True Poet

Despite all the time I’ve wasted scrolling through Facebook, I’ve received more from the site than I’ve lost. It’s allowed me to reconnect with students I taught thirty years ago.

Last night I was chatting with a member of the class of 1982. She gave me permission to link to her website. She didn’t give me permission to comment, but I will anyway. What can she do–flunk me?

I want to make it clear that I never taught Judy anything. I couldn’t have taught her anything. She already knew what she needed to know. She was a writer. A poet.

She entertained us periodically with essays describing her part-time job at a nearby country club. I have vivid memories of long, furry tendrils reaching out and wrapping themselves around her legs while she was cleaning out the walk-in refrigerator. Those memories, and others, told in nauseating detail, made me laugh even as I vowed to avoid that particular dining room.

In her junior year, Judy placed in a poetry contest at a nearby college. One of the judges said she’d wanted to place the poem higher, but it was too short. The next year, she won the competition with another poem–the same length as last year’s. I memorized it and later, when I was teaching at a local university, posted a copy of it on the door of my office.

After Judy graduated, I found her mentioned in an article in the Austin newspaper: UT student Judith Edwards had appeared at Eeyore’s Birthday Party in Pease Park wearing a python draped across her shoulders. The accessory seemed to me entirely appropriate. Her goals had never included conformity.

Here’s a link to Judy’s website:

Browse through her poems and stories. You’ll get an idea of the pleasure I had being her student.


P.S. I hesitate to add this–I mean, I hate to give readers who live outside the United States such a…truthful…view of Texas, but if you have a mind to, read Judy’s story “The Big Texan.”  She didn’t make it up. I wasn’t there, but I know it really happened.

Safe, Guilt-Free Online Resources for the Addictive Writer

Last night I did the unthinkable. Or the un-thought-out.

I stumbled upon StumbleUpon, joined, and stumbled upon websites I would be better off not knowing about. I could click click click for hours, and did. Quotations. The Pre-Raphaelites. Cats…

One site, however, has oodles of redeeming creative value–so many oodles, in fact, that I wanted to pass the word. Once I began, I thought of other worthwhile online resources that have been shared with me.

So here, beginning with the stumbledupon, are four places any writer battling a surfing habit can visit safely and without guilt.

Oneword offers a one-word prompt–and then sixty seconds in which to write–on the site itself. You can use the site free or join–free. If you join, you can submit what you’ve written to a members-only page. You also get access to the archive of words.

Oneword is social media site, if you want to use it as such. I’m interested in seeing what I can write in only 60 seconds. And in finding out whether I improve with practice. And in stumbling upon a few lines that spark an idea for a story. Here’s what I wrote tonight using the word placed.

Tacos (Photo credit: YardSale)


He placed the plate on the table in front of her.

Tacos? she said. They’ll crumble and spill all over my dress.

Why’d you wear white? he said.

Men, she thought. They don’t understand anything.

Write or Die allows you to set goals–# of words and # of minutes–plus consequences and a grace period if you fail to hit your targets. Choice of consequence and grace period comprise such words as gentle/normal/kamikaze/electric shock and forgiving/strict/evil.

I’ve used this site several times when I needed external stimulation; at one particular setting, if you pause too long to think, the backspace function starts eating the words you’ve already written. It’s fun if you’re not the anxious type. If you are, set it at the lowest levels. (Scroll down till you see the free Web App Online, unless you want to pay for a download to your desktop.)

Written? Kitten! ( gives you a picture of a kitten every time you complete your target word count: 100, 200, 500, or 1000. No restriction on time. Strictly reward, no punishment. No words are gobbled up. Great for cat lovers, but if cats give you the fantods, skip it.

Note that Written? Kitten! is a dot net, not a dot com like the other sites described here. If you look for dot com, you’ll find something you don’t want.

Rescuetime tracks the sites and programs you use and analyzes your productivity. To use the site, you must join, but it’s free. RescueTime gives you points (+, 0, -) for the sites you use during each accounting period. You can reset values–for instance, you may designate your blog site as productive for +2 points rather than as entertainment (social media, -2 points). You can also target when you want RescureTime to track–if you write in the afternoon, set it to track just the afternoon. Check how productive you are by by day, week, month.

There’s a great deal of information here, lots of graphs and charts, more than you need if all you want tracked is time you’re writing/not writing. Still, it can be an eye-opener.  So far, it’s told me I’m a first-class slacker, but that was less of an eye-opener than a confirmation. Which is why I’m using RescueTime.

Have you found any online resources that aid your writing or creativity? Would you share?