Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Thankful For My Friends

Every November we at the Blood-Red Pencil pause to consider thankfulness and what, or who, we are most thankful for. I don't have any one single person to put at the top of my list, but there have been many writers who inspired me, mentored me, taught me, and supported me in my creative journey, and I am thankful for them all, especially my friends at here at the BRP. In addition, I have had great support from writers in the Nebraska Writers Workshop. There are too many to name individually, but I learned so much from them when I lived in Omaha.

Courtesy of http://www.myquotesclub.com/
Before moving to Omaha, I was a founding member of the Greater Dallas Writers Association where I met many terrific writers including Laura Parker Castoro;  a friend for many years. We were also neighbors and close friends for all those years we lived in the same Dallas suburb, and I am happy to say that we still are good friends, even though more distance separates us now. Laura is the author of many historical and contemporary romances and also writes a K-9 Force romantic suspense series as D.D. Ayers. She has always cheered me on with my writing, and I may have given up long ago if not for her constant support.

Then there's Liz Carpenter, former press secretary to Lady Bird Johnson, who shared a bit of wisdom with me twenty-some years ago that I have never forgotten, "Never say 'no' to an opportunity. You can always backtrack from 'yes' but you can never get the 'no' back."

There are so many more writers that have influenced me, but, again, not enough room to list them all, so I will just mention one more by name, Erma Bombeck. I never had the pleasure of meeting her, but I took her writing classes via tapes and sending material back and forth using the postal system. (We didn't have the Internet then, but at least it wasn't Pony Express.)

What Erma taught me about humor writing helped when I started my column for the Plano Star Courier; It's Not All Gravy was patterned after Erma's long-running column about the foibles of family life. The main thing I remember from her course was utilizing the twist on the punchline. You send the reader in one direction with what you write, then give him or her something unexpected. I didn't know there was a name for doing that with a figure of speech, but there is. Erma never told us, but maybe that was because she couldn't pronounce "paraprosdokians" - figures of speech in which the latter part of a sentence or phrase is surprising or unexpected and is frequently humorous.

Another writer/artist friend, Georgia Lange Moore, sent me the following  paraprosdokians, so I thought we could enjoy them here:

1. Where there's a will, I want to be in it.

2. The last thing I want to do is hurt you ... but it's still on my list.

3. Since light travels faster than sound, some people appear bright until you hear them speak.

4. If I agreed with you, we'd both be wrong.

5. We never really grow up -- we only learn how to act in public!

6. War does not determine who is right, only who is left.

7. Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.

8. To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism. To steal from many is research.

9. I didn't say it was your fault. I said I was blaming you.

10. In filling out an application, where it says, "In case of emergency, notify..." I answered "a doctor."

11. I used to be indecisive, but now I'm not so sure.

12. To be sure of hitting the target, shoot first and call whatever you hit the target.

13. You're never too old to learn something stupid.

14. I'm supposed to respect my elders, but it's getting harder and harder for me to find one. 

    Dorothy Parker: “If all the girls who attended the Yale prom were laid end to end, I wouldn’t be a bit surprised.”
    Winston Churchill: “You can always count on the Americans to do the right thing—after they have tried everything else”
    Albert Einstein: “The difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has its limits.
    Mario Andretti: “If everything seems under control, you’re just not going fast enough.”
    Zsa Zsa Gábor: “He taught me housekeeping; when I divorce I keep the house.”

 Which of the paraprosdokians did you relate to? Number 14 resonated with me. Want to try your hand at creating one? Please do.

Posted by Maryann Miller - novelist, editor and sometimes actress. Her most recent mystery, Doubletake, was named the 2015 Best Mystery by the Texas Association of Authors. She has a number of other books published, including the critically-acclaimed Season Series that debuted with Open Season. Information about her books and her editing rates is available on her website. When not writing, Maryann likes to take her dog for a walk and work outside on her little ranch in East Texas. 

18 comments :

  1. I like number 6, though it's not funny because it's so true and so sad. Thanks for "paraprosdokians" - I'm off now to learn how to pronounce it and find more of them ;-)

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    1. I agree, Elle. Number six is too sad to be funny. Let us know if you learn how to pronounce paraprosdokians. I think if you type it really slow to make sure you spell it correctly, a pronunciation happens. LOL

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    2. So, after two coffees to prepare me for carefully translating Wikipedia's IPA, it turns out it is pronounced very much as you'd expect from the way it's written:

      parra-pross-doh-kee-ans

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    3. Yeah, that's the way I pronounced it, but very slowly. LOL

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  2. Great topic, Maryann ... love those parapopodocs, er, parachuteskians, ah, para ... para ... well, you know. My favorite is: Don't worry about old age ... it doesn't last that long.

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    1. Thanks, Christopher. I think quite a few of us can relate to your favorite para...something.

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  3. Your post made me smile. I rather like #3. I only hope people are listening to the candidates for President of the United States.

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    1. Me, too, Polly. That one made me smile and groan.

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  4. Those are all great. #6 is particularly apropos. I miss Erma.

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    1. I really loved Erma's columns and books. Looked forward to the newspaper so I could read her and Dave Barry.

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  5. #4. I'll be repeating that a lot at the club.

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    1. I thought number 4 was quite clever. Good luck at the club. :-)

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  6. As you so often do, Maryann, you delight us with humor while giving us profound insights into one of the primary ways to make our writing work. The unexpected (or as Paul Harvey would have said, "the rest of the story") becomes memorable and separates us from the myriad other writers out there. Great post!

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    1. Thanks for the kind words, Linda. I loved "the rest of the story" and delighted in the surprises. I think we all like a surprise and that's why the twist works.

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  7. I woke up grumpy this morning, but after I read your post I was smiling. I especially liked #7 because that was the exact reason my then 7-year old daughter used when I tried to tell her a tomato was a fruit.

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    1. I'm glad I could help you get over the grumps and trigger a fond memory.

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The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice. Some of our contributors are editors, some are authors, and some are writing sheep. Yes, sheep.

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