Thanks to a dear friend, whom I originally met through WordPress, I just discovered that this is my 5th anniversary on this platform. That said, it would be completely understandable if my supporters wondered that I was still here, I have posted so rarely in the past year.

Although not an excuse, I have become a victim of the adventure I sought in life. In short, my life is full and it has kicked the crap out of my blogging.

Teaching gigs, story analysis gigs, magazine writing responsibilities and my continuing passions with screenwriting, novel writing and photography of all stripes has simply become too much of a moment-by-moment focus (oxymoron?), no matter how delightful.

This will change, sort of.

With the launch of my story analysis website last year, and the upcoming launch of my photography website, I will focus this blog on one particular topic that complements the other two platforms. What that topic is remains to be determined.

I appreciate that some of you may not be interested in the isolated topic, but then, I am incredibly grateful that any of you have stayed with me through the creative chaos that is my brain and blog.

Here’s to the next adventure!

(In the meantime, some colour from the past year.)

Demystifying Expertise


Each of us tends to undersell (or completely disbelieve) our expertise on subjects that are near and dear to our hearts. Expertise, we believe, is something other people have.

And yet, I am convinced that we are more expert than we think. And fortunately, we are living in a time where methods to convince others of our expertise has never been easier.

Watch my recent Facebook Live video Demystifying Expertise and see if you agree.


You have the write to know


I write about writing. I’ve seen dozens of blogs that do the same and suspect there are hundreds if not thousands more blogs about writing I have yet to find.

I routinely visit web sites dedicated to writing, reading amazing posts from amazing (and some not so amazing) writers. And I have two bookshelves dedicated to various aspects of writing, from dictionaries and tomes on prose to bound witticisms and opinions on the minutiae of character, plot and the perfect turn of joke.

I have taken classes on sketch comedy, screenwriting and story editing, and have listened in on dozens of podcasts and teleconferences given by the kings and queens of screenwriting—the latest given by Robert McKee. And I have recently started going to writing conferences, bending and rubbing elbows with writers established and in the birthing process.


All of this information and guidance has been invaluable to helping me understand my craft. But for all those thousands of hours of effort, I’m really not sure that any of it has helped me be a better writer.

In truth, I think there are only really two things you need to do to be a better writer:

  1. Write
  2. Share what you’ve written

Unless you’re willing to write, write some more, write yet again, and then when your body has given up the ghost with exhaustion, write again, you will never get better. All of the academic training and guidance in the world will not make you a better writer if you are not willing to write.


Writing can be like literally shoving fingers into brain to extract words

But writing is a very insular process, so it is equally important that you share what you have written…with literally anyone: your mom, your partner, your dog, the guy on the subway, the squirrel at the park.

How does the other party respond to your work? Are you communicating well? Do they see, hear, taste, what you see, hear, taste?

I am not asking do they like what you wrote. Personal tastes are just that. Rather, you want to know do they respond to what you’ve written…good, bad or ugly.

Oh, and I was only being half-facetious about the dog and squirrel…try it. You’ll be amazed at what happens.

Because most animals can’t read—I blame the current education models—you’ll be forced to read your work to them…the minute your work moves from visual to aural, a different part of your brain opens up and you hear whether you are affected by your work. Invaluable.

Love the internet for this stuff..."woman talking to squirrel"

Love the internet for this stuff…”woman talking to squirrel”

So read all you want, whether online or in those ancient paper constructs we call books. Attend conferences, lectures, podcasts and classes. I applaud your effort, your drive.

But I reiterate…there are only really two things you need to do to be a better writer:

  1. Write
  2. Share what you’ve written

Good luck.



So I have hit the milestone blog post: 500.

For some of you, who have followed me from the earliest days, you are no doubt thinking: “500? Really? Seems like 5,000.” For those of you relatively new to the wonder that is my blog, please note closely the previous statement.

I dithered over what to write for my 500th post, and have decided I’m going to talk about you…well, some of you.

