Wednesday, June 24, 2009

SC Writers Workshop and Shadetree-ers

South Carolina Writers Workshop:

I recently joined the SC Writers Workshop. It's a great concept with an interesting group of people, but so far I've only been able to attend one meeting. The writers submit their pages (example-a chapter from their current novel or other writing project) in advance, and the group members critique the work and then meet to discuss each submission at length. While in attendance at my first and only meeting, I sat there thinking that if I submit my work, I'll break out into a heavy sweat while they are tearing it apart--line by line! The truth is, however, that it will be beneficial to obtain feedback on the book that I'm currently writing, and when I reach the point where I am ready to allow eyes to see it, those will be the first people to have a glimpse of this little gem that I'm creating.


Driving along Business Highway 17 last week, I spotted a scene that brought back a vivid memory of my dad. I saw a pseudo-garage--more like a canopy where someone had erected an open air automobile repair business. It reminded me that my dad would have called this person a shadetree mechanic, or a shadetree-er as he would often say.

What is a shadetree mechanic? It is someone who works on their own vehicle in their driveway or home garage, someone who is fearless about tackling the maintenance of their own vehicle (whether or not they are truly proficient at this), and someone about whom dealerships and professional mechanics cringe because sometimes they do more damage than repair.

My recollection is that dad was sort of an automobile mechanic snob in a manner of speaking. He felt that people shouldn't be tinkering under the hood of a vehicle unless they were properly trained. Eventually, the auto makers began to design vehicles in such a way (computerized diagnostics) that many shadetree mechanics and do-it-yourselfers threw up their hands in frustration because the mechanical design made it more and more difficult for the average person to manage their own maintenance.

Dad stretched the use of the term to include anyone in any situation who was claiming to be an "expert" in any field in which they were not officially educated. For instance, if an individual was not a licensed barber or hairdresser and he or she cut the hair of relatives in his or her home, dad would refer to them as a shadetree barber or hairdresser. The example that stands out most in my mind was when he heard someone giving their interpretation of Bible passages and they were either 1) not an ordained minister or 2) he didn't happen to agree with them, then they were a shadetree theologian.

I think Dad would have been a good minister in some respects. He knew the Bible inside out and loved studying and teaching it. I don't, however, think that he would have had the patience to schmooze the occasional congregation members who tend to be chronic complainers, gossips, and instigators. He wouldn't have been able to resist the urge to tell them exactly what he was thinking! One time my husband, Fred, asked Dad why he wasn't a minister, as it was apparent that he loved talking about the Lord. He replied, "I never got the calling."

We all need to think about using the gifts and talents that we've been given in ways that glorify God. He may never call us to travel the world or be a nationally known anything, but we can touch lives every day in our own little spheres of influence and allow His light and goodness to shine through us.

For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. 2 Corinthians 4:6 (NIV)

Hoping that you're having a blessed week!!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Capturing Your Unique Story

Writing workshop:

I just finished a private workshop series with five delightful ladies, each of whom arrived at last night's session with their first story relative to a memory or series of memories. As I sat there listening to each story being read aloud, I marveled at the diverse subject matter being presented by this group. They had spent time deeply searching their memory banks for a topic or theme that they felt personally compelled to write about for their very first selection, and each was beyond impressive. Hearing the stories of others is one way to generate more and more of your own memories. This was such an endearing group, and it simply reinforces why I have chosen to teach memoir writing workshops. I enjoy seeing the looks on their faces that tells me that they now know that, in time and with effort, they can really complete this project. I love this calling!

Update on the bicycle seat situation:

If you have been following this blog, you are aware that my husband, Fred, refuses to ride his new bicycle because he believes that the seat was designed for something other than the male anatomy. At one point, he threatened to place a pillow on the seat in order to ride the bike. (If he does that, he's riding in this neighborhood ALONE!)

When I was at Huntington Beach last week, the sight of a bicycle whose owner must be related to Fred, was almost more than I could fathom. I was so wishing I had brought my camera. The owner of this bike had placed a large, thick chunk of yellow foam rubber on the seat and secured it with miles of duct tape. Okay, let's give him credit for being innovative, but I must say that I've never seen anything quite like this.

