Plot loses its self

Diana couldn’t raise herself from the floor, she was too light-headed. George didn’t turn to help. He stared into the distance, his fingers, as if attached to someone else, stabbing the piano keys.

She slipped back into mental darkness where all her dreams; those joyful adventures cruising the world; proudly watching their daughter become a doctor, wife, mother- transformed into a toxic dose of disappointment, poisoning her system.

She saw her husband facing her, yet not looking at her; both erect and tensed neither reaching to touch the other or utter a word; both falling slowly, emotionless into an abyss.

(P.S. Remember I said I wanted to see if I have a creative writing cell within me. To do so, I am answering a challenge to write a 100 -word piece that  based on picture and adding it to my earlier piece of “self-Plotted2”.

Please tell me what you think of this!  Should I have omitted paragraph 2?)

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Cutting the Best Thing out the Sliced Bread Cliché

In today’s Daily Prompt Michelle said: Most of us have heard the saying, “That’s the best thing since sliced bread! What do you think is actually the best thing since sliced bread?’

To me, there’s only one answer. This post which you are now reading called: 

Cutting the Best Thing out the Sliced Bread Cliché

English: cadifus

Whoever inventing the saying ‘best thing since sliced bread’   may be sadly watching for the slow descent of their phrase. He or she shouldn’t be sad for where else can the phrase go after rising to the peak status of cliché. Plateauing is the next stage or descent.

I believe the sliced bread saying is on the plateau, held back from a descent mainly by pre-college writers and a few other people. In secondary school days, my friends and I liked clichés, we thought they were cool. We felt like blooming literary giants using them.

Once all 25 of my fifth-form classmates wrote the words, greatest thing since sliced bread – in an essay called ‘A day in the life of a washing machine”. Our English teacher upbraided us  but now I think she should’ve been ashamed for setting us that cliché-type assignment.

Since then, I have read or heard many college professors, experts and writers bash clichés. On the internet, many articles discouraging cliché use. Here is a sampling.

They are “dull and unimaginative for the reader or listener.”

 “Clichés are dishonest. Clichés rob the reader of a true reading experience. It’s a Big Mac instead of filet mignon. It’s all gristle, no meat.”

“What was once a clever or interesting way of saying something has been used so much that it no longer has any force. It is a lazy way to speak and to write. Please, please take pity on those who read your text or listen to you speak, and do not use clichés,” http://englishmistakeswelcome.com/cliches.htm screams at us.

So we try to avoid the ‘best thing since sliced bread’ and his friends.  But as Review Review explains, “Sometimes it’s hard to spot a cliché. How about, “She burst into tears.” Is this a cliché? That’s a tough call.”

Like chameleons, these sneaky fellows slip into our writing, especially when we are being descriptive. Now, hunters are on the attack. Websites like University of Richmond’s Writing Center enter the picture armed with tools for cliché DNA testing and expulsion.

“When writing, question any comparison or image you are about to use,” advises the University of Richmond.  “Is the phrase you’re about to use one that you’ve heard frequently in casual conversation, newscasts, and advertising? If so, it is probably a cliché or on its way there.”

Some experienced in writing have made the cliché hunt easier by providing lists.

Cliche

Cliche (Photo credit: Tom Newby Photography)

A few people are still on the cliché-side, though. The Review Review sees a place for them. “Normal people talk in clichés. Your characters probably talk in clichés. That’s, well, normal,’ it said.

“Clichés in internal monologue are okay too, but don’t overdo it.

Writer Dell Smith says: “I use “clichés as placeholders when I write a first or second draft. While tapping the emotion of the moment I may not know the perfect words to use. Later, I’ll come back with more objective eyes and manhandle these words down to their core meaning.”

A reprieve for my slice bread friend?

Maybe not, it has another problem. It contains bread. Nutritionists have people considering whether factory bread slicing can fall under the ‘best thing’ category. Slicing white bread? If this bread is not the best thing for healthy living then factory slicing which increases its convenience may not be good. Oh dear! My slice bread friend is between a rock and a hard place (gotcha).

Not all bread types are health risks, among those favoured are 100 per cent whole grain, rye, pumpernickel and cassava bread. In addition, eating a uniform portion, such as a factory-cut slice, is better than having to hand slice resulting in a large chunk on your plate. Factory slicing may therefore be helpful and with healthy bread, better, so we have preserved some of the value of the sliced bread and keep that cliché on the plateau. If fact, we may be able to say without causing raised eyebrows that this article is the ‘best thing since sliced bread’ that the writer was ‘thinking outside the box”. Ha ha!!

What do you think?

Related articles:

Let us now praise… the cliché (boston.com)

Can’t toot my blog horn, ‘till it gets a hate button

“Why do you blog?” Avram asked. “Is it because you’re out-of work, you’re a rejected journalist?’

That got me pissed so I let my temper fly. I ranted:  “Blogging is better than journalism, if you subtract the monetary gain. Toot. Toot, it gives a horn to toot even if you don’t want to toot it for me.”

A hunting horn in Eb with a Bb stopping ventil...

A hunting horn in Eb with a Bb stopping ventil/ Cor de chasse en Mi bémol (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

People from Panama, Vietnam, de North Pole,  de South Pole, people that never know I cud write a sentence when I did a journalist, read me.“Numba two, no blog readers doan search for my phone numba and call me cursing me stink, stink; telling me ‘bout my muddah, doan mine they never see she.

“Numba 3, business people and politicans doan call my boss and say I should write ‘xyz’ like they in my mind or is my intellect.  Nobody doan fume to higher-ups: ‘I am pulling my ads because she wrote such and such…’ Nothing so, buddy!

