Scribophile: An On-Line Writing Community

Are you like me? You’d love to join a writing community so you can discuss ideas, problems, etc., but you have no transportation and would rather spend the 4-hour bus ride writing?

Or maybe you’re in a town that’s too small to have a writer’s group. Maybe your only access to a public library is via the Internet.

Then pour yourself a nice cup of tea, find a comfy chair, and let me tell you all about Scribophile. Here’s what the site has to say about itself:

Scribophile is a respectful online writing workshop and writer’s community. Writers of all skill levels join to improve each other’s work with thoughtful critiques and by sharing their writing experience.

We’re the writing group to join if you want to find beta readers, get the best feedback around, learn how to get published, and be a part of the friendliest and most successful writing workshop online.

Scribophile is famous for the detailed and helpful critiques our members exchange. The critiques you’ll get are so much more than just a pat on the back—you’ll get actionable ways to improve your writing.

As part of our community, you’ll be writing critiques for others too. Members tell us again and again that learning how to write great critiques dramatically improved their own writing.

I first learned about Scribophile from an article I read on Medium and decided to check it out. I did, and it so impressed me that I created an account.

In fact, I was so impressed that I went back the next day and upgraded from a free to a premium account. For just a little more than a latte and a little less than a pack of cigarettes I now have access to all of the site’s features.

Pay It Forward

Scribophile expects you to contribute to the site. But not with money. Rather, before you can post your own story for review, you have to gain karma points. It costs you 5 karma points to upload each story.

You gain can karma points in any number of ways: writing a critique of someone else’s work, posting comments, and just generally being a polite and active member. I’ve only been a member for 2 days, and I’ve already received 2 karma points. As soon as I earn 5, I’ll upload my first work to be critiqued.

Why This Makes Sense

At first, I resented that I couldn’t upload a story until I earned the required karma points. But the longer I thought about it,  the more t made sense: you can’t come barging in demanding that everybody read your work and then run off. You have to earn the right to have your work critiqued.

That approach also keeps people active in groups and forums.

Scribophile: your online writer’s group. Give it a try!

Different Strokes for Different Notes

Or, I’m always on the lookout for The Ultimate Note-Taking App

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Photo by freestocks.org on Unsplash

Sadly, it doesn’t seem to exist. IA Writer comes close, but it still doesn’t have all the features I’d like. Note’d is pretty nifty, but it too lacks the features I need. Standard Notes has all the features…but you have to pay $10 a month to get them. It is available, however, for all your devices: iPhones, iPads, Windows machines, MacOS devices, and Android smartphones and devices. So if I create/edit/delete a note on my iPhone, it syncs to my iPad and my laptop.

(As an aside, before I went completely digital, my ultimate notepad was a Rite-in-the-Rain notepad and a pencil.)

Which brings us to Apple Notes. From what I’ve seen of it—and used it—it seems to be the best all-around note-taking app available for iOS and MacOS: iPad, iPhone, and Macs. The problem is that in addition to an iPhone and an iPad,I have a laptop running Windows.

Apple Notes started out as a bare-bones note-taking app. But Apple, like just about every other software publisher, lost sight of the First Rule of Engineering: If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It.

Over time, Apple Notes has been tweaked and massaged and upgraded until it’s now just a short step away from being a full-blown word processor. And if I’m going to use a word processor for taking notes, I might just as well use Notes’ big sister, Pages, which runs on all of my devices.

The Ultimate Test

So I’ve decided what I’m going to do: I’ve downloaded  all the apps I listed above and installed them on the appropriate devices. For the next couple of weeks, I’m going to use each of them to jot down the same notes. At the end of the test period, I’ll decide which one I like the best, based on ease of use. Then I’ll get back to you with the results.

 

 

Cholula Green Hot Sauce

And the Lost Art of Thumping on the Bottom of the Bottle

It’s no secret around our house that I like spicy foods. Indian, Thai, Cajun, Mexican — I love them all, but not for the reason you might expect.

It’s the blending of spices rather than the heat that I love. And sometimes, the heat is merely a result of a particular blend of herbs and spices. Still, I must confess: a generous dash of hot sauce can take a boring meal and turn it into a culinary adventure.

Probably the most obvious example of this is Buffalo Chicken Wings. Since their introduction in a bar in Buffalo, NY — hence their name — they’ve pretty much become standard fare in bars, restaurants, Superbowl parties, and backyard barbecues all across America.

All because of the hot sauce.

But that’s not the only use. And while the sight of someone pouring ketchup on their scrambled eggs makes me queasy, I use hot sauce on my own eggs. Breakfast and brunch wouldn’t be the same without them.

