Tag Archives: Memoir

Season of Inspiration

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Thanksgiving has come and gone. Intervening weeks of holiday preparation is about to culminate in that be all and end all of holiday bashes, Christmas. Afterwards, by a week, will be fireworks and New Year’s parties, toasts with champagne and promises to ourselves in the form of Resolutions.

But quietly, among the gathering festivities, are moments of insight and inspiration. Memories flash before our inner eyes. Old songs take on new meanings, because we’ve grown and changed through another year of life and living.

Throughout it all, whether desired or not, writers can find themselves awash with new ideas for stories, poems and essays. ’Tis the season for inspiration.

And to help launch some of that inspiration, I’ve decided to provide a series of writing prompts for those with quick minds and quicker fingers. Below are photos, together with written blurbs to inspire fits of fiction. If memoir creeps in, so much the better. If poetry rears its lovely head, we’ll rejoice.

Use the ones you wish. Share what comes to you in a comment if the mood strikes. It doesn’t have to be Pulitzer material.

Here you go. Enjoy.

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The street never seemed so lovely nor so lonely.

 

 

 

 

stock-photo-17The bloom is still on the rose, but more damaged than fresh; more frozen in time than seeking a future.

 

curated-stock-photos-v2-011-008It was that last cup of hot chocolate that undid me. How am I ever going to explain this to my family?

 

curated-stock-photos-v2-011-019A ride in the country< he said. I’d really love it, he said. How could I have forgotten to tell him about my allergies?

 

curated-stock-photos-v2-011-018This is what Christmas fanatics think of when they get excited about the holidays.

 

Have fun creating your tiny bits of inspired writing. And enjoy the holiday season, regardless of how you celebrate it. The solstice is here and the year is turning toward spring and a brighter tomorrow.

Take care during these last days of 2015, too. Stay safe and may you each find peace and happiness. These are my wishes for you.

See you all again before New Year’s.  Until then, my friends, blessings to you all.

Motivation Leads to Motion 

Image courtesy of jesadaphorn at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of jesadaphorn at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

A story, an article, an essay or poem all begin with motivation. All move forward because of it.

The concept of motivation is defined as follows:

  • verb to motivate: to give (someone) a reason for doing something: to be a reason for (something).
  • The noun motivation: the act or process of giving someone a reason for doing something: the act or process of motivating someone: the condition of being eager to act or work: the condition of being motivated: a force or influence that causes someone to do something.
  • Motive: NOUN: something that causes a person to act in a certain way, do a certain thing, etc.; incentive’ the goal or object of a person’s actions:(in art, literature, and music) a motif. ADJECTIVE; causing, or tending to cause, motion; pertaining to motion.
  • The noun motion: the act or process of moving or of changing place or position; movement.
  • By reference, the noun emotion can be defined as any mental state which provokes a reaction or response in the body or behavior of an individual.

A single act creates adjacent questions. Example: Someone lied. What was the motive for the lie? Or, what motivated the person to lie? What was his/her motivation for lying? Did someone else influence the decision to lie?

You see what I mean. A single concept, always leading back to itself. You may ask what this has to do with writing. A lot, actually.

Writers are often asked “Why do you write? What motivates you to write every day? What’s your motivation for working in only one genre or many genres? In the end, what the writer is being asked the same question.

Writers deal in motive with every sentence they put on paper. For some, personal motives drive the writer to impart information for instructional purposes or to relate recent events. Academics and journalists are both highly motivated people. Each also has outside influences that put pressure on their internal motives.

Yet, for all that, what they write also imparts a milder form of motive; the importance of the material involved. The work may be critical for understanding a process or a theory. At the same time, the immediacy of a journalist’s report can have many influences and influencing properties. Political commentary, for instance, both tells of influences within politics, while attempting to swing the reader toward a particular opinion simultaneously.

Crazy, huh?

When you look at poets, fiction writers and creative non-fiction writers, motivation spreads its wings and flies. Not only do the writers have their own motivations—for writing, for telling a specific story, or using a specific subject—but they also must deal with fluctuating motivations within the body of the work they’re doing. For fiction writers, in particular, this requires personal motivations and those of each of the story’s characters.

And if you believe that memoirists have it easier, think again. They have personal motives for writing a specific memoir piece at that moment and the motivations they experienced at the time of the actual event about which they’re writing. Also, they’re required to acknowledge (either internally or on the page) all of the motivations that lead up to and away from the event.

