Freedom of Expression

As a writer, I have always embraced the right to express myself freely, without censorship. That’s one of the best things about being an American and living in this country: each of us has so many freedoms.

When I write–regardless of whether my creation is a textbook, workshop handout, short story, novel, or blog post–neither you nor anyone else is forced to read it. You can skim it, read it from beginning to end, or skip it entirely because you have the same rights I do. Although I consider your response when I write, I don’t tailor my words to it.

When speaking, I do try to consider how other people will respond.  I’m not nearly good enough at thinking before I speak,  but I try. I know I have the right to say whatever I want, whenever I want, to whomever I choose.  I also understand that saying something hurtful or nasty actually impedes the goal of communication.

We all want people to agree with us,  like us, and understand how we think and feel. Finding the right words, proper tone, and best method of delivery is the most effective way to accomplish that goal.

I believe today’s society would be more agreeable, and less angry and critical, if we thought before we spoke. I wonder what would happen if, for just one day:

Each of us wrote down what we planned to say before we spoke the words…

Each of us considered the impact of our opinions before they left our lips…

We restructured  verbal assaults, replacing them with constructive comments…

The vituperation and anger I see in the world today is scary. I believe it is propelling us backward rather than forward.

Why have we forgotten that while we all have the right to express ourselves freely, our rights should not infringe on the rights of others? No wonder so many of us choose the solitary pursuits of reading and writing.

What are your thoughts about the subject of freedom of expression?

Do you know your slang?

We all know you don’t say certain words in public. Or, God forbid, when your mother is in the same room.

Slang is defined as informal speech that’s used in a particular setting or environment, or by people in a particular group. When I was in high school, our slang included the terms groovy, batshit, and way out.

In my current novel, two of the present-day characters have ancestors who lived during Prohibition in the 1920s. Did you know the following terms were coined back then?

Skid row was originally “skid road,” a place where loggers hauled their goods. During Prohibition, these logging roads became meeting places for boodleggers. (Skidding is a logging term for pulling cut trees out of a forest.)

Hooch is an abbreviated form of “hoochinoo,” a distilled beverage from Alaska that became popular during the Klondike gold rush. This idiom was used for low-quality liquor, usually whiskey.

If you had a beef, you had a big problem. If you were given the bum’s rush, you were ejected by force from a drinking establishment. If you had to see a man about a dog, you were explaining in code that you had to leave to go buy bootlegged whiskey. If you were a piker, you were a cheapskate (my father used this term all the time–he was born in 1929).

Here are some other terms coined during Prohibition that we still use today: babe, beat it, carry a torch, tighten the screws, and on the up and up.

One other thing I learned about Prohibition is the huge number of synonyms for drunk that were coined nearly 100 years ago, including:

bleary-eyed, bent, blind, blotto, boiled, boiled as an owl, canned, corked, crocked, four sheets in (or to) the wind, fried, fried to the hat, ginned, half-cocked, half-shot, high, jazzed, lit, loaded, on a toot, ossified, out on the roof, owled, pie-eyed, pickled, plastered, polluted, potted, stinko, soused, stewed, tanked, primed, scrooched, zozzled

What are some of YOUR favorite slang terms?

Why you THINK you’re so much better in the morning … or at night

Circadian rhythm: It’s the reason you find yourself full of energy at a particular time of day (or night) and really dragging at another time.

Biological clock: Your internal timing device; usually a 24-hour clock. Your biological clock produces your circadian rhythm.

So, what does this have to do with your productivity and whether you’re a morning person or a night owl?

Well, your circadian rhythm is based partly on DNA and partly on external factors, such as daylight. “Larks” wake up and go to bed early; they tend to find themselves more productive in the morning. “Owls”  rise and hit the sack later, preferring to get their stuff done in the evening or at night.

But researchers have found that most people hit their peak, creatively speaking, at precisely opposite the time they’re most productive. I, for one, agree with them.

I’m a morning person. When it comes to balancing my checkbook, editing my writing, or having to use my left brain, I perform much better between 6 a.m. and noon. However, the best ideas I’ve ever had for my writing–and ways to solve plot and character defects–always come in the middle of the night when I wake up to go potty or just after I slip into bed at night.

How does your circadian rhythm work with respect to your creativity?

Yes, You Really Can Have a Broken Heart

I read an article recently about a 61-year-old woman who went to the ER thinking she had a heart attack. Doctors learned she suffered a broken heart after her dog died.

Yes, there really is such a thing; it’s called takotsubo cardiomyopathy, or broken-heart syndrome.

Doesn’t this make a great premise for inclusion in a book?!

To read what Harvard Medical School has to say about it, click here.

IRS “Dirty Dozen” Tax Scams for 2017

As a freelance writer, I research many subjects for both my fiction and nonfiction. Recently, during the research phase of a project for an educational text on identity theft, I learned that fraudulent tax preparers are among the “Dirty Dozen” of IRS tax scams for this year. Who’d have guessed?

irsDid you know:

  • To charge for preparing someone else’s tax return, you must have an IRS Preparer Tax Identification Number and include it on all tax returns you prepare?
  • The IRS has a website with a list of all professionals who have credentials to file tax returns? You can visit this list to find qualified preparers in your area.
  • Paid preparers who complete returns for more than 10 clients are usually required to file electronically. If your preparer refuses to file electronically, find out why.

For more information about tax preparers, visit the full article, IRS “Dirty Dozen” Series of Tax Scams for 2017 Includes Return Preparer Fraud; Choose Reputable Preparers.

To see the Dirty Dozen list for 2017, visit here: https://www.irs.gov/uac/newsroom/irs-summarizes-dirty-dozen-list-of-tax-scams-for-2017