Tag Archives: creativity

If a Story Is In You: A Writer’s Dream by Nicole Eva Fraser

faulkner yellow if a story is in you it has to come outI started writing as a kid and my dream was always to be a published writer. When I was 10, I wrote a 50-page book called Night of Wonder about a girl who time-traveled in her sleep.

After I dropped out of college, I was a busy working mom with small children, so I wrote at night when my kids were sleeping—a screenplay and a 300-page novel. At the time, nobody in publishing was interested in my work. I threw the screenplay and novel away. But my dream lived on.

When my kids were older, I went back to college at night to study writing. I had some great professors, learned a lot, won the college writing award, and started on a new novel. I thought I was all set.

So I went to writers’ conferences to meet the New York agents and editors. But to them, I was a nobody, a zero from Cleveland. My stories didn’t matter and the industry bigwigs didn’t even want to hear them.

Helping other people helped me stay positive. I got active as an adult-literacy volunteer. As I taught my students to read and write, they inspired me with their life stories of strength and their dreams of better things ahead.

I started ghostwriting for friends. I developed the creative reading method Peace Through Fiction, and led PTF story-sharing sessions around the country. I helped bring StoryCorps to Cleveland to record the stories of students, founders, staff, and tutors at Project Learn, the adult-literacy organization where I served.

Successful in my day job, I accrued over 20 years of full-time editorial experience as a writer and senior creative consultant in a major corporate writing studio. I won awards for my creativity and innovation. But all my successes were linked to the corporation.

I just couldn’t let go of my personal dream, my passion, my drive to be a published writer in my own right, telling the stories I wanted the world to hear.

So when my employer offered tuition reimbursement for graduate school, I got into a master of fine arts program for creative writing. I knew the program would make me a better writer and consultant; I hoped it might help me make some publishing contacts, too.

Eventually, things worked out. A professor recommended me to his publisher—Second Wind. They published my first novel in 2013, and my second novel is coming in March 2015.

At last I had arrived! I’d proven myself, beaten the publishing odds, and become an industry insider. The future was in my hands. Success!

But people kept asking me things like “Is your book a bestseller yet? Are you famous now?” And since my answers were no, I started to wonder if I’d failed.

Then I thought about the readers who have written to thank me ever since my first novel got published. My writing covers a lot of sensitive topics and it helps these readers feel understood and less alone.

Hearing from my readers made me realize something. My dream to be a published writer wasn’t ever about making money or getting famous. It was always about the fact that our stories matter, and it’s important to share them.

Nicole Eva Fraser is the author of The Hardest Thing in This World, released by Second Wind Publishing in October 2013, and I Don’t Think It’s That Simple, forthcoming in March 2015.

13 Comments

Filed under writing

Striking a balance between nurturing creativity and instilling a sense of reality in your child

My approach to parenting is to encourage my children to try new things (within reason), which is why I have become a “sports mom” with a mini-van that is overflowing with various sports equipment and has the permanent odor of sweaty kid’s feet.

Luckily, my kids are also interested in academics, the arts, and video games, so it’s not all about sports with us. I’m sure it’s probably no surprise that I encourage my kids to create stories and we often play the “what if?” game about things we see, or hear, or even think about. Sometimes, the stories are just silly, sometimes they are a little scary, and sometimes the stories are quite good.

Both boys have some creative talents, thus I am a regular customer at Michael’s craft store and have a well stocked collection of paints, chalk, sketch pads and the like. My husband and I were both musicians in our pasts, so there are also a variety of musical instruments in the house that the children are encouraged to play with. And, I’ve been known to show the boys how to make a musical instrument with craft supplies. For example, an empty frozen orange juice can with lid, duct tape, and a collection of small rocks makes a great maraca or rumba shaker. With a love of music comes a love of dance as well, so it is not unusual to find me or my kids dancing around the house when doing chores or playing “Let’s Dance” on the Wii.