Movement is never just forward or backward. Lateral movement takes a slice of time and effort, as well. Writers are often on the lateral plain with one project, while taking steps forward on others. During revision and editing, movement is both forward and backward.

When you think about the mechanics of motivations and motives, the world starts spinning. We do this juggling act on a subconscious level most of the time. It comes naturally. Consider daydreaming. That pastime is a deliberate invention of motivations and responses. Fiction is no different. Allowing ourselves to sink into a memory—pleasant or not—is the same, except more emotionally charged.

My motives? Some days, instruction stands at the head of the class. Other days, pure invention sends shivers of delight down my arms to create gooseflesh thrills. Right now, I’m moving in four directions: forward with NaNoWriMo, backward with revision, laterally with research, and up because of the high I’m getting from the creative process I’m in at the moment.

So, tell me. Do you know your motivations for writing, for reading, for spinning tales at the local pub? Are you moving forward or backward, or have you chosen to remain lateral for a while? Drop a note in the comment section and tell me.

If any are interested, you can read two of my recent articles on The Working Writers Club website.

http://www.workingwritersclub.com/11563/freelance-writing-2/flash-fiction-fast-and-furious/

http://www.workingwritersclub.com/11305/magazine-writing-2/how-to-find-nonfiction-markets-if-youre-a-freelance-writer/

Writing—Starting from Scratch

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A few days ago, a gal came to me for help. She wanted to begin writing but didn’t know where to start. She asked if I could/would help her.

This case isn’t unusual. Few beginning writers know where to start on the road toward publication. I did what I always do in this situation—I asked several questions to define the boundaries this would-be writer wanted to work with at the beginning.

Questions for the beginning writer:

  1. What kind of writing do you want to pursue? Fiction, non-fiction (including memoir), educational, inspirational, novel-length, poetry, etc.
  2. What’s the purpose behind your writing desire? Do you want to make extra money? Is this more a hobby for personal satisfaction where monetary gain is secondary to the work itself? Again, this makes a big difference in effort and in direction.
  3. What is the final goal of your desire to write? That’s going to be the hardest to pinpoint.
  4. All of these questions bring us back to–what type of writing do you want to do? Children’s’, adult, romance, Christian, science fiction, fantasy, etc. These are a major consideration.

abstract-medical-background_My3tatDOAnswering these four questions is paramount to beginning a serious stab at putting words to paper for others to read. For this particular newbie, fear didn’t come into it. She’d written pieces before for community newsletters and the like. She wanted more in-depth structure to the path than she had already experienced.

Left with this homework, she was satisfied to stand at the trailhead to her future. She could give me one answer immediately. She wanted to write memoir/inspirational pieces—not just to tell her story, but also with the potential to help others going through similar life lessons.

compass-vector_MywT8Ww_Following the trail requires direction and signposts. Armed with the desired genre, I could point her toward additional research homework. I advised her to look through the following resources for how they could help her hone both her desires and her craft.

  1. National Assoc. of Memoir Writers: http://namw.org/ Specialty organization for education/networking/publication
  2. The Writer Magazine: http://www.writermag.com/. Marketing lists of publications, contests & Competitions, plus educational  material
  3. Writer’s Digest Magazine: http://www.writersdigest.com/. Marketing/education/contests
  4. Blog Her: http://www.blogher.com/. Networking with other women writers of all stripes, forums, opportunities
  5. She Writes: http://www.shewrites.com/. Networking with other women writers, forums, publishing, etc.

Once this newbie spends time sorting through what’s on offer at these sites, she’ll have a better handle on what’s possible for her immediately and what’s still on the needs list.

Close up of glasses on research concept

Close up of glasses on research concept

Each genre has its own needs, craft secrets, and markets. Memoir and inspirational writing is no different. This groundwork is necessary for anyone who wants to pursue the trail to publication.

As we go through this process, I’ll post here on the ground covered and the signposts along the way. Others can use this same information for their own journey. I hope it can point the way for any who are confused or unsure of their direction.

And on that note, I’m going to leave you with a poem poster I did today for a poetry challenge from one of my groups on Facebook. Enjoy.

Earth Sunrise and Milky Way Illustration. First Sun Lights. Space Illustrations Collection.

Earth Sunrise and Milky Way Illustration. First Sun Lights. Space Illustrations Collection.

 

At Home Writing Genre You Don’t Read

Science Fiction Key Shows Sci Fi Books And Movies

Every writer has a genre, even if she/he doesn’t think about it. There are those like me who write in several genres. Why? Because it’s what the writer likes to read.

