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Archive for the ‘Memories’ Category

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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Recently, I’ve been reading old favorites and it’s really helped fuel my writing again. I think no matter what is going on in your life, you need a reminder of why you wanted to be a writer in the first place.   When I was a little kid, I would be the one you’d see in the classroom either reading or writing before the school bell rang.  I would read anything I could get my hands on.  When I was in elementary, my favorite days were “library days”. We would sit and hear the librarian read us a story and after wards we all would make a mad rush to take out our favorite books for the week.

Lately, I guess I’ve found what genre I should be writing, and that’s young adult. People have always said that I have the writing voice suited for YA, but I was always uncomfortable settling with just one genre. I wanted to try it all, but now, after writing The Painter, and my current w.i.p (the title soon to be announced), I know that YA is my place in the literature world. I’m okay with that. 🙂

I guess I just look back at my kid self, full of joy at reading whatever I could get my hands and think that maybe, just maybe, a kid would get that same feeling from a book I have written. That maybe I could cause a teenager to really want to read something meaningful.  That would make it all worthwhile for me.

If you’re an aspiring writer, what genre do you see yourself attending to in your books? How do you feel about sticking with just that one genre?

Now, let’s switch gears and get on with our weekly Writing Prompt Wednesday! It’s my favorite day of the week haha. This one is inspired by the recently released movie, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part One (which is absolutely amazing by the way…).

  • You’ve recently discovered that you’re now in a strange magical world where you have to learn new spells in order to survive. Write a story about your new magical adventures.  Do you become a powerful wizard or cast a spell to go back to a normal life without magic?

 

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As I mentioned yesterday, this is my 100th post on this blog. 🙂  I thought long and hard about what I wanted to write about today. It is a special post after all. Do I post some poetry? Do I post another short story? I have done all that already, so that isn’t very special..

I think for this post, I want to celebrate this blog by showing my appreciation to everyone who takes the time to read this. Whether you have been here since the beginning or you have just discovered this blog, I really do appreciate everyone.

I have been writing stories for so long, I can’t imagine doing anything else.  So, after college, I realized that this was the time for me to really pursue my dreams of becoming a published author.  It was time to put it all into action. I had so many stories to share and so many characters for people to meet.

I started this blog to share my experiences about being a “newbie” writer and trying to achieve that dream of mine. I wanted to inspire others to do the same, to never be afraid to go for what you want. I also wanted to connect with other writers and join them on their journeys. I’m so glad that it  has happened for me.

Without the constant support I have received from family and friends (whether it be in real life or in the blogger world), I don’t think I could have managed to keep going. When I hit a slump, you all are willing to pick me up and encourage me to keep going. Thank you for being my “cheerleaders.” You have no idea how much that means to me.

It’s been quite a journey so far and more people are joining me. 🙂 I welcome you all and hope it is as enjoyable for you as it is for me. With my book halfway finished, I really can’t wait for everyone to read it. My goal will be within reach and that is a celebration I cannot wait to have!

So, thank you again for all of the kind words and conversations we have had on this blog. I just appreciate that people come onto this blog and read these words I write.

That is why I’m dedicating this special 100th post to you. This blog isn’t really intended for myself. 🙂

Now, onto 100 more blog posts! I hope to see you all at the 200th post celebration.

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Taking a time out from Harry Potter week and using this post to vent a little bit. This is probably going to end up like a reflection post.

I grew up being quite a shy girl. I was pretty quiet and didn’t need a whole lot of people around me to make myself feel complete.  I suppose I just didn’t feel all that comfortable striking up conversations with a large group of people. It was always an awkward situation for me.

Maybe you could say I would get lonely sometimes. Being voted “Most Bashful” during my senior year wasn’t a shining moment in my life. It got tiring after a while, being known as “The Quiet One” or “Miss Shy Girl”.  “Of course she’d be a writer,” they would say. “She doesn’t like to talk so she writes.”

It’s not that I didn’t want to talk because I did. It’s because they never wanted to listen.  Let me explain. I went to a very small, rural school. I graduated with a class of 26 kids. That’s right. 26. You would think it would be easy to get  a word in with that kind of small number. No. You see, when you get that kind of number, you also get the kids who think they rule the school. Even cliques happen at a school like that.

So, the shy kids get booted to the side because they don’t have an opinion. Let ’em write it out. Yeah, I would get frustrated with that, but I’m not one who enjoys drama.  I told myself that I would prove to everyone that I was capable of doing what I wanted to do. I was going to show everyone that a shy kid like me could accomplish something instead of fading into the background.

That’s what they all thought. I would just fade  into the background like some wallflower and never accomplish anything. Critics…

I don’t even know why I thought about this today, but I did. As I was finishing up a chapter I’m working on, every single one of them popped into my head. It fueled my writing even more. I want to prove to everyone in this rural area that you can be successful doing something different. It’s possible.

I’ll be the first to admit to you that I’m still a “quiet girl.” Maybe a bit misunderstood, but I still dislike the snobs and the ones who think they’re above everyone else.  I may never be one of the “popular people” but I never really tried to be. I’m just me, you know? A quiet girl who loves to write and does her best to make her dreams a reality. That’s good enough for me.

I hope it’s good enough for you.

