My Life in Song

Finished my assignment! Did you write one? 

I was sixteen and Nat King Cole was singing, “They tried to tell us we’re too young, too young to really be in love.” Well, they were right, I just didn’t know it then, I fell for it and fell in love with love. Married a guy I hardly knew mostly to get away from my overly strict, but loving, parents.

Our newspaper, the Erie Times, ran an article about our men in the Korean Conflict and how we could support the brave and lonely soldiers by baking and sending cookies, and writing them letters. So began my writing relationship with Bob. A few months later he came home on leave and proposed. Wow, that sounded like fun! I said, “yes” and I moved with him to Texas. Our marriage lasted six months.

I was seventeen when I married again and began my second life as a wife. My first baby was born when I was nineteen and six more were to come.

During the next ten years I was overwhelmed with diapers, feedings, and cuddling and much too busy to listen to or hear any songs. Did we even have a radio?

When my beautiful babies were no longer toddlers, I became the chauffeur. Everyone had something to do or somewhere to go, my husband went to a job he loved, and I drove the kids to little league, brownies or cubs scouts. I watched and waited, or sometimes went home and waited some more, for time to fetch them.

One day, I was thirty by then, I heard Peggy Lee sing, “Is That All There Is?” Well, I bet you remember that song too. Was this a reminder to wives and mothers of what they may be missing?

Oh, I loved “Camelot.” Arthur sings: “It’s true, it’s true. The crown has made it clear. The climate must be perfect all the year.”

Guinevere: “And I suppose all the autumn leaves fall in neat little piles?”

“Oh no, my lady the wind blows them completely away.”

It was exactly the way I wanted my life to be!

Well, by the time I was forty-nine all my husbands had blown away in the wind, the kids were grown up and I was ready to dance. Perfect timing, it was now the disco era. None of my husbands had danced so I was always hoping for my chance, and now I didn’t need a partner. It was perfectly acceptable to dance alone. My favorite song? “It’s Raining Men,” with The Weather Girls.

“Humidity’s risin

Barometer’s getting low

According to all sources

The street’s the place to go

 

Cos tonight for the first time

Just about half past ten

For the first time in history

It’s gonna start raining men

It’s raining men, Hallelujah.”

One day as I was trying to make up my mind whether or not to move to the Caribbean, it was pouring rain, I was stuck in a huge line of traffic, people were honking and flipping the bird. I took a deep breath, looked up and saw a double rainbow arcing over a white steeple; I took it as a sign, made my decision and moved to Grand Cayman. I named my house there in honor the Muppet’s Song, “The Rainbow Connection.”

“Someday we’ll find it, the rainbow connection, the lovers, the dreamers and me”.

For the next nine years I loved nights in the moonlight under the swaying palms, moving to the salsa, merengue, rumba. My favorite song? Bob Marley and the Wailers, “Three Little Birds.”

Don’t Worry About A thing cause everything’s gonna be alright.”

 

Categories: creatiity, creative writing, energy, essay, finding yourself, growth, memoir, personal stories, reflections, stories, Story Circles, writing | Tags: , , , | 10 Comments

My Life In Song

Our assignment for December Story Circle was to write about a song that means or has meant something in your life. As always 600 words or less, and as usual we had pieces that were inspiring, happy, sad and funny. Words are meaningful and when put to music “transport us” to a deeper place than the one in which we consciously reside. Writing about music that touched us in some way was exciting.

Eight people read. We loved them for sharing and could identify with many of the themes. We are using the December stories for our next (third) book. It’s a small chapbook and we’d like to include your story if you are in our story circle.

Dianne Persall is our editor again and is anxiously awaiting your stories. Please send them to her by January 15, paste them in the body of the email to: Diannepersall@hotmail.com. Even if you missed the December meeting we want your story. It’s your chance to be published. Once written, read it aloud and have another writer check for errors. Dianne won’t edit your story but she will put together another fine book for us.

We had an end of the year celebration; thanks for the homemade cookies, and for the delicious Stuffed Grape Leaves and Olives that Jill made. We were touched when the participants thanked us for time spent and knowledge dispensed. We started this Story Circle in December 2009 and have facilitated 72 circles since then, attended by as many as nearly one thousand budding writers.

Assignment for January: We are writers and also readers. Share your experience about a book: one you’ve read that has impacted your life, a favorite book, an experience with a family member or friend regarding a book, or an experience buying a book or giving one as a gift. Keep your writing to 600 words or less. Give your story a title and be prepared to tell us the word count.

 

 

 

Categories: creatiity, creative writing, essay, finding yourself, growth, memoir, personal stories, Story Circles, women | 3 Comments

“You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. … A dream you dream together is reality.”

