Journal

RUST REMOVAL DAY 2: RETRY

As one of my followers correctly pointed out, I totally missed the intent of last weeks exercise:

DAY 2:

Create a character with personality traits of someone you love, but the physical characteristics of someone you don’t care for.

I fell into a personal trap of getting caught up in why the person I don’t care for made that list.  My writing mindset is focused on nonfiction, and I stumbled too deeply into the poison swamp of hatred.  As they pointed out, it’s FICTIONAL!

Get over the hate and get a grip.

Thanks!

So, let me continue as I planned, just letting the words flow, no revisions, spell check only.

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She’s like most grandmothers of that time – the undisputed leader of the family.  She’s the personification of  the old saying “If Momma ain’t  happy, then nobody’s happy.”  Sure, her husband acts the role of the strong, silent patriarch, yet looking at him you know that when the time comes he’ll take charge.  In the meantime, it’s usually “ok, honey.”  For the other 95% of the time, it’s her world, we’re the subjects,  and she’s knee-deep in all our lives.  Unquestioned love for us, strongly balanced with a no-nonsense attitude for foolishness.  Child or adult, you’re going to get her opinion about what you’re saying, what you’re doing, even what you’re thinking.  Oh yea, the same for the “not” word you can put in front of the action.

She has the knack for reading faces.  Mom tells us as kids it didn’t matter how they tried to hide it, she’d come home from work and not only tell them she knows they had an argument but she’ll damn near tell them exactly what it was about and what each one said to the other.  I used to think it was just one of those old family legends until the Thanksgiving day she confronted my brother and me about an argument we had at the grocery store during a last-minute run for a few things for dinner. I’m basically “How the hell did she know about that?” when she tells us  “looks like y’all been fighting again.” We had laughed and joked our way out of it on the drive back home, so it wasn’t like we came back angry.  At least I was pretty sure I wasn’t still upset, so it couldn’t have been my face that betrayed us.

She’s no exception to the jokes told about the shortest  person always trying act the baddest.  Barely over 5 feet, she has  the long, straight silver-streaked black hair handed down from the Native-American blood of the family from back in Mississippi.  Thick bodied, but not what you’d call overweight, and when she walks it’s like she’s carrying something on her back, slightly bent forward, with a pronounced lean to each side as she steps.  It’s a walk that, if you don’t  see her face, makes her look older than her 66 years. She’s blessed with smooth, copper skin with few wrinkles, and could easily pass for, oh I guess, mid fifties.  She has a thick southern accent, and sometimes I tease her about sounding like an extra from The Color Purple.  I often do it when she gets into her lecturing mode, unsolicited opinion time.  It’s always signaled with the opening words “You need to…”  It gets on my nerve when she says that to me, and that’s my way of taking the misery out of it for me and whomever else is the target.

But when it comes to how she dresses,  that’s another story. Grandma is serious about clothes,  and she puts her money and time into it.  Even if something isn’t that expensive she makes it look like it is. One of those people everybody knows who can make the ugliest outfit look good. She’s no fashion snob – she’ll shop Wal-Mart’s clearance rack, but at least twice a month at a minimum though, she’ll make the trip to the upscale places.  

All it takes is one phone call to one of the ladies in the family announcing her next shopping trip, and then she’s heading out in the SUV packed with any random assortment of daughters, nieces, sister-in-laws, daughter-in-laws, granddaughters, all eager for a touch of her fashion magic.  Those who can’t go demand to be the one to receive the first call for the next one.  She is their Goddess of Fashion – she wears her credentials everyday –  and as they shop they look to her. A slight frown if they even so much as look at a rack or display is all they need, an interaction they all love.

So needless to say that when she passes on a chance to give her thoughts on my brother’s decision to sell his house and move into a condo we think that maybe she’s just distracted.  Then my wife tells me that the ladies are talking about how long it’s been since the last shopping trip together.  Apparently she told them about her last two journeys after the trip.  No clarion call.  Now, everyone’s antenna is up, trying to figure out what this sudden deviation in behavior is all about. 

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So there, free-flowing and only checked for spelling.

