Thursday, March 31, 2011

Write Neeeckkeeed

Write Neeckked

How many times have you seen, heard, or read, “What is the most prevalent thing that you feel hinders your writing”?

The Boss tells me I say silly things to those who are asking or saying something to just make small talk. This was one of those times; I can’t find where it was but I am giving credit to The Literary Lab, in my mind; I think. They were asking for a suggestion or thought from the readers. My comment was “I need to more often write neeckkkeed”. In reality, at first, I thought I was being cute and usually I look for some kind of shocked response, but then I realized that I really felt that way. No, I don’t mean without my blue jeans. Peel away the layers of apprehension and shyness. Write what happens in the real world. I don’t always talk like what is spoken in the real world, but can I write it? I think I am suppose to, but truthfully, I don’t do that very often, if ever. I think that in order to get to the core of a topic, you have to dig through that muck and mash.

My next reaction was, “surely I am not the only one that has ever thought this”; it seems I was correct. Our local writer club, East Texas Writers’ Guild  met one Monday soon after this and the agenda was to watch YouTube videos of interviews with different writers. We experienced computer problems and ended up just having an open discussion night. The next day I went to the YouTube site and searched out the interviews on my own. I remembered the interview with Anita Shreve , the author of “The Pilot’s Wife” along with many others. In one segment she is telling about writing a scene that was a little too risqué for her personal comfort. Her response to herself was, “I can’t write this way. My Daddy is going to read this.” After considering an alternative direction for a short while, she determined that the scene was important to the story so she overrode her anxiety about the scene, peeled away the “layers” and wrote the real world into the story.

Like an overweight doctor that tells me to lose weight, I sit here and preach about this as if I have “torn down that wall” and mastered this technique, when in real life, I have not. My three girls are going to read just about everything I write and so are my sisters, my nieces and nephews and maybe even a few of you, so am I going to write very Neeckkeed? Probably not. For my purposes, I don’t think I need to. I will let “Momma Lou” do all the really colorful language, but maybe I should shed a few layers and still be in line with what is called for.

Watch all parts if you have the time

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Circle Unbroken

A good while back, I posted this story and forgot about it.  This Monday I went to our writers' critique meeting and I had nothing new, so I pull this one out of the pile and read it.  It was interesting how there were varied opinions on the "meaning" and "direction of the story; maybe it doesn't make any sense.  I thought "what the heck", I asked another writer friend to look at it and they whacked it to "smitheriens", but I like the suggestions they made.  I figured that I would run it back through the ringer one more time and hopefully someone will give me their idea(s) on what the durn thing is about.  sooooo.....

A Circle Unbroken aka Old Fence Post

The blue 59 Chevrolet Apache pickup easily climbed the grassy knoll looking down on the valley of the neighboring landscape. The Texas summer had been hot, way hot. He hated winter, but the tilt of the planet had finally allowed a crispness to fall upon the bristling grass. The cirrus clouds painted a giant canvas of O’keeffeian beauty in the western horizon. The panorama reflected off the polished aqua blue paint on the hood of the old truck, mirroring the picturesque light show. It would soon be dark.
Turning the key off, the six cylinder engine came to a complete stop. He just sat there listening to the crackling of the hot engine cooling down in the fall air. Reaching his arm out the window, the chrome button on the door handle easily unhooked the latch of the door; the inside latch mechanism had long been broken. The truck was old. He had actually taken his driving test forty two years earlier in this same truck. You hold onto old friends that have helped you along over the years.

That fence was not going to fix itself. Replacing a single post would hobble through the winter. He and his daddy had strung this fence when he was still in high school. Tough, but the elements and time had given it’s toll on the whole run of fence. The loamy Texas dirt was soft so digging the hole next to the existing post was finished in short order. Hammering the galvanized staples into the new post, securing the old rusty barbed wire would take very little time.

An orange ray of Texas sunset reflected off the rolled up window of the passenger door on to the old dilapidated post. The smooth decades-old surface was cracked and splintered. The barbed wire had left scars and discoloring up and down its torso. Still upright, the Old Codger like post had served its intention well.