What I am not is one of those annoying mothers who believe her special snowflake should do anything he wants to do regardless of ability and everyone else should get with her program to applaud his efforts. Radical concept these days, I know.

So, what happens when these two mindsets collide?

They did last night and this morning I am still wondering if I handled this the right way or if I need to put some more money in the therapy fund. (Their grandparents have the college fund covered. My husband and I are putting aside money for therapy – hopefully, if we’re doing this parenting thing semi-right, the kids won’t need it and can go buy a car for their graduation from college or put a down-payment on a house.)

My youngest informed me he was going to enter the talent show at his elementary school.

“Really? What are you going to do?” I asked, wondering what exactly he was thinking about since our talent shows tend to be all about the kids who have studied dance, martial arts, music, or sing in their church choirs. Nate’s talents aren’t really the sort of ones that translate well to the school talent show stage. One day, he could become a comedian of the Chevy Chase variety, but at 7, he is definitely not ready for Prime Time.

“I’m going to dance.”

That awkward moment when you realize your kid is dead serious and you love him to the moon and back for his absolute lack of fear, and yet, you know that his dance skills – unless something major changes between now and high school – will one day be an excellent means of preventing teen pregnancy.

Seriously, how the kid can be so coordinated on a sports field and such a flailing train wreck on the dance floor is beyond me. It’s adorable in that “only your mom will love this” way and sort of painful to watch all at the same time. No teenage girl is going to want to get anywhere near that no matter how cute he might be when standing still.

“Um, have you actually tried out and gotten accepted?” Thinking this current culture of “there are only winners” has taken things one step too far if my son’s dance skills are considered talent show worthy.

“Not yet, you need to sign the form.” G-r-e-a-t. Enter Mom, the wrecker of dreams unless I want to allow him the experience of public humiliation.

“Well, honey, you know you’ve never taken any dance classes and these sorts of shows are really for the kids who have studied. Is there anything else you can think of that you could do?”

Tossing a baseball, wrestling, or training his dog to do a trick weren’t really activities that would be allowed, so I steered the conversation to some of the other things he could do – like play a tune on his Ukulele or compose a song on the piano. Neither of which interested him because he thought no one would like it. Granted, his Ukulele playing is pretty basic and his compositions on the piano are more Schoenberg-esque than I think his classmates can appreciate. My husband would probably prefer Nate dance than play a piano, but Hubby isn’t a big fan of the expressionist style of composition.

Nate wants to dance, because he loves it and all his friends think he has great dance moves when they are on the playground at recess. He is confident enough in himself that when his friends laugh and encourage him, he interprets it as a positive. I want him to hold onto that confidence for a little while longer so he doesn’t become self-conscious and let fear of being ridiculed hold him back. As I listen to him talk, I am torn. How to tell your kid you don’t believe he dances well enough to enter without forcing reality on him too soon? I go for something less than brutal honesty that I hope will be somewhat supportive.

“Nate, I don’t think you are quite ready to dance for the talent show. Tell you what, why don’t we look into some dance classes this year, then you can sign up next year?” I’m afraid of the next stage of the conversation. The moment when he realizes I honestly don’t think he can dance.

He thought about it for a moment or two. “Could I take magic lessons instead? Or get a magic kit for my birthday? Then I could do magic tricks as the Great Nate next year!”

“You have a deal, but you can still take dance classes if you want.”

“Mommy? You know you’ll need to make me a cape, right?”

Mairead Walpole is the pen name for a somewhat introverted project and contract manager who has 20+ years of business and technical writing under her belt. In her spare time, Mairead writes paranormal romance among other genres. Her first novel, “A Love Out of Time” is available through Second Wind Publishing (www.secondwindpublishing.com) or Amazon.com.

3 Comments

Filed under Humor, Mairead Wapole, writing

The Writer’s Handbook: Managing Creativity by T.C. Harrelson

This is the second in a series of insights and lessons that I’ve learned during my time as a novel-writer and published author in a series entitled “The Writer’s Handbook.”

