Friday, June 26, 2015

Write daily, listen, and read well

Someone stopped me in the grocery store this week that I had not seen in over 20 years. They began talking as if we'd spoken yesterday. This happens to me frequently and I've learned to roll with it. Sometimes they'll drop a clue that I latch on to... a thread of memory that I can pull it from a dark corner of my memory to a place where I can put a name with the face. But often this does not happen.

I try to gauge whether or not the person would be offended if I ask, "Who in the heck are you?" If I think it will hurt their feelings, I simply play along as if I remember. But if they look as if they can take it, I say, "I'm sorry, but how do we know each other?"

I've written for the local paper every Sunday since January of 2007 and as you know, the subject I normally write about is me.  So even people I've never met feel as if they know me personally. They know Jilda's name. They know we are singer-songwriters. They know Jilda drives a Volvo that we call Ingrid. They know my family and friends.

In participating in writer's conferences and workshops through the years, many writers tell me it freaks them out when someone approaches them. But aside from the embarrassment of not always recognizing people from my past, I'm actually flattered.

The guy that stopped me this week asked before we parted how one becomes a writer.  I told him I'm not sure, I'm still learning. The only advice I had to share is nothing new, but it's something I bought in to.  I told him to listen, write daily, and to read well.


  1. I think one has to roll with the punches. This has happened to me in the past and I was lucky that I was not "found out". I played along and one person, in particular, knew all about me and the classes we attended (this is long ago). To this day I have no idea who this person was.

  2. It happens with most of us.

  3. Hello,

    Wonderful advice and it sounds very simple. I know it is very difficult to practice it in our daily life without discipline and desire.

    I need this advice because I wanted to write every day. I even bought a note book to write. I carried this note book with me where ever I went and I even wrote for a few days. But suddenly the interest vanished after a few days although I keep reminding myself that I should write something every day and read some pages of a book. Some how I don't find the time. I am not really busy but I keep wasting time in other things which doesn't require concentration.

    Your words are a wake up call for me to start writing again and read a few pages of a book.

    Wonderful post.

    Best wishes

  4. I seldom have the problem, but my wife who was born and raised in this town does at times have that situation.
    I can easily imagine with the exposure you have, this happening. I know one can never be READY for the situation, you seem to roll with the punches well. I am sure it is flattering though and it must generate a sense of pride, as a writer, of course one wants to be known. I hope it happens more and more. it keeps your mind sharp! ;-)

  5. My mother demanded that I speak properly. Writing is simply putting my speech on a piece of paper. That is what I taught my children. The hardest part for me is deciding what I want to talk about. After that it becomes an easy task. I may not write anything profound but I can make my point known.

  6. It has happened to me many times and I just tell them the older I get the more I forget who's who.
    I've been a leader for many years in my community and City and lots of people knows me but I have no idea who they are. Their face looks familiar but I don't know their name. My husband is the same.
    have a great weekend.

    I'm no writer but I know you're right about write daily, listen and read well.

  7. People know me. I have no idea who they are. I rarely figure it out. Occasionally it comes to me after I get home. I used to remember people and all sort of details about them, but since I watched Still Alice I can't remember all sorts of things. Soon I shall lose my mind.


  8. Rick this is good advice... and if it's important we find a way to make it happen :-)

  9. I used to teach at several of our local colleges so I'm often stopped by people who remember me. I don't always remember them, but it's flattering.

  10. Thought-provoking post, Rick. At my 20-year high school reunion (27 years ago), in a demonstration of maturity, a classmate and I exchanged name tags. Results of that experiment were so discouraging, never repeated it.

  11. I often get stopped by people who talk to me like I should know who they are but I am clueless, however, I don't like to say who the hell are you I just go along with it and not let on that I have no idea who they are and hope they will say something that will tell me who they are. I also get people coming up and saying to me are you Flo's granddaughter and yes I am but that doesn't mean I know who you are


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