If you like to read, and enjoy quirky, welcome. There are about 30 random things here for you. After you read a short story you may even find some personal comments/insights! The main purpose of creating this blog is for writers. I see so much written about writer's block, and honestly, I don't have it. Occasionally, I write short stories, longer stories, books, plays, one act plays, monologues, and sometimes I even think one is good enough to submit somewhere. Of course, when you submit a story to a magazine that receives 200 stories a month and publishes five, you'd better enjoy the process of writing. I'm not suggesting that I'm a good writer, merely that I can sit down and just start writing.

It is important to write, to constantly be working on your art. If you are constantly plagued by writer's block, perhaps you are being too selective in what you write about. With that in mind, I wanted to share with you some examples of my writing, from someone who can write all the time. Occasionally the topics are a bit strange, but I don't let that slow me down, I love to write and get to a finished product. Hopefully, by looking at some examples, you will say to yourself that phrase that all artists who visit MOMA in NYC say: "Well, I can do this!" That would be good, because you can! One of my posts is about a talking tomato. (You have to be able to do better than that!)

In part I'm trying to get some of my stuff in one place, so keep in mind I never claimed it was going to be an incredible read. You can decide that. I will tell you that occasionally I have a story in me that seems to fit the goal of a publication, and I try to write specifically with that goal in mind. Lately I've been considering publications that publish nonfiction memoirs, so some of the entries you'll find here will have that flavor. Perhaps this is a way to get past writer's block - find a publication looking for something that you'd like to write. It seems like memoir-based publications may be a good place to start, because we're all experts in our own families. I'm using a blog here to share some of the things I've written; the blog format is not ideal, so you need to poke around a little at old posts, to see if you can find a story or something else that may interest you.

Two last items. None of these are finished products. I usually get to a point where I have something written, and then stop. If it is something I may decide to submit for some reason, I'll finish formatting, following the specific rules of the magazine or organization (the rules are alwaysdifferent). If you do see something in here that you may be interested in using, don't hesitate to contact me.

So welcome to my blog. Welcome to my writing. Write, people, write! It feels good.

Please also consider getting a copy of my first book, Saturday Night at Sarah Joy's. All Royalties go to the Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund. Please check out the book's blog at:

Thank you!

© 2012 John Allison

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Family Meetings

I was an only child.  It was easy for my parents to talk with me whenever they wanted, but we would occasionally have "official" family meetings around the dining room table.  Every Fall we would have a snow meeting.  We would get the wooden bobble-headed fat-man savings bank off the dining room window sill (right above the radiator).  He would be the fourth member of the meeting.  We would each put a dollar into him.  This was a lot of money, but we were big time gamblers.  On each dollar, we would write our prediction for when Philadelphia would get its first snowfall (which we looked forward to).  I always picked my birthday, November 14, my mother would pick her birthday, December 13, and my father, a "summer baby", would usually pick my grandmother's birthday, December 14, or Christmas.  For those three days, we constantly watched the skies, hoping that any of the three of us would win.  If no snow fell by the end of the year, the contents would remain and be added to the winnings for the next Fall.

I recall two very important family meetings that we had when I was young (and many others, which I had to call, as my parents aged).  My mother became infatuated by the commercials on TV, and magazine ads for COOL cigarettes.  Those who smoked them apparently really enjoyed them, and had wonderful lives, although we had no idea what enjoying a cigarette meant, since neither of my parents smoked.  Dad and I were surprised when Mom called a meeting and set a saucer and an unopened pack of Cools on the table, along with a book of matches.  I couldn't imagine her actually buying cigarettes!  I was 10 at the time and it was 1961.  To our surprise, Mom invited Dad and I to join her in discovering the joys of smoking Cools.  We were each dealt our own cigarette, which we awkwardly lit up.  Just like on TV, we tried to look casual and wealthy as we inhaled, prepared to exhale that relaxing smoke.  We coughed, we choked, we ran for glasses of water; we almost died.  None of us ever touched a cigarette again.  (If you want to make sure your kids or grandkids never smoke, I highly recommend this approach.)

I also very much remember a family meeting that we had after my third 5th grade report card came out (1962).  My mother brought it to the table.  My father brought our family dictionary.  My teacher had used a word that none of us has ever heard before.  My mother first read Mrs. Miller's comment.  "John is a bit flippant."  I suggested that it meant well groomed.  My father looked it up, and read the definition to us all.  Apparently my definition was incorrect.  A substantial discussion followed.  Looking back at my old report cards, I'm reminded that prior to that meeting, my mother always signed them.  (They always had to be signed and returned.)  After that meeting, my father always signed, and always wrote a note back to the teachers, adding up to quite a continued dialog in those years that followed.  While I may not have been the best student academically from that point on, I definitely took it more seriously, and treated the teachers with the respect they deserved.  They did, after all, have the ultimate power - their short notes could lead to family meetings, and I didn't want to be looking up any other new words around the dining room table ever again.

© 2012 John Allison

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