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My right brain, yearning to be free

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Like most people, I conceive of myself as a unitary individual with a singular identity. That’s how the government—and my family—looks at me (one social security number, one wife, one mom).

But there may be more to me than meets the I.

Researching my novel-in-progress led me to the book “The Future of the Mind” by physicist Michio Kaku. In it, he explores, among other things, the plight of “split-brain” patients. Bear with me as I try to give a brief overview of what that means.

The most fundamental of questions. and good listening as you read—it will make your right brain happy.

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Gag order: finding the courage to speak

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“If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”

I nearly fell over when I heard those words from Pulitzer Prize-winning author Elizabeth Strout on NPR’s Fresh Air, quoting her father from her childhood.

Could Strout and I somehow be related?* My father used to say exactly the same thing to me. It affected me profoundly and for years I struggled against it a writer, just as Strout seems to have.

My father’s well-meaning but misguided statement first suppressed and later fueled my desire to speak out and speak up. Its effects were long-lasting and deeply felt, perhaps due to the brain’s tendency to discount prepositional phrases and focus on the verb. The “don’t say anything at all” part of the sentence stuck.

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Word rot, waybacking, and betting on paper

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According to Internet experts, both high art and mundane cultural artifacts may be more like Snapchat conversations than cave paintings. Snapchat is a mobile app designed to present photos or videos that disappear after seconds; the oldest cave paintings have endured for tens of thousands of years.

Vint Cerf, often credited as the “father of the Internet” and now vice president and Chief Internet Evangelist for Google, has been warning for years that if we don’t do something, huge portions of our cultural, business, and political history could fall away as technology makes obsolete the applications and hardware we use to chronicle every sphere of our lives.

I’ve already lost big pieces of my personal history. You probably have too if you’re over the age of twenty. Many of the media on which I recorded my thoughts and words have become unreadable, including:

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Fifty Little Bits of Gratitude

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I wasn’t planning to post again before 2016, but along came one of my favorite bloggers, Susie Lindau, with a great party participation idea (because she’s a party kind of gal). Set a timer for 10 minutes and write down 50 things you’re grateful for (or that made you happy in 2015). Share them in your blog and spread the word. The party is hosted by Dawn, who writes the blog Tales from the Motherland. So thanks to both.

Then I remembered that gratitude also has proven health benefits. All the better!

Herewith, fifty things for which I am grateful.

1. My cats, because they’re cats.

Joshua (in the tub) and Apache (on the edge).

Joshua (in the tub) and Apache (on the edge).

2. Scrivener, because otherwise I could never have revised my novel without going insane.

3. My publisher and her editor, who insisted that I revise my novel although I kicked and screamed all the way.

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I am going to gratify you instantly

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First, I’m going to dance a jig.

My story, Before There Was a Benjamin, placed fifth (out of 387) in the November 2015 Sixfold competition. This is the fourth time I’ve entered Sixfold, and it yielded the best results so far. (See my previous thoughts about the competition.)

Sixfold ranking, November 2015

Sixfold ranking, November 2015


Previous rankings

2013 – 170 of 282 (round 1)
2014 (May) – 82 of 480 (round 1); 79 of 125 (round 2)
2014 (Nov) – 112 of 369 (round 1)


This makes me happy for many reasons, not the least of which is that the story will be published in the next edition of Sixfold Journal. I am even happier because a couple of clicks will bring readers right to a published story.

Flush with excitement, heart pounding from my jig-dancing, I’m trolling Duotrope for more submission possibilities. As I do, I find myself shying away from publications that categorize themselves as PRINT ONLY.

Even a few years ago, I would have preferred seeing my work in print. Now I’d rather be online. Why?

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