Been reading prompts from Lillie McFerrin Writes (lilliemcferrin.com) and found a few minutes (WHAT? How did THAT happen?) to try one today! Lillie issues a five-sentence story prompt via my email. Today I jumped into a story that dictated itself to me – which turned out to be quite unlike the photo on her website…but here it is:
WAVES…..5 Sentence Fiction……..Virginia Nygard 6/23/15
I sit in the dust outside Mabel’s Beauty Parlor while Mama sits inside getting a Marcel wave.
She come out so beautiful I bet the stars will hide in shame tonight… just like me.
Picking her way ‘cross the wooden sidewalk, she pats my head, kisses my cheek and then sashays to the shiny Ford Model A, just panting at the curb for her.
Mr. James Windsor Whitehorn don’t never come ‘cross the tracks unless he come to pick up Mama for doing the town, like he say.
I know what you be doing, my eyes say whilst I wave them away into the night.
(There you go. Hey, I write only what my characters tell me to!)
Some writers isolate themselves in little cabins on lovely mountain lakes, and in blissful hibernation write to their heart’s content. My recent hibernation hasn’t been like that at all. Being there for my husband as he underwent knee replacement surgery and the few hiccups in the recovery process that continues, means that we get to spend more time together. He was, is, and always will be, my first priority.
Much of the first week of seeing to his comfort has given way to mutual cabin fever. Between tending his needs, doctor visits and the comings and goings of nurse and therapist, I watched the chores pile up around me. There seemed not one spot in my line of sight that didn’t wave a mental white flag that screamed, “Yoo-hoo! I’m still here waiting for you.” That’s when I asked, “From whence cometh MY help? There aren’t any hills in Florida to look to!” And writing? Had my computer been the family dog, it would have starved to death, completely unnoticed. That’s when I got to thinking something was wrong with me. I couldn’t do everything. I had an image of me that was based on my beliefs and the beliefs and accomplishments of others.
The I-can-do-it-all types blog about how they’ve come back from death’s door to write a book (or two) a year, have six kids, three husbands, two dogs, four cats and a turtle; and they never miss a Little League game, music or ballet lesson. While typing all this info, they are kicking the oven door shut on a five-course dinner for seven guests arriving in an hour. And they are full of condescending innuendoes that anyone who puts his mind to it, should be able to do the same.
That’s when I said, “You’re right. You can’t do it all. You’re not Penelope Perfect. You are the perfect You. Take a few deep breaths, count your blessings, and give this situation into Divine hands.” Which I did. And do. Often. With many situations. When you can let go of your need for perfection, you can forgive the imperfections in others. And I do. Often.
See, it all worked out. It may be April 29th, but it’s still April, and my post is out!
So, do I hear an AMEN on that?
At our Treasure Coast Writer’s Group a few weeks ago, Brenda Welliver wrote a delightful piece on how she and her friend deal with mishaps, fumbles, and minor misfortunes. One will call the other to say, “Well, Murphy’s been here again!” and proceed to detail and laugh about surviving those annoying events.
Brenda, dear, I completely understood it then, and again, because Mr. Murphy’s been following me around for days. The first brush with the imp came when I grabbed a quick BLT before a recent speaking event. The thick, applewood-smoked bacon sandwich was a work of art, but it was NOT love at first bite. I knew the crunch was more than bacon. More accurately, my tongue felt it was more than bacon.
The dentist later confirmed that I had cracked a piece of bridgework and that an extraction and new bridge would be in my future, and though it was hanging on precariously, a fix could wait until I returned from the Thirteenth Annual Florida Writers Association’s Conference in Lake Mary. So, cutting every morsel into one-half inch pieces, I managed to eat without incident. “Leave well enough alone,” my Grandma always said. Unfortunately, my tongue forgot this bit of folk wisdom, incessantly probed the area until—out popped the broken bridge. So, yes, I spent the entire conference looking like a loser in a redneck barroom brawl, but everyone was most sympathetic and understanding.
Happily, attending the conference was worth keeping my mouth shut—a near impossibility—and giving what appeared to be disinterested, lukewarm smiles without showing teeth I didn’t have. I’m honored to report that of the two poems I entered in the Royal Palm Literary Awards competition, one was a finalist, and the other received an award.
The moral of the story? Whenever a critique group, an editor, a beta reader, an agent, or your best friend pulls a Murphy on you, roll with the punches, pick up your teeth and your pen, and keep on writing! You’ll have learned something about yourself—and your writing. And the rewards will prove worth it.
Maybe most of us can’t remember back that far, but watch a baby in a highchair being fed mush. Strained peas, carrots, squash, bananas, peaches, prunes (really?), beef, chicken, lamb—ad nauseam.
My least favorite, so my mother says, was applesauce. In fact, from those highchair days on, any time I screwed up my face in disgust, my parents called it my “Applesauce Face.”
Watch that same baby when folks around the table are eating dinner, too. That lovey becomes a cranky terror who dumps his dish, knock over his bottle and raises a holy hullaballoo! Little One is saying, “I’d kill for one of those chicken legs to sink my teeth into. Or gums. Just give me real food!”
It occurred to me that this is the way I feel about modern media. To me, there’s an enormous amount of brainpower, electricity, and battery power—not to mention time—wasted on…mush. I do not twitter or tweet. I am not a twit. Okay, so this leaves me out of a market to sell my stuff. I really don’t care. Minds of 140 characters are not those I’m trying to reach.
I don’t iPhone, either. I do blog. I do Facebook. When I want to. Not good enough? Too bad. I’ve got a life to live, and there’s a hell of a lot of world out there I haven’t seen yet. To prevent my bottom from developing acreage by sitting in front of a computer, to avoid driving into a canal and drowning from yakking on the cell phone or texting, I’m going to do it “My Way,” like Frankie.
Anybody else brave enough to speak up?
TEN GREAT WEBSITES FOR WRITERS
I’ve been hunting the Internet Jungle for websites for writers, and some of these have been passed on to me from other writers. Hope these help!
1) dailywriting tips.com:
Each day this free newsletter gives tips on grammar, punctuation, lists of idioms, synonyms, and more.
Sign up for free A.Word.A.Day message that gives you the meaning, etymology, usage of a word. Also has audio to hear the word pronounced.
Billed as “A World of Writing information – For Writers Around the World,” It truly is a fantastic site with a super archive.
Every writer’s Bible online! Articles, blogs, competitions, education, and more. Okay, by now you’re saying “Do I really need more?” Well, yes! Because I went to the trouble to find them for you!
The free site begun by author Jane Strauss, now deceased, gives simple grammar explanations followed by a short quiz to anchor the concept in memory.
While on the subject of grammar, here you can get a few bytes of the subject in advice and interactive format.
I love this place. Sign up for their free poem-a-day. Sometimes I save opening this email until I need a break in my writing. Most works I love, others–eh–not so much. Like when it’s shaped and reads like a paragraph pulled from a page of a book. (Okay, poetry elitists, no letters, please. Some people like baseball, some like football. There’s room for all of us in the world)
Helpful site by Harvey Chapman, a Brit. It covers getting started, planning and writing a novel, and lists writing resources. He seemed to speak to me: “…remember that most people out there wouldn’t have the guts or the stamina to attempt what you are attempting. …and you should feel immensely proud about whatever you have achieved today.” Thanks, Harvey! We all need to hear that.
If freelancing is your aim, this site has everything: hundreds of video tutorials, articles, and more. Give it a look.
If you are, or think you’d like to write for children, check into the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators.