Plots and Life Experiences

It dawns on me that I have a number of life experiences that are unique. I really should write a book. If I could come up with a viable plot, I would do so. I love writing. I just don’t have anything unique to say at the moment. Most of the ideas I come up with have already been done. Too bad I can’t use something from my own life. Let me give you a few examples.

We had a firm meeting the other day. As part of that meeting they brought in a Lieutenant from the local Police Department’s SWAT team. He ran through a very lengthy (and grim) discussion on what employees should do when there is an active killer in the workplace. This is a presentation he does for companies to get them thinking about how they would handle an emergency situation. We watched a video that gave people in this situation (facing a killer) three choices – run, hide or fight.

Sadly, I have already faced a similar situation. It wasn’t a killer, though; it was rioters. In 1972 (7th grade), I experienced a race riot. We were locked down in our classrooms while the rioters ran loose through the high school hallways, breaking the glass in the doors. The teacher made us hide under our desks. The rioters did come into our room, and they slapped around one boy who had long, past his shoulder length hair (unfortunately, he stood out). Apparently, there were worse situations going on in other rooms and areas of the school. The Police came and arrested the rioters. The teacher drove us home that day. I am here to confess that hiding does work rather well in a terrifying emergency situation.

Today my firm rolled out a revised emergency preparedness plan. As part of that plan, they put a bomb threat report document on our desktops. It is a form that details what we are supposed to do in the event we receive a bomb threat phone call.

Yes, sadly, I have already faced this situation, too! It was my senior year of high school (1977). I worked a co-op job during the afternoon in the main office at my old grammar school. I was answering the switchboard one afternoon when a bomb threat phone call came in. The caller said he’d planted a bomb in the school. Of course, I passed the call along to someone else. I can’t remember now if it was the Principal or the senior secretary. Either way, the entire school was evacuated and the students were sent home early. There was no bomb. Too bad I didn’t have the helpful bomb threat form back then.

On a humorous note, this form tells me that I’m supposed to ask the caller their name and their address. I couldn’t stop laughing at that one. They’d have to be one of the world’s dumbest criminals if they readily gave that information up. “Yes, and if you could just give me your address, sir, I’ll send a policeman around to arrest you shortly.” Oh, brother! The form was obviously created by someone out of touch with reality and with no real world, real life experience.

Other experiences include four automobile accidents; three when I was driving (they weren’t my fault). I’ve had three cars broken into, and one was nearly stolen. I’ve had two major surgeries. I’ve had to make life-ending decisions for a loved one (my mother). I’ve been in love with and married to the love of my life for half of my life. And these are just a few things I thought of, off of the top of my head. With all of these experiences that have happened to me over the years, you would think I’d have a treasure trove of things to write about.

They always say to write what you know. I just wish that magical storyline would pop into my head. If and when that happens, I’ll let you know.

Images courtesy of Pinterest

What I Learned About Popularity

When I wrote yesterday’s post on popularity, I wasn’t expecting the results that I got. I guess I should’ve known that the WordPress community would surprise me. Things just kind-of exploded, and it made for an interesting day.

The post (after 18+ hours) has 31 likes. Previous posts this week had 13, 9, 4, 6, 7, 10, 4, 2 and 13 likes. I attribute quite a bit of the traffic to reblogs from blogs with a much larger fan base than mine. I thank everyone for the support, suggestions and attention.

supportGiven all the comments I received, I wanted to share some of the ones that resonated with me.

Some important things I learned from yesterday’s post:

  1. Find like-minded blogs and build a core group. If you have shared interests, you will be more likely to comment on what others are posting. That will facilitate building a community of supporters and friends to share ideas;
  1. Make sure to comment on posts that you like. This increases your visibility. When commenting on posts, check out what the other commenters are saying. I liked the writing style of one commenter recently (he was really funny) so I went to his blog to check out his regular posts. I now have a new blogger to follow. This helps you to branch out and find others;
  1. Try to find an area of focus. I feel this is important for me because I tend to want to do it all and jump around in what I’m posting. The areas that are most important to me are photography (nature and wildlife), book reviews (because I read obsessively), and creative writing (because I like to capture my thoughts and ideas, and sharing my scribblings in my blog seems natural and easy to do); and
  1. Go back through old posts and find some you might want to re-post. I liked this idea a lot. The suggestion was to go back through old posts made before newer followers came along. Either clean up posts that didn’t work and re-post them or re-post ones that did work. Chances are they will get more interest the second time around. I have some posts I migrated over from Blogger. I need to wade through those to see if anything is worth a re-try.

I’ve done some other cleanup this weekend, too. I cleaned up the blog’s side bar to get rid of the clutter, I removed one of the pages across the top, and after I’d fussed with the color scheme, I set it back to something that was easier on the eyes. I love a dark background and white text, but it was harder to see and read.

One other suggestion I received was to end posts with a question. I’m not sure how to naturally flow into a question, but I’d be interested on thoughts about that. Does ending with a question successfully promote comments?

Image courtesy of Pinterest




Children’s Books

How much simpler life is in Children’s books! I’ve been reading a selection of them recently. Yes, you read that correctly, and no, I haven’t lost my mind. I have been reading children’s books again – mostly for ideas and inspiration. During last year’s NaNoWriMo, I drafted a children’s book of my own, and then school got in the way. I wrote for quite a while, and then I had to set it aside to focus on finishing up my schooling.

Now that school has disappeared, I have picked up the book idea again, and I find that some of what I wrote is surprisingly good. It needs work, but I have time for that now. I decided to do some research and have gathered a number of children’s chapter books for the age group I am writing for. It’s been a long time since I read this type of book to my sons, and it’s been an even longer time since I read them for myself.  I’d forgotten what a delight this type of book is!

beezusnimhblueLife is so much simpler. In one book, a young girl’s focus is her horse; there’s no love triangle or tragedy. Another child’s biggest problem is her little sister. Another book is about a little mouse trying to help her young son who is sick. In these types of books, animals talk and have thoughts and feelings. How sad it is that older kids’ books focus on all the stresses and strife that they will experience in everyday life. Books for older kids have darker themes, more temptations and bigger struggles. Maybe that’s a way of teaching them about the world and growing up. Everything seems so gritty and real, and some of the magic is lost.

When I read (or watch a movie) I root for that happy ending. There’s enough tragedy in the world without immersing yourself in it in your spare time. That’s not to say that I haven’t read or haven’t watched sad or tragic things. I don’t live in happy smiley face land. I sometimes think I have more than my share of stress, and maybe that’s why I look to escape from it when I can. I do think that children should be allowed to be children and live in a land of make believe for as long as they can. There’s nothing wrong with that.

smileyfacesAs I write and formulate my story for children, I will strive for that happy make believe smiley face world. I can live there myself when I wear my writer’s hat! There’s nothing wrong with that either.

Smiley face image courtesy of Pinterest