Thursday, October 6, 2011

Rotten eggs: one of the reasons to have a toolbox

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Tonight I am headed off to the Heart of the West Writer's Conference in Park City, Utah. (Wait... What? Isn't that a romance writers' conference, Peggy? I thought you didn't write kissy scenes! Yes, yes it is. And you're right-- I don't. Just one of the many reasons why I should go.) Anyone else going?
***

When my little brother turned six, my grandma gave him a present. All kinds of excited, he opened it right in front of her to find a gift set of soap and talcum powder, with a cowboys and Indians scene playing around the bottle.

My brother looked at it with a what-the-Sam-Hill-do-you-use-talcum-powder-for? look on his face. I knew the look, because I wore it myself. (Actually, typing this, I'm still wearing that look. What IS talcum powder for?) Judging by the look on my brother's face when he smelled it, it was pretty heavily scented, too. Which was funny, since it was for boys.... Maybe it was anti-boy smell.

To my brother's and my mom's credit, he still managed to be gracious to my grandma, then shoved it into a drawer after she left.

A few months later, we were playing outside with neighbor kids and found an abandoned bird egg on the ground. Some of the boys decided that they better open the egg. You know-- in case there was still a baby bird inside that needed to get out.

There wasn't.

Instead, it contained THE FOULEST SMELL I have  smelled in my entire life. To date. And it spread fast. As everyone pulled their shirts over their noses amid choking and gagging, I saw inspiration light up my brother's face. He ran away, and returned a couple minutes later with the carton of talcum powder in his hand and a look of victory on his face. He had finally figured out what it was for!

Writing is all about solving problems. From ones dealing with sentence structure to plot to characters to setting to organization to pacing to figuring out how to get your characters back out of the tree. One of my favorite writing teachers always said that you need to put lots of things into your writing toolbox, because as a writer you will have to fix LOTS of problems. The more things you have in your writing toolbox, the better equipped you'll be to deal with those problems.

We read things that help us become better writers ALL THE TIME, right? The next time you read something and get that What-the-Sam-Hill-will-I-ever-use-this-for? look on your face, don't dismiss the idea. Graciously place it in your toolbox. Someday you just might run into the problem that it is the perfect fix for.

14 comments:

Loralie Hall said...

Park City is goregous this time of year (I worked there for many years), and they're probably getting their first snow right about now. Enjoy learning about the kissy scenes.

I love the toolbox analogy...and the story that goes with it. ^_^

Kristine said...

I love that!

elizabethreinhardt said...

Awesome use for the still mysterious talcum powder...my mom always had the best smelling powder and she used to but it on her chest before she went on dates. That always seemed so lovely and old fashioned to me. And she smelled amazing on date night!

Iain said...

I've finally succumbed to carrying a notepad with me everywhere (much to the annoyance of the people with me when I stop to jot something down.)
It's amazing what you notice when you start thinking about making notes. I have a varied range of character quotes and odd mannerisms stored away for that eggy/talcum powder day. :o)
Have fun with the snoggage conference.

Michael Offutt said...

I live ten minutes from Park City. So funny that this is so close and I had no idea it was going on. Oy...I need to be more spatially aware. I hope you have fun.

Jenny S. Morris said...

My Mamaw used that stuff. I would open her little case, and try to put it on my face. LOL.

Hope you have fun at the confrence, and get lost of tools to put away for later.

Lan said...

I couldn't agree with you more Peggy. I'm always jotting little problems and solutions down wherever I can. There are post it notes all over my house/work and heaps of reminders on my phone. You just never know when inspiration will hit you!

Carrie Butler said...

Ugh. I remember being pelted with rotten eggs in high school--it wasn't a bad experience, really, but the smell was gag-worthy. Ah, the days when extra-curricular initiations were legal... *grins* Memories.

Anyhoo, great story, Pegasus! Have fun at your conference! :)

Shilpa said...

I love the way you bring out the lessons in writing with your stories. Totally agree with you on the toolbox!

CherylAnne Ham said...

I loved your story about your brother. :D I also love adding things to my tool box and watching it grow, and you're right, you never know what tidbit might help you out in the future.

Jessie Humphries said...

You look so beautiful right now from across the room!

i'm erin. said...

Smell my pit. Now that ain't no rotten egg.

Maeve Frazier said...

Funny! I love the tool box analogy!

Brianna said...

;) great job!