Tag Archives: stories

Addiction?

I remember one day, a few years back, when Elin Woods was reported to take a golf club to her husband, Tiger’s, car. At that moment, I remember thinking,”He cheated and she found out.”

Sure enough, as the press reports filtered in, it was revealed that Tiger had not only cheated once, but several times.

Shortly thereafter, Tiger confessed to being a “sex addict.” Again, I saw it coming.

You see, it seems that recently, whenever someone does something wrong, they don’t own up to it. It’s more of the “I couldn’t help myself because I have an addiction.”

You know what?

I’m sick of it.

I’m sick of people not taking responsiblity for their actions and for the people they’ve hurt. Take Tiger Woods. Instead of owning up to his mistakes and admitting that yes, he cheated on his wife numerous times, he chose, what I feel is a complete and total cop-out. He held a press conference in which he claimed to have a “sex addiction.”

I’m going to call BS on that one.

You see, in my mind, an addiction is something that has a hold over you, something you can’t help but take part of. For that to occur, there’s got to be some sort of chemical manipulation. Tiger claimed sex addiction and I couldn’t help wonder why if he was so addicted to sex, why didn’t he have sex with his wife? To me, at least, he seemed to be addicted to having sex with other women. Is that really an addiction? A chemical imbalance? Something you have no control over?

I doubt it.

More likely, Tiger was relishing in the thrill of having sex with someone other than his wife and loved the excitement of trying not to get caught.

Addiction? I think not.

I apply this same principal to those who say they have a food addiction. Typically, these people are overweight and, in my opinion, trying to find an excuse.

Sorry, but there it is.

Food addiction? I completely doubt the validity of this condition.

Here’s the thing: When someone claims to have a food addiction, they tend to be drawn to fatty foods – pizza, ice cream, fried chicken, etc.. I can’t help but wonder why no one is ever addicted to, say, carrot sticks or leafy greens.

The other problem I have with this so-called condition is that you need food to survive. How can you be addicted to something that is essential to life? Is anyone addicted to water? Oxygen?

In my mind, a fodd addiction is not so much a food addiction as it is a lack of self control and once again, the quest to shift the blame onto something or someone else. It’s as if they’re saying “This weight problem isn’t really my fault. I can’t be held accountable. You see, I have this addiction to food….”

Again, I call BS on that one.

It’s time for all of us to own up to our actions, especially when our actions hurt ourselves or others. Tiger, hold a press conference and tell the world you’re just an ass and not someone with an addiction or, as I like to call it, an excuse for bad behavior. If you have a problem with making poor food choices, call it what it is – a lack of self control. No addiction “made” you eat that entire fried chicken or cheesecake. You made the choice and you are in control of your behaviors.

This is what I’ve tried to instill in my children. I’m tired of hearing the excuse “she made me…”

No. She did not.

“She” may have instigated you or pushed your buttons but you are the one who chose to hit, poke or do whatever in response. You are in charge of your own behaviors and it’s time we all accept that. What each of us does is our own choice and not the result of some condition or “addiction.”

Yes, I purposely put the quotes around that word.

If I seem a bit intolerant, I apologize. For the record, I do accept that there are many legitimate addictions. Many have fallen victim to drugs and alcohol. I get it. But in my opinion, we are taking it to the extreme.

No more, people! We all need to take responsibility for our actions. No wimping out and claiming “it’s not my fault” or “I couldn’t help myself.”

Take control of your actions. Apologize when necessary and simply say that you’ll do your best not to do it again. Personally, I’d rather hear a heartfelt apology than an excuse any day of the week.

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Filed under blogging, Donna Small, life, musings, writing

Summer vacation…Finally!

This summer seems to have passed by in a blur. Once school finished, my daughters and I spent every day at the pool since my eldest daughter is involved in our local swim team. While this is great and I love spending my days lazing at the pool, once the season is over, I find I can’t drag my children there. Swim team also means no vacations until after the season is over. As luck would have it, my daughter made it to the championships, which extends her season an additional week.

Then August approaches. Stores begin to advertise back to school savings, lunchboxes and bookbags are everywhere, each bag more colorful and vibrant than the last. It is right around this time that families scramble to get in that one last vacation before the kiddos return to school. Unlike these other families, my family is still searching for their first vacation.

