Monday, August 30, 2010

Quick Question

Since I began writing seriously, I have had a fear of fiction. I don't trust myself to make up a story, tell someone's life or perhaps end someone's life and not somehow screw it up. But this fall I am taking a fiction-writing workshop--a requirement for graduation. And tonight I am starting on my main character and the two supporting ones. One of the interesting "rules" that my professor gave is to love your character, but not to cuddle him. At first I had been thinking, 'I'll just write someone like me and it will be easy to understand them.' But that's not brave. This is college--the only time where I will be able to challenge myself and no one can tell me I'm wrong. So then I thought, I'll write about a terrible person who deserves nothing. But my professor reminded me that it will be impossible to write about someone who I don't like. If I try that, I will only end up driving this character further and further into the ground before killing them or giving them a terribly disfiguring disease.

Writing is powerful stuff.

So here is my quick question.
As a Christian, I have a witness. But in my writing, I want to create a character who isn't me. Maybe he's a mercenary or maybe she is an illegal alien trying to make it by any means necessary. She's not me. So should I still not use cuss words, even when I am trying to create a real character? If writing is so powerful, what is powerful about not making your ex-marine character who took shrapnel in Vietnam talk like a softy when some liberal gets him all riled up? Would he say something like, 'gosh darn it you big jerk!'? Probably not.
It's not me saying it...but then again it is--in the end, anyway.

Food for thought. Chew away!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

What Are We?

I didn't have any scripture read at my wedding, but if I had, it would have been this verse from Genesis. "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh."

When my dad read this verse at my sister's wedding, his version used the words "cling to his wife," and I think those words are more apporpriate for the way I am feelig today.

When we're single, we are self-sufficient. We have friends, family and maybe a boyfriend around. But there is something about marriage that is an earnest need for one single person. That's what has caused these words "cling to" to pop up in my head.

It's funny how people coming into our lives can both add to who we are as people when they're with us, make us feel less-human when they're gone. Suddenly we can't sleep unless he's next to us. Everything we do seems a bit more dull unless we can get his opinion or reaction. How did we get here? What are we without our husbands?

Put your torches away, feminists. I'm not saying we are helpless or hopeless without our husbands--maybe just, less. In marriage we can finally admit to one person--I may have lived before I met you, but it's nothing worth talking about.

Sometimes when Kyle tries to correct me on things like working out or eating healthfully, I jokingly say, "I survived quite well for 20 years before I knew you existed so don't try to change me now." There are still some things that haven't changed.

And if I have learned anything in my years of writing, it is to never apologize for something you write. But I just hope I am not coming across like one of those women who would disintegrate without a man in her life. God made me strong but he also made me to love one man forever.

And I will tell you exactly what I told my best friend when I was a theatirical and expressive 14 year-old--"I think I was just made to be in love."

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Thick Skins

As a girl who grew up having a stay-at-home mother always cooking or cleaning something, there is a lot of pressure on me as a new wife to know what to do with things like beef bullion and chicken carcasses. I am supposed to know if .88 cents per pound is good for grapes and how long birthday cake will stay fresh in the fridge. But, alas, I hardly knew much about any of these things when I returned from my honeymoon. I half expected mom to slip a manual to me as I left the wedding reception or at least to find it on my doorstep when I got home. (Maybe my next-door pot-head, I mean neighbor took it).

But I am learning that it's all about time. It's not like mom had anyone to teach her these things--that I know of. So it just took her a few years to learn about prices and the like. So the point of all of this introduction is to say, I learned something. When we returned from our honeymoon my caring sister, Leah had bought us plenty of groceries to last us a while and included in her grocery list was a 5-lb. bag of potatoes. Now, these scared me, quite honestly. The only thing I know how to make from a raw potatoe is mashed. But I already have instant mashed potatoes in the fridge. So for the past (counting in my head...) 9 weeks these potatoes have layed dormant in the crisper where she put them. I was imagining they had grown moldy and soft in strange places so I was not only put off by the pressure but by the regret of having not performed any starchy miracle with them.

But it's Sunday and every good Marsh girl knows that there's one thing that happens on Sunday, and one thing that doesn't. The thing that does--nap. The thing that doesn't--dinner. This second half of the concept I have yet to explain to Kyle, so he somehow forces me to make dinner every Sunday. But since the beginning of Marshdom, no Marsh man or woman has eaten a real dinner on a Sunday. It's always cereal or the ever-famous wings and fries. (A variation of which I was hoping to replicate tonight). But darn, there were no french fries in the freezer. So I took out the potatoes and inspected them thorougly. No smell, no mushy parts or mold. Wow! These potatoes waited for me! After thanking each one individually I looked up a homefries recipe online and found that they're made the same way I make frozen homefies. Fry 'em up! So as they sizzle in the pan, the chicken fingers bake in the oven, and Kyle finishes our Sunday nap, I am proud to stand in my kitchen blogging about this small triumph.

And oh yeah, in case you are confused like I was, I happen to know that .88 cents/lb for grapes is an excellent price and you should take advantage.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Dreams Change

Do you ever find that you do most of your retrospective thinking at a certain time? Mine is when it's raining and I'm watching the night fly by out the car window. Okay, this could have been a one-time dramatic moment but I must confide in you, dear reader that in retrospect of my retrospection I was feeling quite deep.

I started thinking about the things that I want. Selfishly I pushed past the years that are soon to come of job-hunting, degree-chasing and marriage-making and started to think about what will really matter to me in, let's say five or ten years.

But before I divulge my five to ten year dreams, it would be best to explain why they are worth writing about.

As a child I thought everything about my life could be a movie. When my mother would turn of my favorite '90s show (there were so many) when it was only half-way through and tell me to clean up the giant dog droppings in our back yard, I would lean my head against the cement wall of our carport--in one hand the little blue shovel and in the other a crap-encrusted milk gallon cut in half--and I would imagine being an orphan forced to do labor and to have only buttered bread and water to look forward to for dinner. (for some reason that was the worst thing I could come up with) I wanted to act and sing and star in feature films that would obviously revolve around me and my dramatic life. I wanted to marry someone famous and hire someone else to clean up my dog's droppings. I can't remember the day I lost those dreams. But one by one I laughed them off.

So when things seem tough I tell myself to think about what will matter in five or ten years. In five years, I'll be wanting a baby, to plan our dream home with lots of land, family that live no further than a day's drive, a job where I can write or read or do whatever it is God wants me to do with all these words in my head, with all these dreams and facts and everything I've learned. I thank God that one day I can pour my life into my children, and not into myself. I'll show them why Yogi Bear and Bugs Bunny are hands-down the best cartoons to walk the television screen, why peanut butter makes absolutely anything edible and why even if they want to pretend to be abandoned orphans with no food to live on, they will still have to pick up after that dog they begged for.

I will play the guitar for them and hope they're more like Kyle than like me--workers with patience who like to go to bed early. And I'll try to always understand them. But if they choose to be litte drama-machines with a daydream fantasy always up their sleeve, chocolate perpetually on their face and fingers and a temper set off by as little as a breeze, then I will understand them all the more, because they'll be just like me.