Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Attitude, Natitude

I love word play. I'm a writer, how can I not? So when my husband and I went to DC last weekend to attend three games between the Braves and the Nationals, he watched the baseball game and I watched the people, especially the ones who wore t-shirts displaying the word "Natitude."

What a word, this combination of hometeam Nationals coupled with the emotions assigned to attitude. Natitude, an expression of optimism and fortitude and, well, attitude! It's an announcement in a "Look out, people, here I come" kind of statement. Full of energy, that word. Full of the brashness of youth, too. To be crammed into the Metro with thousands of red shirted people with Natitude is quite the experience, believe me.

Of course that word play wouldn't work for the Braves. I don't think Bratitude would send the same kind of positive message to the world. I pull for the Braves, but I wouldn't even cheer once for the Brats.

It's all in the usage.

I learned that word play lesson not too long after Lessons Learned was published. My husband was reading it and enjoying the real book instead of a flat manuscript, when he shouted, "Found a mistake."

There it was, "The Three Baers."

But wait. That was intentional. It was the title of a book by Bertha Moore, of the Pilot Mountain area, an author who paid frequent visits to the school. She didn't coin the word. It was a family name, German in derivation. Baer. She borrowed it, word played with it to develop a story around a set of triplets with the last name Baer.

My mistake wasn't in using the word. My mistake was in not explaining the spelling of the word to the reader. Lessons learned there.

Natitude, on the other hand, doesn't need much explaining. All it takes is being at a ball game surrounded by thousands and its context is obvious.

Catch of the day,


Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Granny Gretchen

When my son and his wife were expecting their first child we had a conversation about what name I would be called, as in Grandma, Nana, Mawmaw, Grandmother. I remember firmly stating, "They can call me anything except Granny." Granny would make me sound old, or so I thought.

Fast forward a few years and, yes, you got it, I'm The Granny Gretchen. It doesn't make me feel old, it makes me feel carefree. I'm The Granny, not any old granny on a rocking chair, although I've been known to sit on one whenever I get the opportunity and I do not apologize about it at all.

My husband and I just finished what we call "Granny Camp" with our two grand girls, ages nine and six. This year it was five days. Five days away from their Mama and Daddy. Five days to fill with activities and fun and making memories. First we went to the land of Oz and followed the yellow brick road with Dorothy.
My grands posing with Dorothy
It's a tourist trap, but so much fun, open on Fridays in June, at the top of Beech Mountain Resort in the North Carolina Appalachians. We went through the fake tornado, which was a scary experience for the six year old. We came out the other end, over the rainbow, house on the wicked witch of the east, Dorothy waiting to take us through.

That would be me in the bonnet
Script in my hand
There were no other characters, so the audience participated. I traded my granny hat for Auntie Em's. Grandpa was Uncle Henry. The scarecrow and the tinman and the lion were so perfect for their parts that I thought they were part of the production. But no.
We read the book, well, a picture book version that suited the purpose to prepare them for the adventure. We sang the songs. Oh, and we rode the ski lift to get to "Kansas."

With a start like this, how could Granny Camp follow up. No problem. These girls are getting older and able to entertain themselves in the down time from trips to a water park and a farm and a hot dog roast at the park, relaxing days of watching and joining in when invited.

I'm winging it. See, I had no grandparents and I've always been a little jealous of those who did. All mine had died before I was born, so I'm basing my grannyhood on what I imagined as the ideal grandmother. That and what I gleaned from my mother and mother-in-law when they were the grand generation. I'm also watching and learning from my many friends who also have grands. What works. What doesn't work. What I never plan to even attempt.

Grannyhood is like going down a yellow brick road. It's thrill a minute, so rewarding and so precarious with all kinds of creatures and goblins waiting in the woods. Holding on to little hands, reassuring them, comforting them. "There's no place like home. There's no place like home."

Catch of the day,


Thursday, June 12, 2014

Celebrate Last Day of School

Watch the Celebration here

I remember it well.

The last day of school.

While the children are off singing their personalized version of "School's out, school's out, teacher let the mules out," the teachers are meanwhile, as the final bus pulls out of the parking lot, doing their own personalized version of "Celebrate Good Times."

Yes, I remember that emotion. It's a job well done, you can go home now, emotion of relief.

My friends who are teachers are expressing their emotions on facebook today, the last day of school here in our county. One shared this celebration, caught on camera. What uninhibited joy!

So did the teachers at Pilot Mountain School perform such antics the moment they were free?

Oh. Yes.

Okay, so I wasn't there, but I know teachers. I know end of year relief. They might not have cavorted in the halls, but they celebrated. Then they went home, worked their necessary summer jobs that would hold them over until the next pay check three months away. Or they tended their gardens and canned their vegetables in preparation of the next winter. All this time away restored their souls and prepared them for what they faced come the next time the bell rang.

That's what those teachers in the video are celebrating, the chance to rest, the job well done, you can go home and re-load. Because all too soon, that next bell will ring.

And they'll be ready and eager and full of promise. Because that's what teachers do.

Catch of the day,


Monday, June 2, 2014

Memoir Writing Workshop

This past Thursday evening a member of my critique group, Sandra Warren, and I presented a workshop on writing memoirs. This was our debut session, hopefully the first of several to come. The venue was perfect for our endeavor, a small room inside an art gallery, The Arrowhead Gallery and Studios of Old Fort, North Carolina.

Sandra's two books about the experiences of military nurses during the Persian Gulf War gave her plenty of insight into writing about the lives of others.

We shared our techniques with an eager group of aspiring authors. We let them in on what worked for us and just as important, what didn't work for us. I wish I had someone to advise me when I was writing about Pilot Mountain School.

Then again, I'm sort of glad I didn't.

If I had not floundered around, flopping back and forth like the fish out of water that I was, I would have missed way too much. I'm thinking of all the personalities I might have by-passed in the desire to get it done. Royal personalities. Enriching personalities, both in my life and in the quality of the book.

I would have saved time. I would have saved energy. I would have come up with a different book entirely.

What I learned from book one proved invaluable to me as I worked through books two and three in the memoir genre. That's what we shared with the group, where to begin, what to do next, and next, and next. It wasn't as much a "how to..." kind of workshop as it was a "how we..." kind of sharing. What worked for me and what worked for Sandra were two completely different approaches.

The project I'm working on now is similar to Lessons Learned only this one is about a ball field. It will require interviews with personalities I can't wait to meet up with, royal personalities that will enrich my life and my manuscript. The lessons I learned and shared with the class last week will guide me along the way. I know where to start, how to research those dogging questions, how to get the manuscript ready to publish.

Here's where the adventure begins though, with the unknown ahead, the surprise obstacle lurking around the bend just waiting in the shadows to add a clinker to my progress. It will be there, rest assured. It's a part of the process I couldn't possibly explain in a writing workshop. It's too unknown. It's too personal. It's too valuable to avoid.

It's the joy of writing.

Catch of the day,