So, this friday, my girls and I will drive twelve hours to Massachusetts to surprise my mother for her sixty-fifth birthday. She has no idea. My children are thrilled beyond belief and began packing several days ago. They’ve determined which movies, blankets and pillows they are going to cram into my minivan for this trip. And me? Well, I’ve purchased an audio book that is, coincidentally, just about the same length as my anticipated drive time. The hope is that I will become so engrossed in this novel that I will forget about the seven hundred miles of highway that stand between me and my mother.

Once there, I can enjoy the fact that my children will want to spend time with their grandparents – the people they only get to see once or twice a year. And what does this mean for me? It means that if one of my children needs something to eat or drink, someone else will get it for them. I can spend the entire week relaxing while my children spend time with family members who love them.

Then, of course, I need to drive another twelve hours back to North Carolina.

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My Hat’s Off to You by Sherrie Hansen

 

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I wear a lot of different hats in my life as a writer, the owner and manager of the Blue Belle Inn B&B and Tea House, a pastor’s wife, and a daughter, sister and aunt. And I don’t get it from strangers. My Grandma Hansen loved wearing hats. During the depression, she and my Great-Grandma Danny used to make matching mother daughter dresses out of feed sacks. They would go to the feed store with Grandpa and root through the pile of feed sacks until they found enough in the right fabric to make two dresses. They sewed the dresses on a treadle sewing machine. I remember pumping my short legs back and forth on it when I was a girl. Grandma told me once that she never minded wearing a feed sack dress as long as she had a pretty hat to make it an outfit.

Rose - hat

So she would take a few pennies of the money she raised selling the eggs her chicken laid (their only source of cash during the depression) and drive to the Millinery Shoppe in St. Ansgar to buy a hat.

Zion - Hollyhocks

Grandma Hansen was a multi-tasker, and a wearer of many hats, just like I am. She cooked enough for a threshing crew even when there wasn’t one, had a huge garden, entertained family, friends and neighbors on a regular basis, taught a Sunday School class, and always seemed to find time for a game of Aggravation or Sorry with the grandchildren.  She taught us how to make hollyhock dolls (with pretty little hats) and pick eggs and butcher chickens. She was a woman of many talents. But no matter how busy she was, she always had time to tell us a story.

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When I think of how tired Grandma must have been at the end of a long hard day washing clothes on a wringer washer, sewing on a treadle machine, cooking over a wood cook stove and standing on her head out in the garden, it amazes me that she had the energy to tell us bedtime stories, And never just one… My favorites included Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, The Little Red Hen, The Three Little Pigs, and Chicken Little with Henny Penny, Ducky Lucky, Goosey Loosey, and Turkey Lurkey. There were also stories about our dad when he and his brother and sister were little. And there were stories from the Bible, stories about Jesus, and people he knew, like Nicodemus, Peter, and Mary, Martha and Lazarus. Grandma wove her stories with Billy Goat Gruff’s deep, scary voice, and Goldilocks sweet soprano. She held us spellbound for hours, telling stories that were new each time we heard them even though we had heard them hundreds of times.

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So it seems that I got not only my love of hats from my Grandma Hansen, but the gift of storytelling. As a writer of novels, I’ve spun tales of pure imagination in Night and Day, Stormy Weather, Water Lily, Merry Go Round, Love Notes, Thistle Down and Wild Rose that I hope would make her proud.

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When I put on my chef’s hat and go to work in the kitchen of my B&B, I tell people how the Blue Belle Inn came to be, and how I concocted their favorite recipes, how I met my husband and what interesting guests we’ve had that week.

Sherrie - Mark

I really do wear a hat to church most Sundays, when I dabble at being a pastor’s wife. And I tell the old, old story with my hands and voice, as I play the piano and help lead worship. When I’m with my nieces and sometimes my nephew, I tell stories about their daddy when he was a baby, and about what happened in our family before he was born. I’m 16 years older than my brother, and someone has to pass down the stories and legends and funny family tales. Who better than I, the oldest daughter of the oldest daughter of the oldest daughter for generations back? It’s a sacred calling.

