They all have a story

I very much agreed with this sentiment by Valerie Cabrera, posted today on The Loft Literary Center’s “The Writers Block” blog:

The people I talk to are usually normal moms, high school seniors, kids who love sports, gardening grandmothers, restaurant managers, etc. They all lead pretty normal day-to-day lives. And they all have a story. 

I found this to be true when I was working as a newspaper reporter. My favorite type of assignment was a profile – everyone has something fascinating to share. The trick is to find your way to it.

The key is to develop trust.

You know that personality-quiz-type question, “If you could develop a superpower, what would it be?”

I’d like to have the power to win instant trust from everyone I met. I’m sure that has something to do with my need to be liked, but, boy, what a boon that would be for an interviewer!

A key to developing trust is to check your ego at the door and listen to a person. Really listen. With empathy. Without judgment.

It’s one of the skills I’ll need to make my interview project at The Life Work Blog come alive.


Fun with words

On the The Loft Literary Center Writer’s Block blog today, Valerie Cabrera shared this post, which mentions the Google Poetics blog.

Valerie muses about the “found poem” writing technique, and how a Google autocomplete list, while random, can be quite profound:

Although Google isn’t Burroughs, or Shakespeare, or Dickinson, it still manages to shed light on the inner workings of the human mind, our wild hopes and our bizarre fears, our absurd worries and our crazy wonderings.

I have many times enjoyed the fun of playing with Google autocomplete. There was a social media meme going around awhile back to post the top autocomplete suggestions for “[your name] needs”. Here are my current ones:

Katie needs money monday
Katie needs kickstarter
Katie needs twitter

Another bit of fun I used to have with Google was to take a phrase and run it through Google translate, through at least five different languages, and then translate it back into its home language. The results were often tear-jerkingly funny. Alas, Google Translate has gotten a lot better over the years, and the phrases wind up fairly close to what you started with. (That, or I’m just not as good at coming up with connivingly difficult sentences to translate at the moment.)

I got a sweet deal, and I feel like a million bucks.
I have a sweet deal, and I feel like a million.

I have a fond memory of accompanying a friend to her friend’s band practice in a sketchy empty warehouse and entertaining myself by tearing words out of a pile of abandoned newspapers and creating found poetry on the floor.

And who can forget Magnetic Poetry?

What kinds of fun do you have with words?