Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Tell me a story


My fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Axler, told me I should never stop writing because I enjoyed it and it was a good outlet. Twenty-seven years later, I'm still in touch with her, and still heeding her advice.

I was an english lit major in college, very busy writing papers on Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus, hating on Henry James in my senior seminar, doing power hours on random Tuesdays, riding around campus in grocery carts and acting foolish with my roommates at every opportunity. While I enjoyed writing, my arduous extracurricular bar tour schedule did not lend itself to creative writing in my spare time.

When I graduated, I'd get out special little writing notebooks to scrawl stories in on the weekend. I felt like I was watching myself play a girl trying to be a writer in a movie. I could only start in the middle or write vignettes. When I read the pages the next day, it was like an alien or an alter ego wrote them.

Professionally, I am concise in my writing, reigning queen of the bullet point, often swooping in and slashing the shit out of something with my editor's pen. Since I think in list format, this suits me: let's get to the point, shall we? Thinking in lists doesn't lend itself well to fiction writing if one does not expand on those lists and create paragraphs, characters, conversations, plots, themes, interest: all things that are vital to fiction. I don't make the transition from the bullet point to the story. Maybe I'm too busy, too undisciplined, too self conscious, too far gone into the world of business writing. Truthfully, I haven't written fiction in many moons and I have no desire to. Maybe a fiction novel isn't the story I'm meant to write. I don't think it's in my nature. After all, truth is stranger than fiction.

In the meantime, I still want and need that outlet of which the wise Mrs. Axler spoke, only now instead of creative writing, I'm writing to chronicle life: things I observe, where I go, what I do on the weekends, how I feel, what I think. I jot down lists, write bullshit silly stuff or something serious when the spirit moves me. I tell my stories and the stories I see. I have the freedom to write about whatever I want, and I find joy in the breadth of possibilities.

I am that person who notices the little things: the glint in an eye, the curve of a smile, the way a hand moves, what falls out of a purse, the moment someone is moved to act on a whim. Usually one thought or sentence spun off of an observation is all I need to get going. I like lobbing thoughts out like softballs for you to catch and I hope that my ability to connect with you is better than my actual ability to throw a real softball. Which totally blows in case you didn't get the context clues.
Thanks for reading what I put out on a whim. I'm grateful that you do.











Helene in Between
Insert Classy Here - Gratitude

17 comments:

  1. It's nice to get a glimpse inside to see what sparks those posts I enjoy so much! Hoooray for Mrs. Axler!

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  2. love it, you are truly a wonderful writer and that's why I keep coming back and reading your posts. you can always eloquently write what people are thinking!

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  3. That's funny - I've always had the novel dream too, but it isn't in my nature. I have to just talk. My writing is just me talking without being shushed or interrupted... maybe not read, but that's ok too. Just whatever little thing goes through my mind. Not the stuff of novels, but an excellent outlet.

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  4. You are gifted in many ways. I agree with all you wrote today. I feel like if I write my memoir, I would offend people. I would want my writing to make people joyful. You know I am a non-fiction reader. I love the details you write about & first thing besides checking for emails from you and Lori is to check for your blog.
    Love it, love you, keep writing eternally! & THX Mrs. Axler!
    Love your MOMMA

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  5. This post hits close to home. I thought I would be more of a creative writer, too, but it's business writing that pays the bills.

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  6. What a great post!! My husband teaches elementary school, and nothing makes him happier than when his former students reach out to him years later. Teaching is such a great profession. I would love to be a teacher, but I have a problem.... I don't like other people's kids..


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  7. I love this post and I love you! We're kindred spirits in a lot of ways. I had been thinking of starting a blog for a long time but it wasn't until you started yours that I had the guts to do it. xoxo

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  8. Wow, you are a beautiful writer. There are few bloggers out there who are actually skilled writers, your posts are very lovely. I actually hate writing, that's why I cover all my posts up with pretty pictures! :) Keep up the beautiful posts my friend!!

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  9. That's awesome that you are still in touch with your teacher! And it's great that you have an outlet for writing of a more creative kind. Keep it coming!

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  10. Another gem! You are on a roll...Your blog has prompted me to start reading other blogs but I must say, I like yours best. It's awesomely entertaining, perfectly brief and who doesn't love a well placed swear word?!?

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  11. I love love love your blog. You are such a good writer and I know i've told you this once already today, but you have so much amazing ideas (that I get to use.)

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  12. I love making lists! I also love that my favorite teachers and those I remember best were English teachers. Sometimes I wonder why I didn't major in English.

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  13. You are a great writer. I think it's awesome that after all these years you still have contact with one of your teachers!

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  14. i love reading your posts! your teacher knew you were a special cookie!

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  15. Blogging is such great outlet! Keep it up!

    I can't believe you are still in touch w/ a former teacher. Very cool!

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  16. What a good post! I've always enjoyed reading your blog...you're a very talented writer. Can't believe you're still in touch with your teacher from years ago! Not sure if any of my old teachers would even remember me...I was always the shy quiet kid.

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