This week: Once WasEdited by: Catch-up Fyn
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Try to keep your soul young and quivering right up to old age.~~ George Sand
As a young boy growing up in rural India, most of what I knew of the world was what I could see around me. But each night, I would look at the Moon - it was impossibly far away, yet it held a special attraction because it allowed me to dream beyond my village and country, and think about the rest of the world and space. ~~Naveen Jain
When I was young, my ambition was to be one of the people who made a difference in this world. My hope is to leave the world a little better for having been there. ~~Jim Henson
(AND... he absolutely did!)
(This quote has absolutely nothing to do with anything --but I simply could not resist!)
My absolute favourite piece of information is the fact that young sloths are so inept that they frequently grab their own arms and legs instead of tree limbs, and fall out of trees. ~~Douglas Adams
It seems, upon looking back, pretty much everyone thinks that when each of us 'grew up' it was during a gentler, simpler time. I can't even imagine bringing kids up now compared to when mine were young. At the time, it seemed hard because even in the 70s-80s, many of the freedoms I enjoyed in the 50s-60s were long, long gone. Still, I implemented as many as I could because I didn't want my kids to miss out on the freedoms and experiences I had had.
There's a piece of writing 'out there' that talks of 'coming home when it got dark, being good because your folks knew what you'd done before you got home, doing endless chores to earn that quarter that could be exchanged for an entire bag of candy' and the list went on and on. It was back in the dark ages -- before cell phones, computers and instant everything. Back when school papers were typed and teachers didn't allow any typos. Can't tell you how many times I'd reach an end of a typed page and fumble-finger and have to start over! My dad always said that it would teach me attention to detail. (Much as I love computers, seeing a 'yr' in a text drives me crazy!)
When we played outdoors, roamed out of sight of parents, and spent hours upon hours engaged in games where our imaginations took us to days of yore with knights, castles and kings or out west framing battles between 'cowboys and Indians.' It was always a toss-up as to which side would win with our stick bows or guns. No good guys or bad guys back then-- and there were absolute perks to being on either side. My grandmother would preside over nightly campfires. She, being the wise old medicine woman she was, filled our heads and hearts with tales passed down from her great-grandmother who was one of the better known wise-women of her time. She taught us to run through the woods barefoot never making a sound, how to know good berries from bad and which plants could hurt … or heal. She talked of honor being essential. Always and forever.
When my kids were young, Mario tried his level best to tie my kids to a game controller. I'd watch their legs jump as their character leapt across a canyon. Then, the timer went off and they were out the door. Controllers were easily hid by Mom and complaining made controllers vanish for at least a week! Out in the old barn, bales of straw became fortresses or giant mansions or aircraft carriers. I remember my son 'flying' off the deck and off into the wild blue yonder before landing in the hay pile. I also remember braided straw crowns and a straw dolls my youngest carried around until it disintegrated. Then she'd cajole my eldest into making her another one.
They'd roam the endless fields playing hide and seek in the corn, climbing trees (and falling out of them) and getting soaked in muddy water in the ditches between fields. They'd straggle back at dinner time and head straight to the bath where the 'good old grimey 'I had fun today!' kid dirt washed down the drain. Sometimes, that was after they were hosed down outside! Oh, but they had fun. They made friends with feral kittens and learned to avoid the black and white 'cats' with the pointy snouts and fluffy tails. Yup, they learned the hard way. Tomatoe juice works wonders as do peanut butter facials!
They took a school bus to school. I did too, but walked the 2 1/2 miles from the botton of our mountain the rest of the way home. Through the woods. Alone. Carrying my books. In all seasons. NO big deal. Snnakes were waited upon. Snow meant you walked faster. Rain meant you learned to bring the umbrells when your mom told you to. The grandkids are delivered by car. Snow days were virtually unheard of. A foot of snow meant school might be delayed a short while. The busses would run late. If I was lucky, I'd have a ride up the mountain or I'd slog through the snow. Then do chores after I'd gotten warm and changed into 'play clothes.' When I was in school, girls still wore skirts or dresses to school. School clothes were a tiny step down from church clothes and three steps above play clothes.
Bedtime for them, same as my long ago ones --songs and books read. Dishes at night were washed, dried and put away by all three of my kids as I read to them. Over the years we read Shakespeare and Hugo, Melville and Travers. Scores upon scores of others. Sometimes, they read and Mom washed or dried. Books were far more important than video games or watching one of the three channels we had on TV. (Cable didn't get down to our back road home.) Movie nights were special treats complete with the spilled popcorn and being allowed a bottle of soda--or pop depending upon where you are from!
