Category Archives: Writing Prompts

The sound of rain


Rain through a forest of Oregon’s Douglas Fir trees is easily my favorite sound on Earth. I say favorite because that sound never gets on my nerves. I really could listen to it all day…and have thanks to the wonderful Pacific Northwest weather. I even have an app for that.

Baby laughs are a very close second. A coffee maker first thing in the morning, owls and U2 round out the top five.

Not all rain sounds the same. Rain on a car roof is different from a tin roof which is different from pavement.

For me, a rain storm in an Oregon pine forest is something special. Thunder is rare. The wind blows through the tops of the 20-50 foot trees creating a swishing sound and makes the largest and oldest trees creak as they lean back and forth. The rain collects in the needles as it comes down through the trees softening the sound. The needles scatter the rain around the trees causing hundreds of tiny drops instead of the larger, harder rain drops. The rain trickles through the branches, and in the older forests, Spanish moss.

After the drops leave the branches and the needles, the water doesn’t hit the ground. It falls on the ferns and other foliage around the trees. Once through, the drops of water fall onto the 1-3 inch bed of dead needles at the base of the trees.

Why is this such a great sound? It’s just rain, but it reminds me of my years growing up in Oregon. Many of those years were rain drenched.

I didn’t know I missed it until I picked up an app for my iPhone that plays ambient noise. Thankfully someone in Oregon recorded the sound and now I have it to lull me to sleep 3000 miles away from where I was born.

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Truth as I see it


It is best to know the truth even when it hurts. Ignorance is bliss. Both of these statements are true because I believe they are both true. Truth is perception.

The truth isn’t always the truth. Urban myths are a fascination of mine. I’ll listen to whatever someone’s sister’s cousin’s roommate told them, then wait till they are out of earshot and have a good laugh. Check out Snopes if you want to unlearn anything that sounds too weird to be true.

If a majority of people believe the truth to be false, then it is false. The Sun went around the Earth, but now it doesn’t. The Earth was flat, but now it is round. Pluto was a planet…and still is, damn it. I don’t care what they say.

“You will find that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view.”
-Obi-Wan Kenobi
“Return of the Jedi”

People are going to believe what they want as long as it supports their point of view. People that watch one news channel say the other one does nothing but lie. The only time someone jumps the fence to the other side is when there is a convincing enough argument.

The truth hurts when we don’t want to hear it and more so the more we don’t want to hear. Do you really want to know your butt looks big in those jeans even if you ask? What if the person said your butt looks big without you asking?  The more it hurts, the more likely the person is going to think it is a lie or are just being cruel.

White lies and half truths are a necessary evil in modern society. They help us get along with the people we don’t like, protect the feelings of those we do like and maybe land that job that you really need. Does anyone answer the “What is your worst flaw?” question truthfully and expect to get hired? Well, yes, but they are only lying to themselves. The person that is honest and says their worst flaw is punctuality is going to lose the job to the person that lies.

This brings me to the 800-pound gorilla on the internet: wikileaks. I think wikileaks is an effective tool when they shed light on human rights violations. I think they need a better focus on what they release because not everything needs to be known. The latest batch of wikileaks shed light on what I already knew, ambassadors don’t always like each other. For me, if ambassador A thinks ambassador B is a tool that’s fine as long as they get along.  Ambassador B doesn’t need to know A thinks less of him, that’s only going to strain the relationship and make the job those two ambassadors harder to accomplish.

In the same release, they put out information that may have been used to bring down the corrupt government in Tunisia. The important stuff gets lost when you don’t focus. If you don’t have focus and treat everything as important, people don’t take you seriously, or worse, take you seriously for all the wrong reasons.

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The most important thing…for now


“Never put off till tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow.”
– Mark Twain

I have a terrible habit of bouncing from most important thing to most important thing. Call it a lack of focus with too many priorities and I’ll say something always comes up. If it’s all important than nothing is important.

