Family, Fiction, Imagination, Memory, Musings, Real Life, Tuesday Topic, Writing

Do you believe in make believe?

The Christmas Eve I was five, I woke my little sister, took her by the hand, and made her sit at the top of the stairs to watch our parents take our Christmas gifts out of the closet below the staircase. My objective? To prove to her that Santa wasn’t real. Why I don’t know. I don’t think I was a particularly mean sister. I can’t even remember how I knew Santa was make believe.

My  parents didn’t discover us peeking, and my sister didn’t rat me out, so I went along with the Santa story for years after that night. Why? Because I believe in make believe.

Science can’t explain everything. Religion tries. Children simply believe. As we get older, we lose some of that capacity for hope against all odds, the certainty that, if we wish hard enough, it will be so. Star light, star bright …

I reserve room in my imagination for the magic of fairies, and elves, and unicorns, of ghosts, and Nessie, and Bigfoot. As a fiction writer, I think that’s only fair. When I offer you my writing, I ask you to enter a world of imaginary people, in imaginary places, doing imaginary things. I ask you to believe in my make believe.

And I’ll do my best to write it well, so no big sister will whisper in your ear and destroy the illusion.


Endnote: If you read this post and took any comment as a slight to your religious beliefs, please know that I had no such intent.

Craft, Fiction, Questions, Read, Short story, Tuesday Topic, Writing

Armed and bewildered …

During the second year of my marriage, I lived in Germany courtesy of the U.S. Army. We lived off-base, though, on the third floor of a German couple’s home. I do not speak German. I regularly encountered people who didn’t speak English. (Imagine that!) I dwelled in a fairly constant state of bewilderment … and fear that I would miss or misinterpret something. Now, I have the same feelings for a completely different reason.

Bad Hersfeld, my how you've grown!

Recently, Cynthia Newberry Martin blogged a five-part series on Reading Like a Writer. She ended by taking apart Alice Munro’s short story Dimensions. I read the story, but for the most part, I left the dissection up to Cynthia. She answered the question posed on the mechanics of the story and then, offered some excellent insights. Since she didn’t propose we deeply analyze the story, it’s not so much that I couldn’t answer most of the questions she posed for myself. It’s just that this kind of reading is a foreign land to me. I don’t really understand the language.

I’m used to reading fiction for escape. That’s not to say I never learn as I read. But as I read, I’m concerned with what the writing says to me, not whether that’s what the author meant for me to hear. Yet, as a writer, I often take a novel I enjoyed reading and study the writing for particular aspects. So, theoretically, I could take a story apart. But my mind rebels at the thought. With fingers in its ears, it sings la-la-la-la-la.

However, this is my year of living dangerously, so with a few other writers, I will attempt a similar exercise with a short story by Flannery O’Connor titled “A Good Man is Hard to Find.”

Cover me, I’m going in.


Doubt, Goals, Life, Marketing, Power, Tuesday Topic, Writing

No, no … that’s the old me

Yes, I know, I’ve told you many tales of my life as a hermit. I’ve revealed my social awkwardness, my reluctance to venture into public places, my preference for a virtual life. Just two posts ago, I expressed the belief I’m not confident enough for Twitter. Well, that was just … um … an act. I will accept the Oscar, thank you.

Okay, so it wasn’t an act. But I realized that not only could I not pro2hermit_hafmote my writing in this hermit state, it wasn’t actually true of me anymore. So … tada … I’m coming out of my shell. I’m taking the plunge. I’m stepping out on faith. If you follow Judy Clement Wall’s blog, you know that 2009 was her year to challenge herself this way. And she has now become the flat-out rocking “Incredible J” of 2010 … and beyond. I don’t hope to equal her success, but who knows?

I’ve undertaken my first challenge and I’m so excited about it, I moved this post, intended for Wednesday, up a day. Over a year ago, soon after starting this blog, I came across Mari Mayborn’s. She’s an inspirational writer and speaker. Her beautifully written blog posts were some of the first I dared to comment on. She reciprocated here and, eventually, even dared ask me to give her feedback on articles she was preparing for submission. Then, she let me know she’d be in California this month and asked if we could get together.

Normally, my response would have been to say, “I’m sorry. That would be nice, but _____ (fill-in the blank).” I am now, very glad I didn’t do that. She drove two hours (one way!) to meet with me at a Starbucks yesterday. I will not lie, I had a mild anxiety attack as I was about to leave my house. But I persevered. Mari was as lovely a person as I knew she would be and we talked for nearly three and a half hours! (And I’m pretty sure I didn’t babble the whole time.) It was great. I loved it. I’m ready for more.

So, I’m through with the hermit “I can’t” thinking. There are, of course, still things I won’t do, but only because they’re dangerous, wrong, or just plain stupid. To the other things, I’ll say, why not?

What’s the best that could happen?

Photo credit: Dawn M Schiller – Odd Fae and Autumn Things
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Doubt, Dream, Tuesday Topic, Writing

Are you in the wrong house?

I had started writing a post on a completely different topic for today, but last night I had a dream. Yesterday, I confessed to someone that my faith in my writing ability has waned. In my dream, a person in my life who is hypercritical of me said something that hurt my feelings. I hid my reaction and walked casually out of the room. But then, I continued on out the back door.

houses With a heavy heart and fighting back tears, I walked down the street toward my house. I entered the house next door to mine instead. I remember thinking that it was fine to do this, I could live there and no one would mind. Maybe no one would even notice. When I entered the empty house, I knew instantly I wouldn’t be happy there, but felt trapped by my decision.

Then, the person in my life who has a most generous heart and always makes me feel better about myself came to the door, smiling at me through the glass. Even though I had triple-locked the door, she easily opened it, and I knew that I was free to leave.

Once again, my subconscious had spoken to a captive audience. It told me to quit listening to that inner critic that locks me into a substitute self. A self that believes she can’t write. A self that would be unhappy if she didn’t write. So today, I’m going to smile lovingly at myself and move back into my own house. There are words to be written.

Do you ever take up residence in the wrong house?


Fiction, Imagination, Memory, Musings, Tuesday Topic, Writing

Do you believe in make believe?

The Christmas Eve I was five, I woke my little sister, took her by the hand, and made her sit at the top of the stairs to watch our parents take our Christmas gifts out of the closet below the staircase. My objective? To prove to her that Santa wasn’t real. I don’t know why I did that. I don’t think I was a particularly mean sister. I can’t even remember how I knew Santa was make believe.

The odd thing is that I believe in make believe. My  parents didn’t discover us peeking, apparently my sister didn’t rat me out, and I went along with the Santa storywishstar for years after that night. Science can’t explain everything. Religion tries. Children simply believe. As we get older, we lose some of that capacity for hope against all odds, the certainty that, if we wish hard enough, it will be so. Star light, star bright …

I reserve room in my imagination for the magic of fairies, and elves, and unicorns, of ghosts, and Nessie, and Bigfoot. I think that’s only fair. When I offer you my writing, I ask you to enter a world of imaginary people, in imaginary places, doing imaginary things. I ask you to believe in my make believe.

And I’ll do my best to write it well, so no big sister will whisper in your ear and destroy the illusion.

Endnote: If you read this post and took any comment as a slight to your religious beliefs, please know that I had no such intent.