Writing…

Image copyright BigStockPhoto

Image copyright BigStockPhoto

There’s writing, and then…there’s writing.

These days, I enjoy writing novels, but…I’m actually typing them into a computer, not writing them by hand.

Why? Because, increasingly, I can’t write…not by hand, anyway. Actually, I’ve never been able to write well.

When I was a first-grader, we practiced forming the letters of the alphabet, both upper and lower case. With pencils. On blue-lined sheets of pulp paper in our Montag Blue Horse writing tablets (anyone remember those?) I was never able to do a good job at this.

Mama would “tsk, tsk” over each paper I brought home. She gave me encouragement and instructions on how to make my writing…well, readable. But no matter how much I tried, my scribblings remained just scribbles.

One afternoon, I brought home a paper that made Mama ecstatic. “See?” she said. “I knew if you kept trying, you’d get it right.” She proceeded to point out the smoothness of the strokes, the regular, consistent size of the letters…until she came to the name in the upper right-hand corner of the page. It didn’t say (all crookedy and messy) “Tommie Lyn.” Another little girl’s name was on the paper. (I wonder how her mother reacted when she saw my paper and thought, for one horrible moment, that it was her daughter’s.)

I was careful after that to make sure my papers didn’t get mixed up with someone else’s. Poor Mama, I don’t think she could have taken another disappointment.

My handwriting got worse when I advanced to the next grade and started learning cursive, and it never got a whole lot better. It was never anything to write home about, but it was at least legible. Until lately. During the past several years, it has steadily deteriorated as I’ve aged, and now, no one can read it, not even me. These days, the only way my hen scratching can be deciphered at all is if I print the letters.

Like I learned to do in the first grade.

Cousins, Cowboys, and Bottle Caps

Image © Mikael Cronhamn via stock.xchng

When I was a child, we lived next door to my Uncle Cliff and his family. My four cousins were my playmates. The oldest was usually the director of our games of “pretend,” setting the scenario for a story of princesses in a castle, with all that entailed. But her interests changed, and she moved on to “older” things.

And then the second oldest found our play too juvenile, and so the third in line, who is one month younger than I, became my main playmate.

His interests were different from those of his older sisters, and so our “pretend” scenarios changed from princesses-and-castles-and-one-lone-knight to cowboys and cops-and-robbers. I was perfectly happy to play the games he chose, since they went along with the movie serials we watched at the Wink Theater every Saturday morning

But the most amazing thing about our play was something I didn’t notice at the time. When I look back now, I’m struck by my cousin’s creativity.

Image © Billy Alexander via stock.xchng

We didn’t have a lot of toys. For our cowboy games, I had a broken piece of a toy gun, and everything else was imaginary. Except for our “money.” My cousin decided we should collect bottle caps. We scraped the cork inner lining from them and flattened them with Uncle Cliff’s hammer to make coins.

My cousin wanted a fancy gun and holster set for our play, which he knew he was unlikely to get. And so he made one.

He used cardboard, made slits to thread his belt through, and attached a row of bullet loops made from a smaller strip of cardboard. The holster, though, was amazing. He folded cardboard over to make a smooth front roll, trimmed the back edges into the proper shape and fastened them together by punching holes and looping string through them in an attractive pattern. He painted the whole thing black, using shoe polish, and he decorated it with daubs of silver paint “studs.”

At the time, I thought it was absolutely beautiful. And I’m even more impressed now that I look back on my cousin’s ingenuity, his workmanship, and his persistence. Making that holster set took months, because he was so painstaking with it, getting every detail just right.

I wonder about our children today, with their overflowing toy boxes, their access to all kinds of electronic gadgets, and the ease with which they get what they want. Do they ever have a chance to yearn for something they can’t have to the point that they find a way to make something else to fulfill that desire (and thereby satisfying more than just that original want)?

What about you? What things do you remember from your childhood?

The Sight

Image © Angel Souto via stock.xchng

In the six years (Gasp! Has it been that long??) since I made my first blog post, I haven’t kept to a regular blogging schedule. I posted when struck by a whim.

And my topics have been all over the board (a little heads up here: they will probably still be all over the board, where ever my imagination carries me that day). But I plan to keep to a schedule from now on, and I hope that, however far afield my posts my posts drift, they will be be more focused, inspired by the images in my blog header.

The photo of the Appalachian Mountains carries me home, back to my roots. [And by the way, that’s Ap – puh – latch – un, not Ap – puh – lay – shun. Appalachian and Apalachicola (you know, the place in Florida?) came from the same word, Apalachee.]

Snippets from my childhood memories come to mind when I look at that photo. I remember the things that shaped my view of the world.

I absorbed my beliefs from my parents, grandparents, extended family, and the culture I grew up in. I don’t have an explanation for some of the things I believe, but I do believe them. I’ve seen too much evidence that supports those beliefs.

Like, The Sight. And, no, I’m not referring to a book/movie of that title (which I didn’t know existed until I wrote this blog post). I’m referring to a belief that originated in the Scottish Highlands…Second Sight (and I didn’t know about its origins in the Highlands until I was doing research prior to writing High on a Mountain).

There are people who “know” certain things about what’s coming in the future. (I’m not one of them, although I do sometimes have forewarnings and premonitions). I accept that. And so The Sight keeps finding its way into some of the stories I write.

And while my stories are fiction, some of the elements (including the supernatural ones) spring from the beliefs I formed while I was growing up.

What about you? What do you think about beliefs in supernatural manifestations, like, The Sight?