How to Improve Your Writing… Right Now

irevuo

Many of you would love to write better short stories or poems, more compelling blog posts, more intriguing articles. And you’ve probably heard all the old advice by now. Practice makes perfect. Get your 10,000 hours in. Just show up and write.

And of course, these are all great ideas, but implementing them takes a lot of time. It’s not like you can write for 10,000 hours in a week or so. It’s not physically possible.

Or as they say…

What if I were to tell you there are a couple of ways you can improve your writing right now? No years and years of practice required.

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Don’t Think, Just Write!

irevuo

Benjamin Franklin once wrote that we should either write something worth reading or do something worth writing. I believe that we all aspire for greatness, one way or another.

I also believe that sometimes all we need is a little bit of confidence.We can be better, smarter or faster.

A century ago, people were dreaming of flying, trying and failing, falling on the ground. But why do people fall? Why do they continue to fight when all hope seems to be lost? I believe it is because it is in our nature to fight, to try to find something in the darkness of the things we do not understand, in the chaos that surrounds us.

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What Really Sells a Book?

irevuo

Some might say the trickiest part is actually selling the book. Or writing it? Opinions differ. But what really sells a book? What marketing tool? What recipe to follow? Is there a recipe?

Well, let’s analyze one of my favorite novels, The History of Love by Nicole Krauss, and hope that I’ll be able to offer some insight as to how people decide to buy a book.