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RUST REMOVAL DAY 2

RUST REMOVAL CONTINUES:   DAY 2 WRITING EXERCISE

Last week was fun, creating titles for books/articles/etc. I’d like to write.  What i wanted to do was create spontaneously, first thing to come to mind.  Not spend anytime formatting or editing.  Main  goal was simply moving the thoughts from brain to “paper.”  The whole point of the exercise is to get the creative juices going.

So here’s the next one:

DAY 2:

Create a character with personality traits of someone you love, but the physical characteristics of someone you don’t care for.

Glad they didn’t use Hate.    The remaining vestiges of the Christian in me IS not (supposed to be) comfortable with hate, but, gee,  I can do this using the phrase “don’t care for” as an excuse (yea, I know, can’t fool God)

So as I begin to think of two people on opposite ends of my affection scale I discover  that a huge part of me absolutely refuses to mix the two.  Sad to say, I’m struggling separating hate from “don’t care about.”  Hate’s running pretty strong at this moment in my life – that is, it generates the stronger emotion much, much more easily. I can’t talk about my grandmother while giving her the features of the most “not care for” person in my life: a former co-worker whom I will not speak to ever again,  even at gunpoint.  Biggest joke in office during that time was the teasing I got about showing up at her retirement luncheon.

Did not go!!!

Everybody has limits, she stomped over mine!!

SEE!!! Now I’m all pissed off again!!!  😡

And I don’t want to put this on those I Iove.

Wow! Suddenly this exercise isn’t the piece of cake like I thought it would be.  I can’t separate the personality of the bad from their physical makeup.  Nope, nope, and no.. can’t do it!

Damn if this isn’t turning into a psychological exercise.  Couch time, free of charge.  Hmmmm…   post this, and then regroup.  The only spontaneous thing that’s happening is mental combustion!

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12-DAY RUST REMOVAL

OK, I haven’t stopped writing at least something every chance I get. It’s the posting.  I feel I have to “blog with a purpose” but I keep forgetting this is MY blog and I can write whatever the heck I want, dammit.  I’m supposed to be capturing and sharing my growth.

Alrighty then, a nice little exercise to wake up my Muse, courtesy Writer’s Digest.  They have a good idea to kickstart the new year:

A 12-Day Plan of Simple Writing Exercises

Ahhhh, a loophole the lazy/busy part of me can manipulate – they didn’t say consecutive days. Still, a good way to get the posting rust removed.

So no more thinking, plotting, wondering. Let ‘er rip!

Day 1:  Write 10 potential book titles of books you’d like to write.

I know my heart leans more towards magazine articles, and the true ones I have in mind  I think I’ll keep in the safe.  But in the spirit of the exercise, here are articles, essays, and maybe books I’d write:

  1.  Whiskey, Women, and Prison Time: Country Singer or Rapper?
  2. The Untold Stories of African-Americans and WWII Espionage
  3. The Making of “Me”
  4. When You Can’t Catch a Break
  5. Proving You’re Saved
  6. Power Couple
  7. Three Chains and a Cane: The Story of the World’s Oldest Rapper
  8. The 21st Century Prophets: Street Preachers
  9. The First Inventor: The First Person Who Discovered How to Create Fire
  10. Paths Not Taken

Hey, that was fun !

Whaddya think?  Which should I tackle first?

stack-of-books

Pop’s Stories

My thoughts are spurred  by a Tweet from Roger Ebert, referencing this blog post:

Raised in Fear: Horror Films as Schoolyard Lore | Press Play.

Grandfather Stories

Reading this blog post brings back pleasant memories of my Grandfather, who I call Pop. I remember him telling stories to my sister and me.  Not stories of ancestral heroes, no tales of  ancient tribal  battles and victories. Sadly, those stories faded during the Middle Passage.  Pop tells  us funny stories, scary stories, sometimes funny scary stories.  There are jokes, but mostly  stories that have us laughing and crying.

I remember how he acts out the stories, sitting in his chair and gesturing and moving and mimicking the action as he talks.  My favorite, really the only one I remember the most details about, is about this bad-ass brother who is either the devil or a zombie – I really wish I can remember the details.  Devil or dead, he is a Spook, and I do remember he shows up unexpectedly at a campsite.  Pop becomes the characters.  His eyes open  wiiiidddddeeee as he and his friends see this devil. Then Pop becomes The Spook. He grabs the frying pan off the fire and dumps  the food right into his mouth, hot grease and all.  He  grabs  the hot coffee and does the same.  He wipes his mouth with the back of his hand and in a low, gravelly voice asks the frightened campers for “More!”  Then he reaches into the fire, grabbing a handful of hot coals.

