I think I’ve always wanted to be a writer. When I was in the third grade I wrote a story called "The Pencil Who Grew Up to be a Stub." Although the assignment was to write a one-page story with a pen, I wrote my 4-page story with a pencil…in first-person. The plot was very Stephen King-ish, all about a pencil menaced by a pencil sharpener. My teacher gave me a very low grade ("It was supposed to be in ink, Deni!") I was, of course, devastated.
But it didn’t stop me. When I was 12, the Village Voice published one of my poems. I’ll share it with you:
It makes you sneeze;
I’d rather skin my knees
But it tastes good.
It was years before I understood why the Voice had published "Grass." I, of course, had meant a blade of grass.
In high school I wrote and illustrated a children’s book called HERBERT THE GIANT, about a giant who lived in a town of nearsighted people. The townspeople didn’t know he was a giant until, one day, a peddler came to town — selling eyeglasses. I once said my books had no socially redeeming values whatsoever, but I forgot about HERBERT.
My sister Marianne has always wanted to be a writer. She’s the subject of my Quibbles & Bits this week. It’s called:
WALKING THE DOG
Once upon a fairly long time ago, my sister Marianne phoned and asked how I found the time to write my books, especially since I had 3 kids (like she did), no child support, and I worked days at a video store and nights waiting tables.
I said, "Here’s what you do, Marianne. Every day you get up an hour before Eddie and the kids. Sit at your computer and write for that hour. Even if you finish one page, by the end of the year you’ll have a book."
"But," she said, "I already get up an hour earlier than Eddie and the kids. I have to make breakfast and fix the kids’ lunches."
"Okay, Marianne," I said. "When Eddie takes off for work and the kids leave for school, sit at your computer — every day at the same time — and work for an hour. Even if you only write one page, by the end of the year you’ll have a book."
"After Eddie and the kids leave," she said, "I have to clean the house. You know how Eddie is if the house is dirty."
"Okay," I said, "after you clean the house, sit down at the computer and work for an—"
"After I clean the house, I have to change the sheets and do the laundry. Then I eat lunch."
"Okay, Marianne," I said, glancing at my clock. "After you do the laundry and eat lunch, sit down at your computer and work for an hour. If you produce even one page a day, by the end of the year you’ll have a book."
"After I do the laundry and eat lunch," she said, "I have to walk the dog."
Walking the dog has become a catch-phrase in my family. If my daughter says she wants to join the local community theatre — possibly audition for a role in a production of My Fair Lady — but she
can’t seem to find the time, I say, "Sandi, you’re walking the dog."
Even Gordon has picked it up. When I procrastinate — or even worse, justify the procrastination — he says, "Deni, you’re walking the (insert expletive) dog."
There’s a PS to my tale. I told my "walking the dog" story at an RMFW Colorado Gold conference. The following year a woman came running up to me. I didn’t recognize her. I hate it when that happens. As I searched for a name, a reference, anything, she said, "You don’t know me."
I swallowed a sigh of relief.
"I was here last September," she continued. "I don’t remember what I ate or what I wore or what so and-so said on her panel about conflict, but I remembered your walking-the-dog story." She paused. "And last year," she said, "I wrote a book."
Every time I tell THAT story, it’s an effort not to bawl. Even writing it, I feel goosebumpy.
So if you remember nothing else from my weekly blogs, remember my walking-the-dog story. It’s magic. And it works.
Over and out,