Creative ideas on the homework suggestions of using a Mind Map for your writing were presented at our Story Circle, on October 15; they ranged from using this technique for bringing back memories to planning a (virtual) trip, and to the actual layout of a story. We had fun and learned from each other as usual.

We were happy to welcome four new people: Sandi, Diana, Mark and Kim and look forward to their return.

Sheila did the training this month. She discussed Style Sheet and their value for consistency and accuracy in your writing, particularly in the longer pieces you write. She used the material presented in a workshop at the Florida Writers Conference we attended a few weeks ago. We thank Wendy Sharp for that dynamic and information-filled presentation.

Assignment for November is Dreams (a suggested topic), as always 600 words or less, here it is.

We all have some big dreams. Win the lottery, quit my job, marry my soul mate, travel the world, etc. Some of our dreams are smaller. Finish painting the kitchen, take a weekend just for me, have one story published, etc.

Describe one of your dreams starting with – I’d learn, I’d forget, I’d invent, I’d change, etc. Title your piece and give the word count and read it to our group of loving listeners.

“You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. … A dream you dream together is reality.” … Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake up in the day to find it was vanity, but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams…”                                        From the song Imagine by John Lennon

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Attending Florida Writers Association Conference

A Fabulous gathering of about 500 people, writers, agents, editors, and people helping each other. I’m here with my friend, fellow writer and co-facilitator of the Story Circle Creative Writers Group in Safety Harbor, Fl., Sheila McNaughton.

I am learning good stuff, making new friends and eating great food at the Orlando Hilton. Get ready here is my big news! I gathered my courage and ‘pitched’ my book at the GONG Show in front of six agents and publishers. It took guts to put myself out there, and of the 6 of us who volunteered only two of us did not get gonged off. Phew! Wow. Later, I made my pitch to an agent, you pay $40 and get 10 minutes to sell them on the idea of representing you and your book. The agent. Carly Watters, from the PS Literary Agency, liked my pitch enough to ask me to send her my book proposal! Yoo Hoo!

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October Story Circle Assignment

In our Story Circle, we discussed using a mind map rather than an outline for your story because it engages the right brain. Whether you are new to the concept of mind mapping or have been using it for years, as I have, this video is a great place to start.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MlabrWv25qQ&feature=related

Tony Buzan (the father of mind mapping) calls it a Swiss Army Knife for the brain. Remember, as Tony tells us, to use plenty of color and drawings! Have fun.

To find any topic previously discussed in class or on the blog use the search box.

Be sure to click on comments at the end of each post and leave your comments or to read the feedback we are getting. As I keep learning the blog will get even better. Write On! Jan

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Upcoming Story Circle News

Hello Writers,

The official start of Autumn is only a few days away. It may not be the autumn those up north experience but there is change; it is a tiny bit cooler in the evenings and we have a minor drop in the humidity. For now the traffic is still light as the snow birds have not yet packed to escape the brutal winter weather. As I see it, the months of September and October are treasures to be enjoyed.

Jan and I are still putting the finishing touches on our books (my mystery, You Do Not Know WhatI Have Done and Jan’s memoir, An Unfinished Woman). Editing and adding. It can be a never ending process but the point is to finish. Having made the commitment to go the Florida Writers Conference we have a deadline.  It helps. If you are writing a book, a short story or a poem, it doesn’t hurt to have a goal in mind. It may be to present your writing to someone as a gift or enter a contest. Just remember to keep writing and at some point you have to stop the editing and the rewrites.

Jan and I believe being around other writers gives us focus, helps us learn our craft and provides encouragement.  That is what the Story Circle Creative Writing group is all about.  We want you to join us for the meeting at the beautiful Safety Harbor Library on Wednesday September 16thfrom 6:00 to 7:45 PM.

Writing Assignment for September

We all tell stories of remember when. Remember that kid from school, that new guy on the job, the first home we bought, the dress I wore to the party, the day we drove to Orlando.  Try a different angle. Write the piece starting with the line  “The last time I saw …

Remember to write it in 600 word or less. When you read at the next meeting we will ask for the word count.  If you write by hand, count your words.  If you use the computer the word count is tracked for you. In the Word program I use it is listed on the bottom left side of the screen.  If you are having trouble keeping to the word count read How to Write Short by Roy Peter Clark.

Local Author’s Fair

Safety Harbor Library is holding Local Authors Fair. The event will be taking place on September 26 from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm.  Jan and I will be there representing the Story Circle Group.  If you are interested in having a table at the event please contact the library. shplref@cityofsafetyharbor.com.

All Writers & Story Tellers Welcome 

We invite all writers from just thinking about writing to published authors to attend the class.  If you are just starting out, you will learn a lot from the information provided as well spend time with the wonderful people who happen to be writers too.  If you have friends who write, please forward this email to them.

