Sloppy Seconds™

Do you have trouble coming up with original ideas? Do you think you suck because your ideas blow?

Well, worry no more. Let me introduce you to Sloppy Seconds™, the concept that’ll put spunk back into your body.

Sloppy Seconds™ is all about taking what somebody else started and going one step further for a bigger finish. It’s about taking the worry out of satisfying those opening urges and putting all of your focus on the climax. Ideas that will send a chill down everyone’s spine and get them crying out for more.

How can I enjoy Sloppy Seconds™, you ask? Well, let’s get the ball rolling.

You know that feeling when something is on the tip of your tongue, but you can’t quite put your finger on it? Well, let somebody else swallow the responsibility of getting things started. Let them put it out there and once it’s on display, grab hold of it, take it all the way in, and make it yours by adding that special little something you have inside you.

If you do that, you’ll find everyone leaves satisfied, and if you go at it long enough, perhaps even sated.

And who knows? When you’re done with it, someone else may come along and make it theirs with a sloppy third. The more people who pile on, typically, the better it gets and the more fun everyone has.

So, the next time you find yourself frustrated, blocked, unable to get things started, give Sloppy Seconds™ a try. Your hands may get tired, but you’ll have a smile on your face.

Sloppy Seconds™: Coming to a location near you.


BTW: This is talking about brainstorming…you know, starting with someone else’s creative idea and then adding your own personal spin to get a story started. I’m not sure what you were thinking about.

The Guardian

She stands in the yard,

the centre of her universe,

an observer of her time and place.

Barren arms reach into the air,

fingers scratching at the sky,

grasping at the breeze.

She stands alone.


Her skin is deep ebon,

in stark contrast to the piles

of snow at her feet.

Once, it was smooth

but now bears the deep

crenellations and scars

of her many years.

The pliancy and suppleness of youth

have been replaced with the

inflexibility and roughness of maturity.


Her age has brought many visions,

scenes of an over-full life

flooding her existence.

She has seen the passing

of innumerable families

in her neighbourhood;

The birth of children

who have played in her yard,

enjoying the welcome

of her open arms.

Children who develop

and change their surroundings,

having children of their own,

growing old and passing on.

Yet, she outlives them all.


She will live forever.

For her, the years are minutes,

decades but hours.

Who knew, those many years ago,

when that small grey squirrel

prepared his forage for winter,

that such beauty would surface

from the cold, damp earth

pressing down upon her infant self;

to shade her yard in summer;

to return fertility in the Fall with humus

from her dead and dying leaves.

She is the immortal,

timeless and carefree.

(One of the autumn immortals from Toronto’s High Park.)


I said that out loud, didn’t I?

Several years ago, when I was first starting out as a professional writer, I received the opportunity to work for a couple of monthly science magazines published by the American Chemical Society. Eager to impress and excited at the thought of seeing my name bylined, I dove into every project with relish…and apparently very little forethought.

A regular ritual at the magazines was for the entire editorial staff to sit down every couple of weeks and hammer out the best headlines for each of the next issue’s articles. Rather than leave the job to the individual writers, my Editor felt this was the best way to get the best ideas. In principle, I agree with him, although you also have to be wary of sliding into group-think, where the lowest common denominator wins…but I digress.

In the first such meeting in which I was invited to participate—second week on the job—we were trying to come up with a title for the health article, which discussed the sexually transmitted infection chlamydia and the fact that many women with the infection didn’t know they had it. After listening to a couple really boring titles, I decided to show how clever and punny I was, and chose to riff off the title of a movie that was popular at the time.

Chlamydia. A quiet killer. It was obvious.

Silence of the Clams!

Silence of the editorial meeting, more like. My Editor looked at mean, turned his head sideways, and said “You’re serious.”

Oh, oh. Something’s gone wrong. Something doesn’t make sense. Why is everyone looking at me like that? Why is…? Oh, shit.

Luckily, everyone in the office thought it was funny, probably more because of the look on my face rather than any inherent amusement. But that’s the point. I kept the job and wrote much better headlines—or at least more acceptable ones—for several more years.

Since that day, I have instituted (if only for myself) what I call “the 12-year-old boy rule”.

Basically, if you want to print anything, you should always say it out loud in front of a 12-year-old boy, and if he even so much as smirks, there is something salacious in your idea and you really need to rethink it.

Still, every once in a while, I wonder if I couldn’t make that title work (other than for porn).

And of course, I am still addicted to puns, much to the chagrin of most people who know me.

Some interesting discussions about the value of writers’ groups and whether group think is of benefit to success.

Eric the Gray

[Full disclosure: I do not belong to a writing group]

Writers are often told by the experts to join a writing group. Having other writers critique your work can help you identify your weaknesses and improve your ideas, so the reasoning goes. Therefore, writing groups are good. That makes sense to me.

I’m not convinced it’s true, though. In my recent post about self-doubt, some people commented that they lost their motivation to write or otherwise had their confidence shattered after being bashed by other writers in a writing group. I’ve encountered similar claims in the past.

Speaking broadly, the problem with expert advice in an arts-related field is the lack of supporting science for its validity. How do we know writing groups are necessary? Because an expert said so? Because it seems logical? It’s very possible that, if you took a random sample over an appropriate time frame, a…

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