Linda G. Hill is an energetic blogger and the founder of Just Jot it January (JusJoJan). This month she’s been providing a daily one word prompt and inviting folks to write on the subject if they feel inspired. It’s a lovely gesture as bloggers, like writers, ofttimes need inspiration.
I generally don’t get my act together in time (and today is no exception) but a few days ago her word was “ghost.”
My first thought was “ghost of a chance,” a phrase we writers hear all too often.
But what do mortals know about ghosts and their shenanigans in the afterlife?
In one of my favorite movies (The Ghost and Mrs. Muir) the ghost has the chance to come back, write a successful book and win the heart of a beautiful widow!
My first impulse was to search online for the source of this peculiar phrase. Guess what? No one seems to know. According to Dictionary.com it could have originated in the1880s when Chinese laborers arrived in U.S. by the thousands willing to work for less than their counterparts. American workers reacted by using the phrase “A Chinaman’s chance” to describe a futile endeavor, thereby reducing the Chinese to insubstantial shadows, or ghosts. Today the phrase “Chinaman’s chance” is considered derogatory.
My search did unearth an impressive list of movies, books, songs and even video games inspired by the phrase. A small sampling follows:
- A 1991 song by the group Rush http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TgqkhArHBHM
- A 1987 TV movie staring Dick Van Dyke and Red Foxx
Ghost of a Chance – Red Foxx, a pianist killed accidentally by Dick Van Dyke (a wayward cop), has a chance to come down from heaven to help his son. Something tells me this movie was a stinker!
- William Burroughs’ 1991 novel Ghost of Chance described as a “take off on the Book of Revelations” full of a “whimsical hodgepodge of corrosive wit and edgy desolation.” I have to point out other reviewers were far less impressed with Burroughs’ opium fueled visions.
As for me, today I don’t even have a ghost of a chance of convincing Pretty Kitty to get off my lap so that I can work. Any suggestions?
Today I’m honored to be interviewed on Jeri Walker’s multi-faceted blog Word Bank, Make Every Word Count.
Isn’t that a great title for a blog – “Make Every Word Count?” Every word should count, as every word has the potential to provide hope or reinforce despair. Writers should take a stand with their words which is why we all need an editor – to save our sorry hides from the “really pretty,” the “kind of sad,” and all the weak-kneed phrases we hear day in and out that filter in and grind our work to pablum.
Jeri is one of this blog’s earliest and most supportive followers and thus is worth her weight in gold and silver and diamonds and/or chocolate. On her blog she features tips on writing, editing, publishing, marketing, and more. One of my favorite posts is Writers Workout Memoir prompts which I urge you to check out if you’re interested in writing a memoir.
In the serendipitous world of bloggers, old souls attract each other. Jeri and I were both raised in dusty western towns whose prominent citizens were the owners of bordellos and saloons, where cowboys came in once a week for a bath and a lay and to spend a week’s paycheck and a night in jail. I’m happy to say that in February she’s agreed to post one of her essays on my blog. Can’t wait!
Has the serendipity of blogging drawn you across space and time to a kindred spirit?
This post was inspired by Linda G. Hill’s Just Jot January series! Please check out other #JusJoJan Serendipity posts.