I “follow” quite a few blogs…I read many fewer…and I seek out even fewer. I’m sorry for those I don’t visit more regularly…hours in a day and all that. It’s some of that last group, I want to highlight here…those glorious few who make me stop whenever I see they’ve posted something new.


Filippa Levemarks Blog

The paintings that this woman creates and the themes she explores by mixing media and mixing subject-matter blow me away. Rare is the image that doesn’t elicit some emotion in me. Hers is a style I have seen nowhere else and is worth exploring.


Jack Flacco

To read Jack’s blog is to have no clear idea as to who Jack is, and I mean that as a compliment. Jack takes on any subject it seems, but always in a thought-provoking and welcoming way that makes you want to contribute with a comment. His latest topics have been: monotasking, Veronica Mars, infectious pandemic readiness and phone addiction.



Bare Knuckle Writer

As the title suggests, Steph Snow is a no-holds-barred writer who likes to talk (or rant) about writing. With generous dollops of humour, she discusses the creative fortunes and practices that torture her soul on a seemingly daily basis. Misery truly does like company.


ionia julian

Readful Things Blog/Julian Froment’s Blog

I list these two blogs together because they are both discussions of the written word—e.g., reviews of books and authors, discussions of book marketing—and because the bloggers (Ionia Martin & Julian Froment) are beautifully connected at the soul (I don’t ask questions about any other forms of connections). Amazing people whose love for words is only surmounted by their love for each other.


Schelley Cassidy Photography

As a photo-hobbiest, I deeply appreciate the craft and skills that other photographers bring to the world. In this case, however, Schelley and I seem to share a greater fascination for the minute rather than the panoramic, as suggested by her regular feature “What is it?” where you only see an aspect of an object and are left guessing as to what that object is.


Ron Scubadiver’s Wild Life

If I couldn’t have my life, I would want Ron’s. A world traveller and freelance journalist, Ron is an amazing photographer, capturing incredible aspects of life in the many places he has visited. I particular enjoy his collections of people photos, often taken at a festival or gathering, which are incredibly natural and inviting.



Ned’s Blog

Ned Hickson is not right in the head. And that’s what I love about him. A journalist in the Pacific Northwest and volunteer firefighter (or latex-coat fetishist…can’t really tell), Ned brings an irreverent sense of humour to everything he writes, earning him several accolades including his own NSA file. Ned also has a book to his credit, which I believe he has to return to the library next Tuesday.



More a collective than a personal blog, Curnblog offers amazing insights into all things film, whether examining an individual film or genre from angles such as sociology, creativity or cinematography. Predominantly the work of James Curnow, the blog is like having your own little film school where you can access new and unusual topics on a weekly basis without the pressure of essays, theses or exams.


There are so many other blogs to which I would like to direct you, but I am happy that you made it this far down the page. Perhaps for my 1000th blog post!

My gratitude for your patience and enduring interest.


Focus – a 400th blog entry

400 celebration monument

Well, it has taken about 10 months, but I have managed to reach my 400th blog entry. Now, admittedly, a few of these were reposts from someone else’s blogs, but the majority were the ramblings of li’l ol’ me.

So, first, thank you all for your patience and support. You have been victim of a seemingly ceaseless assault of verbal and visual abuse that bordered on the ludicrous with two or more posts as day for several months.

But, second, you may have noticed I have slowed down in that onslaught for the past month or so. I promise, it is not for lack of ideas but more for volume and variety of media with which I deal on a daily basis. And it is this volume that has had me thinking lately (and I hate thinking).

I have spread myself too thin…I am trying to do too many things such that I don’t know that I’m doing anything. Thus, for the next little while, at least, I am going to focus my efforts on just a few projects that I think will have the greatest impact.

This is not a resolution—I don’t do those anymore—but an admission that if I don’t finalize something, I will never get out of the basement apartment and will perpetually be tied to my previous careers as sources of $$$.

So, my completion priorities for early 2014 (in no particular order):

  1. Re-evaluate, rewrite and sell/option my screenplay Tank’s.
  2. Rewrite and sell/option my Santa screenplay The Naughty List (working title).
  3. Establish a screenplay reading/coverage service to make money now!
  4. Generate a book on creativity and writing from my blog entries.