With a grunt and a shuffle, he clawed around behind the seat and finally found his fencing pliers. Grabbing the head of the long since rusted staples, he gave each one a twist and a pull. The evening wind let out a sigh of relief as the wires dangled free from its crimped existence With a “whoomp“, the new post found its new footing; it was ready to take over in this relay of performance. Three whacks each on the wire strands and the new staples were set to hold. Throwing the pliers back under the seat, he stopped and looked at the old post. Working it forward and sideways, soon the dirt had loosened around the footing. The post landed with a clatter in the bed of the truck. You don’t just throw away something that has helped you along over the years.

Darkness was winning the battle. He glanced at the empty hole. Not sure if you make a sound if no one is there to hear you, but the old codger spoke with a chuckle,

“That’s a hell‘uva note”, when you’re finished as a fence post they take you out of a hole and put you in one when you start out”.

“Sounds kinda backerds to me”

“Old Blue“ roared to life the instant he touched the starter button.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Where Ya'll Been ?

Where Ya’ll been? Me ? I have been in “Rehab”. Yep, I seem to be susceptible to addictions lately. Some of you have read my earlier post. 

This time, I have been hooked on “crack”. The lure and latch was almost unbreakable but I did it. “Word Crack”. My oldest daughter kept on at me to read a series of books that she had read. She had finished the first two and was forced to go in the middle of the night and buy the third one- right then and there. I thought, “ye’uh another bunch of those vampire monster books that ain’t got one line of reality in ‘em. Then The Boss started in on me after she read them. Then there you have the youngest daughter; she’s read ‘em. I am not sure about the middle daughter. “Daddy, Daddy, Daddy, you would sooo like these books.” I ain’t got a chance when they gang up. I was caught up and finished with the couple of books I had been reading so I snuck around and started the first one without telling anyone. This way I could say, “I tried reading those danged things but just couldn’t get into the first one.” You have to think ahead with all these women telling me what to do; they know me better than I know myself, reckon? “W O R D C R A C K”. For the past couple of weeks I have been hooked on these durned books.

The main character (heroine) is a 17 year old girl. I almost stopped when I discovered this. They didn’t tell me this with all their sales pitches. I read on a little further. “Hunger Games” is a shallow, fast moving , and have to say, inspiring read. It is pretty confined to the main character throughout the book. “Catching Fire” is a continuing saga but it changes gears and keeps you thinking because it has its own identity. The final book, “Mockingjay”, is a final wrap up of the various obstacles that were created in the first two books with adding a few of its own. These were a definite surprise to me. I am still wondering what it was that made these books so appealing to an Old Codger like me.

The thing that amazes me is that the characters and plot did not take on the feeling of what I imagined would be for the intended age group and market audience. I have finished with these, but I am not sure “Katniss Everdeen” is finished.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Education - Farm Style

Growing up, Timmy Ray lived out in the country. It ain’t like that was anything special, it was just that everyone we knew lived out in the country. You get a different look at life living out in the country and along with that sometimes a different approach to education.

Everybody played at everyone’s house. Everybody was part of everyone’s family. This was also the case when it came to meal time, if you happened to be at a friend’s. It was pretty much understood that if you were there you were invited.

Timmy Ray had two brothers and a sister. Timmy Ray was the oldest, next was Bobby Jack. Jackson was his real middle name, named after his Momma’s Daddy, but no one ever called him that. Willie Bob, actually William Robert as his full name was shorted the day he was born. He was the youngest boy and he told everyone his name was “Damit”. His Daddy said that it was because he was always hollering at the boy to do different things.

“Damn it, get that firewood box filled up in yonder in the kitchen. Damn it, get cleaned up for supper.” He would end up being called by that clear on up through his old age. Myrtle Faye was the baby. She was ruient rotten.

“Ya’ll get on in hen’uh now, get cleaned up and get somethin’ to eat.” We didn’t waste any time. Their Momma could cook like nothing else. They had a garden so the table was always set with a lot of different foods, in the springtime. Cornbread and fresh cow’s milk to round it all off. None of us wanted to be the last one in. Everyone had their regular spot and I got down next to Willie Bob. He was on the end of the bench next to Bobby Jack.

