On On Writing · 23 September 2017

Stephen King wrote the book, On Writing, back in 1999. It is listed as an autobiography, but I like it more as it relates to writing. Which is at least part of the point.

I like to read Stephen King’s books. Not necessarily all the horror ones, but I like his stories. One of my favorite books is The Stand. I remember reading it with Steely Dan’s Aja playing on my walkman. (Yes. It was a tape.) So I often get a shiver down my spine when I hear the music of Steely Dan. I like lots of Mr. King’s books including the Bachman books (The Running Man, especially) and The Dark Tower series.

Yes, I know Mr. King is a pulp fiction guru who writes for the masses. His stuff may not be full of flowery prose and his stories may not resonate with beauty, but they are not meant to. They are reachable for people because the prose is easy and they are fun to read. Even if they may not have the most palatable subject matter all the time.

Regardless of what people may think of his writing or his writing style, the man can sell books. And movies. One of the reasons that I read any of the Bachman books (where King wrote under the pen name of Richard Bachman) was because of the movie, Running Man. I never realized at the time that there were even such things as Bachman books let alone that Stephen King wrote them. So it was fun to read some different things by one of my favorite authors.

Which was one of the reasons I read On Writing. (It was also a gift and maybe a hint.)

I took to the book On Writing when I started writing in earnest. I liked the stories that Mr. King shared, but there was one lesson that has stuck with me to this day. The story needs to ring true.

I take that piece of advice whether I am writing a piece of fiction or non-fiction.

If you have read much of my stuff, you probably know that I sometimes add hyperbole to a true story to make it sound more interesting. What you might not know is that I add hyperbole and exaggeration and downright fantasy to stuff to make a story sound more true. Just think about it. Sometimes a story that you know is outrageous in its claims sounds more true because of that same outrageousness. The thing that makes it so hard to believe is what makes the story sound true. Especially, when compared to what actually happened. It is the strangest phenomenon, but it is true. (I wonder if I can say the word true any more times.)

I doubt if anybody will ever compare me to their favorite authors or even that they would comment on my writing, but if they ever did, I would hope they said I write clearly and my stories sound true.

I know there was much more to Stephen King’s book, On Writing, than that one tidbit, but those words of wisdom and his many examples have helped make me the writer that I am today. Of course, do not tell him that. I am sure he does not want to take the blame.

© 2017 Michael T. Miyoshi

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Bubble Gum? · 16 September 2017

Bazooka Gum
By Parka Lewis at English Wikipedia
licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

Who thought it was a good idea to make toothpaste taste like bubble gum?

I was surprised when I used the toothpaste that came from the dentist’s office. One of those little tubes that the dentist gives after each visit. I did not read the label. I just tasted a sickeningly sweet taste. It was the unmistakable taste of bubble gum. Yuck.

Now I am not against bubble gum. As a matter of fact, the taste was very reminiscent. I was immediately taken back to my childhood and that hard bubble gum that had a comic inside the wrapper. Like I said, the taste was unmistakable. But it was not what I expected.

Normally, I would be happy to have a memory from my childhood. The thing was that it came at the wrong time. Happily chewing bubble gum with my friends and family just hanging out would certainly be a time to reminisce, but the taste was unwelcome when brushing my teeth. For as I tasted the taste, I could feel the sugar coating my teeth. It could not have been there, but it sure felt like it. The memory that the taste brought back was so strong that I just knew I was brushing sugar all over my teeth. I knew I was just spreading cavity catalyst all over my mouth. Yuck.

I am not sure that mental images have as much to do with oral hygiene as they do with overall health, but if they have any impact at all, I am sure those images that day set my tooth health back a few days. Or months.

Looking back, I can appreciate how exact the taste was. I just wonder at the logic of it. Sure, the toothpaste is made for kids so that they will brush longer and more often, but might they have the opposite reaction later in life. Might they think that chewing bubble gum with granular sugar in it could be cleaning their teeth? Think about it. If I had the thought that I was spreading that granular sugar around my mouth because my first memory of that taste was of sugary bubble gum, wouldn’t it be logical that kids whose first memory of that same bubble gum flavor in toothpaste think the opposite?

Regardless of the psychology of the whole thing, I am still reeling from the nostalgic taste. I do not know that it is healthy for me mentally to use such sweet tasting toothpaste when cleansing my teeth.

When it comes right down to it, I suppose using sweet tasting toothpaste is okay. It is just strange. I for one am not a fan. And for the record, I would like to say that I do not think it is a great idea to make toothpaste taste like bubble gum.

© 2017 Michael T. Miyoshi

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What? The Truck? · 9 September 2017

A funny thing happened in the parking lot at work the other day (actually, it happened last spring). I was driving into the parking lot while Bruce (who teaches in the room next door) was walking into the building. He looked at me, raised his shoulders (his hands were full) and gave me a look of amazement and perhaps confusion. I took it to mean, “What? The truck?”

Now in reality, the punctuation and even spelling of the phrase might have been a little different in Bruce’s mind, but I understood his look. He has not seen me drive the truck in three years. Nobody had until recently.

Well, to make a short story a little longer, I talked to Bruce to confirm his look. I mentioned that the look could not have been amazement that we were dressed like twins. After all, even though I could see that we were wearing shirts with the same school logos from the same year, he could not have seen it from his perspective. He told me that he thought I had gotten rid of the truck or that it was still dead. I let him know that I had resurrected the truck and gotten it on the road in time for each driver to have a vehicle this summer.

In reality, I got the truck working last summer. But I had only driven it a few times. I had put it away for the winter because it was painfully obvious that we could not just keep it insured all the time. So we only insure it when we are driving it on a daily (or nearly so) basis.

Well, Bruce commiserated with me a bit. He knows the feeling of needing a car for each driver in the household because he has four drivers too. In fact, he put a truck on the road this summer too. But he did not need to resurrect his.

Unfortunately, this story is about played out. I had a grand plan for telling about the resurrection of my truck, but remembered that I have already done that. I also thought of an alternate plan to talk about punctuation and spelling, but that is not really that entertaining. Especially, since this is a G-rated blog.

Anyway, I only really just thought Bruce’s reaction to my driving the truck was entertaining. His eyes wide open. His shoulders and arms raised as much as possible with the stuff he had in his hands. His whole body just saying to me as I drove past, “What? The truck?”

© 2017 Michael T. Miyoshi

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