Which Brings Me to the Point

I went grocery shopping the other day. One of the items on my list was a particular brand of hot sauce made right here in Rochester. I figured a local store would be a good source of local products, but alas! Top’s is not Wegman’s, and so I had no luck. I really needed to replace my Empty bottle of Frank’s RedHot, but I wanted to try something different.

When I saw the green bottle of Cholula, I made my choice. Poblano and jalapeño peppers! I was intrigued. I was already familiar with their original red hot sauce — indeed, I had had it on my omelet that very morning — so I figured I’d give it a shot.

I love it! My only complaint, if I can call it that, is that it’s a relatively thick formula compared with its red cousin. While the red comes out of the bottle with a few shakes, the green refuses to budge unless I hold the bottle upside-down and whack it on the bottom.

But it’s definitely worth it. It also happens to be the inspiration for this story, as the idea came to me over tonight’s dinner: sausage, hash browns, and eggs.

Picking up the Pieces

It’s been over three years since you left me. Three long years of self-reflection. The first six months were the hardest: full of thoughts of suicide, of self-harm, of self-destructive behavior.

I simply couldn’t see how I could go on without you, or if I even wanted to.

But I muddled through, found a new place to live, made new friends. And stayed on my meds. I finally put the pieces of my shattered life together again.

Until Last Week

When you told me you were seeing someone new. I congratulated you, and even meant it. But I was glad we were talking by text, and that you couldn’t see my facial expressions.

As we talked, I realized that I had been holding out hope that we would someday be together again. I mean, that’s what you once promised me, wasn’t it? That you always wanted me in your life?

But I finally realized that what I was still hoping would happen wasn’t going to.

And I finally had to accept that fact.

And I have. Yesterday, for the very lasting time, I cried and mourned the death of Us. The unit we had become.

This morning I determined that no matter what the future brings, you’ll always have a place in my heart.

And I’ve also determined that no matter what happens in my life, I will never again love someone who doesn’t love me as much as I love them.

Tea Fuels My Writing…

And My Writing Fuels My Tea

Pretty nifty, the way that works out, wouldn’t you say?

As usual, I was out of bed by 8 this morning, and my first cup of tea was brewing by 8:10, and gone by 8:20, as I breezed through the morning news and weather.

No change in either: we’re still gonna get another 14 to 20 inches, and Trump is still the worst president in history.

But as Arlo said in Alice’s Restaurant, “That’s not what I come to talk to you about.”*

I’ve come once again to speak of the wonders of tea. The aches and pains of growing old. Childhood memories. Grandchildren. Everything that falls under the heading of “SSDD.”**

My writing is a reflection of my life in this regard: I rarely know what I’m doing when I begin each day, and I rarely know what I’m going to write when I fire up my writing tool.

A friend told me yesterday, “You know that part of your brain that says ‘better think about this before you blurt it out’? Yeah. I was born without that part.”

To which I replied, “I know what you mean; I like to be just as surprised as everybody else by what comes out of my mouth.”

And I’m pretty sure that explains why I’ll never be famous for writing The Great American Novel.™

I wonder: is it possible to age out of one genre and into another? Have I lost the spark or desire or whatever impetus pushes writers to write fiction? Am I condemned to writing memoirs and op-eds for the rest of my life?

When I was in elementary school back in the ‘50s, I was “fidgety,” “disruptive,” “smart, but doesn’t apply herself.” (The same was true in college, which is probably why I never graduated.)

What in the ‘50s was a character defect is now recognized as ADHD, or as mine has settled into, ADD. It’s the same thing, but without the hyperactivity.

Like so many other things from my childhood, what was once a problem or a hindrance has matured into an asset: my mind makes connections instantly, where other people have to ponder for a while.

But honesty compels me to admit that ADD can be a pain in the ass, too: sometimes ideas come so fast that they’re gone before I can write them down.

It makes me a lousy editor of my own works; there have been far too many times when I’ve sat down to edit a first draft only to look at it from another angle and end up rewriting it into something other than what it was originally.

This story is an excellent example. I started with the intention of how my consumption of tea and my writing are connected, but after 3 or 4 rewrites it bears no resemblance to the original.

Except for the graphic at the top of the page, nothing remains of the original.

But isn’t that a perfect example of what William Faulkner said?

In this case, the character took so many twists and turns along the road that I was barely able to follow him, much less catch up to him.

But then again, isn’t that what writing’s all about? Getting out of the way and letting the story tell itself?


*Hear it on YouTube
**Same Shit, Different Day