Danish Girl

I used to wish I had one outstanding talent that would propel me to some sort of greatness. I play the piano plenty well enough for our small church, but a concert pianist, I’ll never be. I was a straight A student, but I’m no rocket scientist. I am good at a small dabbling of different things instead of being great at one thing.

Sherrie - hat Sherrie - beach

Sherrie - pirateSherrie - porchSherrie - dreadsSherrie - Zion

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve decided I like wearing different hats – my purple one to parties, my velvet one to church, my straw hat to tea and my floppy Florida hat with the big brim to the beach. What I once rued, I’m now thankful for. I’m a storyteller, a preserver of legends, a mind set free to fly anywhere in the world my imagination may take me.

Sherrie library

So thank you, Grandma Hansen, for telling me about Indians and horse-drawn sleighs and one room schoolhouses and eloping to the Little Brown Church in the Vail, and all the stories of your life. My hat’s off to you.

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Return to the Scene of the Crime — by Norm Brown

Way back in May of 2000 my son and I took a long cross country trip in a rented RV. We camped in some awesome national and state parks and took in a lot of tourist sites along our trek from Austin all the way up to southern Oregon. As in all great vacations there was one moment that stuck most in my memory. It was an awe-inspiring scene, but not in the photo taking sense like Yosemite. In fact, relatively few people have ever seen this sharp blind curve where inches from the edge of a one lane road the mountainside drops away for thousands of feet. There was no guard rail and the worn asphalt actually sunk down toward the drop off. As I eased the 25 foot long RV around the curve, I was convinced we had made a serious mistake in taking this route through the Siskyou National Forest between Galice and Gold Beach, Oregon. It was hard not to vividly imagine what would happen if we couldn’t make that turn. What if I met an oncoming vehicle or something blocked the way in the middle of the curve?

If you have read my novel, Carpet Ride, you will recognize this situation as the opening scene of the murder mystery. All those years ago, this is where I got the initial idea for the plot. It was a real place and inspired real fear. We made it safely down to the coast, but I have always had a clear image of that remote spot in my mind.

 A couple of weeks ago I took another RV trip in Oregon, this time with my brother. Older and maybe a bit wiser, we flew to Portland where we rented an RV and a small car for sight-seeing. This was a much better arrangement than having to drive the big gas-guzzling camper everywhere we went. So when I suggested we take a day trip over the wilderness road to the coast, I was actually thinking that the route would seem very different, maybe even a little disappointing. After thirteen years, the road had probably been drastically improved and the steep curves wouldn’t be challenging at all for a small car. Turns out I was wrong on both counts.

As before, we started out on a nice two-lane paved road through the tiny town of Galice. My GPS, which was something I didn’t have back in 2000, reported that we were quickly gaining altitude. By the time we were breathing thinner air at over 5,000 feet above sea level, the road had changed dramatically. Just as I remembered, the route rapidly deteriorated to a one lane, occasionally dirt, road. For me it was like stepping back in time. The only improvement I could see was the existence of a few warning signs along the way. At the highest elevations, the road literally sagged down toward the edge on one side and those drop-offs seemed even more spectacular than I remembered. Or perhaps my view just wasn’t as limited by the tunnel vision I suffered while steering an RV with overheating brakes. According to the GPS the entire white knuckled journey was only 46 miles as it roughly followed the Wild Rogue River through the mountain range. Averaging only 15-20 miles per hour much of the time, it took us well over two hours to reach Gold Beach, a seaside town on the Pacific Coast. I was only able to take a few photos along that beautiful stretch of rocky coast, which actually had been my main goal. The sun was quickly sinking and we had to turn around and do that whole drive again to get back east to our camp. Who knows, maybe traversing it in the dark would have inspired another story. I didn’t choose to find out. Luckily, the July sun sets pretty late in Oregon.

Oregon Wilderness Road

Oregon Wilderness Road

Somewhere along that trek, I guided the car through the exact curve that was seen through the eyes of the main character in Carpet Ride. But there were so many, each scarier than the last. I couldn’t point it out. As we came back down toward civilization, my brother, who just recently read the book, said, “You weren’t exaggerating, were you?” You know, before this return to the actual scene, I sort of thought I had.      