That last one was actually one of the motivating factors for creating the blog in the first place…to finally make myself write down my thoughts, experiences and understanding of the creative process with particular focus on writing. This is not to say the postings will disappear from my blog, but my plan is to assemble the most salient ones, with editing, into a book format for sale.

For all of those with whom I am working on projects not listed above as a priority, I have not forsaken you and will continue to work on those projects…just not as a top priority. I can only hope you understand (and suspect you all will).

And again, to my blog followers, I thank you for your patronage and hope to continue to amuse, intrigue or stimulate you…just at a more leisurely pace for both of us.

Love to you all…Randy

Award season 2013

As the alcohol sets in and the year ends, I thought I’d take a moment to consider the 2013 Randys, the seminal moments and/or people of the past year.

Every year is special but this was truly a year for the books (or Kindles/Kobos if you’re one of those people).

Most engaging conversation: Weekly meetings with friend, Agah Bahari

Friend, child of the universe and novel buddy (as in we're writing a novel) Agah

Friend, child of the universe and novel buddy (as in we’re writing a novel) Agah

Silliest playtime: Conversations with Kevin Scott, Marsha Mason, Nic Lemon

Just set the camera to reward and place a diaper on the furniture...there will be pee

Just set the camera to record and place a diaper on the furniture…there will be pee

Most raucous laughter: Monthly bonfires organized by Janine Short

Conversation runs the gamut from politics to coitus interruptus and everything in between

Conversation runs the gamut from politics to coitus interruptus and everything in between

Most head-spinning period: Austin Film Festival, both the sessions and attendees

Terry Rossio on AFF panel

Oddest friendship (tie): Virtual connection to blogger Ned Hickson; Duke #75, mascot of the Toronto Marlies

One is a pro hockey mascot and the other is a humorist (US spelling here)

One is a pro hockey mascot and the other is a humorist (US spelling here)

Most humbing moment: Little Joe’s Heart campaign and response

We lost a little fighter this year...he will not be forgotten

We lost a little fighter this year…he will not be forgotten

Friend of the year (tie): Leela Holliman, Nic Lemon, Marsha Mason

This is met Nick and Marsha above

This is Leela…you met Nick and Marsha above

Dream come true: Travelling Costa Rica (bonus: with my brother, Shawn “Chongo” Solnik)

One of the few photos of my brother NOT flipping the he flips fish

One of the few photos of my brother NOT flipping the bird…here he flips fish

Greatest moment of the year: Photo with cast of PuppetUp!

I don't care if you're sick of hearing about these guys

I don’t care if you’re sick of hearing about these guys

Liebster Award? Me?

My beautiful new blogger friend at storiesbyfrances just nominated me for a Liebster Award and I couldn’t be happier.

Frances, you see, is a wonderful writer of delightful, personal fiction and for her to find any of the things I have posted to be helpful or in any way inspiring is humbling. Of course, now I have to keep up the quality.


And, it appears, the first thing you have to do with a Liebster Award is open yourself up to the inquisitive mind of your nominator. So, here goes.

1. If you could be any character from any book, who would you want to be and why?

Henry V from the Shakespeare play of the same name. I have always wanted to be able to inspire people to reach within themselves and find the strength to reach beyond the limits of their fears to something greater…albeit, not on a battlefield.

2. What´s the most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you?

I got caught staring at the cleavage of a fellow student in Grade 12 theatre class…and by staring, I mean, her breast were practically keeping my ears warm. She neither welcomed the attention nor shunned it, so I guess I lucked out in one sense.

There was also the time that I walked in on a friend receiving fellatio from his girlfriend at work. Not sure why I was embarrassed by this, but he wasn’t, so I guess I just thought one of us should be.

3. If you could be anywhere right now, where would you want to be?

That’s a tough one to answer. As of recently, I have been happy simply being wherever I am at that moment.