The Story Circle, a creative writing group, meets the 3rd Wednesday of every month at the Safety Harbor Library located at 101 2nd Street North, Safety Harbor, FL 34695  727-724-1525  from 6:00 PM to 7:45 PM.  We would stay longer, but the library closes at 8:00 PM.  Each month we provide a writing assignment with a maximum word count of 600.  Everyone who wants to can read their story and is given gentle feedback from the group.  After all the readings we provide you with a short lesson on some aspect of writing.  Dialog, editing, creating the scene and opening paragraphs are a few of the topics we have covered.  No reservation required and no cost to you.

Hope to see you on the 16th.

Jan Golden                                                                              Sheila  McNaughton

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Mumblings of an Aging Writer

Sometimes I get so discouraged I can hardly go on. I wonder how other people keep going. I don’t want to fall into self-pity here but come on…

When I woke up my neck hurt and my right hip stung and burned. I had to leap out of bed anyway because I had a Charlie-horse in my right leg. Then I stumbled when my leg gave way (sciatic nerve) as I raced to the john.   Phew.

Mug of coffee in hand I sit to write my morning pages, I’m a page and a half in before my writing hand goes to sleep. I quit to do some stretching.

Now, at my computer I try to print the pages I wrote yesterday for editing. Error message; printer can’t be found. I’d hoped it might heal itself after many unplugging’s, restarts, and a night’s rest; I’d even made a trip to Wal-Mart yesterday to buy a new router, maybe that was the problem. Nope. Meanwhile, a few more stretches and I pick up my iPhone because my VOIPO (voice over internet phone service doesn’t work either because it can’t find the internet). I make the dreaded call to customer support.

I know they will tell me to unplug, and restart everything, which involves getting on the floor behind the TV with the flashlight and magnifying glass; then the biggest challenge at my age – getting up off the floor again.

Well, Canon customer service was wonderful. They are in America! We had no trouble understanding each other. Problem fixed!

Next I need to call Brighthouse to find out why my internet isn’t working and then I still have to call VOIPO where they will tell me to get back on the floor and unplug everything again. I just want to go back to bed, but then I think of everyone else who is facing their day, especially the workers who try to lead me to technology nirvana, and most especially all my aging soul sisters who think I’m their computer guru. They leave me no choice when they call me their shining example.

Boot up and write.

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Upcoming Story Circle

This is the announcement sent by Sheila for our  meeting Agust 19, 2015

Hello Writers,

We are all writers, regardless of being published or not. We write because we have a story to tell. The story can be about your real life, a memoir, or one that you make up, a novel. You choose to write because you have to.  Most of us have been writing, as Jan likes to say, since we could hold a pencil.  I hope you have been spending the summer enjoying yourself and writing.

I know it is hard to find the time when often we are busy with our lives, but make the time.  When I complained to my sister, Sharon, a few months ago about not having time she suggested I get up early. Since I already get up at 6:30 or so, I wasn’t too thrilled to get out of bed any earlier.  But, I did. She and I made a deal we would both get up earlier to accomplish our goals.  We send a text that states “I am up.” No more. We then get to work.  The positive result of that not so gentle push from my sister is that I have finished my book. Jan has her book almost completed.  We are going to the Florida Writers Association Conference in Oct to find ourselves an agent to represent us.

We both believe being around other writers gives us focus, helps us learn our craft and provides encouragement.  That is what the Story Circle Creative Writing group is all about.  We want you to join us for the meeting at the beautiful Safety Harbor Library on Wednesday August 19thfrom 6:00 to 7:45 PM.

Writing Assignment for August

Assignment for August 19th:  it is summer! Time to relax and have some fun so Spend one day this month exploring a place you’ve been meaning to visit but haven’t yet –– a local museum, art gallery, beach, take a boat ride, watch a sunset at a beach bar ­­–– or whatever. If you didn’t get out to a new place tell us about an adventure from a past summer. Tell us about it in 600 words or less.

All Writers Welcome 

We invite all writers from just thinking about writing to published authors to attend the class.  If you are just starting out you will learn a lot from the information provided as well spend time with the wonderful people who happen to be writers too.  If you have friends who write, please forward this email to them.

The Story Circle, a creative writing group, meets the 3rd Wednesday of every month at the Safety Harbor Library located at 101 2nd Street North, Safety Harbor, FL 34695  727-724-1525 from 6:00 PM to 7:45 PM.  We would stay longer but the library closes at 8:00 PM.  Each month we provide a writing assignment with a maximum word count of 600.  Everyone who wants to can read their story and is given gentle feedback from the group.  After all the readings we provide you with a short lesson on some aspect of writing.  Dialog, editing, creating the scene and opening paragraphs are a few of the topics we have covered.  No reservation required and no cost to you.

Jan Golden                                                                              Sheila  McNaughton

jangolden3@gmail.com                                                         Sheila@mcngroup.net

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Another book chapter. I’d been on the island about one week.