 

Norm Brown is the author of the suspense novel Carpet Ride, published by Secondwind Publishing, LLC.

 

              

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Sometimes, It’s Okay to Quit by Donna Small

When I was around seven or eight years old, my parents decided to sign me up for organ lessons. That’s right – organ lessons. Not something cool, like dance or even piano. I was the kid who played the organ for my church. It was a huge contraption with several keyboards, pedals that went across the floor, and large pipes that went up through the ceiling.

Remember the organ from Beauty and the Beast? Yeah…it was just like that.

As you can imagine, I was thrilled. (Note the sarcasm here.)

Anyway, every Wednesday night, one of my parents would take me to my lesson. There was a very nice woman in town who gave lessons out of her home. She, of course, played the organ, but also played other instruments as well, including…

wait for it….the accordion!

If I managed to play a piece particularly well, she would bring out her contraption, swing the strap around her shoulders, and squeeze the thing in and out making sounds to accompany my attempt at music.

It was not pretty.

I took lessons for years. Emphasis on the “years” part. When I started taking the lessons, I still had baby teeth. When I was finally allowed to stop, I had bee through braces, acne, puberty and was driving.

Years….

The interesting thing is, I hated every minute of it. I never practiced my songs, never looked forward to a single lesson, and continuously begged my parents to let me quit.

They never would.

So each week, I’d grudgingly get into my parents’ car and head to my lesson, feeling much like someone forced to go to the dentist for a root canal week after agonizing week.

Finally, I graduated from high school and began attending college. At last, I was allowed to quit my lessons. The small organ we had in our house was moved to my grandmothers’ house and the spot where it sat was filled with another piece of furniture. (It couldn’t be sold or given away because my parents felt certain I would eventually want to resume my lessons and they wanted to make sure I had an organ to play on.)

I never took another lesson.

Flash forward several years and now I’m the parent. I have two beautiful girls who are finding their way in life. A rather large part of that, in my opinion, is trying out different sports and activities to determine where they want to focus their energies. I don’t force them into sports or playing an instrument. I encourage if they show any interest. I pay the fee if they express a desire to join a particular sport. And I’m happy to do so. What I will not do is force them to continue something they hate participating in. Knowing that I put zero energy into my organ playing when I was their age makes me think that forcing them to do a sport or activity they don’t want to do is tantamount to flushing my money down the toilet and a surefire way to create animosity between us.

That being said, once they’ve joined a sport, they are required to complete the season and they know this. We discuss the fact that they are part of a team before they join. We discuss the fact that their team relies on them for a particular skill and it’s not fair to let the other players down. If, after one season, they don’t want to play a particular sport, that is okay with me.

Both of my girls have tried several sports and have found a particular one they flourish in and enjoy. My eldest is a swimmer and my youngest has chosen softball. Both of them have played their respective sports for several years now and I’m happy to pay the fees, purchase the equipment and attend any and all events.

Because they’re happy to participate in them.

I don’t have to drag them to practice, force them to put on their uniforms, or bribe them to get them to events. They look forward to them…because they had a part in choosing.

All this is not to say I”m angry with my parents for making me take all those lessons. I’m not. I learned a skill that while useless, is a neat party trick. I can’t play Beethoven or Mozart – you know, because I NEVER practiced – but I can play a mean “Down a Papa Joes!”

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What Story Is Your Life Telling? by Sherrie Hansen Decker

What story is your life telling? A new friend on Twitter asked this question in a tweet this morning. Who says a few word can’t be powerful?

This is a question that seems to be of more importance to me as I get older, as it becomes apparent that my most productive years are probably more than half gone, and that if I want to make a name for myself or accomplish something that I have yet to do, it’s time to get with it and get it done. One of the main characters in my book, Tommy Love, is in his mid/late forties, and in the middle of a stellar mid-life crisis. He’s had a successful career as a musician, gotten the star treatment from millions of adorning fans… most of whom are baby boomers and dying off faster than fruit flies. What Tommy wants – or thinks he wants, is one more big hit – hip hop – to appeal to a new generation of fans. Can you blame him for not wanting to fade into oblivion, for not wanting to be pegged as an oldie-but-goodie? As perhaps all of us would like, Tommy wants to go out in a blaze of glory, to see his legacy live on for at least another 20 to 30 years.