Not long ago I was in conversation with several other writers about this subject. A question came up as to whether someone can write a genre if they don’t read it. I know. Who would have though, right?

The thing is, a person reads a particular type of story for pleasure—even if it’s non-fiction. (More on that in a minute.) Why would any writer want to craft a science fiction story, for instance, if they don’t like reading them? Reader popularity, that’s why.

Genre Slots and Their Needs

Book and knowledge conceptLet’s use one category as our focus. Sci-fi is a strong seller most of the time. Of course, if someone doesn’t read sci-fi, how will they know or understand the different types of conventions, jargon, and specs that go along with each category of science fiction? There are several types out there, all with their own labels.. Dystopian, utopian, steampunk, time slippage/time travel, hard, soft, social, speculative, alternative history, fantasy and its types, horror, etc. The list gets longer every year with new cross-over writing styles and approaches.

Beyond that major consideration is the niche market involved (audience.) Is the story for young children, middle grade, YA, new adults, or adults? Each of these categories of readers has its own specifications to narrow its focus and its language usage.

All the other genres are much the same, with regard to type, audience, and reader expectations.

Following Writing/Story Trends

director-chair-business-cartoons-vectors_GyG7my_OTypes of hot stories come and go like hairstyles. There’s a cyclic rhythm to what’s hot and what’s not. Vampires are dying out, as are werewolves. I know. Let’s all take a moment in silent acknowledgement of the passing of this fad. It was lucrative while it lasted, but now it’s time to move on.

Dystopian has always had an audience and probably always will. It’s all those pessimists out there. Stemapunk is just plain fun. It’s inventive and quirky and fun. It has the added bonus of a different mindset, too, which adds to its popularity with adults as well as younger readers.

When I was around twelve, before Gilligan’s island, I wrote a story about a woman who’d gone to a uninhabited, tropical island for her own peace of mind. She even created a pedal-car from bamboo and a fantastic house with all sorts of imaginative uses for resources from the island. Who would have thought I’d be so far ahead of the times with that one. And I hadn’t yet read Robinson Crusoe or Swiss Family Robinson.

I wrote it because it was fun to use my imagination that way. Was it any good? I can’t really say. I’m too biased. But it lead me toward what I enjoyed reading—science fiction.

The point is: every fad/trend ends. If the writer follows the trends, she’s always doomed to being behind the curve. Writing what you have no affinity for is worse than risky. There’s no joy in it.

Carving Out a Writer’s Path

golden-gate-bridge_G1dNY1tOI said earlier that we’d get to non-fiction. Here it is. All fiction is based, at least in part, on non-fiction.

No one can write any other way. Our minds work with what we’ve already learned/experienced to build our text. Those who work with memoir know this.

Memoir is one form of non-fiction that can be used for many writing genres. An event from childhood triggers a story for children about a specific place, event, life-lesson. Take your pick. The same can hold true for stories for adults, too. A favorite party dress or football jersey brings back memories. The writer has a choice: write the memory in a memoir piece or cast it with other characters and drop it into fiction for a specific genre.

Mainstream—whatever your definition—holds the same advantages for using non-fiction. Whether your interest lies in science, fashion, decorating, or anything else you choose, it’s based on something you know or are interested in.

ying-and-yang-glyph-icon_zJP_wTI_The list of options for writing seems endless right now in the publishing world. Jumping on trendy bandwagons won’t necessarily grow you a reliable and loyal reader base. Writing for readers who enjoy the same stories that you do can build such a reader base. And that’s the whole purpose of writing and sharing your work. It embraces the essence of the ying and yang of the universe. Think about it.

As for me, I enjoy reading so many different types of stories I’ll never run out of work to enjoy, on either side of the keyboard.

Be sure to like my Facebook Author’s page at: Claudette J. Young if you enjoy what I present here.

At Home—Flash Fiction and a Character Theme

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First off, let me apologize for not showing up yesterday. After my critique group meeting broke up in late afternoon, I was unexpectedly called out of town and didn’t get home until the wee hours of the morning. After having only three hours sleep the night before, an early morning alarm wasn’t on my agenda. So now you know why I missed my own deadline.

So, with that out of the way, let’s get to it.

Flash writing has now found definition in our lexicon of fiction forms. As someone who tends to write long, this form affords me valuable writing training. It requires concrete/action verbs and nouns. It requires those two parts of speech also to do the work of adjectives and adverbs. It’s the ultimate in pick-up games for a fiction writer.

Contrarily, poets have less trouble with writing in this format. Why? Because they already use verbal shorthand when they put together poems. A one hundred word poem is very long and most poets don’t engage in storytelling of that length.