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Reveal

pen or paint, I put my hand to the surface to release it’s story

in time all stories will be told as the world craves more

Indigenous Poem

Darkest Shadows

approach me with an open hand

we have much in common

we welcome you as a brother

our ways will be strange to you visitor

a new world approaches our shore

we live in the now we see the future you bring

your arrival is your victory

we are conquered before the war

fear and regret out of sight

our clothes are so different, stand in front of me without fear

our color may not be the same but from inside we all bleed

we move across the land as hunters we chase the breeze

our hearts beat with the changing seasons

we gather grow and cultivate and never exceed our needs

plant two trees for every one you take

the land we protect heals us we learn by what the earth provides

to breathe in harmony is to look past our conflict

this honor allows us to live for our brothers

the world that surrounds us speaks to us through example

we see the signs

don’t fight the wind embrace its power

the natural world provide all patience becomes our prayer

we are of few words actions speak loud

the past never dies our ceremonies in dance

remind us of our elders moved on

our culture by fire by forest by rivers and lake

to live here in harmony means

we know how mother earth breathes

this land has always been our home

we are granted survival as guardians or her gifts

our open hand is your guide to the lands bounty

listen to the voice of the wind it teaches

the fire is where we gather each night

offer our thoughts to the flames

tales rise to the sky to our ancestors

we remain connected

they answer us in the rains and prosperity

Our culture in harmony

our legends define us they are not stories

painted spirits on our walls to surround us

tributes in the trees totems praise the truth

animals spirit we honour these

passed through time and remain unchanged

truth is truth

we listen to our shadows

they are our protectors our history our wisdom

there is nothing the eyes of the spirits don’t see

our ways look primitive but are timeless not foolish or savage

look beyond your greed

the wind told our elders like waves visitors would return

some will touch the shore and trade goods nothing more

some will crash and change the land

carry our wisdom across the water to your home

your great ships brought boats to reach us

your will is strong and you force to teach us

a land with so much to give becomes a port of trade

your gains at our expense places our future at your mercy

commerce and values to what was free to all of us

greed becomes an objective you kill for

Where you found us

there is a place where three rivers meet  

our home the great river you know it

they make their way and become one

fresh water is plentiful and provides us many things

It flows to where the big water is and this is where the secret begins

the tides brought you to us from the water beyond

big water flows towards our home the salt water rise and retreat

fresh water that was three meet with salt from the see

the tides of one body of water ripple

the rivers mix the fresh and the salt

we are taught

all waters mix we know this we are all water

all water will not finish from where it began

mix together under the surface not so different are we

you changed the name of our land and our river too

Canada, the Saint Lawrence take from it what you will

this is where you found us and your future

 our struggle

look past my hands, humble yet strong

you see our scars our blood as weakness

our ways target your rage and forced us into retreat

every scar is a lesson taught by our beliefs

earned from commitment not resentment

they are strength they are the price bravery pays

we have earned the marks our survival leaves on us

your words turn to weapons then thrown 

a brotherhood destroyed as we are driven from our home     

is it our differences that drives your choices

our value was what we had to be taken

find a reason to compete with me, make a friend your foe

I am who I am, we are who we have always been

is that a threat to you

exiled from the once welcoming shore we shared

is it your fear that gives you that right

are the gains to be taken at our sacrifice enough

huddled in a mass of hysterical disbelief

confined to the spaces your fear provides us

what justifies these choices

we look to our elders wisdom for answers the dark emerges

you took what was not ours to give

your need to be superior is what fuels your compulsion to fight

equality taken away by what there was to gain

you fight for greed we defend to survive

look to your legends what do they tell you about humanity

who guides your forgiveness and administers justice

we now see you as you really are

the religions you create cause you to separate

faith is hope not hate

cut our flesh and equally we bleed

look beyond the surface of what you fear we believe

you promote the need for brotherhood with an agenda of supremacy

move me from the light of day and hope to make the darkness grey

our numbers once proud a way of life disallowed

no way to exist in the world you offer

keep us alive to live beyond our demise as we are destroyed from within

suicide to survive our ways are a memory that is so quick to fade

living in our outdated ways in the civilization you made

beaten forgotten made to serve as a living exhibit

placed on parade for ceremonial effect

the political machine puts us back on the reservations

and soon forgets

our women and children go missing the world turns away

left to police our land in isolation without hope we will soon be gone

politicians apologize while the cameras are on and fade to black when the spotlight is gone

force us to see life beyond our ability to pay for it anymore

we have nothing left to give

life is a gift if you are free to embrace the way you live

with nothing to exploit we hold no worth

at the hands of your decision we are sentenced to extinction

you are not who we pray to or seek permission

lesser to you by far left to destroy our past without a future to hope

we have been forced from our shores placed in hiding like a disgrace

killed raped and used for cheap labour stand on our shoulders

we build your future as ours is erased

we still earn our scars but they are placed there by your will not ours

Your gifts of trade

We now know that the blankets you gave

were infected by disease and came from the grave

we die as well as we served as your assassins

clear the land of the source of our survival

your guns take away so much

we no longer speak to the fire

the trees still talk but the new generation can’t hear them

they see a world that should never be left behind for a memory to be

one that enslaves and segregates and ignores the needs

cut the hand and watch it bleed the cure is here but not what we need

pave over our graves build upon our past

we were all once children happy to play

our lands were once the same

advancement was your sacrifice

while we were happy to remain unchanged

we lived in harmony with a way to understand

you sought a future that is a victim of your command

we accepted you as a brother and shared all our worth

until you fought back and attacked the earth

it doesn’t matter what song you sing

to our dead it doesn’t mean a thing

Anonymous note found

I told myself that in my entire life I never raised my hand to hurt anyone,

but that is not true,

I never raised my hand to help me,

and that really hurts…

Confess

i spent my life looking for a mentor, i never realized i misread this as i looked for permission never realizing that i was supposed to be my own leader