Some of us accomplish this with our children, but in Love Notes, neither Hope or Tommy has children. Neither do I. It’s been suggested before that my books are my way of passing on the secrets of my heart, and I think that’s probably very true. The story my life has been told, continues to be told, and hopefully, will be passed along one day, through my creation of the Blue Belle Inn B&B and tea House (my baby in a very real sense), and in my writing.

I was recently approached about answering some questions for an article because I was an author who was over 50, a writer whose career as an author didn’t begin until I was past 50 years old.  The question’s implication resulted in a lot of things floating through my evidently half-addled, 55 year old brain: What does she think I am, older than dirt? That it’s a miracle I can still write, old as I am? Once I got over my indignation, however, I started to think about what it is really like being 55, and how life is different now than when I was 25, 35 or even 45.

Here are my answers to her questions:

What prompted you to take up writing as a career at this time in your life?

When I was 35 years old, I opened a B&B and Tea House called the Blue Belle Inn. During those early days I worked until 10 p.m. every night, serving or cleaning up after dinner and trying to keep up the laundry and bookkeeping. When I got off work and went home (a basement apartment in the same big Victorian inn) I was keyed up and too wide awake to go to sleep. I needed someone to talk to so I could unwind. Being single, and living in a largely rural area where the rest of the world was early to bed and early to rise, I had no one to talk to and no where to go. So I wrote. I made up characters and conversations and situations and poured my pent up emotions and needs for personal interactions into my books.

For over a decade, I was so busy that I never found time to query or submit. Soon after I turned 50, I was approached by a publisher who had read the first chapter of Night and Day in an online contest I’d entered at Gather.com. He loved my voice and related to my characters and wanted to publish my book.

Do you think your age in any way hindered your writing success?

I suspect it has, for a couple of different reasons. I attended an American Christian Writer’s Conference once, and felt decidedly old, fat, and gray (comparatively speaking), even though I cheated a bit and added some color to my hair just for the occasion. Why, I wondered, would an editor or agent take a chance on me, when there were so many youthful, energetic people waiting in line on either side of me? The editors I spoke to were all in their 20′s or 30′s, looking for books that would engage a new, younger generation of readers. What did I have to offer them, with my stories of 30 and 40 year old characters – still a decade or two younger than me, but so ancient to them, that, as one editor put it, they would work as secondary characters, but not hero and heroine? Another said that they felt their readers would not be able to relate to stories about older characters, with the implication that they would be turned off, that the “ick factor” of a bunch of old fogies finding love would be too great for them to get get past.

Sigh…

The second reason I feel my writing has been impacted by my age is much scarier – and more personal, and that is that everything people say about menopause is true. Your brain turns to mush. It’s harder to focus, multitask and concentrate. My most productive time of the day – formerly from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m., now finds me falling asleep at my computer. Now, I’m awake at 5 a.m. but I’m not productive, I’m crabby. It takes me longer to get the same amount of work done, so there is less time for writing. Worst of all, your interest in romance diminishes. So does your passion for life and people. It’s sad. It’s a reality. Some people tell me it will pass. Others just shake their heads and wish me the best.

Do you believe you could have written the same type of books at a different point in your life?

No. My books are about second chances, people who have learned by their mistakes, men and women who have failed and been forgiven, and thanks to God’s grace and love, have found a sweet love that they would most likely not have appreciated when they were younger. They see beauty in places they would have rushed right by when they were younger.

When I was young, before I fell flat on my face and learned a lot of life’s bittersweet lessons, I never could written the books I have. An author can imagine plots lines and character profiles, but you can’t conjure up the richness and fullness of life you find in your 50′s!

What have been the biggest advantages to pursuing a writing career at your age?

See above! I’m older, wiser, more accepting, more forgiving, more understanding, more savvy. I have more to offer, greater insights into what makes characters tick. I’ve been there, done that. Add my experience to my still active imagination, and you get richer, deeper characters, conflicts that are heart-wrenching, and scenarios that are intensely real.

