Tag Archives: writing

Un-honorably Un-mentioned

There it is, folded on the coffee table. The newspaper’s culture magazine. Their annual writing contest with all winner’s works printed inside, just a few feet away from my shaking hands.

I’ve submitted many times before, but feel this is the year I get published. I’m going to win because I took a chance. I didn’t send something I thought they were looking for. I do that every year. And lose. Instead, I sent an original, edgy, witty, and clever piece to the newspaper jurors. Adult Prose section, here I come.

newspaper photo for blog 004I open the magazine. Adult Prose First Place winner – not me. Okay. I wasn’t expecting First Place anyway. I turn the page. Second Place. Not me. You know, it would be nice, just once, if I won … anyway. I turn the page. Another writer has taken Third Place. But, wait – something new this year, the List of Finalists, names of writers whose works were considered extremely worthy but didn’t make the cut. If I’m on the list, some progress has been made.

I wiggle my index finger down the page of ten names. Mike Andberg is not among them. Who are all these people? I’ve never heard of any of them.

The Honorable Mention section. I flip the pages. Quickly. I have not been mentioned in the Honorable Mention section either.

I check the Teen section winners. I never mentioned my age in my submission to the paper. Who knows? Maybe they placed my winning entry in the Teen category by mistake. I check it. Twice. My name’s not there. Teenagers are already in the paper and they’re, what, fifteen? I’m how old?

I peruse the Kids category. Jesus. I mean, how good can these pieces be? I’m not included in this section (whether accidentally or deliberately).

I envision tomorrow’s newspaper folded on my coffee table. A giant apology. It was all a printing mix up. Excluded from the Annual Writing Contest winners was Mike Andberg’s glorious, witty, funny, unique, and cutting edge piece. It could happen, right?

I can only hope it wasn’t placed in Obituaries.


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Filed under Blog, The Daily Thought

Writers Writing and Their Online Parade


Gee, look at me.

I’m a writer – fresh off finishing a memoir – who’s also on several social media platforms. And, thanks to WordPress, my website looks slick. Digital cameras produce top-notch images for all my blogs and various online platforms. These tools of the trade (practically unheard of only fifteen years ago) can often make me – or anyone – look spectacular. It seems just about every writer these days has a professional-looking website, large following on some social media, or book in print or online. In fact, after Googling Mike Andberg, people may even think I’m fantastically successful.

Hm-m-m. Roll back the curtain. Let’s study this closer.

What do writers look like when they’re writing? I’ve always wanted to know. What’s the image of them as they write?

A second winter cold wave has just hit Santa Fe. I’m writing today in the nicest piece of furniture I own, an easy chair inherited from my mother’s estate nine years ago. If it wasn’t for the space heater beneath my feet (a thrift store bargain), I’d be freezing. There’s a blanket over my legs. I’m writing through fancy horn-rimmed glasses I bought many years ago, then lost, then miraculously found a year later in the dirt near my parking space. They are no longer fancy. I continue to dress in yesterday’s sloppy clothes, which, for me, are everyday attire on weekends – sweat pants and fleece top. I’m also wearing a stocking cap. My quaint condo is cute but has lousy heat, forcing me to do things like wear stocking caps. A small desk lamp (another thrift store bargain) illuminates my surroundings enough that I’m comfortable writing. The room is quiet – I hate any background noise. I prefer that all window blinds be closed – brightness is too distracting. Eating is a chore – stopping for it could mean I’ll lose writing flow (assuming I’m actually flowing, a phenomenon that coincides with hunger without fail).

After a long period in which flow has been achieved – but quickly turned to trickle status – I take a break and walk outside to the mailbox. Once there, I realize I’m wearing skuzzy sweat pants and fleece top festooned with an unfathomable amount of pills, an image of me neighbors weren’t prepared to see. Still enough in the writing zone, I don’t realize what crap I’m wearing.

Writing is not relegated to the freezer that is my condo. Because I absolutely cannot – cannot – waste time, I write wherever I go. Waiting in the Discount Tire lobby for new tires to be installed on my 2000 Prizm yesterday, people picked up whatever they could get their hands on to keep their bored minds occupied – Auto Trader, Muscle Car magazine, etc. I couldn’t bear to think of the time I’d have wasted if I hadn’t brought my laptop. I felt good and, in case you’re wondering,  was better dressed.