Creativity. It’s the one thing every writer needs. It can strengthen your narrative voice, energize your plot, and create unforgettable characters. It is the essential ingredient to a successful writing career. I only wish I could bottle it…

If you’re like me, you have your fair share of creativity. It’s managing it that can get kind of tricky. Allow me to explain.

Early in my writing experience, it seemed there were times when my creativity flowed from my soul like a mighty river; I only had to channel it in the right direction. Other days, I had to send bloodhounds to find it; my brain just couldn’t communicate with the empty page. And that’s the thing I learned about creativity—it’s elusive.

Over time, I began to pick up on this phenomenon. I began to notice that there were certain times of the month that I was more creative than others. And even certain times of the day that my mind just seemed to work better. And, of course, I found the inverse was true, too.

In a perfect world, I would put aside some of my creativity for the dry spells. (Just take it off the shelf, blow off the dust, and plug it into my brain). But, since I’m stuck in the real world, I must resort to managing my creativity as best I can.

So, to maximize my time (see The Writer’s Handbook: Managing Time by T. C. Harrelson), I now structure my writing time around my periods of greatest creativity. On a daily basis, that means putting aside some time at night when my brain seems to function better. On a monthly basis, it means taking advantage of that week or so of greatest creativity to get as much accomplished as possible. Usually, this entails moving along the novel in rough form; I edit later when my creativity is low.

That’s the way I manage creativity. And I often wonder if I’m normal. I look at great authors (e.g. Stephen King, John Grisham, Tom Clancy) who seem to release bestselling novels as often as I release my tax returns. Are they bursting with creativity? Or do they simply have a good system?

What do you think?

***

T. C. Harrelson is the author of The Beast of Macon Hollow, available from Second Wind Publishing

4 Comments

Filed under writing

Feed Your Head with SPAM

One morning as I grimly clicked DELETE, DELETE, DELETE, DELETE ALL, I came to a realization. Yes, SPAM is infernally annoying, but it won’t make me sick, homeless, or fat and only if I let it control me will it alter my personality. Instead of being annoyed at the SPAM in my inbox, what if I use the weirder subject lines to inspire, to nourish my creativity?

So, here are five of the best lines from my inbox, collected over a period of ten days and listed randomly. All grammar, punctuation and spelling oddities have been preserved. When the sender isn’t detailed below, the name wasn’t particularly notable. Oh, and I did not open any of these so my ideas of their content is pure speculation. After you read this, should you be similarly inspired, please leave a comment and share some favorites of your own.

Hello! I gotta something to say…
My first thought here is Godfather, or at least a mid to senior level fella from New Jersey. If I open this one  I’m thinking it’s friendly advice about a great investment opportunity—one I can’t refuse. Waste removal and processing is very profitable these days.  Maybe this is an offer for cut-rate burial services. I seem to get ten of those a week. In this case, only the very best concrete used. Or, perhaps some public-minded group wants to give me the real scoop on candidates running in the next election. With that folksy, down to earth wording, I can tell whatever it says in the email would be the solid truth.
Bare your legs with confidence.
The sender here was identified as Right to Bare Legs Ad. I commend the sender for outright telling me this is an ad, but I have to take off points because the honesty decreased the anticipation. Plain old Right to Bare Legs could have gone so many interesting ways. Before I saw the sender was merely an advertisement, my imagination whisked me to a beach where scantily clad, older women pirouette at the water’s edge, boldly exhibiting all their veins and spots while horrified adolescent grandchildren look on. From that scene, I am riding in a convertible down Sunset Boulevard and I look up to see a billboard of a very hairy, Russian women sunning herself on lawn chair in front of the Berlin Wall. She wears a bikini in a style popular circa 1963. She’s being guarded by two KGB types. In huge print, the billboard announces, “They hate us for our shaving!” Dear Spammers, don’t ruin my fun with too much information up front!