I wasn’t eager to leave my new found paradise this morning but had to go to Georgetown to turn in my rental car and find a used one to purchase. I picked up a copy of the Cayman Compass, the lone local newspaper and searched the classified ads. One read: school-teacher leaving island, for sale 1979 Honda, standard shift, no a/c, $800 US.  I arranged to meet her and test drive the car. She told me she was sad to be leaving the island, but her work permit hadn’t been renewed. I bought the car chuckling because the total cost was about the same as a one-month payment on my leased Jaguar in Lynnfield. I’d turned it in when I left the states. I named my little Honda Amelia (Earhart). This was my solo flight, too.

I grabbed a few groceries and headed back out to Cayman Kai, about a twenty-five-minute drive. A stop at the North Side Post Office was on my list, we have no street addresses and therefore, no mail delivery on the island. The tiny cement block building, maybe 6′ X12’, is on the left, behind it is a playground full of children at recess, then the elementary school. Inside behind a wooden counter sits a grandmotherly white-haired woman.

“May I rent a PO Box?”

She smiles, I have one open,” she said, “Its fifteen dollars CI per year.” She put aside her crocheting to give me the form and a key.

“What are you making?” I ask.

“A bedspread, it keeps me busy between customers, we only get a few. I’m open from 8 AM to 11, and from 1-2:30 PM, Monday through Friday.”

Behind me, out the front door and across the narrow road is a small beach with sea grape trees and the sparkling sea stretching out to the horizon. It’s a breathtaking view with the sugary white sand, green sea grape trees and turquoise water.

The Postmistress and I had many chats over the next few years, as she filled me in on lots of history of the island and people of the North Side. Nettie McCoy is called Miss Nettie and she lives about a mile down the road. She told me when she first began working here years ago the mail came from Georgetown by canoe, and later, once there was a sand trail, by a mule.  The marl road was put in when the Cayman Kai Community was built.

I bought some stamps. They are a bargain at five cents for local mail and have a picture of the Queen. Cayman is a British Crown Colony and the Caymanian’s love their Queen Elizabeth. One day when I brought in a letter to mail, and slid it across the counter for Miss Nettie to stamp the postmark, she looked up at me, eyes wide, tapped her gnarled finger on the stamp and scolded, “The Queen is upside down.”  I never made that mistake again.

Several years later, Miss Nettie retired and her daughter Virginia McCoy became the new Postmistress at North Side. At her retirement party, held by her family, I asked Miss Nettie, “What are you going to do now that you are not working anymore?”

“Lord child,” she said. “I dunno but it sure will be good to be out of the rat race!”

Categories: Story Circles | 7 Comments

Welcome Breakfast in Grand Cayman

Here is a chapter from my soon to be completed book An Unfinished Woman. The banner photo on this blog is the beach across the street from my house there. I’ll appreciate comments!

I am finally here! It has been a grueling and exhilarating year. I’ve sold my house, quit my job after 30 years, left family and friends behind, and moved my life and belongings to Grand Cayman, the island of my dreams.

My furniture hasn’t arrived yet. I walk every inch of the  screened in two story house surrounded by huge, graceful Australian Pines and walk down the rickety deck to the canal. It’s so quiet here, no sound other than an occasional fish plopping.

I’m so excited I don’t know what to do first so I unpack my suitcase. Pull on my blue bathing suit and long tee shirt and cross the road to the beach. The turquoise water that mesmerized me when I vacationed here welcomes my return. It surrounds and caresses me. The sun sets in a blaze of glory as if signaling the end of my journey.

I open all the sliding glass doors and gaze at the twinkling stars in the inky sky. I’ve rarely seen the sky so dark there isn’t even a street light on this end of the island.

My sleep is as deep and restful as a baby’s. I wake to a soft Caribbean voice calling – “Miss Janet, Miss Janet.” Stretching on my makeshift bed on the floor, I stand and go out to the balcony. Carlos is standing on the sand below waving a lobster in each hand. “Have you got a pot? I brought you breakfast.” How does he know I am here? Word travels fast on the ‘marl road’ the locals say. I’ve been out on catamaran trips with Carlos on earlier trips.

I search the cabinets, find a pot and go downstairs. Outside, beside the canal, Carlos has gathered some big stones and aging coconuts. I watch in amazement. He holds a coconut in one hand and with one swift swing of his machete, cracks it in half to pull out the web-like fiber. He uses the fiber to start a fire under the stones he has piled up to hold the pot, and then he dips the pot into the canal.

“These are best cooked in sea water,” he says, plunging the lobster into the boiling water. I watch them turn from brown into a bright red. Cracking one open, he hands the luscious meat to me.

“Welcome to Grand Cayman.” A huge grin spreads across his face.

I am not sure who is more pleased, him or me.

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