The most important thing right now is to study for my promotion. That bumped my previous most important goal of finishing my degree and writing a novel. The education is still going to be there when I’m done with my test and the novel isn’t going anywhere either.

I’m about three years part-time away from a degree in English and I don’t want to get into how many false starts, hiccups and brick walls it’s been getting to this point. I hate to keep putting it off, but the promotion means more money and responsibility which will help me with the other goals.

The novel? Don’t get me started. On second thought, do get me started. I take heart in every time I read someone took five years to write their first novel, but seriously, I don’t want to be one of those people. One or two years would be awesome, thanks.

I’ve spent more years as an editor than a writer and I red pen the heck out of anything before I even start. I send myself proposals, but I keep rejecting them. I do have one idea that to me sounds really interesting and I’d love to start writing it. Any day now.

What I need to do for the novel is start getting it on paper…so to speak. More time would be nice too. I know “lots of writers don’t have the time” and struggle to find ten minutes between family and work, but that’s not really advice and doesn’t help me at all? Hearing that just makes it worse because then I spend more time thinking about how everyone else can find the time to write and how I waste it thinking about all the people that struggle to find the time to write and still finish a novel. Twenty minutes of that and I need to leave the house and get away from the computer.

Secretly it’s a mix of confidence in my ability to write and the belief that someone will like the story. The confidence is building with practice, a couple courses from Gotham Writer’s Workshop and a few books. The practice is coming along nicely through blogging. The courses were excellent because it helped me tighten up my writing and discover new flaws for my inner editor to fuss over. All that’s left is for me to finish this book on novel writing…and this collection of Russian short stories…and this other book on novel writing.

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Witnessing bravery


Being in the Air Force public affairs business, we get stories from around the world of Airmen doing brave things at great risk and sometimes great cost. Explosive ordnance disposal specialists come to mind immediately. We published a couple stories of our folks going out into the community and working with law enforcement to dismantle and defuse explosives and munitions stockpiles, not in a war zone, but in suburban areas of the United States.

We’ve been compiling the stories we get from Iraq and Afghanistan into a publication called “Portraits in Courage: Volume 1, Volume 2, Volume 3, Volume 4, Volume 5.” It’s only a small sample of the many brave souls in one branch of the armed forces. There’s many more people that have sworn to protect and serve and run in while others are running out.

Bravery isn’t reserved for people that dodge bullets and fight fires, bravery is displaying the courage to do what you feel is right no matter the cost. There’s bravery in day-to-day life such as knowing when to call foul when your company is in the wrong, standing up to the bully at school, speaking out when you’re afraid to.

I think it’s in all of us to be brave depending on how willing we are and how deep we need to dig. Sometimes it only takes an extra cup of coffee in the morning and sometimes people need help to find it. For some it’s so close to the surface it’s nearly instinct and they don’t give it a second thought.

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Hope?


Last night’s post didn’t get posted on time so I technically missed the post once a day aspect. Then again, I wrote it yesterday so I didn’t miss the write once a day aspect. My internet connection was “hiccuping” according to my provider. On my end it looked like it had Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. I hoped it would be fine in the morning and it was.

Tonight’s topic is hope. Did my hoping help my internet connection to work? No. Well, maybe. I can’t prove it either way. Did it hurt anything? No. It did make me feel better.

Hope is a tricky feeling that borrows from other feelings like love and faith. It doesn’t change anything as far as I can tell other than give people the motivation to keep trying. Sure, there’s false hope, but at least it makes people feel better even if it is a delusion. As long as it doesn’t prevent someone from doing what’s best for them then I don’t see anything wrong with it.

Hope is a feeling I get from time to time when I want something a little more than usual and I don’t think I’m going to get it. For instance, a donut. I’ll want a donut, but I’ll hope someone brings it to me.

