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Today is Father’s Day. Usually that’s a time for celebrating and enjoying time with that special dad in your life. Since I was 15, it really hasn’t been that for me.  On May 31, 1999, my dad passed away. It was hard to cope as a teenager to the fact that your dad wasn’t around anymore. So usually on the special holidays (his birthday, the anniversary of his death and Father’s Day) I shut down.  I couldn’t even deal seeing the father’s day cards in the stores or the commercials on television. But today, I decided I’m going to celebrate Father’s Day in his memory because I know he’s proud of me.  So for this post, I want to share a special personal essay I wrote in college about a memory I have of my dad. I hope you enjoy! And, to you, Dad: I love you and miss you. Happy Father’s Day.

 

Baby me spending time with my daddy. 🙂

Skipping Stones
By: Melissa Wright

I can still hear the birds sing in my head. They sang a memorable tune as I stood at the same pond I had stood at eight years before. The place looked the same. There were more weeds and fewer purple wild flowers that I used to pick. And this time, I stood alone looking out at the water, randomly skipping stones, wishing I had the one person there that had left me two weeks before — my rock, my father.
My parents divorced when I was five years old. My father was a terrible alcoholic and my mother got sick of it. I spent some weekends and summer with my dad in his apartment in central New York. I grew up being a very shy girl, more so than I am now. There wasn’t a need to be social or have too many friends.
My dad was always concerned about that. He’d  say to me, “Melissa, you need to get out there and make new friends. You’re  a wonderful girl. You should be the life of the party.” I’d tell him I was fine with the small group of friends I had.  I never had a problem not being the social butterfly everyone else was.
He was also my biggest supporter when it came to my writing. No matter what I wanted to do, he always encouraged it. Every time I would bring home a story I wrote at school, he would have me read it to him. My dad would sit in his recliner and listen intently to every word, nodding his head every so often. He just wanted me to be happy and to accomplish my dreams.
One summer evening, my dad took me to a pond nearby his apartment. It wasn’t a long walk, just a half mile away. I remember taking my father’s hand and feeling secure as we walked over the rocky road. We stood at the pond in silence. My dad was always one for quiet reflection. He enjoyed his time of peace. At that time, he was a recovering alcoholic, still trying to find his way. I remember going off and picking those purple wild flowers while he meditated. I always had a feeling he liked to be alone during this time. I still think that must have been scary for him.
After he was through with his meditations, we would end up skipping stones on the water. I was never very good at it. My stones always landed with a plop and sunk into the water. My dad was good — better than good. He was the best. I never could get the hang of it and that’s why he reminded me about perseverance. There were people in our family who said my dad could never quit drinking alcohol. He could never stop. He proved them wrong. Sometimes, you just have to keep trying to get better at things.
I was fifteen when my father passed away, a young girl who was naive enough to never think anything bad could happen to her family. It was during the summer when I got the phone call from my older brother, telling me the unthinkable news. Who was going to spend my summers at the pond with me? Who was going to help me skip stones? I lost my dad that day, lost my rock, my support system. Images of our times at the pond and of my dad smiling at me flashed through my head. Yet, I was glad that I didn’t have to see him deteriorate into nothing.
My life changed from then on. I didn’t have my dad around anymore to support me. Yet, I changed. I began to do what my dad told me to do: to persevere; to not let my past determine who I am today. I broke out of my shell and got to know more people. A few days after his memorial service, I went back to that same pond, alone and older. Things had changed, but the pond was still the same: there were the same flowers and the water still sparkled. I grabbed a stone and threw it out into the water, smiling when it skipped a few times and then sank slowly into the water. I was finally starting to get it. I knew my dad would have been proud of me, for not only learning out to skip stones after so many years of trying, but also for learning to  let go of the past, for learning to let go of things I can’t really change. I can’t bring my dad back not matter how much I want to. It was a bittersweet moment. I knew for my own sake that it was my way of saying goodbye.
I still think of my dad and our summer evenings at the pond where life was carefree and innocent. Sometimes, I want those days back. But, I have them in my heart, where the birds still sing and the little purple wild flowers grow. Any time I feel down, there’s just one thing I know to do. I skip stones.

