In non-response to the daily prompt, which held no interest for me today, here’s a story I’ve been thinking about developing.
“Write about what you know,” came the sage wisdom of experienced writers.
Well, good grief. What did Ellie know? Growing up in a preacher’s family wasn’t all that unique. Being poor wasn’t, either. Having parents who learned how to scratch and scrimp was pretty common for the baby-boomer generation. Some of those boomers, like Ellie herself, had applied a lot of what she learned from her Depression-era parents, and she and Trevor had managed to make a pretty good life for their family without ever becoming well-to-do.
There were lots of nevers in Ellie’s life. Never been divorced. Never had an affair. Never even been unfaithful in her thoughts. Never lost a child to illness or accident. Never had a miscarriage. Never touched alcohol, never smoked a cigarette. Never watched porn, even after the computer era brought it right to her fingertips. Never ran away from home, never touched illegal drugs or got addicted to legal ones. Never had sex before marriage.
So what was there about her life, and her experiences, that would make an interesting read for people who were used to watching the most horrifying violence in movies and on TV? What could she write about love and romance that would appeal to people who treated sex like a casual event, and indoor sport? What could she write about childrearing when her own kids had all turned out to be normal, law-abiding citizens rearing their own families the same way she and Trev had done it?
Who wanted to read about people she knew? People who went to church, believed in God, loved their country, and lived their lives the old-fashioned way—God, home, and country?
Wouldn’t they rather read about horrific murders, the evil minds of sociopaths who had no conscience, the sexual escapades of men and women who were physically beautiful but had no moral compass? Look at the popularity of those Fifty Shades books! Why, even some of her own friends claimed to enjoy the books and get all hot and bothered by the sexual violence they portrayed.
As Ellie sat quietly in her living room, hands busy with the afghan she was knitting, quiet music filling the room, she wondered why she had this strong urge to write when it seemed to her that she really had nothing to write about. Nothing new, nothing sensational, nothing that hadn’t already been written to death by hundreds of other wannabe authors.
Write about what you know. Hmph. “I know about being a normal girl, with hopes and dreams; making dumb choices, making embarrassing mistakes, floundering through the process of falling in and out of love; learning to curb my impulses, tame my tart tongue, train my temper. I knew abour rearing normal kids. Well, they’d all been amazingly smart. I never had the homework struggle that a lot of my friends did, because my own brood just didn’t need much help. That had been a blessing, especially during the years I’d been a teacher in their school. “
She knew about hard work. Plenty about that. She was grateful for these senior years of relative peace, calm, and quiet. These years weren’t nearly as labor-intensive as her forties and even fifties had been.
She knew about going back to school at the advanced age of 50, competing with students half her age. She knew about being a psychotherapist, and she knew about being thankful for how normal her own life had been compared to that of a lot of her clients.
She knew about pain, both physical and emotional. She understood suffering. She was glad she’d started the counseling career after she’d been around the block a few times.
Still, was there really an interesting story in all of that? In any of it?
Ellie’s eyelids slid cosed, her head nodding off to one side and her hands going still. Her thoughts had opened lots of windows on memories long past, and her afternoon dream took her through one of those windows. Transported back in time, she found herself riding in the back seat of her dad’s 1955 Chevy, legs and feet pushing and shoving against her sister’s to keep a few inches of leg room as they drove through what seemed like endless miles of nothing.
Oh, yes, now there was a story.