Benefit of the Doubt

Big Doubts

This Saturday is International Skeptics Day.

Don’t believe me?

That’s the spirit!

So go ahead and check the calendar…


Still skeptical aren’t you?

That’s because you’re the sort of person who needs solid evidence to support a claim before you accept it as fact. And that out-of-focus scribble in the date space of that pasted-in calendar isn’t enough to convince you it’s 100% true. You see where I’m going with this. Around in circles.


This day celebrates the people who keep in mind that things may be different from the way they appear. These are folk who help keep our feet on the ground while we reach for the stars. Afterall, if it weren’t for the skeptics we’d  still be believing the Earth was flat. (It’s not, right? Right?!) They are one of the greatest resources a dreamer can have. Most scientists would claim to be empirical skeptics, who admit the possibility of knowledge based on evidence, but hold that new evidence may always overturn these findings.

Get it?




Of these doubt-themed movies, the Meryl StreepPhillip Seymour HoffmanAmy Adams starring DOUBT (2008) was by far and away my favourite.

With that out of the way it’s time to tell you about a monthly writing contest run by a U.S publishing company called PRESS 53. Entrants have exactly 53 words (no more – no less) to sculpt a short story to a given theme. This months theme is DOUBT. Entry is free and there are prizes. Submissions are accepted until October 31st and are to be emailed to  If you’re interested check out the full biz HERE

So wanna read my 53 word little doubt-themed fandango?

Thought you’d never ask!

Professor McNutt smiled in a superior way and then released a full-throated, terrible laugh. There was little doubt he had gone insane. How else to explain his contention that Netflix’s reimagining of LOST IN SPACE was superior to the 1960’s original. Jeremy slowly backed out of his office, shutting the door behind him.


Using the last name ‘McNutt’ in a written piece has been a long-held dream of mine.  I’m so glad to have finally ticked that one-off. And at the risk of self-congratulation  I must share with you what the New York Times literary critic Thurston Howell III had to say about my little ditty –

“In one of the great feats of voice, Donaldson has delivered a micro-fiction wonder that not only showcases a head-spinning plot twist not seen since Charlton Heston uttered those impassioned words on the beach back in ’68 – “You maniacs! You blew it up!” to end PLANET OF THE APES (by virtue of the brown-leather-elbow-patch-wearing Professor aligning himself with the newer version of LOST IN SPACE when we could bet the house someone of his age and countenance would naturally favor the older version – duh!) but in an effortless display of pop-culture consciousness brought to life, he evokes a seething generational tension amidst world-building so tight and atmospheric it comes with its own weather system.

A timeless tale with in-built ballast and fascination.”

Ok, so Thurston’s review was longer than the piece itself but no matter. Praise like that doesn’t come along every day… so I’ll take it.

(I’ll do more than take it! I’ll immortalize it and laminate it).


I understand it may be a little intimidating to follow something of that calibre (the story not the review… ok then, both!) but why not chance your hand anyway.

It could be a lot of fun.


Ps. From micro-fiction to short stories…

Brisbane author David Cohen who I interviewed HERE on SCENIC WRITER’S SHACK last year has just released a new collection of short stories entitled THE HUNTER. Check out this array of quirk-

  • A property developer fears that a burgeoning ibis population will prevent the construction of a high rise apartment complex
  • a fake bus stop in Düsseldorf, designed to help dementia patients, suffers its own identity crisis
  • a young man’s new job requires him to pose as a woodcutter and wave to a trainload of tourists
  • an aging, reclusive archivist becomes locked in a strange battle of wills with a courier


Pss. By way of follow-up to last week’s post regarding the movie THE SHINING, how about this cover of the latest issue of MAD MAGAZINE. Not that I read MAD or anything…


Ps. LOST IN SPACE FIRESIDE launches next Friday!

     Are you ready?

     Are you awake?

     Are you even still reading this?






7 thoughts on “Benefit of the Doubt

  1. The LOST IN SPACE FIRESIDE launch next Friday will be BIG! (At least in my mind; reality-wise maybe a completely different matter.) And as far as inspiration is concerned, I owe it all to YOU Emily!

    Who knows?
    For the launch I may even treat myself and wheel out super-endorser without par Thurston Howell III again to spruik some much needed words of encouragement and good cheer for the occasion.

    Friends with benefits (in the most platonic sense) is what I label that little arrangement.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. They have the very latest edition on the shelf to borrow each month at my public library (in Brisbane, Australia). If I borrow it – which I’ve been known to do on numerous occasions – I always make sure I have my eight-year-old daughter right next to me at the time.

    Wouldn’t want to raise any eyebrows down at my local.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It’s hilarious to be sitting here thinking, “Is International Skeptics Day” a real thing? The irony is pulsating while the redundancy of doubting threatens to do some serious circuitry damage!

    So Lost in Space Fireside got it! Yay! Very nice.
    Thanks for the tip about the contest. That would really, really, really, really be a challenge. Your 53 words are pretty funny! And I had no idea that Thurston Howell III ever got off the island, much less reviewed your tale of angst, doubt, and insanity! 🙂

    The description of David Cohen’s stories sound intriguing. The story about the guy dressed as a woodcutter and waving to tourists especially reminds me of George Saunders. Did you ever read Civilwarland in Bad Decline? Here it is if you want/have time/want:

    I also liked Doubt a lot. It would be hard not to, especially with Streep and Hoffman. I was very sad when he exited the planet.
    Did you ever see Punch Drunk Love? He had a small part in that in which he was great, of course. But mostly I mention it because it’s a very odd, offbeat movie (starring Adam Sandler). A lot of people hate Mr. Sandler, but he’s not doing his usual thing in this one.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks for those recomendations Stacey.
      And thanks for commenting on just about every aspect of the post.
      That is comprehensive commenting 101 and I love it!
      Next time I write something, in the interests of balance I might pass it before ‘Luvvy’ instead of Thurston just to mix it up the opinions a little.

      Liked by 2 people

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