Super excited to find out that Tulsa Review published my memoir piece “Smoke and Lemonade” in their Spring 2015 issue. The issue is filled with wonderful writing and fantastic photography. I’m honored to be included with such amazing artists.
It’s pretty sweet that I get to post this on Father’s Day! When I told my dad I wanted to go off to school in New York and become a writer he said, “It’s a tough life to be a writer but if that’s what you want to do I believe you can do it.” And even today when I get a publication here or there his response is always, “Keep after it, babe. You’re about to turn the corner.” Love you, Dad!
A little slice of life piece that I wrote is included in “The Personal Issue: Essays and Memories” over at the the Dead Mule School of Southern Literature. Sorry for the brevity of this blog post. Stacks and stacks and stacks of student essays are calling my name.
A year ago, on Memorial Day actually, I got a “vision” for a new memoir piece. My butt didn’t move from the chair for the next five hours while I tried furiously to keep up with the deluge of memories. The first draft was 16 pages. Through many, many, many revisions, today the final version appears on The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature site. I almost gave up on this piece, but after having my confidence boosted at the Scissortail Creative Writing Festival this year, (thank you, Ken Hada) I doubled down and started with a fresh round of submissions. Everything turned out as it should. Happy Reading! 🙂
Here’s another fun writing exercise that forced me to look at my experiences/memories in a more focused way. In addition, it helped me be as concise as possible.
The exercise is to select a 10-year period in your life. I happened to choose ages 10-20, but you could select 12-22, 47-57. Just make sure you limit yourself to 10 years. Then instead of a timed writing this exercise forced me to stay with it for about two hours since I had to fill up two pages. A side note: I write pretty much write all rough drafts and writing exercises by hand, so your “pages” may be different than mine. Lastly, and this is the fun part. You can only use THREE, yes THREE words in each sentence! 🙂 Here’s an excerpt from my attempt. I don’t necessarily have “sentences” but I have attempted to string three words together. In any case, there are enough details for me to remember moments that I can expand later.
**Bonus: Once you have completed the two pages, read back through it and when you come to an area that jumps off the page at you, spend another two pages writing solely on that topic.
Fall of 1985. 10 years old. My parents divorce. We must move. Mirror slices hand. We destroy house. Color on walls. Rip up carpet. Pull up tacks. Wagon packed up. Drive at night. Spooky new house. Wood covered walls. Chinese paper lantern. Dolls behind glass. Scary new school. Pretty blonde girl. Free lunch sevens. Many nose bleeds. Never see dad. Grandma moves in. She smokes Kools. Scoots house shoes. She eats SnoBalls. We watch Cheers. She curls my hair. She loves me. Grandma gets sick. She breathes loudly. Three purple X’s. Along her chest. Not long now.
I won’t post the rest, but even at this point, I have been able to grab the most vivid memories and distill them to a point I get at the essence of what was going on. The three purple X’s were drawn on her chest to mark where the radiation would be beamed into her (I don’t even know the right words for it all). I remember vividly seeing these purple X’s on her and the doctors so proud that they had burned away all her cancer only to find out they had burned her esophagus to the point she would never be able to eat again. I was 13 when she died and I have never forgotten those X’s. This exercise proved to be so helpful to me in mining my life experiences that I ended up doing it again for ages 21-31!
Happy writing! 🙂