Have you come up against FF parameters and experienced other problems with putting together your little stories? If so, drop a comment in the box and we’ll go through them next week as part of our finale for the month. Until then, let’s look at a themed prompt and my example of one way to tackle it.

I’m using Character as my theme for today’s exercise. You can easily pull material from anywhere or about anyone to create your story to fit the theme. But what do I mean by Character?

Character as a theme

We all know what a character is, in a general sense. Every story has one, whether our stories are carried by telephone, newspaper, TV, etc. When you call a friend on the phone, your conversation is all about character when you pause long enough to think about it.

In today’s instance, character as theme simply means centered writing about a specific person, place, or thing and an aspect of story action affecting that character. It could take many forms and still be flash fiction.

Example 1: Poetry with a Character Theme

The Tangled Web

 

It began with a tiny thing;

A lie of that day’s convenience.

A first strand in the web you wove

To make yourself important, and

Disguise truth you could not bear shown.

 

More silk strands followed to entrap

The weaver in tales unforgotten,

By those brought to emotions ruined.

Thoughtless weaving. Strands delusions,

All make to tangle the weaver.

 

Go now into your web of lies.

Seek only new fools to believe.

© Claudette J. Young 2010

A deceiver of friends and family is found out and exiled (sort of) in this seventy-five word pronouncement of character. It tells the story of a conviction carried out against a defendant–found guilty of taking advantage of others, deceit, and mental cruelty.

Okay, that interpretation might stretch things a bit, but when I wrote it, those were the charges brought up in the trial.

Example 2: Memoir (From a longer piece posted here) Fictional character Dreamie Simple in “Dreamie’s Box.”

 I didn’t seek marriage. I protected friends and their families. Mother counted on that. Seventeen years with Martin was my sentence.

 Martin had secrets tangled up with my mother. He wanted respectability. I gave him that.

 Now I’m charged with his murder. Considering my actions, few would refute the possibility. I collected nearly a million dollars in insurance—a hefty motive. My own secret life, with a different identity, may convict me.

 I can’t defend myself. I laid out plenty of motives. Honesty is preferable, but naiveté is different. I learned the whole truth can put a needle in your arm.

This example is a trimmed down version which originally had 479 words. Trust me, carving away that many words isn’t easy. I almost pulled my hair out on this one, but it gave me yet another lesson in editing and revision, which is always beneficial.

The point is that this memoir of a novel’s character can serve in many ways. It allows practice in flash fiction. It gives the writer a use and practice in character development, and it works to serve as an editing and revision tool/lesson. Not bad for 100 words, is it?

Now, on to my flash fiction piece for this theme. I’ll do a short memoir piece for a character in a fantasy series that I’ve just begun to put together. It’s for one of the primary characters, Reibe. (Note how I have several uses from this one bit of writing.)

Composing an Apprentice

 I didn’t do anything wrong. I played my music. They asked me to.

 Am I responsible? Why do they grasp at me—call out for me? Did they all lose their minds?

 I want to go back to Riverton, back to the mill. Life was simple there. I worked. I ate. I slept. Not like here where everything and everyone is complicated. No one is unkind. In fact, they almost smother with kindness.

How can I understand these Theusans with their foreign ideas? I must work hard to become the trader I’m supposed to be? Mistress Cleone makes leaving impossible.

My character, Reibe, confronts his conflict of not fitting into his new role as an apprentice trader. He has another, perhaps greater, conflict though. For some unknown reason, when he plays his music (on a flute) those who hear him react in a way that frightens him, even as it confuses him.

The reader finds out that this new life isn’t as straightforward or simple as Reibe’s old life at the mill in Riverton. It doesn’t matter, in this case, what kind of mill that was.

The reader also learns that his new position places him with kindly people who have foreign ideas—immigrants perhaps. The introduction of Mistress Cleone also adds to the layers of the story and Reibe’s plaintive thinking. The implication asks the reader to fill in the blanks however she will. Readers are good at that.

And there you have it—my small story memoir in 98 words. I hope you’ll all experiment with this theme. Have fun with it. It can take you to unforeseen places. I’ll see you again here next week with the final bit of flash fiction for the month.

Happy writing, everyone. And don’t forget to share your story, if you wish, so that we might all share in your experience.

 

 

At Home–Day 3 of 500 Word Challenge

Courtesy of BJJones Photography

Courtesy of BJJones Photography

Today was one of errands, lunch with friends, and a short nap after a bit of shopping. We topped off the day with dinner out. I had no time for writing earlier. Nor did I really have a specific subject to work on.

