of soulmates for Valentine's Day? Sincerely Solitary in Seaside Heights Dear Sincerely, You know, you really can go a few ways with this Valentine's Day thing. Take it from me, it doesn't have to suck. 1. You can lament that fact that you've got no … Continue reading Ask Ceil – Dreaming of Love

Is There Such a Thing as Too Much Planning?

I'm a planner. Always have been. My husband and I occasionally clash over this. I tend to ask him on Tuesday what we we're doing on Saturday, and by Friday, I usually have every inch of the weekend planned. My husband doesn't necessarily appreciate this, as he likes things to happen more spontaneously. (Which makes … Continue reading Is There Such a Thing as Too Much Planning?