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.


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.