A rite of passage was climbing Bromley Mountain in Vermont during the summer you were ten. Same year one learned to do their own laundry. (If you could climb Mt. Bromley, you see, you could do anything!) As I had been, they were active, on their own and learned to rely on each other. Sure, sometimes the eldest was bossy. They called her 'the general' behind her back. But they also learned so much from her that still ressonates. (No, I doubt they'd admit it!)
My eldest has children all either in or having graduated from high school. Their lives were far more 'controlled' or tethered. She was the mom with the van bringing kids to pom practice, robotics, scouts or a slew of other things. Must give her credit as her kids are all cerebral, honorable, loving and responsible. Her kids grew up with 'stranger-danger' and not being able to 'walk or ride a bike to school.' They couldn't wander into town on their own or vanish for hours at a time. Their growing up was so very different. Not worse necessarily, but certainly different. I guess they can't miss what they never had, but it feels (to me) they lost a chance along the way.
Times change. People and circomstances change. Life (for better or worse) goes on. Each generation changes. These changes are affected by everything from world events, educational mandates and the current 'in' things to follow or believe. Nothing, I've learned, is set in stone. Everything evolves, circles 'round, morphs and is reborn. The same. Only different.
One of the greatest joys of being a writer is the ability to bring 'once was' out of the far distant past and into the now--letting new generations 'experience,' albeit vicariously perhaps, other ways that things have been done. Are still being done depending upon where one lives. Our years growing up are such a vast treasure trove of unique and marvelous adventures, day-to-day minutia and alternate experiences which need not to be forgotten.
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Paul says: That was one of, if not the best of, the comments I’ve read along that theme. If writing “Stories” is supposed suspend disbelief — something I absolutely believe is required — then why would anyone not want to include reality? One of the things that’s bothered me for years is they never talk about what an astronaught has to do to to eliminate all that food and liquid they so enthusiastically show them taking in.
The only thing I find mildly wrong with the rating standards here on Writing.com is that “Frig” and “Crap” are allowed, but the other “F” word is not and in reality crap is an “S” word too, it’s just not pronounced as a sibilant. Loving words like I do I find “Euphemistic Speak” offensive.
Thank you for your thoughts, I appreciate them.
Lines need to be drawn somewhere and as they are drawn with the idea of the under 18 crowd in mind, it is just one of those things. Probably why many folks give their writing an 18+ rating. :)
Jayne adds: I cannot be the only one who has spun the dryer a second time just to avoid folding clothes lol. In my longer stories, I try to make for real moments, and even awkward moments where the "perfect thing" goes a little wrong. I don't think it hurts any of the magic, if anything it makes more believable and relatable , like you said. And I always add glimpses of "real life" -bathroom break, cleaning up, missing ingredients and the like. They don't need a ton of detail, just "yeah, this is life" mentions. One character hates outhouses and smacks the outhouse spiders with the back of an axe before she'll go in lol. Thanks for the great article.
pumpkin notices: I agree! More reality. I have become obsessed with old westerns over the last few years, and have noticed those farms and ranches never had outhouses! Now how did Dodge City have 3 or 4 saloons and all those drinking girls with no outhouses? A bunch of men on a cattle drive, living on beans, but they never had gas? (except in Blazing Saddles, a comedy). Pumps in kitchens in country homes before 1900? Screenplays need to have reality, too. Some western novels are very educational, but some have little or no historical accuracy.
Elle writes: I agree that I like a bit of real life in my books. One thing that always cracks me up in time-travel novels is that the heroine never seems to have any trouble coping without sanitary items! And toilet paper, for that matter.
I don't think that most books I read are lacking this real life aspect though. Many of the characters I read go to the loo, have bad days at work or home, and fail at stuff. I guess those are the good books, aren't they? They feel real. Yes, reading is escapism, but if you can dive into it and believe it, then you've truly escaped.
Great newsletter Fyn! Oh, and PS. I love smashed avocado on toast.
Mara ♣ McBain comments: Thank you for the shout-out! I'm glad you enjoy my little bit of realism in fiction. I love our blather sessions and don't know what I would do without someone who understood PJs all day and switching out laundry between scenes. Thanks for bringing something different to my Newsletter inbox.
Thought of you with the sloth quote!
Lucinda Lynx says: You can describe! Those things are just like you said. Well written!
Sand Castles Shopgirl 739 adds: I thoroughly enjoyed this newsletter!!! Not only are the sentiments spot on, they are a hoot! Sometimes, truth is more entertaining than fiction!
Editing is BLUE comments: I love your NL. We as writers get so focused on the plot and character development we forget about the normalities of life. Thank you for reminding us!! I'm keeping this NL in my files.
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