Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds
Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds
I had this image in my head of a father telling his little girls stories to teach them lessons. The stories were about clouds and he sang them in an old fashioned, rhythmic way.
The little girls have images in their heads, familiar sounds from far away and long ago.
But Daddy’s not there. The songs are gone. And a piece of the girls got lost somewhere.
This is what I think of when I think of Life of Clouds.
But the story really has a lot to do with anxiety. So many of our young people experience anxiety and depression – and these girls are suffering.
There’s hope though. Somewhere, there’s always hope.
I use first person narrator in many of my stories. I find the level of intimacy I can connect with in the character makes the experience feel more authentic.
I also enjoy the unreliability of the first person narrator. Although I don’t intend to make my main characters questionable, all first person accounts must be met with skepticism.
There’s one possible downside to the first person narrator and I’m certain many writers have experienced the fan who believes they understand the author based on a story which utilized the “I”.
One reader contacted me convinced Dad Shining was about me. “This is a true story, I bet!” He wrote.
This is complimentary in the fact that the story must have been realistic enough for this reader to believe and enjoy it.
However, Dad Shining (originally published in The Chicago Tribune’s Printers Row Journal) is written from a male point of view experiencing a life event incomparable to what a woman could experience.
There’s not much a writer can do about being mistaken for their narrator except to gently correct the reader without offending them or merely thank them. I said, “thank you for reading.”
My main character in West End is a young woman, and I did use an area close to where I grew up. A number of readers have attempted to call me out on that. One reader wrote, “I know most of this is you, except for the part of leaving the boy.” Another reader, convinced it was me believed I’d been married before and left them to change my name and start a new life incognito.
This did bother me to some extent; the woman in West End is in some ways stuck in life, and while that might be my fear, it is not me.
Still others found the first person narrator unreliable enough to question her sanity and ask me if she was seeing spirits. These questions I rather enjoyed. One character I had intended to be questionable, but when asked about another – I don’t want to say as I don’t want to ruin it for anyone! – I was blown away!
And that is the benefit and, perhaps, curse of first person narrator. The connection is so authentically intimate that you might convince readers it’s you; And you might just convince them the narrator is a little off her rocker!
I’m more familiar with Valerie Cooper’s poetry, as we’ve both appeared in Delphinium Literary Magazine. So when she contacted me about writing a piece about finding time, I thought she’d have something important to say. We’re both single parents, except mine are now grown, which gives me more time. Hers is still quite young – and as I once did – she searches for little bits of time to write.
As a single parent, writing can be difficult. I’m required to be creative and write around my daughter’s schedule. I find time in the mornings, for twenty or thirty minutes, before I get her up for pre-school. At work, I take five minutes here and there when I can to make notes or outline an idea or two. I get another hour, if I’m not too tired, after I read her stories and put her to sleep.
I know my friends who don’t have kids have more time than I. But, also, my friends who don’t have kids aren’t as focused as I am on being successful. Children take a lot of your time, much of your energy, but what you receive in return is far more satisfying than much else life has to offer. My daughter inspires me to work harder, to be successful. Before her, I thought, “I’ll get there some day.” But after she was born and I looked into those big, beautiful eyes, it lit a fire under me!
Many writers complain about not enough writing time. Life is busy and messy. We need to work around it. So sometimes I get up early. Other times, I stay up late. I get creative and grab what might be otherwise wasted moments.
I write poetry in the park on warm Saturday afternoons while the children are screaming with joy on the climbing gym. I write lyrics in the parking lot, in the chilled air of my car, waiting for pre-school to end. I outline a story over the humid stove, while my daughter waits impatiently at the dining room table, chomping on carrots.
There is time, it just comes in increments, joyfully swinging around everything else in your life. It’s there. You just have to grasp it.
Thanks, Valerie. Much Luck!
For everyone else, I suggest one of these!
I grew up in a tough neighborhood. (don’t stereotype me)
I was in a band. (for about 5 minutes)
I was in a few movies. (another 5 minutes)
I wrote my first “novel”at the age of 11. (an angst ridden piece about a girl who is kidnapped because she witnessed a crime)
I was actually kidnapped. (not at 11/that story is waiting for publication)
I always have wanted to own a Munster-like house.
I’ve gotten lost in every major city I’ve ever been (including abroad. Trust me when I say every country/every city has neighborhoods you don’t want to be lost in at dusk)
I keep a lot of random facts as well as insignificant details in my brain. (jokes don’t stick tho)
now the stalkers know – don’t be a stalker….
Daughter: My friend invited me to Oregon, I need a new bathing suit.
Me: Bathing suit? It’s going to be chilly.
Daughter: So I’ll take a sweater. We’re going sit on the beach at night and watch the stars.
Me: At night….On the beach… In Oregon…. at this time of year? It’s going to be cold.
Daughter: So we’ll take a blanket too.
Me: You’re going to need a coat, maybe gloves.
Me: Last time I was on the beach at night, we saw a rat.
Daughter: Your new nickname is SPOILER ALERT!
Me: That’s what they called me in college!
Daughter: Why do I not doubt that?!