Buy Nice Medicines Today
This one made me want to whip out my credit card and buy every single one of their pills and potions. After all, wouldn’t a nice medicine make me feel, well, nice? Don’t I want to feel like that? Don’t you? Wow, if I took some maybe I’d even become nice. That is one description seldom given me. No, wait, the subject line doesn’t actually say anything about what the medicines do when you take them. It only says they possess the quality of being nice.  I bet they remind you to take them and then thank you afterward.

I have found you by accident…you look catching…
This email came from Emmie Longhorne. A curious name, I’m not sure whether it makes me think of a stripper or a character from Little House on the Prairie. She didn’t just find me, she has found me, indicating to me she put extra work into the search. How flattering! Anyway, how does Emmie know what I look like? And how can I look “catching”–unless I’m catching a cold? Is she trying to sell me some nice medicines? All those ellipses, maybe she’s a stutterer, In any event she certainly has a difficult time expressing herself. Although a name like Emmie sounds English, I doubt the sender is a native speaker. Perhaps Emmie would like to get some personalized English lessons.  If she uses catching to mean fetching, alluring, captivating, what x-rated activities might Emmie want to discuss with me? Does she know what sex I am and does she care? I think not.

Change Your Spots
The sender is From High Speed Internet. Yes, in case they believe I didn’t understand that the SENDER is who is listed inside the email’s SENDER box, they went to extra trouble to tell me they, the sender entity, is on the FROM end of the transaction. Perhaps, in their very high speed system, they’re using a quantum computer where one can send things and, if anyone’s watching, the email might simultaneously sit at the destination point. To avoid confusion, they felt it necessary to let me know they didn’t receive it, I did. Wow, the Spots could be electrons or photons! Casting aside such ideas, on a macro level, what do Spots have to do with my internet connection? Spotty connection? Spots to plug in a modem? I know one thing for sure; at times I’ve been so angry with AT&T I’ve seen spots.

Mickey Hoffman is the author of the Kendra Desola mysteries, School of Lies and Deadly Traffic published by Second Wind Publishing. www.mickeyhoffman.com

3 Comments

Filed under writing

How living in Germany Helped Me Become a Better Writer by Coco Ihle

Today has been one of reflection on my life in Germany way back in the late 1960’s; a time of invention and creativity that has helped me as a writer to record more thoughtfully subjects familiar to me, but possibly unique or unconventional to someone else.

My then-husband was a member of the 615th AC&W Squadron in the U.S.A.F. and we lived in the southern part of the country in a small village called Morbach, nestled in the Hunsrück Mountains. Here we found ourselves in a beautiful and fascinating part of the world with a strange language and a different way of life.

Our first residence was an attic apartment in a German home. Refrigerators were very tiny and electric stove tops had  solid plates instead of the coils with which I was familiar, so meal preparation took a lot longer than it did in the States. Water had to be heated before washing clothes or dishes or for bathing.

The villagers shopped daily for the dinner meal and greeted me with a, “Guten tag” (good day) as I passed them on the lane. They were a friendly people and I often had a game similar to charades with a certain shop keeper when I needed an item I couldn’t describe in German. He and I would exclaim our glee when he finally figured out what I wanted, and with a huge smile, he’d fetch it and place it ceremoniously in my hand.

Since rain in the mountains was unrelenting and could be depressing, I was given the task of coming up with an idea to brighten the lives of our wives’ club members. I thought cheerful homes might help make cheerful moods, and what better mood-lifter was there than flowers? But not everyone could afford flowers. Another problem, we had no art supply store near us. The only available stores were the commissary (food) or the Base Exchange (clothing, shoes, magazines, gift wrap, etc.). So I taught a class on How to Make Flowers Without Art Supplies. Imagine my surprise and delight when the BX sold out of tissue paper and clear tape the next day.

