Cross-Examine

Cross-examine: (legal) to examine a witness called by the opposing side

I often hear authors explain how they stumble into what they call “writer’s block.”

It’s a condition in which they progress the story, but for some reason or another, they don’t know where to take the tale from this point going forward.

Many of these writers express great exasperation, nervousness and frustration over this uneasy stall.

But the truth is, every one of us suffers from writer’s block. Except it’s actually our real lives.

What halts us is the introduction of deception.

Once we’ve convinced ourselves that it’s impossible to proceed on with what we want to accomplish and still be truthful and above-board in doing it, we might just make a selection that is dishonest, and then find ourselves, like the authors, completely at a standstill.

Why?

Because if we go forward, somebody might come along, notice our deception and cross-examine us in an attempt to get to the truth.

Of course, we certainly don’t want to go backward and look like a loser.

I dare to say, there are people who have lived in the middle of what we shall call “a living block” for years, because they have such a fear of being exposed that they practically have to stay absolutely still to keep from drawing attention to themselves.

Cross-examination is a part of life.

I will agree with you—people who pursue it are annoying and worthy of being avoided.

But there’s always going to be someone who wants to know how we got to where we are. What is the extent of our involvement or guilt in some matter?

Of course, trying to hide only amplifies the interest of the interrogator.

Talking too much and making too many excuses also certainly rings the bell foretelling of great deceit.

So you see, once again, we find out that telling the truth is the only way to escape ‘living block’—allowing us to go forward without being nervous concerning the cross-examination that comes from those who believe it is their job to be the prosecuting attorney, the jury and our judge.

 

funny wisdom on words that begin with a C


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Copy-edit

Copy-edit: (v) to edit for publication

Although classically it is portrayed that writers suffer “blockage” and are unable to come up with ideas—or even the next line—the truth is,  when a writer is inspired with a good story, the characters often become so verbose, and dare I say overbearing, that the end result is an overabundance of syllables, paragraphs and even chapters.funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

There is actually only one rule in writing, and since there’s only one, we shall not call it a rule, but rather, refer to it as a smiling opportunity.

That would be: “Don’t do anything to interrupt or impede your own story.”

This is why it’s important to copy-edit a book, a story or even an article (such as the one I’m writing to you).

It is not fair to the reader, to get him or her all tied up in useless information about the entwined colors in a particularly plush davenport—when what is happening on the couch is the real gig.

Some writers become fussy and sentimental about one particular thought or character’s involvement. But as you age and mature, you realize that the reader is what you’re writing for—not the approval of other writers or publishers who would jump up and down in great glee if they got the chance to reject a submission from Ernest Hemingway.


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Cauldron

Cauldron: (n) a situation characterized by instability and strong emotions.

Putting together sentences, or even the art of making sense, is not the most difficult thing about writing. Also not writer’s block, unless you get too silly about constructing the perfect paragraph.

Actually the most difficult matter is making sure that your writing hasn’t “aged out.” In other words, do people know what the hell you’re talking about?

It happened to me several weeks ago when I was working on a passage in a novel, and decided to insert the word “cauldron”–as referring to a problem that was simmering inside my plot, without people knowing how dangerous it truly was.

The dear lady who does my typing stopped and looked at me with a quizzical face and asked, “Cauldron?”

She does this from time to time. It’s her way of saying I’ve come up with some obscure word that no one will understand and therefore they will assume that my awareness of pop culture ceased somewhere between Charles Dickens and Mark Twain.

It raises the question, when are we being sensitive to the market and when are we joining into the universal “dumbing down” of our society?

Is it too much to ask a reader to look up a word or search for context clues? Are we a generation that is just going to squint and opine, “I don’t know that word…”

Some words should die. Maybe they represented something evil or there’s a better replacement for them in today’s language.

But sometimes a word needs to be toted from the Conestoga wagon, onto the bicycle, into the Model T Ford, placed carefully on the airplane and finally situated safely in the rocket to outer space.

 

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Apt

dictionary with letter A

Apt (adj): 1. appropriate under the circumstances 2. a tendency to do something.

At the risk of coming off like a Gloomy Gus or Grumpy Grady, I will tell you that I yearn for a simpler time when people’s functions, goals and even occupations led you to believe that certain attributes or virtues just might be included.

Yes, I think that a grocer should be apt to courtesy and warmth, and gregarious. I really don’t want him or her thinking about their stock portfolio, but instead, greatly concerned about the freshness of my tomatoes.

I think a politician should be apt to be nearly boring, insisting on discussing the issues pertinent to the constituency, instead of overly zealous about hand-pumping, baby-kissing and making deals with lobbyists.

It would be wonderful if ministers were pre-disposed to practice what they preach instead of merely preaching what they practice, hoping that somewhere along the line “it’ll all work out.”

I think musicians should be thrilled that someone wants to pay them a dollar to do what they love instead of finding ways to act like the craft of making music is deadly and painful.

I am apt to be a writer from time to time–and I certainly do not want to bore you with my process, nor lead you to believe that my writer’s block lands on me, crushing my bones.

Finding peace with oneself is a two-fold process:

  1. Discover something you like to do.
  2. Keep liking it.

If we actually did this in our country … we just might be apt to succeed. 

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