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Friday, September 26, 2014

Friday Speak Out!: Cue Tips

by Carie Juettner

Yesterday I was procrastinating on the revisions I was supposed to be working on by walking around my house looking for something else to do. You see, I'd been procrastinating for a while already, so it wasn't easy to find a distraction. The house was clean, the dog was brushed, the books were arranged on the bookcases by height and then by color and then by length of title... Ok, perhaps I'm exaggerating just a tad, but it's true that sometimes my best creativity gets spent on procrastination techniques.

So, with no house to clean and no dog to brush and no pressing reason to re-rearrange my bookshelves, I turned my attention to my grocery list. Had I remembered everything I needed from the store? Was there some tantalizing snack I hadn't earned but wanted to buy anyway? Here was a revision I could handle.

As my eyes scanned the list, they fell on an item near the bottom that said, "Cue Tips." I burst out laughing.

When you're a writer, everything you write becomes a piece, a draft. There are no mere notes, no scribbles, no lists, only mini manuscripts, words to pour over, from which to decipher deeper meaning. Even our typos are trying to tell us something. I often type “write” when I mean “right.” I recently sent an email to a friend explaining that I couldn't hang out this weekend because, "I'm really busy write now." There it was. WRITE NOW. A subliminal message from my own brain.

And here was another one, staring at me between bananas and dental floss: CUE TIPS. I walked back to my office, still laughing, and sat down at my computer. I went to my blog, still chuckling, and searched for the posts I'd written a few months ago on my own personal writing tips. I re-read my advice on revising and, even more relevant, my advice on avoiding procrastination. And finally, as the giggles subsided and my chastised muse returned, I put my fingers on the keyboard and got back to work.

I apologize for the cheesiness, but yes, this is one of those stories that ends with, "The power was within you all along!" It's true. The power to write is within us, the power to revise is within us, and the power to climb over those blocks and bumps and force ourselves to stop bathing the cat or re-organizing the junk drawer and get back to work... that power is within us too.

It's just that we sometimes need a misspelled grocery list to find it.

* * *

Carie Juettner taught seventh grade English for thirteen years before quitting her job to write full time. She writes poetry and short stories, and is currently working on a novel for the middle grade audience. Her poems have been published in the Texas Poetry Calendar, di-verse-city, and Something's Brewing, among other places, and her short fiction has appeared in Dark Moon Digest, Darker Times, and Writers Weekly. She lives in Austin with her husband and pets.

Would you like to participate in Friday "Speak Out!"? Email your short posts (under 500 words) about women and writing to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration. We look forward to hearing from you!



  1. Ahhh, the power of our minds! :) I think I need some of those cue tips over here, too. :) Thanks for making me giggle this morning.

  2. Really enjoyed this post, and I sure can relate! Thanks!!

  3. This is synchronicity,. I am also dancing around revision and on my grocery list is the same misspelling. CueTips. Now I am going to turn off everything and revise for an hour before starting my H&R Block neverending homework.

  4. Anonymous7:30 PM

    Thanks, everyone! I'm glad I inspired some giggles. And Susan, your comment gave me chills! How strange that our subconscious minds were so in synch this week. I hope the revisions went well. :)

  5. I can identify. Loved the post.

  6. That is a fantastic typo! Grocery lists seem to bring out the best of these. I still remember the time my dad and I got into an argument over whether there were one or two p's in "pumpkin." (I won.) The hilarious part was that he'd written "pumkin" right after bragging about some online quiz he took that told him he was "a word warrior." Hehe. Great stuff!


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