Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Wednesday, Painting my Life


Below are the first few paragraphs of a new project I began on May 1, 2023. I began it by typing as I looked out the window at the pink dogwood blossoms on an old tree. 

Today I reached my goal of 50,000 words.



A Corner of My Mind

from a Badass in training


Do you remember this movie technique? Disney used it, and others too—a paintbrush would swipe across the screen, and its wake, birds, scenes of villages and farmlands, animals, and people would magically appear? Maybe even a dog would run off the page.


I am attempting to swipe the blank paper, although I have outlines, pen, and ink drawings that my brush will fill with living colors.


"Pay attention," wrote Julie Cameron—" of life and what you see there." What I see out my window is a pink dogwood tree in full flower. When we moved here, it was an old tree cut down to its bare bones, a trunk, and five branches. I had no inkling what sort of tree it was, but for the last couple of years, it has branched, leafed, and revealed itself to be a pink dogwood, one of my favorite trees. 


This is May 1, 2023. A time of revival, and we've endured a lingering sadness over the past few years, wondering about our lives, health, and world conditions, but I'm not going there. This is a time to thrive and to live abundantly. We are the carriers of a new time. So, let's get cracking. 


I have heard people talk about "Building memories," and I wondered, are my memories for me only? Could they be attractive to others? Perhaps in writing my memories, I could motivate others to join me. I was inspired by another writer, Natalie Goldberg, who said many years ago in Writing Down the Bones, "Writing will take you where you want to go."


Natalie was the first writing teacher to say writing is a therapeutic experience.


So, this is a memoir—or whatever it turns out to be.


A memoir needn't be an old person's story as we sometimes think; I was born in so, went to school at so in so High, and married my high school sweetheart. Boring. In Goldberg's book Old Friend from Far Away, she explains that memoir is for the moments that take our breath away. Like the hot day, you stopped the car by a creek, stripped off your pantyhose, waded into the stream fresh off an ice flow, and felt alive.


I wanted to know if I could complete 50,000 words before the blossoms fell in pink snow to the ground. No, the flowers fell from the tree in May 21,  but wait, I have a small tree in the front yard that I planted a few years ago; it is called "Mom's Tree," and it is also a Pink Dogwood. I decided I got an extension on this writing and began using those blossoms as my timer. They look scroungy and bleached-out white, but still they hold on.


Maybe Mother is holding them. Tomorrow she can release her grip.


For today I hit 50,000 words.


That count will go up or down as I go back over the pages, but I hit the target. 


When I heard of the technique called, NaNoWriMo, I thought it was absurd. Yeah, you can write a novel in a month, but then it will take two years to edit it. It was insulting to those who have spent years writing a novel. But this isn't a novel, and I know about keeping one's hand moving. And I lived the story; so I don't have to make it up. 


Boo Walker wrote in his newsletter that he was celebrating the completion of his a novel’s first draft, but, he said it stank. However, he had words to edit, and he knew he could fill in the descriptions, dialogue, and such later on. His wife said his wardrobe was as bad as his first draft and was taking him shopping. "Nooooo!"


I am going outside in a little while to let the sun heal me. Whoops, no sun. I’m going to the grocery store, But first, carry on and do good work





Monday, May 22, 2023

The Best Story I've Read All Week

A few days ago, I pulled Robert Fulgum’s book, What in the World Have I Done, from my cupboard bookshelf, and read the best story I have read all week.  


Fulghum is the author of Everything I Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. (1988) His book stayed on the best-seller list for two years. 


In his What in The World book, he told the best story I have heard all week. 


He had offered two college boys on his street a ride to work. He asked what they were doing besides school and work.


“We’re eating a chair.” 




A chair! They were eating a chair. The college professor had given them an assignment to do something unusual, something they had never done before, and to write about it. 


“This is going to fry the professor.”


They bought an unfinished chair and, so far, eaten the back and one of the rungs.


Every day they shave off a fine dusting of wood and add it to their morning granola. At night they sprinkle some on their salad. They asked a doctor if it was dangerous, and no, it wasn’t in small doses. They may not get it all eaten by the theme due date, so they have asked if others would help them and found a willing bunch.


To further carry on the conversation, Fulghum asked what else they were doing.


Well, they have been running around the lake each morning to keep in shape. However, they were tired of running in circles and decided to see how far they would go if they ran in a straight line. They got a map of Washington (they live in Seattle) and were mapping out a route. When they almost reached Portland, Oregon, they decided it was boring and chose a European map. Now they are finding interesting things to do along their trail. And they are seeing that large tasks done in small doses can get the job done. 


Fulgrum stopped worrying about the younger generation.


Inspired by Fulghum’s wanderings, his speaking with people, and finding funny tales, I decided, last night as I set off for the grocery store that I would buy groceries and find something funny.


I asked the solemn-faced kid who checked out my groceries if anything funny had happened that day. Nope. Nothing funny.


So, I walked down to the live-wire lady with white hair and a limp, who was nearly always laughing and was manning the empty self-checkout line. I asked her if anything funny happened that day. “Not today,” she said, thinking, “but something happened yesterday.”


“What?” I asked.


“A lady came into the store with no pants on.”


“Really? Was she completely naked, or did she have underwear on?”


“I don’t know. We scanned the store but couldn’t find her. Does that story suffice?”


“Great. Thanks. You saved my day.” Thumbs up, I exited the store. 


Not that funny, but fun.