I got home and dived into unresolved emails, as well as Facebook comments and post. I found my subject when I opened an email from one of my groups—Publishing Syndicate.

The update referred to this year’s bi-annual Erma Bombeck Writing Workshop held in Dayton, Ohio. The promo piece also announced the submission requirements for the Erma Bombeck Writing Competition.

Yes, it is another challenge. There are many this month. If things keep up, I won’t be able to polish my armor fast enough for the jousts. I’ll have to hire a squire.

Anyone of an age will remember Erma and her syndicated columns and her books. Her humor set a new standard for housewives/mothers everywhere. Her irreverence toward traditional attitudes concerning housekeeping and mothering duties bordered on scandalous satire.

For myself, I thought she was a hoot and wished that I could write just like her. She had a freshness of phrase that kept humorous points rolling around in one’s mind until they stuck somewhere inside to a projection of one’s sympathies. That sense of universal connection was the key to her staying power and her humor.

Whether I enter this contest later or not, I want to try for a hint of Bombeck with a flash piece here. Since she worked in daily memoir, I’ll draw from my own past.

Lessons for Kids

Compared to today, growing up in the rural Midwest during the 50’s and 60’s was like living down the road from Laura Ingles. If our food could come via fishing pole, shotgun, or picking from foliage, it filled our freezer and canning jars. The local bird population held strafing sorties around our house to keep us from what berries we’d managed to miss in our foraging.

Snapping turtles and frogs didn’t actually enjoy our hospitality, but they didn’t argue for long. Mom had a way with kitchen utensils. And I learned that fish scales can add sparkle to kitchen tile for weeks without them popping off.

Now, I have to say that brother and I learned early that the earth was our friend and provider. We also learned that Mom never handed us anything to eat that would kill us. We might wish to die after ingestion of whatever offering came to hand, but it wouldn’t kill us. Lots of kids back then learned how to recognize things like wild lettuce, wild garlic, wild onion, and wild radish without hesitation through the same rites of passage.

The lesson is called survival for preppers today. We had a different term for it—something to do with slow torture, I believe.

Mushrooms left the forests in our gunny sacks and old pillow cases in early spring—mostly morels, but sometimes puffballs tagged along. Spotting poisonous fungi species meant a lecture on their habitat and special circumstances. Their looks were examined, not for praise, but for certainty of recognition. Case in point—“’Shrooms with blackcaps announce your end, kids. Think funeral.”

Early summer had us foraging along railroad tracks for those succulent little morsels, wild strawberries. Mom would hand us each a small bucket with the instruction to be careful around the tracks and to keep an ear open for train whistles.

What is it about train tracks and wild strawberries? Did the regular train schedule and vibrating rails encourage plant growth or what? Mom believed our young eyes were better than hers, plus we were closer to the ground already. That was her reasoning for handing the buckets to us. We were just sure of it. It would be easier for us to spot those berries that were barely bigger than a large pea.

When sugar peaches ripened and wild plums readied themselves for plucking, brother and I had lessons in the easiest way to carry large, heavy harvesting sacks across fields and along tractor lanes without bruising the fruit. I didn’t realize until much later that we got our physical fitness training for free, while those who had money had to spend it on expensive gyms and golf. Think of all the money my folks saved themselves.

The autumn brought harvesting from native black walnut, hickory, butternut, and hazels. Crisp air, tainted with rising tannin levels from all those nut hulls laying all over the ground, greeted us each time we went to do battle with the squirrels for the bounty. Late autumn had Mom and me slaving at the kitchen table, knives and nut picks whittling down the piles of cured and cracked nuts for the treasures inside.

As blisters rose on my thumb pads and my fingers grew shaky, Mom would tell stories about when she was a kid. She used one story regularly to point out the joys of doing a good job the first time ‘round. It went like this.

“Your grandmother always had me, or your aunt, peel the potatoes. If our peelings were too thick when we finished the chore, we got to peel the peelings. Potatoes were too hard to grow and harvest to allow waste in the peeling. I hated peeling potatoes, but I got very good at.”

I learned not to complain. I was sincerely grateful she hadn’t put me on potato duty yet.

Growing up with an outdoorsman for a father and a mother who could have taught Euell Gibbons a few lessons gave us a solid appreciation for knowing how to disappear. Barring that, one could concentrate on reasoning skills for those times when logic might prevent another lesson in the woods. Failing that tack, stoicism became a mantle of honor.

