Monthly Archives: June 2012

How to be a Writer!

Each of us has a reason for becoming a writer, author, texter or word-player. Leon Uris once said, “I was too heavy to be a jockey and unfit for honest work, so I became an author.”  I wrote for years before becoming aware that I could actually sell what I had been giving away, and this happened only when I could no longer lug boxes of teacher training materials and drama props from one place to another in the back of my station wagon. This was a hinge of life for me, a door swinging open, one that I could open even if the hinge squeaked.

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Over the years, many people have given writers advice to either encourage or startle.

Samuel Johnson said,”What is written without effort is in general read without pleasure.”

Elizabeth Gray Vining said this about writing: It should be

“Clean as a bone

Clear as a crystal

hard as a stone

two words are not

so good as one.”

If you, like me, used these words as guidelines for writing, consider the words of Oliver Wendell Homes, Jr., a writer after my own heart:

“A word is not a crystal, transparent and unchanged, it is the skin of a living thought and may vary greatly in color and content according to the circumstances and the time in which it is used.”

As a discouraged writer, I received a post card from my poet friend Jean Marvin who had listened to me wail about not selling my MOO COW MONTY AND THE BIG BULLY. The card contained a quotation from Isak Dinesens Last Tales. “When you have a great and difficult task, something perhaps almost impossible, if you only work a little at a time, every day a little, without faith and without hope, suddenly the work will finish itself.”  Very encouraging and very descriptive, but Jean, wherever you are, twelve years later and no one has bought that exciting, wonderful children’s book. I’m waiting. That’s what writer’s do, or maybe they do what Gene Fowler said, “Writing is easy; all you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until the drops of blood form on your forehead.”

I’m off to find a kleenex.

Naomi Mitchum’s Quick Look for Emergencies

“Get ready to help someone” was my message  yesterday when I spoke  to a group sponsored by the Center for Independent Living using my book Quick Look for Volunteer Emergency Responders as the focus. Other speakers were from NOAH, METRO AND METRO LIFT, RED CROSS, CERT, UNITED WAY , HOMELAND SECURITY AND HCIL COMMUNITY OUTREACH. I talked about my  pocket book for emergency responders plus added several tips for the audience who were mostly functionally disabled. See! I learned that persons with disabilities are classified as persons with functional needs. Also learned about an important organization Medical Reserve Corps who undergird presently employed medical personnel in time of an emergency.

As usual, I learned a lot from the very informed speakers:

–In a pandemic, get ready for isolation in every way. I hadn’t thought about the implications.

–In chemical air or ground spills – stay uphill, upwind and upstream!

—Metro  and Metro lift do much pre-evacuation planning, but they also make extensive plans for transporting persons back to original destination after an emergency.

–FEMA oversees every shelter including Red Cross shelters. They also have a variety of tools to help the average person. I cam home with a set of Braille emergency information books that I will use at the church.

–Red Cross learned much from Katrina, and has new plans for handling persons with functional needs to keep them not separated in a separate facility. 100 square feet are needed for a person with functional disability, and often equipment including beds are needed. They now have categories of medical needs and information for extensive services with all information using HIPPA laws.

–The speaker from CERTS said that there is limited information during an emergency for persons who are deaf. TV interpretation is limited. Real time captioning is needed as many in the deaf community do not use sign language. One of the problems is language differences when American Sign Language is not read by persons who speak other languages.

–Real time captioning was used for this meeting as well as American Sign Language. Understanding was sometime impeded when the speakers stood in front of their own power point words.

I observed that speakers using power point words often did not read what it said on the screen, rather they explained it. This was a huge disadvantage for the many persons who were blind. Whew! I didn’t use power point. I used a homemade poster and explained the fact stated on the poster: 1 in 5 persons in the US has a disability, and not included in that statistic are persons with chronic illness and those who are temporarily disabled due to cancer, broken legs, etc.

Everyone should be comforted by knowing that governmental agencies have streamlined and more fully defined what they can do for us in an emergency. The message, however, is that each of us has the responsibility to not only prepare but to understand how to find help when needed.