 

 

 

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Think back to your childhood. Was there a person who always stood by and supported you? Was there someone who told you that you should go for your dreams and not give up?  I had that person and I couldn’t be more grateful.

Let me introduce you to my dad (yes, that is baby me in the photograph as well). I was a self-proclaimed daddy’s girl growing up. Yes, he spoiled me rotten since I was the only girl. He called me his “jellybean.”  He was also one of my biggest fans when it came to my writing. You see, I started writing stories when I was five years old. Every time I would go to his apartment on the weekends, he would sit me down and ask if I had written any stories lately. If I had, he asked for me to read them to him.  I remember being so excited to do that and how proud he always was. He would smile and clap when I was finished, telling me what  a good job I was doing. He told me I was destined to be a writer. It was like he could just feel it.

Whenever I talked about writing with my dad, he always made me feel like I could actually do it. He didn’t put me down or scoff, saying that it was an impossible dream. My dad knew I was talented and he believed in me.  There wasn’t anything I couldn’t do in his eyes.

Today would have been my dad’s birthday. I say “would have been” because he passed away on May 31st, 1999. I was 15 years old and just moved to Missouri from upstate New York. That was a day I never want to relive again. That was my darkest moment when my biggest fan wasn’t there anymore.

I miss him. A lot. There are so many things I didn’t get to say to him. There were so many things he didn’t get to see, and that’s hard to deal with sometimes.  He’s not here to cheer me on or read my latest story anymore.  You can’t replace him with someone else.  But, sometimes, when I’m writing, it’s almost as if he’s there with me.  My dad is there through my creative process. He’s still guiding me along in memory.

My biggest fan may not be here physically any longer, but he’s still around. 🙂

If your “biggest fan” is still with you today, please take the time to let them know how much you appreciate them. Tell them how much they really mean to you. Sadly, I didn’t do that and I wish I had. If your biggest fan isn’t around anymore, remember them fondly and know that no matter what, they’re still with you.

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I just wanted to wish everyone who celebrates a very Merry Christmas today! 🙂 I hope it’s a great day spent with loved ones and remembering to have fun. Forget all the stress that you may have from whatever may be going on (like… unfinished stories to write, perhaps? lol) and enjoy the time you have with the ones you cherish the most. I wish I could have gotten everyone a gift but… I am just a mere aspiring writer, so I hope this post dedicated to each and every one of you is enough. 🙂

For the new year I would love to hear any resolutions or plans you may have for 2011. I want to post some of them on this blog if you are willing to share. Please e-mail them to thestoryinme@gmail.com.

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Sometimes I think I need a sign on my door that says: “Do not disturb. Writing in progress.” I could tell people that I’m going to go work on my book, but I don’t think they really understand what that means. When I say I’m going to go work that means don’t interrupt.

I try not to be mean about it though.  Sometimes things come up and I have to let interruptions happen.  I have to let my muse walk away for a little bit while I go attend to other things. Am I happy about that? No, but that’s life. You have to roll with the punches in order to accomplish things.

My writing means a lot to me and I usually need my own space in order to create these worlds. I need some quiet “Me” time where I can think and let my mind wander.  That’s when that sign would come in handy. My family would know that I’m busy trying to use my creativity and to come back later. These books don’t write themselves, you know… 🙂

Do you feel the need to have “Me” time when you write? How do you manage to accomplish this? Is there a certain room you go to when you want to write?

Well, it’s that time again. It’s time for another Writing Prompt Wednesday!

  • Imagine that you have found a way to travel to another world that has never been traveled to before.  Describe that world and whatever (or whoever) you may encounter.  Do you stay there or do you try to find a way to get back home?

 

 

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Learning….

This past week  has been a very busy one for me, so I apologize if I haven’t really focused on this blog. My writing has also suffered this week, but I’m sure that I will get it back soon.

Have you ever had something happen in your life that has really made you sit back and evaluate how you live?  That has happened to me last week. I don’t really want to go into the whole thing in detail, but it has affected my thinking.  Achieving my goals have become even more important now.  Life is too short to waste, you know?

Finishing my book is now more important than ever. It is my focus and I will make it to the finish line. Why? Because I refuse to give up. I refuse to let people down.  If you want to achieve something, you should do the very best to accomplish that.

