Every Word a Correction

Writers, this is a tiny workshop! The only supplies you need are what you with you this very moment. At the end, you can show your participation with a comment.

Are you ready?

A picture is worth a thousand words.

You’ve likely heard this statement before.

How about the next statement?

A thousand words is worth at least a thousand pictures.

That’s today’s focus.

In the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, several publications printed an essay titled “About Five Thousand One Hundred and Seventy Five Words”, by Samuel R. Delany. I came across the essay in my copy of SF: The Other Side of Realism (1971). Using what I presume to be about 5,175 words, Delany explains how the meaning of each word in a novel relates to every preceding word.

How that works is that the novel’s first word forms an image. The image may be more of an impression, vague and unseen in your subconscious, but it is there. The next word modifies the image, or at least, the emotion tied to the image.

Of course this psychological trick doesn’t only applies to novels. A single word can change any story. Each word modifies your image of the story’s contents.

Let us go through a quick example:


What if the word above were the first word of a story? Are you within the image, below it, or elsewhere? Is it doing anything, or does it wait for the next word? What would you expect next?

Below is the rest of the first sentence in my hypothetical story. To see the words, click at the end of this paragraph, then slid your mouse down to highlight each word. Please pause after each word and note how your image of “Stars” has changed, if at all.





Is the image in your head the same as when you read the first word?

Please comment below.

Revised from the original 2009 edition.

a plane's wing with the sunlit sky in the background

Self-Propellent to a Mile High Convention

Update: The campaign has closed, and the event has passed. A following post shared my thoughts after MileHiCon 50.


This is a different type of post than I’ve written before. Below is an excerpt from my GoFundMe fundraiser.

MileHiCon is an annual literary speculative fiction (science fiction and fantasy) event in Colorado. It’s not a huge event like WorldCon (a literary event) or ComicCon (for comics, often focused on speculative fiction), making it considerably less expensive. It’s more accommodating to marginalized participants than most. For me, it’s the best for connecting with friends and publishing experts. This year is special in that it’s bringing together big names in the industry to celebrate the convention’s 50th anniversary. The list includes authors we would love to see again.

Connecting with my writing peers is important. I have none to meet up with in person unless I travel. The people I’ve already met offline will be at this year’s MileHiCon. After this opportunity, I might not see them again for years.

My husband has fewer contacts online and no local friends.

Attending MileHiCon this year is important for our mental health.

The money I make from writing is not enough to cover trip expenses. My husband’s work covers most of our daily expenses. We need a break from our daily lives. That also includes a break from worrying about how much everything, from toothpaste to a hospital visit costs. In this case, the break we want is from worrying about how we’ll pay back the cost of flying to and from our previous home.

couple posing in front of
MileHiCon 49 was a good experience in 2017

I was raised to believe that the only people who deserve wealth of any kind are those who work for it. That made sense to me as a child. What I knew best was chronic pain and criticisms. I was hungry, hurt, scared, and living in unsafe environments because I wasn’t the right combination of smart enough, strong enough, or appealing enough. Somehow, I could work my way to a better life despite all of my flaws.

That’s not true. Most of us aren’t born with the right amount of luck for wealth.

Knowing that, I still can’t shake the feeling I don’t deserve “handouts”. I’m guessing this is a common feeling in Americans who have lived near poverty lines. It’s one of the misconceptions about poverty and the value of a person.

The feeling that I shouldn’t ask for help doesn’t reflect how I respond about others asking for help. One of the first things I do (which I was also told was wrong) when I receive money I wasn’t expecting is to divide it. I might always owe more than I can give, but I want people to know that I appreciate their help, whether it’s for free services or inspirational art. (I am horrible at sending friends and families gifts; however, that’s a whole ‘nother kettle of anxiety-saturated complications.)

The desire to share windfalls, interestingly, a reaction that’s studied. British researchers recently found that we tend to share more when we luck out than when we fight for a resource.

If you gain a high status through effort rather than chance, she said, you are more likely to want to keep what you earned. When your wealth is limited, you have more of an incentive to cooperate.

The concept that people get what they put into works out for the lucky. For many of us, it leads instead to injuries, trauma, exhaustion, and depression as we attempt to work harder for a system that consistently awards those at the top the most.

Anyway, what I’m saying is that I feel the need to justify asking anyone for anything, even if it’s $5 that can save a reduce anxiety for a week.

A.M. Lynn


a plane's wing with the sunlit sky in the background
© Free-Photos on Pixabay

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