If I could add “anywhen” to that, then I would say New York City, 1950, working as a comedy writer for Sid Caesar on Your Show of Shows, alongside the likes of Mel Brooks, Carl Reiner, Larry Gelbart, Danny Simon, Neil Simon and Mel Tolkin.

4. Who is the person you miss the most?

My grandmother, who passed away in 2012. She was a guiding spirit throughout my life; someone who always believed in me, even when she didn’t agree with or understand what I was doing. In many ways, she was my best friend and a wonderful companion. Name me one other woman of her generation who would read all of her grandson’s science books, dictionary at her side, so that she could converse with the babbling prodigy.

5. What´s your favorite childhood memory and why?

I don’t have a lot of memories of my childhood. It may be that times were so unsettled for me and my family that in blocking out the bad memories, the good ones have become collateral damage. This is not to say there wasn’t laughter and smiles, but I would have to say my favourite memories don’t start until much later in life.

6. What would you like to write about, but have never muster enough courage to actually write about?

I am really fortunate that at this stage in my life, there is nothing I can’t write about. No subjects are off-limits. No media are untappable. No genre can stop me.

7. Who/what couldn´t you live without?

Laughter. And not just mine; anyone’s. Laughter helps me cope. Laughter disarms. Laughter gives me perspective. Laughter is often the only exercise I get. Laughter is why I live (although not all of my writing efforts are comedic).

8. Why did you start blogging?

I’ve considered doing it for some time, and then a friend said she was going to start blogging about one very personal issue for her (I am so proud of her).

9. What keeps you blogging?

Narcissism. I need to speak and I think what I have to say will be of value to someone, even if it’s a question. And a need to know I am not alone, although luckily, that is not so scary a prospect as it once was.

10. What´s a perfect day to you?

Sunshine, a slight breeze, a notepad, two pens, an XL coffee and a park bench.

11. What makes you laugh?

Everything. I consider myself blessed with the ability to find humour in everything and anything. Others, in my past, have experienced this as something of a curse. I don’t hang around them much.


Offer eleven random facts about yourself:

1. I have a Master’s degree in protein biochemistry, having spent several years studying the most poorly expressed protein in the genome of a virus that attacks bacteria–phage lambda for those keeping score.

2. I am an improvisation performance junkie, although I haven’t done it recently, and studied at Toronto’s Second City Training Centre and Bad Dog Theatre under some amazingly talented people.

3. I have romantically loved only 3 women in my almost 50 years of life and while none of those relationships is currently active in the romantic sense, I am grateful to each one of those women for getting me through a special part of my life and am fortunate enough to consider myself a friend to each to some extent. (We won’t discuss after how many women I have lusted…if only because the numbers would be inaccurate as soon as I posted them)

4. I have a man-crush on the mascot of the Toronto Marlies, farm team for the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs. His name is Duke. (see, I told you I would write about anything)

5. I can’t read the word “cock” without smiling and perhaps even laughing because of a friend’s screenplay.

6. I love the Beatles.

7. In the last 12 months, I managed to become completely and unreservedly happy with my life. It is not perfect or idyllic, by any means, but I don’t care. I used to say that I wanted to be Errol Flynn’s Robin Hood, but felt more like Danny Kaye’s Walter Mitty. I am now Randy Willis’ Robin Hood.

8. I can’t grow decent facial hair to save my life, but it doesn’t keep me from trying, as witnessed by my present attempt at a handlebar moustache.

9. Nutella = sex in a jar

10. Speaking of sex: male.

11. Nothing can be off-limits when it comes to humour…NOTHING!


Nominate eleven other bloggers with fewer than 300 followers:

Okay, I feel terrible about this and will understand if someone wants me to turn the award back in, but I don’t have anybody to nominate at this point because of the 300 followers criteria. Pretty much everyone I follow has 500+ followers, and I must admit that I have not spent much time trolling for other blogs to discover the newbie gems.

In my defense, I did tell you I was a narcissist.

So, the task I set myself is to find more newbie bloggers doing something very interesting, and then nominate them for Liebster Awards. Promise!