60 Keith Dugger

29 Aug

This essay is also published on the author’s blog. Visit and check out his other stuff while you’re there.

Paragraph One

In a life with [days and nights and breathing and cars and TV and radio and Facebook|Google+|Twitter (Foogler) and TiVo and Netflix and iPhones and Android and Internet and nosy next door neighbors ringing the doorbell at 3am just to tell you that their Chihuahua-Great Dane-mix monster of a dog crapped in your prize petunias or fill in the blank with your favorite, but loving distraction] things can get a little hectic. Don’t be alarmed, life is not something you do, it is something that does you. What you do while it’s still around is a whole other matter (and up to you no matter what that late-night televangelist tells you).

In the context of the rest of your life, this phenomenon will be known as Paragraph One. At least to me, but only in the context of this post.

I promise that no matter what subtext of slick, icy hell life has slipped under your rug you can still be creative. Even when that shadow of your day rips the rug out from under you. Really. (Well, if the rug is actually ripped out from under you, see a doctor, or a plate tectonic specialist. And if a shadow did it, you’re on your own).

I’d be lying if I told you that I didn’t prefer to lock myself in my closet (next to a overly disturbing collection of stuffed ALF dolls from 1987; 37 at last count) and block out the real world to write about fake ones. I’d be lying and I really like to lie. A lot. (I know you believe me.) I don’t get to pick and choose (see Paragraph One) a time to write, or a place, or… Hell, who am I kidding? I don’t get to pick much of anything. I write when I can and surprisingly, the more I try to ignore these things, the more I’ve come to depend on them. I write better under pressure with noise and yelling and broken volume control.

This wasn’t supposed to be a post about distraction. It was really supposed to be a post about writing prompts, but something grabbed my attention and… Nevermind.

A creative bugbear, Sue ( and steampunk operator of, likes to throw out increasingly bizarre prompts typically in triplet and dare|beg|taunt me to write something that includes all of them. And she usually does this as I’m experiencing Paragraph One in a mindless bliss of blue static electricity or blued elasticity. I’ve come to consider her exercise as an embedded part of Paragraph One and I love it (think she’ll notice I just called her a distraction?).

Not everyone can write while undergoing the critical brain surgery that can be Paragraph One. And not everyone can write to prompts. That’s OK. You are you and without you, you wouldn’t be special. But there will be a time when you think the world is against you and 90% of Paragraph One is bearing down on you with the jaw strength of a rhino’s left eyelid, so turn up the TV and give prompt writing a try.

  1. Milk
  2. Shannon Doherty when she was cool
  3. Rocket Scientestry

See, at least one of those isn’t fiction. For the others, you’ll have to dig really deep for that creative part of your writing.

(Before everyone gets all bent out of shape… I don’t consider everything in Paragraph One a true distraction. TV loves me dammit. And yes… Scientestry.)


Posted by on August 29, 2011 in Creativity Guest Posts


2 Responses to 60 Keith Dugger

  1. admin

    August 30, 2011 at 8:45 am

    Of course I noticed that you called me a distraction. I don’t mind, for in my own distracted mind your words are always there distracting me as well. So, on the distraction spectrum we are equally distracted and I call us even Steven. Or Keith. Or whatever.

    You have an amazing talent for writing to prompts but not in an Iwrotethistoaprompt kind of way. I’ve told you before that I think there is a poet trapped in that warped writers brain of yours. There is a lyrical quality to your work. Rhythms and phrasing to rival the best qualities of any musical production. Imagery so vivid it tickles my brain. In a good way, not a don’t touch me THERE kinda way cause that would be too icky.

    You make me laugh daily. Sometimes until it hurts. But I’ll take the pain of laughing too much over real pain any day. Your writing, your silliness, and your friendship mean the world to me. Thank you for this post and for everything you do for me.

    Armadillos, beer, and asphalt.

    Wait, that one’s too easy. You are from Texas after all.

    Mirrors, erasers, and doorknobs.

    Okay, that’s better. Go write.

    • Doc Coleman

      September 19, 2011 at 11:22 am

      Mirrors, erasers, and doorknobs. Hmmmm…

      Psychological thriller about an aspiring writer trying to find some peace to write. To escape distractions he shuts himself into an old bedroom. Sitting at the dressing table he plops pencil and paper onto the table… and can’t write. Idly looking at the mirror and trying to find some inspiration, his eye lights on the reflection of the doorknob. He sees it as the gateway to all those distractions he fears. Raising his pencil, he puts the eraser against the mirror and rubs out the doorknob. His whimsy turns to fear when he realizes the doorknob really is gone! He turns to find the doorknob has disappeared and the door is now featureless. In his surprise, he drops his pencil, and breaks the point off.



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