There was me at work a few days ago, sitting in my car with laptop, trying to scrunch twenty-two minutes of creativity into my half hour lunch break. Avocado fell on the keyboard and I went ballistic, the clean up process diminishing my writing time to seventeen minutes.

But my work ethic is paying off. Reading today’s Sunday Albuquerque Journal, I discover the humor piece I submitted has been published. There I am in print, taking up 500 words of space. Surrounding the big gray block of type is a color image I took for the article, not to mention a bio photo I sent of me sporting hip clothes and a handsome smile, both qualities rarely – if ever – seen together in one shot. Hm-m-m…. Roll up the blinds. Shine light on man’s fervent inclination to always put his best foot forward.

Now I wonder this: Were I a writer who suddenly became known all around the world and had money to burn, would I do or look any different from the Mike Andberg who writes now?

Probably not. Those fuzzy clothes brought me good luck!


Filed under The Daily Thought

Remember This? Roget’s Thesaurus

Quote of the day: Everything in the world is good for something. –– Dryden.

Roget illustration 001bPeter Roget is God, kind of. What would I do today without my 1961 edition of Roget’s International Thesaurus? It was a present given to me by my mother for completing my Lutheran confirmation classes.

At the time, after sweating through those confirmation classes, I asked, “Is this all I get, a book with a billion words and only one picture, a sick, sepia-toned print of the author, some guy named Roget?” Looking at his picture, all I saw was a stiff, scholarly guy staring back at me with an expression that said only one thing, “I am smarter than you will ever be.”

Unimpressed with Roget, for nearly a decade, his thesaurus was put to better use as a prop to hold up makeshift shelves in the living room that my precious TV sat on.

But one day, years later, when I needed to find a synonym for “lazy,” I slid Roget out, dusted him off, and life hasn’t been the same since. No more using “lazy” when there’s “dilatory, slack, shiftless, and lazy as Ludlam’s dog” around. I look at Roget now and give praise. What other gift could keep on giving like his thesaurus?

The answer is J.I. Rodale’s 1361-page synonym finder. I’ve been confirmed to the next level, and Rodale’s compilation of synonyms is the best around today.

Even still, I have Roget’s Thesaurus by my side. His book not only contains synonyms, precious American slang and colloquialisms, but is full of ancient, foreign and modern quotations at the bottom of each page. In fact, that’s where I found the quotation by Dryden for this post: Everything in the world is good for something. However, I could have found better use for Roget’s masterpiece than as some prop to elevate the almighty TV set on. How slack, lax and negligent.


Filed under Remember This?

Reading as a Four Letter Word

Quote of the day:  It is better to understand little than to misunderstand a lot. –– A. France

CH 4  Reading

Well, here I am, at age one, and I already look bewildered. No wonder. There’s a book in my lap.

My left arm is twitching now. My eyes are glazed, and my hair’s curling. I don’t like all the grey lines I see stacked up on this page. What happened to the happy-go-lucky deer and the pretty forest I enjoyed on the previous page? And why do I get the sneaking suspicion there’s going to be a test soon on the information buried inside all these greys lines that Mom calls words?

This sums up what my reading experience has been like as a sluggish reader. Information goes in slowly and leaves quickly. No wonder I majored in art at college. Of course, I learned there was no such thing as college without reading, only the school of hard knocks if I didn’t buckle down and read my assignments. And when I say buckled down, I mean strapped to a chair to get through things like my 300 page Sociology 101 textbook.

Fortunately, after several decades, I’ve learned the greater purpose for words in my life: words need to go out of me, not in. Reading is too much information at once. What stress. Writing, on the other hand, feels right, a process in which I can work with words at my own pace. Writing – yes, writing.

My struggle with reading has been such a big part of my life that I devoted an entire chapter to it in my memoir, Maybe Boomer. If you buy the book (when it becomes published), I invite you to dig into that chapter, that is, if you enjoy reading. If you can’t wait for the book to be published (like me), read the opening to Chapter 6, “Reading” now. That chapter may remind you of your own struggles with reading. So, please, chime in with your own account.

It always helps to know you’re not the only one.

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Filed under Stories from Maybe Boomer