Orange Shirt Day

Darkest Shadows

approach me with an open hand

we have much in common

we welcome you as a brother

our ways will be strange to you visitor

a new world approaches our shore

we live in the now we see the future you bring

your arrival is your victory

we are conquered before the war

fear and regret out of sight

our clothes are so different, stand in front of me without fear

our color may not be the same but from inside we all bleed

we move across the land as hunters we chase the breeze

our hearts beat with the changing seasons

we gather grow and cultivate and never exceed our needs

plant two trees for every one you take

the land we protect heals us we learn by what the earth provides

to breathe in harmony is to look past our conflict

this honor allows us to live for our brothers

the world that surrounds us speaks to us through example

we see the signs

don’t fight the wind embrace its power

the natural world provide all patience becomes our prayer

we are of few words actions speak loud

the past never dies our ceremonies in dance

remind us of our elders moved on

our culture by fire by forest by rivers and lake

to live here in harmony means

we know how mother earth breathes

this land has always been our home

we are granted survival as guardians or her gifts

our open hand is your guide to the lands bounty

listen to the voice of the wind it teaches

the fire is where we gather each night

offer our thoughts to the flames

tales rise to the sky to our ancestors

we remain connected

they answer us in the rains and prosperity

Our culture in harmony

our legends define us not stories painted spirits on our walls to surround us

tributes in the trees totems praise the truth

animals spirits we honour these

they have been passed through time and remain unchanged

truth is truth

we listen to our shadows

they are our protectors our history our wisdom

there is nothing the eyes of the spirits don’t see

our ways look primitive but are timeless not foolish or savage

look beyond your greed

our legends stand firm and are from experience past

not just a story told when the lessons wont last

The wind told our elders like waves visitors would return

some will touch the shore and trade goods nothing more

some will crash and change the land

carry our wisdom across the water to your home

your great ships brought boats to reach us

your will is strong and you force to teach us

a land with so much to give becomes a port of trade

your gains at our expense places our future at your mercy

commerce and values to what was free to all of us

greed becomes an objective you kill for

Where you found us

there is a place where three rivers meet  

our home the great river you know it

they make their way and become one

fresh water is plentiful and provides us many things

It flows to where the big water is and this is where the secret begins

the tides brought you to us from the water beyond

big water flows towards our home the salt water rise and retreat

fresh water that was three meet with salt from the see

the tides of one body of water ripple

the rivers mix the fresh and the salt

we are taught

all waters mix we know this we are all water

all water will not finish from where it began

mix together under the surface not so different are we

you changed the name of our land and our river too

Canada, the Saint Lawrence take from it what you will

this is where you found us and your future

 our struggle

look past my hands, humble yet strong

you see our blood as weakness

our ways are to strange and forced into hiding

every scar is a lesson taught by our beliefs

earned from commitment not resentment

they are strength they are the price for our ways

we have earned the marks our survival leaves on us

your words turn to weapons then thrown 

a brotherhood destroyed as we are driven from our home     

is it our differences that drives your choices

our value was what we had to be taken

find a reason to compete with me, make a friend your foe

I am who I am, we are who we have always been

is that a threat to you

exiled from the once welcoming shore we shared

is it your fear that gives you that right

are the gains to be taken at our sacrifice enough

huddled in a mass of hysterical disbelief

confined to the spaces your fear provides us

what justifies these choices

we look to our elders wisdom for answers the dark emerges

you took what was not ours to give

your need to be superior is what fuels your compulsion to fight

equality taken away by what there was to gain

you fight for greed we defend to survive

look to your legends what do they tell you about humanity

who guides your forgiveness and administers justice

we now see you as you really are

the religions you create cause you to separate

faith is hope not hate

cut our flesh and equally we bleed look beyond the surface of what you fear we believe

you promote the need for brotherhood with an agenda of supremacy

move me from the light of day and hope to make the darkness grey

our numbers once proud a way of life disallowed

no way to exist in the world you offer

keep us alive to live beyond our demise as we are destroyed from within

suicide to survive our ways are a memory that is so quick to fade

living in our outdated ways in the civilization you made

beaten forgotten made to serve as a living exhibit

placed on parade for ceremonial effect

the political machine puts us back on the reservations

and soon forgets

our women and children go missing the world turns away

left to police our land in isolation without hope we will soon be gone

politicians apologize while the cameras are on and fade to black when the spotlight is gone

