I implore you. If you feel the calling, you MUST write. There are too many people who depend on you to share the gift you’ve been entrusted with. It’s vital.
Day before yesterday, I freaked about writing my dad’s story…What qualifies me to write it? How do I finish it when my dad can’t talk? Am I good enough?
There were so many questions and feelings of inadequacy. I reached out to my amazing writer friend, Bridget. She knows how to give a voice to others because she writes people’s stories. I knew she understood what it was like to reach a point of vagueness, or sheer terror, and feelings of inadequacy…and still she wrote on. She reminded me that if I didn’t write his story, then my dad truly would not have a voice, especially now that he can’t talk at all.
Today, I went to the nursing home and read my dad another chapter of his story….a story I know that has deep meaning for my daddy. I read it aloud to him, and he crumbled and cried. Was I looking to make him cry? No, of course not. But what this revealed to me was the power of hearing the voice of a vaulted man. This is a man who never showed emotion of any kind. This is a man who used alcohol to not feel pain…not feel emotion…in an era where men were to be invincible over any kind of vulnerability. When he cried, he showed me that he had been real and honest with me. When he cried, I knew he had heard his own voice out loud. When he cried, I knew I had captured the essence of what he was feeling. He had entrusted me with that part of him that revealed to himself he was human. I remember earlier this summer my dad had said, “You gave me my life back.” He needed me to be his voice. He desperately wanted to be a part of this world and to belong.
Lastly, when I left, I reminded him, “Daddy, you’ve done some great things in your life. You have left a legacy for your grand children and great grand children. I am proud of what you have accomplished. I am proud to be your daughter because you are honest and kind and good.” He mouthed the words thank you with some sounds, squeezed my hand tight fiercely and kissed me.
Yes, he made mistakes…some really bad mistakes in which he felt the deepest darkest shame. But the darkness had not defined him. As a writer, I got to reveal that the shame was only part of the story…that alcohol was the antagonist for a short time. But the real Ernest, the one who overcame the darkness had risen and become a victor in his own story. His reveal had provided a path for others.
This, my writer friends, is your mission, giving a voice to those whom can not speak or do not know how to speak. This is how we heal our world, one story at a time.
When my daughters were growing up, we had Friday Night Pizza, and they always, always, always put on a dance or a play. Oftentimes, these kids (6 or 7 pre-teen girls) would put on Fractured Fairy Tales. We video taped them because they were incredibly creative, and it validated the girls to keep on writing and creating, and it kept them out of trouble.
Here’s how it works: You take one of your favorite fairy tale characters, and you write the story from their point of view, much like the book, The True Story of the Three Little Pigs. If it’s an evil character, you plead their innocence. If it’s a sweet character, you show their shadowy side…all in the name of fun. This exercise reminds us that EVERY CHARACTER HAS REDEEMING QUALITIES and FATAL FLAWS. It’s good for novel writing too!
THE PLUS ONE! – Do this same exercise with CHARACTERS FROM YOUR book. It’s a fun, safe way to explore and also a chance to really get to know your characters.
Plus Two – Get your kids in on writing with you – You could write these fractured fairy tales together. I’ve done this with four year olds because their imaginations are free to roam!
I was challenged to try on some dialogue with a love topic. My own love story gave me the emotional impetus to write and weave the story. It was fun! I challenge you to try it.
It was Happy Thursday, my favorite day of the week. I jolted to the door in anticipation. There was a sign on the door, “Enter my queen.” What surprise awaited me today? It was Joe’s turn to do the date surprise, a ritual we had been doing for months, the first man to surprise me in return. The invitation got me nervous with wonder and excitement. I opened the door carefully, almost like a peek, as if opening the door full on would be so overwhelming that I would blow out of my skin. Nothing in the living room as I entered. Nothing in the kitchen on the counter. But looking down, there was a pathway which trailed into the master bedroom. There, on the bed, was the most beautiful full length, ornate, Shakesperian era dress. The note beside it instructed me to put it on and await his arrival. I get to be a QUEEN!, I thought. It was every girl’s dream. As a child, dress up was one of my favorite things to do. Note to self: Points to you Joe for hitting that dream spot on.
I slowly drew the dress on so as to savor every moment and not to tarnish this exquisite garment in any way. I awaited expectantly for my love’s arrival.
A sound of a truck door shutting. My King had arrived. When the front door opened, my ears perked to listen for clues to tonight’s events. Some rustling, and then soon, a shout toward me, “Good evening my Queen.” (that was me!) “You may come into the parlor,” he said. I tried to move with as much grace as I could find…a dress like this called for beauty and style.
