Archive | July 2014

Short-Term Memory Novel Writing… Really???

photo of manuscript

I had been typing for six hours and my hands were just flying off the keyboard. The story was easy, the chair comfortable and the music calming throughout the room… but ahead of me was danger. I just didn’t know it yet. By the time I had pulled myself from my desk chair two hours later, my back ached slightly and I was giddy with excitement. I had just written the first several chapters of my first novel and I couldn’t wait to tell my husband all about it. When he arrived home I bounced down the stairs and without missing a beat launched into how fantastic my first writing day was. He laughed and said it was so nice to see me excited about something that I was so passionate about. It was true. I was passionate about writing and had been ever since I was a child. But now I had all the time in the world to write and I couldn’t wait for the next day to arrive… and it did just like it always does with the sun.

I grabbed my water and made my way to my writing room, which I stole from my grown son after he left for his “big boy job” in the city, and found myself sitting in front of the keyboard. I opened up my iPad, yes, I was using an iPad, and opened my document to find my novel. Oh…don’t worry…it was there. That’s when the horror, the  surprising truth came to me. I had no idea what I had written the day before!! I thought perhaps I was tired and just needed to wake my up brain. So I opened my water bottle, took a drink, stretched my arms above my head and closed my eyes… Nothing! Eight hours of work had “slipped my mind!” What the hell, I thought. How could I not remember what I did yesterday?  Well, the truth of the matter is… I had suffered a “vascular brain accident” earlier in the year and with it my short-term memory was affected. I couldn’t remember things I had done days before or hours before. So why I was shocked to find I couldn’t remember my novel  was rather silly of me. I guess I just thought it would be there when I sat down to type…NOPE…not a thing.

What was a poor girl to do? You guessed it…I began reading. Wow, what an interesting story, I thought. I had never read it before and I was quite entertained. This could only be a good thing right? After all, I would certainly know if it was a stinker because I couldn’t remember it, right? I finally made it to the spot where I had left off and I began typing again. But of course, this time it wasn’t as smooth. I found that I couldn’t remember the names of the secondary characters, couldn’t remember where I left off when I jumped back to the past and back to the present. What the hell, I began to think. What could I do so I could remember??? Then it came to me… a small skill I once taught to my elementary students when they were learning to read chapter books. I pulled out my pad of sticky notes and began to write anything and everything I thought I would have to remember later. I wrote down names, connections to people, what setting a character was left in… you name it I wrote it down on my sticky notes as I typed away at my novel. By the time I had finished the day I had a boat load of sticky notes stuck to my desk.

photo of sticky notes on desk

The next day I felt refreshed, and knew that no matter what, I would have to re-read what I had written the day before. Oh my gosh, this was going to be a great editing/revising feature I never knew existed!!! This short-term memory crap wasn’t so bad after all….well at least not at the moment anyhow. And then I realized that the more I wrote the more problems my memory had…finding words that once bounced out of my mouth were strangled in my brain just screaming to be found. So I wrote an insignificant word in its place and highlighted it for revision later… perhaps the real word would find its way out by then. And I just kept writing and reading and loving the new story I read every day.

Oh, I know what you are thinking. It’s kind of like 50 First Dates with Adam Sandler and………? Shoot…can’t remember her name. Well, yep. You’re right. But that’s okay because out of my disability came a great love story…one that made me cry (and still makes me cry) each time I read it for the first time… But soon it will make its way into my long-term memory and I know that it will be with me forever. It was more than a labor of love, it was an unexpected journey that I know I will love  always… which is fitting since it’s call Forever Love.

 

 

Reinventing Me…

CollageIt

I stood outside the gym…not your typical gym mind you, but a boot camp facility that would scare most women my age. But I figured what the heck, either I die from lack of exercise or die DOING exercise. So I stepped into the room and found that I’m not as old as my age. Of course I knew this before heading to the gym. I’ve actually known it for many years. You see, age is all in your head. If you think you’re old…well, you’re old. But me? Nah, I’m at least twenty years younger in my head. I guess we all are really. But I ACT twenty years younger (at least most of the time.)