“It add up to I get likes from readers, I is a boss analyst, a boss writer, a boss story teller. I don’t get no hate,” I tooted.

“Likes? What likes you talking bout you does get muff hates,” Avram said. She started she own rant:

“I check out your site and muff people visit but the foolishness you write left dem speechless, you doan see they doan say a word in the ‘leave a comment’ slot. More to besides one day 47 people visit you and only one click ‘like’ dat is 46 or more than 99 per cent that hate the dribble you write.”

That one floored me, I failing as a blogger, so I try to comfort myself by boasting that I getting traffic cause most of the tings the WordPress people say about increasing traffic I have covered.

“Covered what?’ Avram said “you minding dem wordpress people and ‘blog-napping’ people by hooking your blog to their Facebook accounts. Traffic? They ain’t even reading you if not your followers would equal or be more than your Facebook friends.

“And when it get to following de Daily Prompt, half of them outside your league, you can’t respond. Like today, they tell you to “toot your horn” what horn? Horn about likes? Horn about traffic? Your horn hoarse, girl! De only horn you ever had is a Bajan horn. Ha! Ha!”

(In Barbados, a person gets a horn if his or her partner is unfaithful. In Bajan parlance, we say: Mary put a horn in Tom. Translate: Mary was unfaithful to Tom. Vincentians use butt instead of horn.)

Horn Luggers

Horn Luggers (Photo credit: Randy Son Of Robert)

No audience: I am wondering

Alter Ego #1 (1961). Cover art by Roy Thomas.

Alter Ego #1 (1961). Cover art by Roy Thomas. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I wish I were heading somewhere; on a straight path with an unimpeded vision of what lies ahead. Instead, I am here at one of life’s many cross roads unsure about which way to take. Not even this blog which I started for leisure seems focused. I want to abandon it; I want to keep it.

I started bouncing with excitement. I thought that perhaps it would lead me somewhere, tell me something about myself that would unlock a gate leading to a confident future. I said my pen would roam un-tethered by the dictates of advertisers, politicians and other rein holders.  I would write for myself, never seeking to appeal to anyone else’s fancy.

Alas, my alter ego, Avram has stepped into the picture quizzing me. “For whom do you write,” she asked one lazy morning. The rising sun peeked out from under a cloud streaming strips of golden sunlight onto the patio where I sat listening to the sea and visualising a day alone at the beach peacefully watching the ebb and flow of the tide.

I ignored her.  She knew the answer, so why waste time with conversation.

For whom do you write?”Avram persisted.

“A writer must have an audience. Who are you writing for?”

‘Myself,” I answered.

“So what’s point?”

“My mind is bursting with thoughts day and night; I want to let them out.”

“If you know them and you are writing for you, why not lie in bed, look up at the ceiling and let them roam through your body… have some intellectual masturbation.”

I got her point, as much as the blog is about me, I want others to sample my offerings.  I need an audience to read and enjoy my writing; to learn from me and to challenge me to think deeper and seek more knowledge. I admit I need an audience.

My blog, however, will reflect my experiences. It will be a Caribbean potpourri, flavoured with political, economic and social issues; light-hearted with daily life stories but serious with economic and political issues. How can I attract followers when theory suggests that a blog should have a particular focus? I am at the cross road. Should I have two blogs? I wish I knew the way forward.

“But are you going to spend time, writing and researching; are you going to use electricity and internet minutes pursuing this hobby? A half-employed person like you; who is footing your bills?” My alter ego sensed victory and leaned in with all the weight of her torso.

“Take a writing job; stop saying that a writer’s block develops when you see a general newspaper that is a cope out.  You’re really mixed up for despite all your talk you are editing that Anglican newspaper. Don’t tell me again that it isn’t on your career radar, that you’re fulfilling a temporary need, some public service.  It means you can write for a living again.

“When you post to a blog you seek to appeal to someone else’s interests if not no one will read it. Therefore, you are following their dictates. So why not monetise something … get a job.”

“Money isn’t everything. I have live many years now on sub-wages so …”

“Money makes the mare fly, though,” my grandmother chimed in; she entered my thoughts as usual, uninvited but always with authority. So now I am in a quandary:  one blog, two blogs, or a journalism job?

Here in the no-man’s zone of life’s junction, it feels as if I am at the Wynter Crawford Roundabout which marks the centre of my parish and provides travellers with six roads to their destinations.  Everyone else moves purposefully along; taking their various paths with confidence, getting ahead. I stand here watching and wishing I knew where to go; that I were part of this contributing mass of humanity. But which I of these six roads is the right one for me?

Should it be Familiar Street, the road which I’ve trod for years; the one from which I was pushed by profit-seeking, selfish, tainted drivers racing to progress by all means necessary? Or, should I travel along Fight Back Boulevard stained with pain and frustration that is the road which brought me here a stronger, more determined, better educated woman.

Should it be Easy Avenue? That road looks obvious from this direction. In fact, it runs directly, some say logically, from the one that brought me here. Maybe the right choice is Expert Opinion Lane? Advisers and counsellors analysed my position and tendered their conclusion, this is it, they said. So I am asking myself, how can this lane point to the wrong way when it is so highly recommended?

Perhaps, I should use Billionaire Drive; its environs flow with financial prosperity but it requires cutthroat skills plus wheeling and dealing to navigate. But there lies Heart Terrace, the road I see in my dreams. It is paved with adventure and glistens with personal fulfilment but is lightly sprinkled with monetary reward. To travel this road, I must break free from my inhibitions, my fears, my what-ifs.

I wish I were clairvoyant, then I would know which road to take.