I remember my clever downstairs neighbor who didn’t have money for furniture, so she bound together all her books, covered them with throws and made chairs and a sofa for her living room. The challenging part came when she wanted to give me a book to read that was on the bottom.

We didn’t have American television and trying to understand German TV was a challenge, so reading became a big part of our days and nights as our husbands worked irregular shifts seeking ways to keep the Russians from invading Germany.

It was a different world back then, but the lessons I learned have held me in good stead all through the years and continue to do so. I loved Germany, its people and the wonderful and even zany experiences I had, and I cherish the creativity and inventiveness those experiences fostered in me.

Have your life experiences brought out your creativity and inventiveness?

28 Comments

Filed under life, musings, writing

Improv and Writing: advice from Denise McInerney

As I’ve done on past blogs, I’d like to share things I learned at my Virginia Romance Writers’ monthly meeting. Denise McInerney talked about “improv for writers,” or “how to drive a stake through the heart of your inner critic so your muse will come out to play.” She taught some gems that I cannot keep to myself, and what better way to transfer her message than this blog?

Here are the four main points that I took away from her talk:

1. Improv is great for writer’s block or even for writer’s doldrums. Need to liven up a character? Need to make that dialog snappier? Use improv.

2. Trust your instincts. “Leap and the net will appear.” You might throw away 95% of what you come up with, but that 5% is well worth the right-brained effort.

3. There’s a time for critique groups or self-criticism, but there’s also a time for an unadulterated lovefest. When you are stuck, criticism can potentially jam you up even more. Brainstorm only with friends who’ve agreed to accept all ideas as valid. The key phrase here is “yes, and,” instead of “yes, but,” (or worse, no, never, and you can’t). No judgement means less fear. Less fear means increased creativity.

4. Listen with intent and make sure that your characters are also listening to each other. Stay in the moment, yet remember that the most interesting dialogues between characters aren’t made up of “How are you?”/“Fine” or “Nice weather, isn’t it?”/”Yes, but rain’s expected tomorrow.” Real life—the interesting part—isn’t so predictable. If your character absolutely has to ask someone how they are, then hopefully the response can be something unexpected, like “How can you ask me that when I’m covered in cat snot?” or something equally … improvisational.

The workshop in its entirety contains many more wonderful details, like the King of Denial (a crocodile), and it’s full of fun group exercises to get the brain huffing and puffing into the fearless city of soaring ideas. Everyone must participate, but the beautiful thing is that there are no wrong answers. None.

I recommend that every writer take this seminar!

Lucy Balch, author of

Love Trumps Logic

Available on Amazon (Kindle and print), and through Second Wind Publishing’s website

4 Comments

Filed under writing

The Many C’s of Writing

I went through my notes about writing to find a topic for this blog, and I came across a reminder to always remember the five Cs:

Character (characters are paramount, they personify the story)
Conflict (without conflict, there is no story)
Change (characters change, circumstances change, the plot twists and turns)
Contrast (contrast in settings, between characters, in dialogue)
Caring (what the character cares for, and making the reader care for the character)

Those should be the main considerations when writing a story, but why stop with just five Cs? As I was writing this article, I thought of several other Cs that can help bring depth to our novels, such as:

Continuity (the hidden structure that relates everything in the story to the beginning)
Creativity (not settling for the first idea that comes to mind, thinking beyond clichés or stereotypes, creating interesting twists and quirks)
Culture (the world your character lives in, not just the setting, but the times, conditioning, habits, expectations and societal pressures)
Connection (the seesawing between connection and disconnection that comprises most relationships)
Complement (contrast is good, but sometimes like likes like. Twins — whether people, places or ideas — will show a different facet of the story than two contrasting things. Three complementary ideas can create a theme, two or three mentions of an important point throughout a novel can underline that point)
Challenge (the challenge to find a new way of seeing the same old story, the challenge to write the story only you can write)
Compose (the way you write. All the other Cs are worthless if you can’t write readable prose)
Climax (all stories need a climax, the summit where the conflict is resolved)
Consequences (every action has a consequence, every fight whether mental or physical leaves scars)
Conclusion (the ending does not have to be happy, but it must be satisfying for the reader, a payoff for all the worry you put them through)

I’m sure there are plenty of other Cs, but for now, this should suffice.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of More Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fire,  and Daughter Am I.