I entered “the parlor” and there was my King, elaborately dressed in a rich costume to match perfectly with mine, complete with nice brown tights. Another note to self: My man was wearing tights. And oh, was he handsome as ever. Look, his eyes are twinkling!
“Are you ready?” he inquired.
“I think so,” I said with a pause and a small twitch of the jitters and eagerness at the same time.
“You’ll have to wear this blindfold.” He directed me.
What is he up to? I wondered.
Before I put on the blindfold, I looked up and saw Joe’s sister, Karren dressed in a chauffeur’s outfit.
“Hello! “ I said to Karren, and she smiled and waved back, “Hello.” She opened the back seat car door and helped me get all of me in the car without damaging the beautiful merchandise. Joe sat up front with Karren. The two of them chatted back and forth, and I just listened, my senses heightened because of the blindfold. Secretly I was trying to figure out where we were going by tracing the turns like a map in my mind and listening for more clues. I also paid attention to smells and bumps that might give me clues. Train sounds, railroad ties, kids playing, slowing down, a double BUMP! I KNEW where we were!
On our first surprise, I had taken Joe to my friend Rosemary’s house, a beautiful place that overlooked the Kathryn Albertson’s Park, complete with a creek that ran through the yard and a bridge that led to a stunning tea house. He was going to recreate our date! I held my excitement inside so as not to divulge that I at least knew part of the secret…I felt like a kid inside!
My car door opened. “We have arrived my Queen. May I take your hand and assist you out?” Joe asked. I answered, “You most certainly may.” Then, turning to Karren, “Thank you kind chauffeur for the ride.” “You are welcome,” Karren replied.
Joe walked me to the courtyard of my friend’s house and removed the blindfold. It was set up beautifully with the lights on and the rushing of the stream and the sounds of the bugs and birds. Perfect was all I could think of.
“Remember this?” the King asked.
“Yes, very well. Thank you.” I sheepishly replied.
“Tonight we are recreating the magic of our first surprise,” Joe said.
“I was hoping so,” still containing some of my delight.
Joe walked me across the bridge, and we began recreating our magical night, from the story of The Table Where the Rich People Sit, to listening to Yanni, to eating a nice dinner that he had prepared. We laughed together and cried sweet cries of joy together and we relished every moment.
It was time to go, but I didn’t want to go. I wanted to linger here.
Joe took my hand again and began walking me across the bridge. Halfway he suddenly dropped to one knee.
“What?” I thought. “What is happening? He’s on one knee! Is this really happening? Shouldn’t I have had a clue? No, because we dress up like this all the time. It’s what we do. It’s the marvel and fun in our relationship. Was I ready for this? Is HE ready for this? Wasn’t it just a few weeks ago that he was saying that he wasn’t quite ready for next steps? What is going on? – All these thoughts flashed through my mind in an instant, trying to make sense of this new moment, so very different from the previous moments and definitely different than other moments we experienced.
Joe started, “This place is one of my fondest memories that is why I recreated it. In walking back across this bridge, I want us to enter a new phase of our lives.” He began fumbling and reaching IN HIS TIGHTS! He struggled and scrambled, searching for something. Alas, he found the prize, a ring box!
“A ring box? This is definitely something different. Again, am I ready for this?
Is he ready for this?” –
Joe continued. “Marie, will you marry me? I will honor you and cherish you and it would make me very happy to have you by my side.” Pause. Long pause. I was sorting through my thoughts for the correct response, when my heart leaped and answered for me, “YES!!!! I will marry you.”
Joe grabbed me and swung me in circles. We were both filled with so much joy. We couldn’t contain it all. Sparks emanated from every fiber of our being. Our world was on fire. Nothing could stop the magic that was happening now. Absolutely nothing.
We walked inside to chat with Rosemary and to thank her once again for allowing us to use her sacred place. She was grinning ear to ear. Her response to our joyous faces, “Never did I think you would find someone who would match your quirkiness so well. Joe is perfect for you in every way.”
“I know!,” I exploded.
And then I turned to Caris, Joe’s daughter, who was also in the room. She was happy too and hugged us and congratulated us.
How could I possibly hold on to all of this memory? I want it to last a lifetime. I stood there in that spot consciously visualizing each and every detail and holding it dear to my heart. This day would go for eternity. I just know it.
YOUR TURN: FEEL FREE TO TRY ON SOME ROMANTIC DIALOGUE OF YOUR OWN AND POST IT HERE!