And a little boy and a little girl can’t stop laughing with Pop.  I know now how much fun he has telling us these stories.  I see his face, and see how much he enjoys making us laugh.

I don’t remember when he stops, probably as I get into my teens.  At that time in my world twelve is  the cutoff for “childish” games and innocence.  As damn near every adult reminds me, it’s the age that Jesus assumes His ministry.  Thus, on my twelfth birthday my sins are now my own!  I have to stand before God and account for them, can’t blame it on being a kid anymore!  I’m pretty sure the stories ends well before then.

I do get a chance to be Pop as I become a substitute teacher after my first retirement.  I have an absolute ball reading “Two Bad Ants” to a first grade class.  It’s not on the lesson plan for that day, but once I see the title all bets are now off – I know I HAVE  to read it, for me a much as them.  I can’t act out like Pop, but I read with all of the fun and enthusiasm like him, hoping they are enjoying it as much as I am.

STARTING 1ST ARTICLE: PROJECT 2013

DOWN  THE RABBIT HOLE

I surprise  myself over the holiday.  I do  a little reorganization in my home office.  Rearrange my bookcase, file  away the books and papers from the completed CNF classes, putting current projects close at hand, and so on.  I grab a new project folder for the first article I want to publish, label it, and as I turn to put it on the shelf I thought, “Let’s just see what’s out there, just get a little taste of the project, enough to really get the motor running.”

I already have a roadmap in mind: lots of research, interviews, pictures, and footwork.  I receive tremendous feedback from my last instructor, a lens through which I can  focus  more clearly. What I don’t know yet is how long it would take to complete.   All I want to do now  is  just see what a quick glance at  Google tells me.

I peek into the rabbit hole, the ground under me gives way, and down I go.  Four hours later, I have  two pages of handwritten notes, several links and web pages copied to Evernote, a couple of YouTube videos marked,  and I have to force my self to stop.  I am supposed to be reorganizing.  So, quicker than planned I’ve  begun to gather material for the article. OK, I guess this is a good sign, and encouraging.

MUSCLE MEMORY CHALLENGE

Just about every book I’ve read about writing has one common recommendation:  write, read, and write.  Rinse and repeat.  Or, as they describe it, develop my “writing muscle.” What I’m doing lately is posting comments to web articles.  Getting in a little of both at the same time.  The temptation I’m fighting is to start another blog.  I want to keep this dedicated to  my writing journey, but  I know I’d like to  follow up on my second blog idea, which lost out to this one as my initial foray into blogging.  Trust me, the temptation is strong.  Thankfully a quick glance at everything on my desk yells “Caution: Overload” and I come back to earth.

Still, there’s a lot of fun in the back and forth with people (especially sports and politics) and I find myself wishing I could preserve the dialog.  Thus, the thought about following through with the second blog.  Reading, writing, and preservation. Thank God blogging is cheap!  Thank God I’m reminded I really don’t have the time.  Thank God for knowing that somehow, someway, I might  try anyway!!!!!

MERRY CHRISTMAS & HAPPY HOLIDAYS

A Christmas tree inside a home.

 

Wishing every one of you the BEST HOLIDAY SEASON !!!

 

 

 

In spite of the recent tragedies and no matter what your faith or belief is, take a moment and reflect on all of the GOOD THINGS that have, or is happening, to you!

 

 

 

After Christmas I will be working on my end-of-year post, which also marks ONE YEAR since I went live!  Sheesh, seems like only a few short months ago, but on January 1, 2012 My Personal Renaissance went live!  What an adventure it’s been.  I already know I won’t “wax nostalgic.”  I thought about tackling a Christmas tale from my past tonight, but I think not.  Let’s just see where the Muse leads me when I start typing the year ending post..

 

 

 

Once again, ENJOY THE SEASON!!!!!!

 

 

 

GOD BLESS YOU ALL!

 

 

 

Dennis