*  *  *

Before I hear from any who would berate me for this portrayal of my mother, know this. I loved her deeply until the day she died. Her lessons in life and in the natural world have bolstered my abilities to adapt to time, circumstance, and environment. Hers and my father’s teachings never failed me and have kept me strong throughout my life.

If she read this piece, she’d chuckle all the way through, and she’d point out a few lessons I’ve not included.

As for the Erma Bombeck Writing Competition, I haven’t yet decided if I’ll submit to it. If I do, I still don’t know from what portion of my life I’ll write. I might just go for something from my tenure on a guest ranch in Jackson, Wyoming. Possibilities abound from that job.

For those who want to look into this opportunity to express personal humor in memoir, you can follow the links provided in this post to get all of the latest info on the event and the workshop.

Happy writing, all.

 

 

At Home Memoir—Dreamie Simple, Part Three

Dreamie

Marriage wasn’t something I sought. Marriage was forced upon me, so that those I cared about most wouldn’t get caught in scandal. Mother knew me well enough to know that much. She knew that I cared more for Spicy and George than anyone else, and there were Spicy’s parents to consider, as well. Fortunately, Mother never knew about my relationship with Aunt Amanda.

Endurance was my daily watchword throughout seventeen years of Martin’s presence in my life. Now that he’ll never darken my threshold again, I can breathe easier, though not freely. Too much lies hidden, pushing upward toward the surface.

Martin had his secrets; ones entwined with another woman, ones with financial implications, and ones that dealt with both his attorney, Carroll Watson and with my mother. The true bonds between those three people leave garage doors of speculation open for debate. I’d always known that my marriage was one for respectability alone. I’d always known that Mother’s life didn’t touch on respectability, except in a smoke and mirrors kind of way. And Carroll Watson had been bonded somehow with Mother long before Martin came along.

Martin had become the phantom antagonist in my life’s book. His death might prove the end to all that I’d sought to protect. Spicy may never get over the impact of what she’ll learn soon. Poor George, bless his sweet soul, will blame himself for not keeping me as safe as he’d anticipated. Neither of those two loves in my life should have to bear any of the weight of what’s coming.

The police believe I orchestrated Martin’s demise. Even Spicy is beginning to wonder about my innocence. Considering my own actions over the years, few would refute the possibility. I have gained financially from his death. Nearly a million dollars in insurance policies make for a hefty motive. Having a secret life of my own, one with a different identity, may put bolts in my coffin lid rather than mere nails.

Sitting in this jail cell, with only paper and pen for company, allows me a view of potential outcomes for my present situation. I don’t recommend this drastic a position for reflecting on one’s actions in life. Doing so doesn’t create a positive atmosphere for the one in the cell.

I have no way to defend myself adequately. After all, didn’t I give the detective the answer he required about the poison? Didn’t I tell him where anyone could find it and how easily accessible it was? And wasn’t I the one that pointed out some of his secrets—secrets that any wife would and could use for motives to kill?

Honesty may be the best policy, but honesty and naiveté are two different things. I also broke a cardinal point of reasoning. The whole truth can put a needle in your arm.

 

Memoir & Backstory Blog Challenge,
2013 Participants:
(Read about the 2013 Challenge – click here)

Jane Ann McLachlan
Joy Weese Moll @joyweesemoll
Amanda M Darling
Katie Argyle
PK Hrezo
Stacey Rene
Claudette Young
Kay Kauffman
Leslie
Deb Stone    Twitter: @iwritedeb
Gerry Wilson
Susan Hawthorne
Satia Renee
Bonnie
Angie
Pearl Ketover Prilik
Terri Rowe
Talynn (starting 2nd week)
Rebecca Barray (occassional)
Lara Britt  (occasional)
Linda G Hatton (occasional)
Stephanie Ingram (Unable to join us now – maybe later)
Anastacia (signed up but hasn’t posted yet)

 

At Home Memoir—George Diggins—Part 3

a-smiling-police-officer-

My dad taught me something when I was little. “Always look out for those who are weaker than you are, George,” he used to say. “Never take advantage of them or persecute them. They need your goodwill, not your judgment.”

Protecting others came early for me—in grade school. Later, when high school rolled around, there were times when leaning quietly against my locker signaled other students that they could approach me and confide whatever was troubling them. There were a lot of kids who stopped by to talk, including our current mayor. His story was the same as many. I just helped him to see how he could change its direction.

