If Wishes Were Horses

“If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.”

My writer friend told me this when we were bemoaning the fact that although we can search a dozen times through our manuscripts, looking for flaws to revise, something ALWAYS slips through. We need someone else to spot those pesky little flaws that become invisible. I said I wished I could just do it myself. That’s when she quoted that old saying to me. Well–

What if wishes WERE horses? I told her that we’d be wishing for barns to hold them, which would result in more horses, and we’d be wishing for a pasture for them to run, then enough hay to eat, and as the herd grew, trainers and helpers. If wishes were indeed horses, all those wishes would expand alarmingly.

She said she’d never thought of that. So, why did I? It’s the fun way a writer’s mind runs when you get an idea, and begin to ask “what if?”

Now some may say this is a useless, silly exercise, but wait! It’s quite useful when working on a story, a poem, even nonfiction writing. Because letting your mind wander where it wills without censoring, belittling and shutting down, brings surprises, clarity, and insight in your unique perspective, and sometimes tears or laughter.

Dig deep, follow those threads of ideas that strike you, even if you think they’re bizarre or worthless. You will be surprised. They are actually quite valuable.

If wishes were books, I’d need a warehouse to store them.

You Can Count on Me

Hey, my little chickees, are you dependable? Why should it matter, when there are so many more important attributes? I think dependability shows respect. If someone knows you are dependable, they’ll respect you; if not, they won’t. It’s as simple as that.

Do you know someone who says he’ll do a certain thing, then doesn’t? Or someone who  promises to keep a secret, then goes and blabs it? Will you respect or trust that person again? Dependability breeds Respect and Trust.

Everyone in my family knew that my mother-in-law was NEVER on time. When she and her husband attended Masonic meetings, they’d drive separate cars because he didn’t like being late. We all knew that if you wanted Grandma to come for dinner at 6:00, you’d have to invite her for a late lunch, and she’d probably arrive on time. Or not. A wonderful person otherwise, we all loved her. There’s much said and written on the subject of being late. (Marilyn Monroe said, “I’ve been on a calendar but never on time.”)

Waiting for someone who is always late can be annoying, but what about the person who is always early? Last week I had a dinner planned for 2:00. One friend came at about 11:30. I thought, “Oh no, I’m not ready!” but being a good friend and hostess, I said, “Welcome. You can help.” She sat down and said, “Tell me what to do.”

Well, what with visiting while getting things in and out of the oven, making a salad, getting plates off the shelves, getting placemats and napkins and wishing I weren’t distracted by chatting with her as she sat nearby, I managed. But I thought, “Next time I’ll tell her to come at 3:00 when I want her at 2:00.”

The humorist P.J. O’Rourke said, “Being early is an unpardonable sin. If you are early you’ll witness the last-minute confusion and panic that always attend making anything seem effortlessly gracious. Looking in on this scene is almost as rude as asking someone where he got his face-lift.”

So, my little chickees, be punctual, as much as you’re able. Be dependable and trustworthy. Be responsible by keeping your word. Let your “Yes” be Yes, and your “No” be No, as our Master teaches us.

That’s all for now. Go back to your preening; I’ll go back to pecking my keyboard.

Wanna Watch the Sky Falling?

When I turn on my computer, the home page has “news” teasers I can click on if I want to watch someone, usually a celebrity, break down. Why would that be appealing? What’s the draw to see someone make a big mistake, be humiliated in public, or go sobbing into meltdown? Sometimes it’s just an average person who screwed up.

For instance: “Jennifer’s (or Kate’s) fashion disaster!” Why would I want to see someone shamed, tripping, or in a revealing, horrid color, sleazy or unflattering dress? Charlie ranting? I could watch a wedding disaster, where the bride or groom slips and falls … you get the idea. There’s even a TV show, supposedly a comedy where you can see people hurting themselves in odd ways. Is this more interesting than seeing someone succeed?

What’s the draw? Some people love to watch disasters. Some go to auto races hoping to see a crashing pileup, some at the circus thrill when a trapeze artist falls, Some hope for a fiery crash at an air show. There is a legitimate watcher: an expert who rewinds a disaster scene over and over to find the cause and devise a remedy to prevent it from happening again.

But what about the person who clicks on one of those scenes? Does he want to laugh? To feel superior? If it’s someone you dislike would you be more likely to want to enjoy the suffering? Would you be relieved it wasn’t you? Would it reinforce your attitude against the person? A satisfying “Aha” moment? Is it good to laugh at your enemy? The Bible warns not to gloat over the troubles of your enemy.

What if the video humiliates someone you like and admire? Your child, someone in your family, even YOU? Someone caught you in a humiliating situation. Would you want everyone on the internet to witness it? Would you be outraged if it were your son or daughter? Would you be fascinated enough to watch over and over? I think not.

They say that celebrities are like public property: fair game for publishing anything whether they like it or not. (That’s why paparazzi shield themselves in trees, trashcans and cars, and even wear disguises.) Selling other people’s misery is lucrative. Why is this popular?