Signing off for now. Think about writing your stories to share with loved ones--your unique experiences--capturing a composition of you...for them!

Monday, June 8, 2009

One Life to Live and Hip Hop Abs

One Life to Live:

I heard a comment on the radio today that referred to "One Life to Live". It instantly reminded me of several things:

  • The soap opera that premiered on July 15, 1968. I had just completed my junior year of high school in Southern CA.

  • The Clairol commercial "If I've one life...let me live it as a blonde!"

  • The Dolly Parton quote "I'm not offended by dumb blonde jokes because I know that I'm not dumb. I also know I'm not blonde."

I'm wondering if I was subconsciously influenced by the Clairol commercial because I've been living life as a blonde for just about two decades. Occasionally, Fred inquires whether or not I will ever return to being a brunette, and I always justify my blondeness by saying, "I don't think so, honey. When the grays start to take over, it's best to go lighter." I don't believe that he's convinced.

The real point is this. I stopped to consider how short this life really is in view of eternity, which is definitely a concept that is tough to grasp sometimes. What we do here and now--every day--does matter. My goal is to hopefully be able to look back and feel that my life made a positive difference for others. I don't want to live my one life feeling angry and frustrated with people whom God has placed in my path, even if their personalities and mine will never gel. (I'm not talking about Fred--this is just an example!) Regardless of how you slice it, life is short--too short not to try to make every day count. Too short not to do things for God's glory rather than our own, tricky as that can be sometimes!

Words of wisdom:

Every day, we're faced with choices. We can make wise decisions....or we can make foolish ones. For instance, as I realized yesterday, choosing to eat a taco while driving and wearing a white top is not a stellar choice. You know that you really want to do it, but you know that if you do, you'll definitely have a mess on your hands. I should have waited. Lesson learned. Hey, maybe I can use that in my new book!

Hip Hop Abs:

For all of you doubters out there, Fred has participated in Hip Hop Abs with me twice. I was very impressed at how he stayed right with the program--with one exception. On the second day, during the middle of the DVD, the telephone rang. Fred made a mad dash for the telephone, announcing, "I'm sure it's for me!" He looked a tad disappointed when the telephone became silent after the one initial ring, and he dejectedly returned to his position in the exercise routine. He's back on the road now, and probably grateful to be far away from Hip Hop Abs!! Beth, thanks for introducing me to DVD exercise. You were my inspiration.

See y'all soon.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Back in Murrells Inlet

I realize that the object of a blog is to try to write an update at least a couple of times each week, but we've been away for ten days and I was unable to place my blog writer's hat on top of my head during that time. I did spend several hours working diligently on my second novel, and a great deal of our flight time was utilized for this purpose. There seems to be something about being confined in a plane with very few distractions that enables me to experience a flow of the creative juices. Perhaps it's the altitude or maybe the inability to use a cell phone during flight. We had an extensive layover in Charlotte, and my little fingers were flying like crazy on the keyboard of my laptop during that time as well. Fortunately, I'm equally creative sitting on the beach, so I don't have to book worldwide travel in order to enjoy progress on this project!

We loved visiting with everyone in New York, where we truly have an amazing group of family and lifelong friends. We enjoyed visiting Grace Fellowship Church in Latham--always a blessing. Special prayers go out for Shawn and Karen regarding their health issues.

I'm speaking at a luncheon tomorrow for a group of ladies on Pawleys Island about writing our stories to pass along to future generations--something I really love to do. I want everyone to understand that you don't have to be a celebrity to write stories about your life that are interesting to someone. Perhaps the general public might not be particularly interested in your story, but most everyone has nieces, nephews, children, grandchildren, or cousins who would enjoy knowing more about you, your life experiences, and some special words of wisdom that you would like to share. You don't have to tell EVERYTHING. You pick and choose what would be beneficial for others to learn about you. Perhaps you have traveled to some fascinating places--destinations that many of your relatives will never see. Write about those unique events. Even if you had a miserable childhood and don't care to re-visit it, you could write about the positive experiences of your lifetime. I try to influence every individual that they have something worthy to impart to others. What would you like for future generations to know about you?

I promise to be far more blog faithful in the months ahead!!