Words and Numbers 66/ Why you should write or at least remember
Posted on May 25, 2012
I’ve always been a storyteller. In Catholic school and to parents this is called lying. I was good at it. One really good one had a giant golden eagle, a lakeside cabin and a young adventurer (me). I held my circle of friends enraptured and not one of them screamed Bullshit !!! There were smaller sagas to cover a late book report or a missing sheet of solutions to math problems (I sucked at math and still do somewhat. Don’t get me started on “If Joe can dig a hole in six hours and Ivan can dig a hole in eight hours… You know the rest) Back to lying, er, storytelling. I developed my skills to cover up a mundane existence. Even if I was regaling people who knew the truth, I pressed on. That’s the first key to telling a good tale. Even if half of your audience was present when the basis of the story happened, press on, embellish, dazzle them with really unbelieveable factoids. If you set the frying pan you were making your grilled cheese sandwich in (it happened) don’t forget the struggle to wrench the fire extiguisher out of cabinet. It makes them think others put you in danger by a) Having you make a grilled cheese sandwich and b) Hiding the fire extinguisher. Of course the flames rose up into the exhaust fan and smoke filled the kitchen (they help) and you fought bravely. Why you didn’t call the fire department doesn’t enter into the story.
When it comes to the first time; smoking, drinking, sex, a good story always begins with “I remember when…” to show your comrades or date that you know what you’re doing. If you’re sitting there coughing your lungs out, the cigarettes your buddy lifted from his dad aren’t as smooth as the ones you take from your old man. You’re staggering up your street going up the wrong driveway at least six times and your drinking pals are beginning to think you’re shitfaced, you tell them that you’re walking off the booze and by the time you fall through the back door of your house you’ll be reasonably sober. When your girlfriend asks you if this is your first time you pull up an unnamed woman who taught you the tricks of the trade, because she wanted to train you as a personal stud.
As an adult, lying becomes an art, a weapon against lost in the shuffle. If the personell foreman asks you if you know your way around a turret lathe. Hell yeah. You’ve got supervisory experience. You bossed a crew of unruly teenagers clearing brush for the local public works (that on is only good for a first job). When the used car salesman pops the hood on that Mustang you’ve always wanted and you’re looking into an oil-splattered pit of darkness, you tell him you’ve driven high performance cars since you got your license. When that fine lady in the office finally says okay to a dinner date and she picks Chez Bonne Lapin, you’ve been there, know the chef. Speaking of chefs, when the partner in a new restaraunt asks if you can handle haute cuisine, you learned under Arnold. Everybody in the cooking business knows an Arnold.
For you ladies, when that to-die-for date has you at the front door of your condo, you’ve been “with” men before but they were just boys compared to him. If your boss at work expresses doubt that you can head the search committee for a new ad firm, you’ve watched the competitors for months knowing that the present outfit was falling short of expectations. Again the tdf boyfriend, you’ve cooked dinner before, sure as you plan on throwing the to-go containers from your favorite bistro. And of course you know football, baseball or whatever ball is in season because your brothers taught you all they knew. If the BFF asks about why the guy she;s been stalking, er, trying to date, is not responding to her best efforts, you tell her he’s probably not able to see her inner beauty and of course, you’ve been to Chez Bonne Lapin with him at least once.
All of this is prepping you to be a writer. Unless you’re the second coming of James Bond or Modesty Blaise, your life is dull. Even firemen have boring days. If you want the person who doesn’t think anything they’ve got is worth reading to read your story, you gotta lie. Big time. You’ve got to keep that person interested. Have them suspend belief. You might not be the next Stephen King or Nora Roberts but you’ll get your stories out into the air.
If you are reading this, you’ve got a computer. One of the best exercises for a writer is blogging. Everybody has stuff hanging around their brain. Write about it. Some great examples are:
Oh yeah, Google or Yahoo Alabama Shakes. Sort through the sites that come up. You’ll get one that has their CD for sale. Get it. They’ve got Janis, Aretha and Bonnie in their music. It’s great road music.
See you Monday.