Is it simple curiosity? Like, How did that happen? Or what next? Are there many compelled to watch something astoundingly beautiful? Or someone in a happy moment? It doesn’t seem to have the same draw as a disaster.

Think about it before you sign on to watch someone in a hurtful situation. (I can recommend a site called dailykitten.com)

THE SKY IS FALLING!

When Henny Penny said so, it made a good story. We writers need to come up with disasters, trials, problems and troubles for our characters. No writer wants to hurt our characters. We want the good ones to win in the end. But without the chutzpah to face and overcome obstacles, a character who walks through all goodness and light is boring. The sky has to fall.

I know a person who can think of the most awful things that can occur no matter what the circumstance. It keeps her from going places, meeting people, and trying new things. Her “what-if” gene is overdeveloped. Not mine. I think everything is going to work out and we’ll all be fine. I have to work at finding troubles to throw at my characters.

Maybe I’m finally getting it. The other day while playing computer Scrabble, my friend was slow, and I wanted to play. So I found the “Find an Anonymous Player” option, and clicked on that. Immediately I had a new game going, and a word to play. The anonymous friend’s name is something like Honno22. After a couple of turns, I got curious and sent a message: I’m on the West coast. Where are you?

I figured west coast was anonymously safe . Honno22’s response: I’m currently in Australia.

Wow! A new friend, and he or she is in Australia! That’s neat! I liked that. Then Henny Penny intruded, and my writer-brain perked up. What if that person isn’t really in Australia?  Or is in prison there? What if Honno22 is a serial killer using the prison computer? What if Honno22 finds out who I am and comes knocking on my door? Have I opened up conversation with a maniac? A deranged child? Why did he or she use the word “currently?”

I wonder if Honno22 has similar thoughts about me? Yikes! Maybe we’re both just two nice people who like word games.

But, it’s those worst-case scenarios that make a story worth reading. The sky is falling? Great! Show the chaos and angst of inhabitants beneath, and how they survive… or don’t.

HEN WITH A SMILE

The other day I was walking outside in the sunshine, wearing  one of my favorite shirts. I stopped, closed my eyes, and remembered the day I bought it. In Paris. Yes, France! I bought that shirt at a little shop across the street from the Notre Dame Cathedral. The shirt has a colorful sparkly facsimile of one of the round rose stained-glass windows.

I continued walking slowly, a smile on my face. I was in Paris! I actually was there! It was wonderful. Just thinking about the lovely city, with ME in it made me smile.

I thought of other things that make me smile. One time I was going through some DVDs at the library, and came across Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. That made me smile. So does Singin’ In The Rain. Makes me smile every time I think about it.

Sometimes I think of something outrageous or extraordinarily cute one of my children did, and that makes me smile. Sometimes the thought of a friend makes me smile. Thinking of the swell folks in my Monmouth class makes me smile. They are all so cute. Groucho Marx makes me smile. Remembering some of Carol Burnett’s routines make me smile. Driving my Corvette made me smile. It was a fun car to drive.

Many happy things in my life make me smile. Thinking of all the benefits of being a Christian makes me happy enough to smile too.

I must remember to think of these things when things seem to be going wrong. I could always put on that Paris shirt. That always works.

Write as Only YOU Can

I was listening to Brahms first symphony on classical radio this morning. The announcer reported that poor Brahms was hailed as a Beethoven successor, and expected to write like Ludwig, and even better. What an act to follow! Johannes wrote beautiful music for twenty years before he composed his first symphony.

We writers are also faced with esteemed, talented authors whom we admire. I wanted to write like C.S. Lewis. If only my writing could be as deep and insightful, it would make people think.

But–I am not C.S. Lewis. God wants me to write like ME, the person He made me to be. I cannot add another story to C.S. Lewis’ legacy; or Jane Austen’s or John Steinbeck’s. I could imitate, but never enter in to who they were; I’ll never see the world and life as they saw it.

On the other hand, it might be easier to imitate my favorite writers, than to peel off the layers of ME, and be “real” in my writing as they were. I can read my favorite poet William Stafford, and be inspired to reach deep inside as he did, but what I find there will be vastly different from what he found.

So, while it is good to be inspired by reading great authors’ works, we cannot ever touch a reader by pale imitation, no matter how well we study and perfect another’s technique. We must break down barriers, search our own souls and bring out the truths that God has put within. That will touch a reader. That’s why He made us writers.

 

BYKOTA

Featured

BYKOTA means Be Ye Kind One To Another. Found in Ephesians 4:32, it is under-valued, but very important to the life of every Believer, for the good of the Body. I hope to encourage you to be kind one to another, always.

As I said in an early post: I used to be a CHICK WITH A BICK, but over the passing years, have learned a few things, and am now a HEN WITH A PEN. I hope to lay some biblical foundations to encourage you to have a better life merely by being kind. The Bible instructs us in many places to practice this virtue. It brings blessings all around..

Chick with a Bic

Chick with a Bic is me before the passing of umm… let’s say, a few years; I am now a Hen with a Pen! I’m in the process of creating this website and looking forward to laying some good words for you. I hope to gather you under my verbal wings as the Lord gathers us under His wings of lovingkindness.