Friday, August 9, 2019

No Adjectives or Adverbs Exercise

I hate this assignment. I love weaving words and phrases with adjectives and adverbs. I know Randall pushes us so we’ll master seasoning our sentences. I know the exercise works and I know he loves words. I trust his intent, to teach me to weave words like a lover not a stalker, and that's the difference.
If I didn't know, Randall's exercise would remind me of the year I worked with a dietician. I knew at a glance, this woman hated food. The dietician thought her counsel, baking or boiling meat, eliminate soda, and change candy for fruit would help. It’s not like I didn’t know the rules of nutrition, I know. I know I don’t follow them. Months passed. My smile thinned, my waistline didn’t. She’d crossed foods, flavors and joy off the menu. No fat, no sweets, no fried. I missed life tasting like life and not cardboard.
The break came. She crossed the line. My husband and I go on a date a week. We share popcorn and a soda. She suggested no salt or butter. I ranted. “Eating popcorn, no butter, no salt…is like eating Styrofoam, or a date without a kiss.” She sniffed and said I’d adjust. I adjusted. I quit. Do I eat fish? Yes. Do I drink a water or soda? It depends. Do I eat chocolate for breakfast? It depends. Do I eat salt and butter on popcorn? Yes, and I think of her. My smile beats hers.

Saturday, August 3, 2019

At the Register

I may have to restart Small Success Thursday just to discipline myself with writing. It isn't that I haven't been writing, it's that I don't think some of the stuff I write these days is ready to be read. 

However, I do have a piece over at the Register, reminding each of us to Call your mother.

Monday, July 29, 2019

A Good Story is Never Just a Story

Followers of this blog know I belong to a writer's forum.  One quote from Steven King we stress is about a writer having to read.  This would seem self evident, but two newer members took offense, and tried to insist that a writer need not read.   As blotchy a reader as I might be (sort of frenzy and then little and back to frenzy again), I know it's an essential component of the writer's life.  Here is why: 
As a child, I devoured fairy tails and fables, anything with fantasy had me neck deep in it, reading them over and over again. Some of those stories over the years became alternative versions of themselves, Disnefied by movies. The little mermaid got the guy and sacrificed virtually nothing in the end, and none of the stories ended with anything actually bad happening except to the villians as established early on in the tale.
The fairy tales became simpler versions of the stories they were, and while they dazzled with humor and music and color, they weren't what they once were, because they no longer told any story, but the plot which inspired them. Cinderella dances with her man and wins him in the end. The Beauty charms the Beast and they marry. Everyone gets a rich spouse and endless blessings in the end, with nary a worry or a care or a loss.
Fairy tales, real ones, they aren't like that at all if you go back to the source. People cut off their toes, they endure death, they lose and they lose and they lose and only after they've endured --seven years without speaking, or journeyed to complete hard quests that lost them loyal companions or treasures they thought they valued, do they come to their conclusions.
The stories tell stories beyond the plot, like Goldielocks and the Three Bears fulfill the wish of every older sibling when the new baby comes home. Everything was perfect until she showed up and ate my food, broke my things and took over my bed. We get rid of her, everything goes back to perfect.
Beauty and the Beast is a story of redeption and forgiveness and growth, but in its modern and most known version, that gift of mercy in the form of a transformative spell which allows for maturity and love to do it's job, is only allotted to the original prince. If you're a commoner and a jerk like Gaston, (as fun as he is as a villian), there's no hope for redemption, no magic that helps broaden the narrow vision of the townspeople the way it did those of the servants at the castle. Redemption for some doesn't resonate for me. I want the cycle to continue, if it's a tale as true as song and old as time.
Stephen King wrote about how he used his own trials as grist for the mill, and thus Misery is a story about his additction to cocaine. Steven Moffat did the same with his episodes of Dr. Who --where the invasion of the cubes that everyone took everywhere and took for granted, but which amassed information about everyone, was an attempt to look critically at our use of cell phones in this society. The weeping angels, were reminders of what pornography does to the brain --it destroys relationships, it stays in the mind and becomes a source of facination, and it becomes something which is hard to escape. All good stories, are much more and about much more than what happened.
What we read and what we live, is by necessity, part of what we pour out onto the page. The more we have to draw upon, the better we can create whole worlds, move hearts, evoke pain, heart ache, joy and great beauty. It is why reading is a mandatory 25 minute part of my writing regimen. It to me, is like stretching, before and after exercise. It cuts back on the possiblity of arrogance, because I can see before me someone else's craft and elegance and intellect and know it's superior, and it fuels my capacity to do more.
We live in a post-literary age, when people skim and skate along the surface of what's available.  For this generation's story tellers, it's all the more vital.  We're going to need to know all the stories that came before us, so we can introduce them to a new generation who is as of yet, only vaguely aware of the stories out there (and usually only via Disney).  Hopefully we can spark in them, the desire to dive deeper into all the words and worlds there are to find.

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If you sneak my work, No Chocolate for You!