Their Daddy was what seemed to be a reasonable man but always came across a little “gruff”. He cussed a lot. One thing he always did was say the “Blessin’” before the first biscuit was bit. Immediately after “Amen”, their Momma passed the plate of hot fried chicken and everyone took a piece and the Daddy asked, “What vegetables ya’ll want?”

Timmy Ray, being the oldest spoke up first. “Can I have some of them damn mashed taters?”

There was not even a pause. The Daddy rared back and with a long sweeping stoke, bounced his massive hand off the top of Timmy Ray’s head. It was not that hard but Timmy Ray’s head jumped forward with enough force that he spit out his first bite of a chicken leg. Nobody said anything or even moved. After what seemed like five minutes the Daddy spoke.

“Bobby Jack, how ‘bout you, whad you want?”

“Well---may I PLEASE ,, have some of them damn potatoes?”

Like lightning, “whack”, a knuckle sandwich bounced off the top of his head. Bobby Jack had already swallowed his first bite of fried chicken. I am looking back and forth at the different choices. It would soon be my turn to ask. Another long silent pause was settling around the table Myrtle Sue was pointing at Bobby Jack with one hand and stifling a giggle with her other hand over her mouth. Maybe I will have green beans.

“Willie Bob?” The Daddy was looking at him with a sideways glance. He didn’t say anything else. You could see look of concentration on Willie Bob’s face. Finally he spoke.

“Well Daddy, I don’t know for sure, but you can pretty much bet your sweet ass I don’t want none of them damn mashed potatoes!”

I became educated, that instant. I grabbed a piece of cornbread and headed for the house.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Now What?

It ain’t just me that says “I am too old to change my routine and way of thinking”. A lot of people say that about me. Oh, don’t take up for me, I like it that way, but I am a reasonable person. I will listen; up to a point.

I am a traditionalist. A week ago last Saturday, The Boss and I went to a high class restaurant for lunch. Actually it was Chic-fil-a, but the food and service is always great. As we were driving out of the parking lot, a young girl was being escorted across the pavement to their awaiting four wheel drive pickup. (It is a law in Texas that says you have to have a least one pickup in the family. ) They continued on to the passenger side of the pickup and he opened the door and she climbed (literally) into the cab. Cars were lined up behind our van but I stopped and put the gear shift leaver into park.

“Oh Lord, what is it now?” The Boss was looking around with a look of concern before looking back at me.

I opened the door and stepped out of the van.

“Hey Dude, I appreciate you opening that door for that little ole girl. You don’t see that much now days. Keep on doin’ that.” By that time, The Boss had gotten over her worry that I had been overtaken by a fit of parking lot rage and she figured out what I was talking about. Not wanting to be outdone, (The Boss has learn to come out of her shell over the years) she rolled down her window and put in her “two cents” worth.”

“Yes, thank you. She appreciates that and you both will in the long run.”

Both the kids were looking at us like two old people that had wandered away from “the home” but he finally acknowledged us.

“Uhh, Ok, sure, ya’ll are welcome.” Both of them gave a timid wave and he walked around and got into the driver’s side.

What does this have to do with the VIDEO on this post? Well, it is a stretch, but it has to do with my old fashion traditional habits. The Boss and all the Young’uns have Kindles. They all have tried to talk me into letting them get ME one of those things. I like “books”; kraft paper, soft cover, hardcover, new, used, paper dust-sneezing, dog eared “Books”. BUT, times are changing.

I know that, but none of this started out to be about me. I saw an article on the Huffington Post and I went to YouTube to get the video and I thought about a lot of “You” out there, who at one time or another has talked (grumbled) about how hard it is to get published. I watched the video and wondered that I may be too strict with my old ideas about books and the publishing industry. I suppose that I started with this hobby so much later in life than most of you folks, that I don’t spend a whole lot of time, or any, thinking about getting some of this junk I write published, but in true reality, I have always been in favor of innovation of most any kind.

Watch this short news clip. I found it inspiring in that I have always enjoyed working with people and watching them improve and move forward toward goals they have set for themselves. I haven’t done much research on the “how to” part of this new approach but it is worth, In My Book,- a look.