I want to break stereotypes. I want those quiet kids to feel more comfortable with who they are than I did. I want them to know it’s okay to be yourself and to not follow the “cool kids.” Follow your own path and accept yourself. If you don’t accept who you are, how can you expect anyone else to do that? It doesn’t really matter how many friends you have. Don’t base your happiness on that number. It’s all about the quality of the friendships you have. Concentrate on being friends with those that truly care about you.

Sometimes, I forget that.

And, you know what? If you happen to be a quiet writer, embrace it and never forget that’s who you are.

I’ll end this post with a poem I wrote the other day:

Unique

Don’t start judging before you get to know me.

Don’t start casting doubt before you understand.

I may not be your average girl next door,

but I like it that way.

I may have my hair too dark

and my nail polish too black

My eyes are just as mysterious,

But that’s just who I am.

Try not to cast stones before you meet me.

I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised

in the end.

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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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Today, well, yesterday by the time I publish this post, was father’s day. Usually, it’s a time when you give your dad the usual Hallmark greeting card and some kind of gift like a tie….or some tools…whatever the department stores are telling you to buy.  I remember as a little girl, I would make my dad’s father’s day cards.  Honestly, I’m no artist nor will I ever claim to be, but my dad was always so happy with my handmade, colored marker filled, construction paper cards.

My dad was one of my biggest supporters. He always believed in my writing dreams. He knew that if I wanted to be a successful writer, it was going to happen. My dad encouraged me to work hard and never give up.  Of course, my mom always agreed (which was odd because after they divorced when I was 4 years old, they were hardly on the same page ever..).  That was something they could always agree on. They both loved me and my brother unconditionally and made a lot of sacrifices so we could accomplish our dreams.

I’m sitting here right now in front of my computer, trying to choose just one favorite memory I have with my dad. There are many since I was quite the “Daddy’s Girl” growing up.  I do think a favorite would be going to his apartment on the weekends and bringing the short story I wrote that week in school. He’ d be so excited to hear what I had written. He would sit in his recliner and let me read the story to him.  Let’s remember here, I was a kid. What I was writing wasn’t Hemingway or Faulkner. It was just a kid in elementary school writing stories about her cat, friends, and one time, a story about Kindergarten class’ pet rabbit.  Her name was Fredericka (I didn’t come up with the name, so don’t look at me), and guess what that story was called? If you guessed “Fredericka”, give yourselves a pat on the back! You won! Yes, all you get is a pat on the back. Sorry. 🙂

Back to my memory. No matter how tired my dad was at the end of a long work day (he was a meat cutter which is a completely disgusting  job, but hey, if that’s what you do, I respect you), my dad would always be a very attentive listener. He would have me show my “illustrations” and ask what brought me to write that story.  That interest in my writing continued for years. When my mom moved me and my little brother to Missouri, he would call us every Sunday and ask if I was writing anything and what it was about. He knew how important it was to be supportive.

All that ended on May 31st, 1999. That was the day my dad passed away from pneumonia.  He had become sober from alcohol for two years before he died. Of course, his many years of being an alcoholic took its toll on his body and he got sick.  I was still in Missouri, so I never really got to say goodbye. I think that’s one of the hardest things I still have to deal with. The unanswered questions.  Losing someone who always believed in me.

I miss the phone calls. I miss those days when I would bring him what I was working on and read it to him. There is a lot I miss about my dad. I would give a lot to have it all back, to just hear his voice one more time. I would love to tell him about the novel I’m working on. I think he’d be proud of me.

It’s been eleven years since he passed away. There are some days where I don’t think about him as much, but on father’s day, I think about him all day. So, this post is dedicated to my dad, William. I’m still going to achieve my dreams, not only for myself, but for him as well.  His belief in me still holds true to this day. I’m not going to forget that.

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Today, I took the time to look back at some of my previous writings to see if their was a link to connect them all together. I didn’t know if I was going to find some treasured meaning behind them, but I did. Each story contained an individual message that meant a lot to me, whether it be treasuring time with loved one, or not judging people for what society may deem as “unacceptable.”  I talk about lost love and broken hearts; forgiveness and acceptance. These are things that mean a lot to me.

What I’m trying to say is I generally write from the heart. Sure, I use my brain to get the words on the screen, but that’s emotions in the reader.

I tend to write what I know, or somewhat know. Of course, there have been some attempts at fantasy (I am a JRR Tolkien fanatic, remember?).  There are just times when I know deep in my heart what I am meant to write. Currently, my W.I.P centers around a type of mental health issue that is still seen as “taboo” with certain people. If my novel can open up those lines of communications and get people talking, then I feel like I have succeeded.

Writing from the heart doesn’t cost you any money or take a lot of time. It’s about getting to know who you are and what life means to you. What bothers you? Is there something that has happened to you that has affected you? In order to connect with the story, readers need to believe what you’re writing. Sometimes, writing from the heart helps you achieve that. If a character is going through something that you feel you can connect with, don’t be afraid to dive in and let the readers see that pain. Remember, readers want to see that emotion. Another key is letting go of the fear that can hold you back. Sometimes, we run away from things that have hurt us in the past. We hide from the things that we don’t want to relive again.  I know it’s not easy. I struggle with writing certain chapters in my W.I.P.  It’s not an easy thing to relive, but it is therapy.

Trust your heart. It may seem scary to let your mind take the backseat for awhile, but in the end, it’s worth it.

“When you write from the heart, you not only light the dark path of your readers, you light your own way as well.”

-Marjorie Holmes

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