force us to see life beyond our ability to pay for it anymore

we have nothing left to give

life is a gift if you are free to embrace the way you live

with nothing to exploit we hold no worth

at the hands of your decision we are sentenced to extinction

you are not who we pray to or seek permission

our pride is left as the source of comedy

lesser to you by far left to destroy our past without a future to hope

we have been forced from our shores placed in hiding like a disgrace

killed raped and used for cheap labour stand on our shoulders

we build your future as ours is erased

we still earn our scars but they are placed there by your will not ours

Your gifts of trade

We now know that the blankets you gave

were infected by disease and came from the grave

we die as well as we served as your assassins

against your rivals are bows traded for your guns

our bows are never drawn again to cast out our arrows

clear the land of the source of our survival

your guns take away so much

we no longer speak to the fire

the trees still talk but the new generation can’t hear them

they see a world that should never be left behind for a memory to be

one that enslaves and segregates and ignores the needs

cut the hand and watch it bleed the cure is here but not what we need

pave over our graves build upon our past

the voice of the trees will echo for no one to hear

we were all once children happy to play

our lands were once the same

advancement was your sacrifice

while we were happy to remain unchanged

we lived in harmony with a way to understand

you sought a future that is a victim of your command

we accepted you as a brother and shared all our worth

until you fought back and attacked the earth

My comic book hero

Jamie and the Shadow Assassin

 A three-day-old forgotten chalk outline, of yet another who gives a shit victim, is just washing away as it circles the sewer, so definitively poetic. It must be sad that someone was ended there, and so unceremoniously forgotten, as the rain erases a last stand, so why do I find it so funny? I look at it, I see it and I remember everything, every last detail, because I did it, Jamie doesn’t, she is three floors above this memory obsessing over her phone and her social court of opinion, she is so blind, that’s why I am here, she created me and placed me in her world.

I remember everything she can’t face. She turns off the lights, my weakness, and I disappear, that’s how she tries to defeat me, then I take revenge on her and make her remember.

Another message alert, jealousy and hate 3.0, this time it’s a meme of her profile picture, SWIPE RIGHT FOR LESBIAN or LEFT FOR COCK SLUT. the social pressure is too much, the swipe voting has begun and the returns are coming in, “I just can’t deal with this shit right now”.

The decision, Profile Delete, or no? Come on Jamie delete it, it’s a shitty spam account anyway right? For tonight forget the stress and the desire to hurt yourself, that’s not the answer. The answer, turn out the light and allow the shadows to become night.

With the sun rising, the light shows the truth the darkness kept hidden, Jamie’s room is devoid of a personal touch, desolate, sad and inhumane by any prison standards. The last thing she wants to do right now checks her phone; so don’t. “Well it may not be my best work, but who cares no eats, and little sleeps, I dress how I dress”. Jamie gets herself motivated to face another day.

“Do I even dare turn on my phone?” That’s how it starts, as soon as the phone is turned on and the upload avalanche starts.

See that didn’t take long, it’s building, her phone is already melting down with a tidal wave of voter’s opinions, 50 / 50 on the lesbian cock debate, and some real deep seeded troll hate. “One hour in and I already hate today”. Jamie confesses as she fights her impulse to flash her look in a mirror on her way out of her room.

She takes her bag, laptop and her phone, no real makeup, and our clothes are always clean they just look thrown together the HOT MESS – HOMELESS but NO STRESS- look, and she is out the door. From the third floor she takes in one last breath and holds it all the way to the street below, like the air itself is toxic, stale smoke, weed, and drunk hallway sex gone wrong, and piss holly shit the piss. The railings and walls breed a species yet discovered.

School is a twenty-minute walk and as she hits the street, I am obediently awaiting her arrival. In silence, we walk together. Words don’t always need to be exchanged to have an understanding.

Walking into school is always a great experience, (lies) and the toughest time (not lies), this is where we split up, for now but I am never far away until a break or the end of the day, it sucks to have to face most of this alone, it’s like I already know how it will all play out, once inside the shit day continues all the way down the halls is like being on display and judged. Everyone gets judged and unless you are part of a mob, then the mob gets judged, otherwise you are judging alone and being judged for being alone.

Jamie doesn’t even see it coming almost never does, but I do, she will learn to listen and learn to trust me.

It starts off slow in a group chat, with a message alert, then gains traction and more alerts about Jamie and a guy named Derek, poor bastard, he is just a victim pick of the day, so convenient and not really socially connected. Derek is new-ish to the school, not a typical fuck boy, more like an easy target, that’s how the shit goes sometimes. Then the pile on starts. Apparently, the story is they were seen behind the school during football practice having sex, full on.

Everyone that touches the thread will add their own spin, this is going to suck for Jamie, she doesn’t even know Derek they have one class together and never speak.

