Resolution Friday: So another week of changing the ordinary has come and gone. I’ve read for pleasure every day, which was by far the easiest of my resolutions. I also read more Susan Shapiro Only as Good as Your Word and am still laughing out loud. Lastly, I wrote another wacky family memoir. You can read it here.
So, it’s a new week, and I’ve been given much to think about. Thanks to Kristen Lamb’s blog and a few others I’ll be adding as a mash up, I’ve been challenging myself to think about how I blog and how I write. It’s natural to go with what you know, and most of what I’ve known has been write-your-ass-off-and-pray. Ooooooooooooom. But Kristen says I can’t do it that way, and I believe her. So, that means hunker down and get ready for a bumpy (best new year) of your life.
So if you’re like me, beginning to write again after a hiatus in sales, may I recommend Preparation. Preparation is that thing you do before you actually have to do it. It’s meant to help you, seriously. It’s where you can lay all of your pretty little ideas out like paper dolls and mix and match their clothes to see what works and what doesn’t. Hey, lay off my metaphors, I told you I’m in sales, and yah it’s retail! But, Preparation offers you several options, ones you can see in advance, and it gives you time to craft the end result. For example, do I want to wear the sequin top with the plaid wool skirt and capri leggings? Repeat after me, NO! But that sequin top looks great next to those dark wash denim jeans and metallic flats. What’s that? You’re adding hoop earrings in a brushed bronze metal? I LOVE IT!!! Metaphor aside, take time to write down ideas for both blogging and writing. Plan ahead for both when you will write and what you will write. Otherwise, you’ll start blogging some remake version of “The Night Before Christmas,” oh wait, I already did that.
If you’re having trouble figuring out how to start a story, try making a list of things you like, or character traits about a friend or family member. Does anything on that list remind you of a good story you would tell someone in conversation? Now how would you tell it if you were writing it for someone? Take all the ideas that come to you and write them down. What pieces seem to fit together in a fresh and exciting way?
If you’re still struggling with idea starters, here is a list of ideas I came up with for future memoirs, or even an essay collection, if you titled it, Things My Dad Has Done to Freak Me Out.
- Incessantly sneak up on me from behind and scream “What are ya doin’?!”
- Innocently spell my name wrong on my birthday cake, for the last 20 years
- Pushed me into a man dressed like a Troll, and cried “Take her!”
- Left me in a haunted house by myself
- Left me in a corn maze by myself
- Left me buried in the snow by myself
- Forced me to learn to ride a bike without training wheels
- Forced me to learn to swim without swimming lessons
- Hid a creepy plastic nativity scene donkey in my bedroom
- Got me to eat gravy that had giblets in it
What are you waiting for? Get writing!
Audio Tracked Peacock Noises
Or How My Dad and I Did the Zoo
My boyfriend tells me that I walk too fast. I blame years of quickstepping after my father around town. I had to take four steps to his one just to keep up. I practically ran, panting to keep up, talking the whole time about what happened at school and at home that day.
If you dig straight down to my core, I am most like my father. I share his vulgar sense of humor, to an extent, his enjoyment of going anywhere, even around the corner, his open book heart which will always try to save the world, his irritatingly reliable hardwork ethic, his constant frigid body temperature, and his thumbs.
My father wasn’t around a whole lot when I was growing up. To pay the bills and put food on the table, he worked 18 hour days, 7 days a week, managing and cooking in our family restaurant. But on occasion, he would take me on trips to the zoo.
The drive to the nearest zoo was almost an hour. Nicknamed “Chatterbox,” I had endless stories to regale my father with during our excursion. There were discussions about my friends at school, a new song I learned, and would piercingly sing aloud, and the clever way I got my older brother, Justin, to stop chasing me by spraying mom’s perfume on his hands. Oh, wasn’t I just the bees knees, dad?
The drive was always the same. A sunny day. Me doing all the talking. We’d pull into the parking lot, hop out of the car, and I’d skip over the grass mounds up to the entryway only to find the gates padlocked shut. We took this exact trip together of locked up zoo gates at least three times! Instead of sullenly turning the car around and driving home, my dad replied, “Well, we’re here.”
Dismayed and full of anguish, I was promised wild animals! Instead, I was dragged around the zoo’s perimeter, while my father cried out, “Listen to the peacocks! Do you hear the peacocks?” We would never actually confirm there were any peacocks as we never actually saw peacocks!
Everything was boarded up, fenced in, locked down, and surrounded by Wisconsin foliage. Basically, you couldn’t see a damn thing! Yet again, my father would call out, “Jess, come here! Look through this crack, you can see bears!”
And sure enough, my dad would have me tiptoeing on some unstable rock of a curb, pressing my eye into a rusty old fence hole, blinking past maple leaves that were bouncing in my way to see far off in the distance some brown hairy mammal that was pacing the rock wall of its habitat.
“I see one!” I’d cry out delighted.
“Yah, he’s looking for his dinner. I hope he doesn’t come looking for a tasty, little girl! Oh, Mr. Bear, I’ve got her! Raaaaaaawr! Raaawr!” My dad would scoop me up and pretend to lift me over the fence, growling like a bear and pretending to take big bites out of my arms and legs.
All in all, it wasn’t the worst trip you could take to the zoo, if the zoo was really, really small with only one bear and audio tracked peacock noises. Thanks for the quality time, Pops!