The Pyrenees---Southern France

The Pyrenees---Southern France

Thursday, March 12, 2015

The Very Beginning...

        I got great news yesterday about the upcoming Listen to Your Mother show. Although a friend and I both got a "no thank you," we did get a free ticket for the show. And, the librarian at my school was one of the 13 writers chosen. Dr. Jenny Gray is one of the 2015 cast members, which makes me so excited.

        What's that? You didn't even know I submitted, much less auditioned? I kept it on the down-low because I knew that, given a pool of writers who have not been a part of the Listen to Your Mother experience, my chances were slim. Laura, Ellie and Naomi--I was sure--would give first priority to first-time performers. Fresh meat. New blood to run in the LTYM veins.

         One reason why I submitted was because of my story last year. In 2014 I was one of the cast members, and my story was a sad one. I don't usually do sad. My natural arena is funny, or at least I think what I write is funny, so I wanted to give the LTYM ladies a taste of Sioux's silly side.

         Submitting... sharing... getting rejected. It's all a part of a writer's life.

         However, for my friend Jenny, it's only the beginning. (If you're old like me, perhaps at this moment you can hear Karen Carpenter singing, "We've only just begun..." I can, because I wore that 45 out until the grooves were no longer groovy.) This is is her first foray into the writers' world. She's working on a collection of stories, she's optimistic, and she's only just begun.

         I have my first rejection letter (and it's a real letter. It's not a form letter) and I have my first check that I received as payment for my writing (it was only $10). Both of them are framed. Both of them are reminders of where and when I began.

         What was the beginning for you like? What was your first validation... your first rejection? Rejected minds want to know.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Trader Joe's Teaches Writing (and Life)

          My life was fine ten or fifteen years ago. On my rare trips to Berkeley, California, I'd get my Trader Joe's fix. I'd load my suitcase up, and pine away for the next year or two (since I gobbled down my goodies in a matter of minutes) until my next trip to Berkeley. But then, they built two Trader Joe's in St. Louis... and now, the temptation is just a thirty minute drive away...

           Since for me, it's all about the food, 'bout the food, 'bout the food--no lyin'... I figured I'd weave a little bit about writing into this fanfare about a few edible things.  

Less is more.

                    These mints are divine. And although if you eat a whole bag on the way home a few, they're still not good for you, but they're not as bad as some other candies... 'cause they're made from only three ingredients: mint, honey and chocolate liquer.

                And sometimes less is more when it comes to our writing. Does the reader really need to know "My crusty-heeled feet, ending in yellowing thick raptor-like nails, sank into the dark salmon-colored carpeting--with miniscule flecks of moss-green and glints of gold--which was quite comfortable, with a sumptuous pad underneath"? Sometimes we don't mean to, but we nonetheless occasionally overload our readers' senses with way too many details... details our readers often don't care about. 

               Keeping it simple works most of the time. Say it the way you mean it. Don't spend a bunch of words prettying it up. Pure things are way more valuable than imitations or wannabes.

Do it when you can.

              Sadly, Trader Joe's discontinued one of my favorite treats: milk chocolate cocoa almonds. They still carry the dark chocolate ones, but the other ones were the bomb.

                    If you're in a store like Trader Joe's (or their cousin, Aldi's) and you see a product you like, you'd better buy it... because it might be gone for good the next time you're cruising down the aisles.

               We should write when we can. If we have 15 minutes before we have to head to work... couldn't we spend that time writing? Shouldn't we? And shouldn't I practice what I'm pretending to preach. (Of course I should.)

Know what you're made of.

               This nectar-from-the-gods comes from just one thing: honey crisp apples. It doesn't pretend to be a juice "cocktail" or a blend. It's plain ol' juice from honey crisp apples. It's simple and unpretentious.

                What are we? If we say we're a writer, we shouldn't spend all our time creating excuses about why we don't have time to write. If we say we're working on a novel, dadgummit, we should be doing serious work on our manuscript. 

                Writers write. It's as simple as that.

What tidbit about writing (or life) can you connect to a food item? Carb-loving minds want to know...