Tomorrow, you will get a real post, I promise. 🙂 Just wanted to check in and tell you all that I appreciate each and every one of you that stops by to read this blog. I can’t believe how much it has grown. I can’t believe how much I have grown as a person and a writer.

Oh, and I think another character interview is coming up soon. Be on the look out for that!

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I used to love the summers when I was a kid. When I was younger, life didn’t hold the kinds of stress that it does now.  As much as I love the absence of cold weather this time of year, it just doesn’t hold that magical quality that it used to. That makes me kind of sad.

During the summers, my days were so exciting and full of things to do. Each summer before I turned 15, I would go up to my dad’s house in upstate New York to stay with him and my two brothers. We would play and just act like the kids we were. My parents divorced when I was about four years old and it definitely took its toll on my family.

There was always one constant in my life. That was writing. Writing for me kept me going when all else seemed to be so chaotic around me. I imagined myself in different worlds and it made things better. Especially in the summer when we didn’t have school to keep us occupied. I would read and write all day.

Not only would I visit with my dad during the summer, but I would see my other “biggest fan”. My grandpa.

Me and Grandpa

The picture is a bit blurry, but it’s an old picture so it was a bit fuzzy to begin with. You get the idea anyways. Ever since I was born, my grandpa pretty much spoiled me, and I idolized him. He would have me tell him stories and always encouraged my creativity. I was always known as the “Little Storyteller” in the family. In elementary school, I wrote him a book called “Grampa Coming Home For Christmas”. I’m sure you can tell what the plot was about. 🙂  Every summer, I would visit him and make sure he was taken care of after he had a bad car accident and had to be put on oxygen 24 hours a day. He made me smile and forget all the bad things that were going on. He made sure that I kept up my dream of being a writer.

Summers haven’t been the same since he passed away when I was 17. Two years before that on May 31st, my dad passed away from a long battle of being sick. These two men that I adored were now gone. The two people who have always encouraged me to be who I wanted to be.

When I write, I think about them. I can see them in my head, cheering me on. That’s what keeps me going.  I know they would be proud of me.  Not only for the person I am, but for the writer I have become.

Who in your life has always encouraged you with whatever you wanted to do?

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It’s one of my worst nightmares.  It’s hard to type this next sentence, but I will try my best.

Here goes…..

I think I’ve hit a writing slump. These can happen at any time during the writing process. I guess I’ve went through quite a few since I graduated college.  How long do they last? Well, that depends. Some only last for a couple of days. The one I’m suffering through right now has been going on for a few weeks. 😦

What causes them? A variety of things. Usually, it’s those constant plague of negative thoughts that invade my head. I start thinking about the things that shouldn’t be thought about at that time. Certain stresses in my every day life, family problems, financial issues are just a few things that are brought to mind. I know that I should just leave them at the door when I write, but sometimes, it’s hard to let them go.

Then, there are the critics.  My top critic would have to be my step-dad who thinks he knows pretty much everything.  Suffice to say, he hasn’t been a great supporter in my life and doesn’t go out of his way to make me feel like I am either.  I’ve dealt with it, but it would be nice to hear him say that he believes in me, even though this isn’t what he thinks I should do. I know he feels writing is a complete waste of time. I could be taking this extra time to landing a decent paying job. What I always tell him is that there aren’t any decent paying jobs around here right now. There are hardly any jobs at all.

So, when I do finally sit down at my computer and open up my W.I.P, I find myself staring at the cursor blink over and over again. Blink, blink, blink. It’s like if I’m trying to convince myself that if I stare at the screen long enough, words will miraculously appear in front of me. It never happens. Maybe I am just stressing out over what’s to happen once I finish. How am I going to get it published? What if nobody likes it? What will be my next novel? All these questions are taking up valuable time here. I’m only a few chapters in when I know I have a lot to go.

I can only hope my slump will go away soon immediately. I’m eager to get this out into the world so people can read it and enjoy it.

Something I need to remember:

“When I face the desolate impossibility of writing 500 pages, a sick sense of failure falls on me, and I know I can never do it. Then gradually, I write one page and then another. One days work is all I can permit myself to contemplate.”

John Steinbeck

Maybe I should put that on a post-it note and put it right in front of my computer. It’s words to live by for a writer.

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