Maybe it’s a perspective thing. I can’t think of a time when something gave me hope, but it might renew my hope. The hope itself never goes away but will get beaten down sometimes the more unlikely I think something is. Once it got beaten so far down I didn’t think I would get it back, but it never died. It’s not something that I’d ever want to loose again. People can live without faith and belief, but they can’t live without hope. There’s no way to function without the thought that things can be better or can be changed.

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Does everything happen for a reason?


I’ve pondered this topic daily for the last 15 or 20 years. There’s no proof either way, but it is fun to think about. If anything comes off sounding religious, I assure you that was not my intention.

On the one hand, sure everything happens for a reason. People die so that others may live. Sometimes people are in the right place at the right time. Even with free will sometimes things see to work out on their own or are even miracles. I can work really hard at something and possibly excel, but wasn’t I supposed to excel any way?

On the other hand, all people are doing is looking back on all the events after they’ve happened and assigned meaning to random events because everyone likes patterns. It makes it all easier to deal with. We all like feeling comfort and security.

Say you can’t find your car keys and you are late leaving only to get stuck in traffic because of an accident. It’s easy to think, wow, if I had found my car keys on time, that might’ve been me in that accident. Good thing I didn’t find my keys when I needed them. What about the guy in the car accident? Everything was going just fine until the accident. He also had a whole set of events that lead to the accident.

I go around in circles thinking about this. Part of me thinks that everything happens the way its supposed to rather than happening for the best or for a reason. I think people aren’t truly aware of what their effect is on the world. We’re all butterflies flapping our wings and we don’t notice the small changes in the weather only the tornadoes. When the tornado happens, we look back and remark about how the tornado must mean something because of all the things that led up to said tornado. Really, it was just us, all of us. Everything all together flapping as one. Doesn’t breathing change the world in some way?

With the enormous complexity behind it all, it is easy to say it’s magical, there’s a design, there’s a plan, or science can explain it. Everyone has billions of brain cells firing with electricity and pumping with chemicals, and there’s almost seven trillion of us flapping. Then factor in all the other forms of life all going about their business flapping. Sometimes the tornado is going to make sense because the brain loves finding patterns and other times it’s just going to be senseless if only because we can’t find the pattern.

The tornado doesn’t stop being amazing just because you did it. It should be even more incredible. The odds are against life in the universe and we happen to have the 200+ factors needed to support it right here where everything you do matters in some way.

Does everything happen for a reason? Yes. What’s the reason? 42. God. Because. Whatever reason you want. I’m going with an incredibly complex web of cause and effect. The real question is “Why?”

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One hour


Tonight’s topic asks when would I go for an hour if I had a time machine. This has a ton of moral and ethical complications. Can the past be changed? Should one use time travel to make them richer?

There’s only two directions to go in time: past or future. I’ll explore both a bit before my surprise final answer.

I don’t believe a person can/should try to alter the past because they would more than likely cause the very thing they are trying to prevent. I figure this is true because all the events of the past lead up to the point where a person would travel back to change it. I think the universe would find a way to make sure everything stays the same. Suppose time travel is possible in the future, wouldn’t someone have stopped Lincoln from being assassinated by now? Either we can’t travel in time or we can’t change the past.

The other reason for traveling back in time would be to view an event in history. Pick one? Impossible. Also, I think it’s a little mundane. If I only get an hour, I’d rather see something that hasn’t happened. Plus, buying stocks in the past so I can be rich today might seem like a good idea, but that’s really not my style.

This leaves the future. As it is right now, everything is unknown. How does one pick a time in the future without knowing when it happens?

I might be a little biased on when I’d like to go do to Doctor Who and Douglas Adams, but I’d like to see the last hour of the universe. I think there’s really only two events that matter in time, the beginning and the end. Everything else is kind of insignificant in comparison.

Why not go back to see how it all began? And waste an hour? No thanks. Even if I saw the beginning, no one would believe me anyway. The end is much more exciting. Or not. Who knows? It’s the end though. I’d like that last hour to see if I can figure out what it all meant.

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