It doesn’t take long before the story makes its way to Jamie’s screen, the thread shows how the shit storm grew and in no time even people that she considered friends were adding their own views and opinion’s. It blows up in science class and she is trapped there, she begins to go out of her mind, she needs to run, anxiety off the charts. Muting her phone makes no difference the sounds have stopped but the vibrations will not stop, they come in fast and feverish.

So much for friends, she raises her hand, and begins to leave even before she asked to be excused, the answer doesn’t matter she is gone. All she can do is escape to the second-floor bathroom her ceramic sanctuary.

Hiding in the stall, she pulls her feet up into the fetal position, just like most of your lunch breaks. Through her fixed and determined stare, Jamie tries to so hard to disappear, this is when all the bad thoughts come back and dismantle her from the inside, the worst of all attacks. Her phone is still going crazy, she can hear voices approach and she prays they don’t come in. No luck, the door opens, the excited laughter erupts from the group that invades her safety.

Their presence makes the space smaller. Happiness is anxieties kryptonite, she puts her buds in and fights to launch her panic playlist, the fuckin battery is low, fuck. The more anxiety she lets in the greater my chance to get released, come on Jamie let me out I can help you. In loud thunderous echoed laughter, they are tearing Jamie and Derek apart. All the shit that was out there in the cloud is now hitting her live and it hurts way more, hearing it makes it too real. It’s so unfair but it happens every day it’s the social media viral STI spreading faster than someone can say mental health.

The voices, those fucking voices, guardians of doom preventing her from running away, trapping her in the stall entombed and doomed. “No choice, gotta run, escape, break out, panic, panic, nothing is working, no one to call, no bars, low battery, wrong playlist”. Jamie is so focused on her meltdown, solutions are impossible to see, let me out Jamie I can get us out of here away from the cold tiles and dirty lipstick kissed mirrors, make up incrusted sinks and a row of toilet seats no one ever sits on; gross. 

The sound of water and laughter are followed by the voices carried into the hall as the door closes, finally. “God at least they washed their hands, I think, double gross”, just needs to count to ten, breath and get the hell out of there. She can’t take it any longer and makes a break for it. Bursting out of the stall, she slips and trips the last remaining girl at the sink and face plants her head down hard breaking her nose and front teeth, blood is everywhere, great job Jamie so proud. The truth is she didn’t slip it was a violent attack against a bitch that deserved it, bleed in peace bitch.

No sooner does she hit the outside air, and I am instinctively there by her side, it is so good to be out. Ja

Let the games begin. For what feels like hours we just walk, in total silence, just walk, her phone won’t stop, it should be dead soon. I know what they are saying, the rumors are hurtful, they attack her physically. It’s unrelenting, it gets worse, screenshots and pictures from who the hell knows get added. It doesn’t stop there either, questions about Jamie’s sexuality and experimentation start, LGBTQ issues are now weapons of a hate campaign, all unfounded and fabricated, but the more outrageous, the more haters want to believe. I have no words.

My job is to stay with Jamie every step of the way, that’s what I do, that’s what I have always done. 

We just keep walking, there is no concern for safety, the thought never enters our mind, the idea is to walk until lost. The longer we walk the less important I become, at least that is how it can feel. Jamie’s pace is steady and as the sun starts to set I find myself dropping back. The sun is going down and soon Jamie will be on her own, she knows I can’t stay.

Jamie is now on her own, and honestly didn’t even notice, she didn’t even notice that it was dark out. Looking around she has no idea where she is, mission one done, I am resolved to be reduced to a mere flash at night, but believe me, I am still here.

Despite being outside she is still feeling confined and judged by everyone that passes her she isn’t even aware that she is talking, I like to think she is talking to me, but it is out loud and it makes her look crazy, just like in school and the bathroom stall. She is still trapped in the same skin. The phone is still sending messages, “Fuck isn’t this thing dead yet”, Jamie confesses out loud. She wants it to work and be dead at the same time, ha ha ha I love it when she gets tweaked, normally she would be thinking about self-inflicted hatred but outside she usually keeps it under control, plus I am still here, ha ha ha.

With a million-mile stare, and a focused disregard for where she is and her safety Jamie talks and walks herself all the way to the dangers of the back-alley injection dens and seriously shitty people, this is a place where no one goes willingly, it’s where you go when life flushes twice. Jamie is so out of place here, like a girl in a red dress in a black and white movie. Jamie also doesn’t notice that I am still with her, if she could see it, would I be more than flashes of ignored companionship so easily overlooked.

