Bobbie's Beat: No smut please


One of the hardest categories in a de-cluttering project is paper. I just tried to toss a pile of thin books, then pulled them out of the trash to take a memory photo and decided to share the back story.

In the mid ’80s, we received a letter from the editor of a Beijing, China magazine called “The World of English.” He said they were looking for writers who did not “write smut” and asked if I would contribute articles. We eventually discovered they got our South Beach address in Chicken Soup for the Soul, where a writer’s bio appears in every book. This was the age of “snail mail” and before computers or cellphones.  

Here is part of the introduction: “The World of English, a serious monthly magazine, publishes a variety of articles in good English. The writers we have selected come from various sources, national and international. Basic to this magazine is a steady focus on all kinds of knowledge, scientific and scholastic information and famous literary work. First priority is always given to accuracy of the English language and wisdom of the contents.”

Following is one of the columns they used, originally published in the Newport News-Times. It appeared in both Chinese and English.

•     •     •

It’s Never Too Late

By Bobbie Jensen Lippman

 What is it you want to do, but haven’t done yet? Is it because you think it’s too late or too scary or because you might fail? Yesterday, while walking the beach with our dog Sasha (who usually manages to draw people into conversation) I met a retired couple from Chicago. They kept saying how much they loved visiting the Oregon coast. “We both love the ocean,” the woman said, “and we’re so sorry we didn’t buy property here 10 years ago.”

“Do you think it’s too late now?” I asked. “Well no, “she said, “but it would’ve been a lot cheaper then.” So will they stay stuck in an area they don’t like or will they dare to try something new and challenging? If I’d known them better, I would have mentioned that old line about the lady who waited so long for her ship to come in that her pier collapsed.

Someone once said, “Most people go through life in a state of quiet desperation.” Going through life in a state of quiet expectation sounds a lot better to me. What it takes is a conscious change in attitude. Look how many people talk about making changes. But talk is all they do. For example, things would really be different if I could just: change my job — get married — have kids — get rid of the kids — move somewhere else.

I have enjoyed contesting as a sub-hobby and occasionally suggest to friends they try it because surprises are such fun. When a friend in Nebraska found out that the fourth Polaroid camera had arrived at our house, she said “Oh that would never happen to me. I’m just not the type of person who ever wins anything.”

“Why not change your attitude?” I suggested. “Sometimes you have to make things happen and see yourself as a winner.” This friend never calls long distance, so I was surprised to hear her voice when the phone rang. “Guess what?” she yelled into the phone. “I decided to try changing how I think about myself. I saw a contest notice in a store, so signed up and then really tried to picture myself as a winner.” At this point she sounded breathless. “They just called to tell me I’ve won $100!” Then she added, “So I figured I could afford to call and say your philosophy works.”

In my creative writing classes at Oregon Coast Community College, I encourage students to go for their dreams, to be passionate about something — anything — and above all, to have faith in themselves. One woman said, “I’ve got some fears about seeing if I can write, but it is also something I’ve always wanted to try.” She is now one of seven students whose work has been accepted for publication.                     

While on the subject of faith, did you hear about the two nuns who were driving down the highway, ran out of gas and had to walk to the nearest gas station? “Did you bring a container to put gas in?” asked the attendant. “Oh n,o” said the nuns. “There wasn’t one in the car.”

“Well, I’m sorry,” the attendant said, “We’re all out of containers, but there is an old antique bed pan in the back room that will hold enough gas to get you going. You’re welcome to use it.”

“That’ll be fine,” said the nuns, and soon they were trudging back to their car, carefully carrying the bed pan. Just as they were pouring gas into the tank of their car, an 18-wheeler went by. “Well, I’ll be,” muttered the truck driver. “Now, that’s what I call faith!”

•     •     •

One last troubling thought about being published in “The World of English” is they also used works by Jane Austen, Ernest Hemingway, Thomas Hardy and Mark Twain, and they are all dead now! 

 

Bobbie Lippman is a professional writer who lives in Seal Rock with her cat, Purrfect. She is the author of “Good Grief: A Collection of Stories As One Woman Journeys From Heartbreak To Healing Through Honesty and Humor.” The book, with all proceeds going to the Rotary International Foundation, is available at JC Market in Newport and directly from Bobbie, who can be contacted at [email protected]

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