One of those who seldom stopped by was Dreamie. She would slow in her stride, glance at me, and smile. Just smile, and then walk on. She seemed to always know when I needed encouragement or recognition for what I was doing. I learned to cherish those smiles.

I’d come to her rescue on many occasions over the years. I still do. I’ve helped her do little projects around the house to make her life easier. I’ve kept her activities to myself. Even our dearest friend, Spicy, was left out of the loop. I’ve never felt bad about that. Some things she simply had no reason to know.

But Dreamie—she was something else. She seldom talked about her life or her marriage, except when she’d remark that Martin wouldn’t approve of something or that he’d scoff at something she’d heard. Nothing positive emerged from our discussions of marriage.

I don’t know whether she’s ever tumbled to the fact that I love her. She’s never so much as hinted that she feels anything but friendship for me. Time has taught me to be content with that much.

Time also erodes things placed in its path.

Martin’s murder has eroded too many things for too many people. A little cop’s voice in the back of my head tells me this mess is only going to get messier with time. Dams crack and break, washing away anything left lying loose. I wonder how many secrets are going to wash up on the banks of this town.

I have only one choice to make now—a choice between being a cop and protecting Dreamie from the secrets that she’s been holding onto all these years—secrets she doesn’t realize that I know.

 

Memoir & Backstory Blog Challenge,
2013 Participants:
(Read about the 2013 Challenge – click here)

Jane Ann McLachlan
Joy Weese Moll @joyweesemoll
Amanda M Darling
Katie Argyle
PK Hrezo
Stacey Rene
Claudette Young
Kay Kauffman
Leslie
Deb Stone    Twitter: @iwritedeb
Gerry Wilson
Susan Hawthorne
Satia Renee
Bonnie
Angie
Pearl Ketover Prilik
Terri Rowe
Talynn (starting 2nd week)
Rebecca Barray (occassional)
Lara Britt  (occasional)
Linda G Hatton (occasional)
Stephanie Ingram (Unable to join us now – maybe later)
Anastacia (signed up but hasn’t posted yet)

 

 

At Home Memoir Anna Belle “Spicy” Hutchins, Part Three

Spicy

What does a person do when she sees her best friend’s life and future spinning out of control? What can she say that will stop the strange events from unfolding? If I’d known the answers to those questions, I would have acted much differently when Dreamie got married. I knew that she didn’t even know the man named Martin Simple.

Dreamie had picked up her life after returning from her Aunt Amanda’s in Philadelphia. She seemed so much happier than I’d ever known her. She could laugh and joke about how different life here was from the magical one she’d left up in the north and in Europe.

The jokes stopped and laughter died away for her less than two years later. My vibrant, though reticent, friend withdrew from all of us who loved her. I’ve never figured out why, nor has the reason for her agreement to that sham of a marriage ever been whispered. Even the town gossips puzzled over that one for several years before stating that the couple must have been extraordinarily circumspect while courting to have pulled off the stunner of the century.

Later, the only time I ever saw her leap from her role of subservient spouse was the night Jasper   assaulted me in the parking lot of the supermarket.

I didn’t want to go to the police. I would have had to identify the assailant and I didn’t want the publicity. I didn’t think my husband Fred would have liked seeing me testify in court either. So I went to Dreamie’s house for her help.

Tiny pebbles tossed against glass don’t make much noise. The code for attention always worked between Dreamie and me. That night the old signal brought my friend to the window as quickly as it did thirty years before. We were lucky that a full moon was up that night. She could see who stood below without having to say a word.

She had the front door open and was dragging me inside before I could catch my breath from limping from around the side of the house. She wanted to know what and who, why and how long ago. I only told her what, when, and where. That’s when she really surprised me.

She took immediate charge of the situation. Less than fifteen minutes later, she’d changed clothes, helped me to my car, slid behind the wheel, and was pulling up at the emergency room at the local hospital. We didn’t talk in the car, but then I wasn’t in any shape to talk much.

Dreamie helped me inside, saw that I was treated, and insisted that the police be called.  She told me she’d take my car back home and walk back to her house from there. Her expression was serious, almost severe. She didn’t rush any of this, but everything fell into place as if by magic.

Anger radiated from her. She got no argument from me. I suppose she was the one person I would have listened to at that moment. I didn’t get to talk to her in person for weeks after that. Right after she got home that night, another crisis took her up state to attend to Martin’s mother.

We wrote to each other, but it wasn’t the same. Her anger still smoldered deep inside. It popped out on occasion in her words—how she phrased things. It was as if all of her emotions were inside a pressure cooker that sat on a burner set on LOW. The cooker just waited for a bit more heat before it would blow.