And, I have the zillions of baby boomers who are tired of reading books about naive, 18 year old Amish girls, as potential readers. :-)

What have been the greatest obstacles?

Finding a publisher who agrees with me. :-) Three years ago, at the moderately “old” age of 52, I opted to sign on with a medium sized, independent publishing firm who are more interested in finding a good story that they are the age of the hero and heroine – or the author.  Second Wind Publishing has been a great place for me to grow as an author and a wonderful venue for getting my books in print. I’ve had to modify my dreams and expectations, a bit, but then, isn’t that what aging gracefully is all about?

Whatever story your life is telling… and whatever age you are, I would urge you to keep sharing yourself – through your children, with your friends and family, in your careers or second careers – or third, or fourth – and if you like to write, through the stories you put on paper.

Here’s to the stories of our lives.

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Pssst, Tell Me Your Story, Mister by J J Dare

Yesterday as I sat in the airport waiting for my oldest daughter and youngest granddaughter’s flight, I entertained myself by writing shorty-shorts about some of the people passing by. The rules were simple: try to keep it less than fifty words, don’t look up until I finish and the next story has to be about the first person I see when I raise my head.

* * *

He dropped the suitcase again, but this time it flew open and spewed the story of his life under the feet of a hundred other travelers. No more secrets. Perhaps it was time to tell his parents he liked to wear pink underwear.

* * *

She was a sharp-dressed woman with a sharp-dressed attitude. Please don’t notice the tremble in her hand or the strain in her eyes or how out of breath she was. One more deal and she could rest. One more meeting and she could retire . . . if she didn’t die first.

* * *

The little boy wearing a Disney World cap screamed at the top of his lungs as he tried to keep up with his mother. She was walking too fast and when he stumbled and fell, she stopped and dropped the burden of half-dozen bags and bundles, and cried with him.

* * *

Scanning the crowd of people, the hunched old woman gave way to confusion. No one was here to meet her. Her eyes filled with tears until she heard the cacophony of her family above the roar of a thousand others. Maybe it wasn’t too late to reboard the plane.

* * *

She waited restlessly at the head of the ramp for the flight to arrive. It had been so long, the baby didn’t recognize her. No matter, she thought, as she picked her protesting granddaughter up; plenty of time to reconnect.

* * *

It was a better than the  people buffet at the casinos.  I believe the terminal at the airport is in the top three places to grab writing inspiration.  I may go back from time to time and just sit and write. I scribbled over thirty stories while waiting. The last story was my own.

J J Dare is the author of two published books, several short stories and about thirty works-in-progress.

Current enthusiasm is co-authoring at Rubicon Ranch

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Life Inside the Book

I never really thought about the intimacy of the books in my bookcase until recently. Granted, this epiphany should have popped into my brain after my last post, but somehow, in the chaos of life, it slipped by.

Each and every book carries the author inside. No matter what the subject, there will always be varying degrees of the creator mixed in with the story. I have a host of silent companions waiting for me to open their doors and shares their lives. The most intriguing part is finding the writer hiding (sometimes in plain sight) within the tale.

Some authors purposely reach out to the reader. Like a streaker on a football field at halftime, some writers are so embedded in their own fictional tales I can hear them scream, “Look at Me!”

Others try to steer away from themselves. Those tricky little devils are harder to find, but not impossible. Unless you’re a robot, there’s no way to hide the part of your essence that becomes trapped in what you write.

As I pen this blog, I’m looking at my bookcase. Ernest Hemingway is too easy; he’s entwined in all he wrote (he’s a streaker). John Updike was perpetually wide-eyed in surprise and Dean Koontz adores his dogs. William Porter was constantly searching.

Willa Cather loved. Marlys Millhiser is always alone in a crowd. Carolyn Chute is on every page of her books (another streaker).

Writers pull from life. Joy, sadness, fear, loneliness: our emotions translate into words on the page. The seasons in our lives spring forth with the summer of our youth and the winter of our twilight years. We invest something more, though, as we plug away at the keyboard. A part of ourselves, recognized or not, runs through our stories.