It all started a few years ago when I decided that I was going to stay young by doing things someone twenty years my junior would do. Sometimes I do things I really shouldn’t do that children do…like cartwheels, jumping on trampolines, and playing hopscotch. I figured that if I tricked my body into believing it was twenty years younger, that perhaps I might live to be one hundred. What I found during this “experiment” is…I’m constantly reinventing myself!

I have found that since retiring from teaching, I have so much time to do all the things I never had time to do. When I talk to people and they ask what I’ve been up to, some are simply surprised to learn that I wrote a novel, have a blog, go to boot camp, and am in training to build websites. I’m busy painting and fixing my house…like plumbing and yes, even some electrical. And why shouldn’t I?

Ever since I was young I have been reinventing myself. Not really by choice. My father was in the military and every two to three years I had to move to a new state or country. With every move came a different lifestyle, different friends, and new things to learn and adjust to. It was actually kind of cool. If you didn’t like something at the last place you lived, you could change it or yourself. Once a friend of mine asked me to name all the careers I had had…not jobs necessarily. I had been a singer, sales associate, medical secretary, teacher, mother, wife, military spouse…not to mention all the silly jobs along the way like florist, hostess, cashier, and substitute. You get the idea. So I’ve gotten really good at reinventing myself.

So now I’m at the stage in my life when I should already know who I am… and I do! But why should I stop now? The fun is just beginning. I have all the time in the world to be something else tomorrow. Perhaps I will be a volunteer or dog walker. Maybe I will learn to fly a plane…don’t laugh. I could! You see… what makes me different from most people my age is I’m not afraid to live, to try something new, to set out on an adventure. I’m not afraid to fail. Life is an adventure… and it’s one that can keep you young if you are willing to reinvent yourself like me. I can’t imagine any better way to grow old….

America To Me

CollageItWhen I was in the eighth grade I entered a school writing contest. The contest prompt was… “America To Me.” It was 1976, and our great nation was celebrating the Bicentennial of our country. Ironically, I was in West Germany attending school while my dad served his military tour in Europe. You could only imagine what America meant to me then. It meant, McDonalds, American television, American radio… and everything else we didn’t have in Germany. I know that my paper most likely didn’t mention these few details back then because I was a rather serious young lady at that time… and most likely wrote about freedom, family and country. After all…it was a contest!

 

Now that I am well past junior high, I think my entry into a contest with the same prompt would be quite different. With so many life experiences, I know that there aren’t enough words to express what America means to me. But I would be remiss if I didn’t try to explain just how important my country is in my life on this the anniversary of our nation’s birth.

 

We all show our patriotism in our own way. Some of us are quite stoic while others are flamboyant in our pride of our nation. As was the case during the last few games of the soccer World Cup when America fought to win. All across our nation people painted their faces; wore red, white, and blue, chanted USA as a way to express their pride in their country. I couldn’t help but smile and be just as excited as I screamed USA USA to the television. Don’t ask me why since I was all by myself and no one could hear me. It’s kind of like wanting to sing our national anthem whenever I hear it played instrumentally. Somehow I have been trained from birth, like it’s engrained in my mind, that I am to show my pride for my country….this is what America is to me.

 

America to me is a lifestyle that allows for family and friends to come together to celebrate holidays and weekends. It’s the joy of attending sporting events and concerts that aren’t available anywhere else but here in the good ‘ol USA. America to me is watching our youth grow from toddlers to successful adults in a capitalist world. It is also watching those defeated find their will to fight, to regain what was lost… the epic American Dream.

 

America to me are the things I see like the Rockies, the Southern California beaches, the Blue Ridge Mountains and all the vast incredible natural wonders our nation has to offer. It’s the battlefields and monuments, small town town-squares, and the different accents that dot our homeland. America is the boy waving a flag while soldiers march in a parade. It’s neighborhood BBQs and children running through sprinklers. It ‘s friends helping friends, and strangers offering to help.

 

America to me is everything that makes me feel happy inside…it’s what makes me yell USA at the top of my lungs…because the truth of it all is…I’ve been all over this great land and there is NOTHING more beautiful than the country I call home. There is nothing more incredible than the freedom I was born with…Nothing more perfect than the United States of America.