Doesn’t matter Jamie sees nothing, she can’t, until she is confronted by a tall figure that blocks her path. There is no choice but to take notice. This evasive horror stops her instantly, a brick wall of reality, she was not prepared for this. Even I didn’t see this shit coming.

Who the fuck is this guy standing there, the shock steals the air from her lungs stopping her dead in her tracks, the stop is so sudden and alarming she steps right out of her shoe and hits the ground at his feet.

The determined look on this strangers’ face is horrifying, this is what defines a life, this is judgment, choice, and a conclusion, this is that defining moment. I am here for you Jamie, you don’t remember but we have been here before. “Hey, I don’t need to ask you where you are going, I know you are lost, only the lost find this place so that means you must be intending on staying. I am okay with that but there is a price for admission, and another price is for leaving in one piece”. This is the frightening sales pitch made to Jamie.

If terror was a weapon that could kill, this ass hole would already be in a body bag but that may not be near future for either one. Jamie is frozen on the spot; fear has trapped her here. The stranger moves forward. She is still on her knees after tripping out of her shoe and at his mercy. Holding her breath, she waits for fate to unfold.

He hits her full force with an open hand to the side of her head clipping her ear, disoriented and instantly, in severe pain, the world goes silent except for the continuous sound of cicada’s making sounds in the woods, “maybe silence does have a sound, fuck that really hurt”, are the inner thought that Jamie has as she pulls herself back to her knees, still paralyzed by her fear. This ass hole has no right to even think of touching her, I refuse to let this shit happen, it’s on now.

“good this will be much easier”, the stranger says as he attempts to pull her head close to his midsection as he prepares to drop his pants.

In the moment of total fear and terror somehow she is able to reach around her and grabs some broken glass; thank you I take full credit for this.

Her eyes never blink or look away, she has a confidence and determination like never before and puts her worth over another maybe or the first time. She looks up to meet this assailant in the eye, with a half smiles and the strength and confident determination she never knew she had says, “suck this fucker”, and she drives the glass into his skin just underneath his scrotum as hard as she can, she drives it deep, thrusts and then pulls it forward ripping a large gaping slash and the blood dumps onto the ground. It’s like pulling the plug, maybe exactly like that, nice work Jamie, so proud.

The strangers gaze is like he just dove into a near-frozen lake, unable to catch his breath as the color drops from his skin and goes almost white, you could almost see the life leave him before he hits the ground, shock takes over in an instant as he reaches down instinctively to keep his insides, inside.

Jamie, finally able to breathe for the first time, lets him fall to the ground fate will take care of his future, looking down as she stands up just says, “sorry did I do that wrong, I am not very experienced”? she kicks him in the stomach as she walks away.

That was incredibly brave, she has courage and rage she never knew existed. It’s amazing what fear and anger together can make happen. Instinctively, she makes her way back to the third story shit hole asylum, somewhere along the way she throws the broken glass into the gutter. Still numb from her terrifying encounter, the adrenaline high has kept her from noticing the stares of the horrified people in the streets, Jamie didn’t realize that her hand and arm are covered in blood. Her heart is still racing, recovery is slow. Jamie doesn’t even look back to see the aftermath. The impact of the social media avalanche seems less important to her right now.

Standing at the window of her room overlooking the street, it is only then that she that she has probably left a small blood train from where she was to her doorstep, and it is a good time to wipe away the mess and check the cuts on her own hand. Looking out over the New York City streets she considers that maybe death does have a color, it is a flash of every color possible then the absence of all color, and no sound, it is quiet and all-consuming it was that guy’s moment to confront possible death, “he brought that outcome to himself, he may have died, maybe that was his goal, either way, it was his choice”. Jamie reasons.

A gentle rain starts, as she plays the event back in her mind and contemplates why she was fighting for her life, and what did she really save.  The rain washes away remains of the day, same rain, same drain, why is this all so familiar she wonders as the water starts to cleanse the streets so more lives can be taken away. Turn out the light and allow the shadows to become night.

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