I have no plans to write an autobiography, but I have already started. Every writer does. We put ourselves in our books and it’s sometimes hard to separate fact from fiction. What we write becomes another appendage or, in some cases, a conjoined twin (Hemingway, again). Sometimes, it’s an evil twin, as in the case of James Frey or, in current news, of Greg Mortenson.

It is said we are what we eat. It can also be said we are what we write, we are what we read.

How often have you noticed the personality of the author in his or her books, readers? In the same vein, which book hits closest to home for our writers?

J J Dare is the author of two published books, several short stories and about thirty works-in-progress.

Current enthusiasm is co-authoring at Rubicon Ranch

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An Elephant Floating in the Sky

I’ve started paying more attention to the trivial things around me lately. My reasoning? I realized there is a potential storyline in all I see. It was an awe-inspiring moment when I began to look at events, even the tiniest ones, as stories.

On the road the other day, I saw this. It led to the first two lines of one more addition to my WIPs (also, listening to Stanley Fish on NPR inspired): “A plastic dollar store bag was hanging high above the ground, caught in the spindly arms of a leafless winter tree and pregnant with rain from a thousand storms. The bulbous yellow sack was a dozen feet above the ground, lethargically twisting in the tepid evening air.” (Facebook)

This was the beginning of my journey into what I’m calling “selfless discovery.” Instead of discovering oneself, I have been discovering “otherwise.”

There’s the leathery old man leaning with fatigue against the check-out counter at the dollar store – a frightened shoe lying in the middle of the muddy dirt road – the cold house with a boarded window and a dozen cats lounging outside. All of these and more have a story screaming to be told.

A year ago, I had a dream of an elephant floating in the sky. Now, I finally get it: like the expression “an elephant in the room,” my elephant meant I was seeing too many stories to ignore. My “sky” refers to the unlimited supply of writing material all around me, updating every day, every hour, and every minute.

I look at a calendar from last year and see the dates I’ve marked. My 2010 is a complete story in itself. Some events are trivial and some are not. My chapters could be entitled, “January, February,” and so on. It is a diary of my life and the lives of loved ones in 2010.

When I talked to a friend about my epiphany, he congratulated me on my “existential moment.” Although I wanted to agree with him in hopes of polishing up my tarnished new-age persona, the “moment” didn’t feel so much existential as it did experiential.

Curiosity fuels these flames. During my many cross-country driving trips over the years, I’ve always been curious about the lives of the people in the houses I pass. What are their fears, dreams, realities? Are they content or simply existing? What are their stories?

Experiences are stories, even those not of our own. That penny you see on the ground is a novel – the tales it could tell of the many hands it passed through. Think of this the next time you look at . . . anything.

J J Dare is the author of two published books, several short stories and about thirty works-in-progress.

Current enthusiasm is co-authoring at Rubicon Ranch

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Roll Out Those Hazy, Lazy, Crazy Days of Winter (by Sherrie Hansen)

I’m blogging from sunny Florida this morning. Last night, we left behind blizzards, ice, snow and bitter cold and minutes after we landed at the Orlando Airport, ran smack dab into a tornado warning.

Life is funny that way. You make plans, you hope for the best. You do everything you can to insure that your life and daily schedule will run smoothly, bring you peace, success and joy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But there are twists, turns, detours, road blocks, surprises, catastrophes… there are blimps, bumps and tragedies…

How you deal with life’s little crises all a matter of perspective. When the wind started to howl and  the rain started to blow in sheets around our car last night, I wanted to seek shelter. My husband thought we should keep driving.

We are fine, of course, but once again we were reminded that no matter how carefully you plan things in life, there are going to be  some tense moments in life, some tight squeezes.

In my latest book, Merry Go Round (scheduled for release in April 2011), Tracy’s supposedly perfect life  with her childhood sweetheart and three beautiful children is not just disrupted, it is turned completely upside down. The merry go round of life sweeps round and round and up and down… sometimes  all we can do when things don’t go as planned is to hold on for dear life. Sometimes, we come up with a new idea and adapt.

I hope when all is said and done that I can be flexible and take whatever life tosses my way in stride. And I hope you will enjoy Tracy’s Merry Go Round  – there may be a few tears along the way – a few blustery moments – but the ride is going to be great fun!

Stay warm!

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Filed under books, life, Sherrie Hansen, writing