I don’t think about the episode often. Sometimes it just feels too raw for that. But Dreamie withdrew even further after that night. She was still my best friend, but not the one I grew up with. We still did all of her usual quiet activities when she could escape that house of Martin’s.

Sometimes I wonder if she leaped from the pan into the fire when she married. Getting out of her mother’s house was a blessing for her, but maybe that blessing turned into a curse in the end. I watched Dreamie turn into a slave for a petty tyrant. But in the depths of her eyes, there were times when a gleam of something other than the slave peeked out and let the observer know that wheels turned whether they were on display or not.

 

Memoir & Backstory Blog Challenge,
2013 Participants:
(Read about the 2013 Challenge – click here)

Jane Ann McLachlan
Joy Weese Moll @joyweesemoll
Amanda M Darling
Katie Argyle
PK Hrezo
Stacey Rene
Claudette Young
Kay Kauffman
Leslie
Deb Stone    Twitter: @iwritedeb
Gerry Wilson
Susan Hawthorne
Satia Renee
Bonnie
Angie
Pearl Ketover Prilik
Terri Rowe
Talynn (starting 2nd week)
Rebecca Barray (occassional)
Lara Britt  (occasional)
Linda G Hatton (occasional)
Stephanie Ingram (Unable to join us now – maybe later)
Anastacia (signed up but hasn’t posted yet)

 

 

 

At Home Memoir: Dreamie Simple, Part Two

Dreamie

I don’t know how I survived that moment in my mother’s living room the day I was told a marriage had been arranged for me. I don’t remember much of that day. I suppose I never wanted to dive into that feeling of utter betrayal ever again. It was enough that the daily reminder sat across a dinner table from me for seventeen years.

My memory flashes show a scene with Mother sitting in her chintz easy chair, agitated but resolved. Martin Simple stood at her side, one hand on her left shoulder, a look of smug satisfaction smeared across his face. I’d come in from my job at the PigglyWiggly four blocks away, anticipating a quiet evening in my room without distractions.

My reward for coming home was a demand to sit down and listen to how I was going to marry Martin in three weeks’ time.

Talk of arrangements swirled around the room like a maelstrom. My mind felt swallowed in this bizarre proposal of intent. I was left, in the end, with the certain knowledge that Martin would destroy us all if I didn’t go along with their plan.

The ceremony was a civil one, in more ways than I could count. I wore my Sunday best. Spicy came has my bridesmaid. George came as her escort. I wasn’t allowed to invite friends for the affair, not that I had that many to invite.

I didn’t argue. I didn’t make a scene when Martin deigned to kiss me at the declaration from the JP for that action. I didn’t throw up, either, though fighting down the urge was a heavy battle. If he’d expected my reaction, he certainly had reason to smile like the Cheshire when he turned to those who’d come to see the spectacle.

Mother’s true wishes on the matter were something she never discussed with me. Only disdain and hatred colored her voice when she spoke of my “husband.” Her wedding gift was to educate me in how to get along without becoming an inner slave to his demands.

Years later, when she lay dying, she told me that she hoped I would find a way to even the score for her and for me. She said, “Dreamie, no man should have the upper-hand, in any way. Martin had no right to do what he did to me, to us. He took half of everything I had.”

Knowing that my then seven years of lifeless marriage had counted for little to her left me with an emptiness that no one should have to bear. I’d been robbed of my youth by her and my young adulthood by Martin. I had taken my own steps to salvage a future without Martin. I didn’t need her asking me to take revenge for her.

I’d learned how to take charge of my own life, with my own priorities, none of which involved a parent. I could not mourn her death. I could only mourn the possibilities that had died along the way to that moment.

 *  *  *

Memoir & Backstory Blog Challenge,
2013 Participants:
(Read about the 2013 Challenge – click here)

Jane Ann McLachlan
Joy Weese Moll @joyweesemoll
Amanda M Darling
Katie Argyle
PK Hrezo
Stacey Rene
Claudette Young
Kay Kauffman
Leslie
Deb Stone    Twitter: @iwritedeb
Gerry Wilson
Susan Hawthorne
Satia Renee
Bonnie
Angie
Pearl Ketover Prilik
Terri Rowe
Talynn (starting 2nd week)
Rebecca Barray (occassional)
Lara Britt  (occasional)
Linda G Hatton (occasional)
Stephanie Ingram (Unable to join us now – maybe later)
Anastacia (signed up but hasn’t posted yet)