1 Comment

Filed under Pat Bertram, writing

Dreaming Too Small?

            I started reading my third copy of Bill Strickland’s book today.

            It’s my third copy because I’ve given away my first two copies to people I thought would benefit from them.  This is my fourth or fifth reading of the book.  I don’t come back to it repeatedly because it’s extremely well written—in fact it’s ghosted (and as I’ve personally discovered, if as a ghost writer you write a book up to your own standards, it becomes much more your work than the work of the person to who it’s attributed . . . if you know what I mean).  I keep coming back to Bill Strickland’s book because it reminds me to believe in myself.

            The book I’m talking about is Make the Impossible Possible (published by Doubleday).  It’s the autobiographical account of Bill Strickland’s incredible life from sullen Pittsburgh teenager, to ceramic instructor, to CEO of Manchester-Bidwell (a prep school and training facility for disadvantaged people), to winner of the MacArthur Genius Grant, to internationally known entrepreneur.  Along the way he became an award winning artist, a trusted community leader, a commercial airline pilot, an expert orchid gardener, a producer of Grammy winning jazz music and founder of multiple training institutes.  It makes me tired just thinking he did all those things.

            Still, even as a fellow who has three professions at the moment, I value his book not because it justifies my overfunctioning.  His book is important to me because of one of the great principles he espouses: if you are not achieving your dreams, perhaps it’s because you’re dreaming too small.  How many times have people told you that you bit off more than you could chew or that you were neglecting other people and responsibilities?  And how often was it the very people who wanted more of your time, attention and talent who told you that?  Our selfishness is seldom blessed by the people who have personal expectations of us, is it?  Yet it is precisely our willingness to be selfish—to go off alone with our notebooks or word processors and let our imaginations take wing as we dream and write—that makes us each uniquely who we are.

            Another of Strickland’s marvelous principles has to do with “flow.”  Flow is a concept from jazz music, where one musician takes a beat and begins to play it.  The other musicians follow in, not really knowing where the music will take them, but when they get it right, they know it.  This is a different way of describing what the divine Julia Cameron calls “synchronicity” and some spiritual people call “serendipity.”  What do you think about the idea that there is a river of creativity out there waiting for you and when you find your way into that river and get carried away by the flow, you become your truest self?

            I leave you with one of my favorite quotes from Strickland’s book, one I have taped to the computer carrel where I do a lot of my creative writing:

            The sand in the hourglass flows only one way.  Don’t waste precious time chasing someone else’s definition of success.  Live your life with purpose now.  Look for the things that inspire you, trouble you, make you feel most alive, and trust in those things to shape your future.  They will give you all your heart could ever wish for.  [from Make the Impossible Possible, p. 127, Bill Strickland]  —Mike Simpson, publisher,  Second Wind Publishing, LLC

5 Comments

Filed under books, life, Mike Simpson, writing

Squeezing Molasses

A few months ago, I felt like I was slogging through a muddy puddle of words that threatened to trap me in sludgy muck as I struggled to write clearly and coherently. The ideas were sharp and tart in my brain, but as soon as I put pen to paper (or keyboard to computer), the stories inside the creative part of my mind began to dull. I felt I was squeezing molasses words through a pin-sized hole.

Is this writer’s block? I’ve always viewed writer’s block as creativity drying up and the muse leaving for greener pastures. I never thought of the block as something to do with the actual physical part of writing: committing words to paper.

It was a strange sensation. I could picture the stories, but the words on paper did not convey my original intent and the gist of my tale came out differently than I originally imagined it or sometimes, not at all. Like a movie in slow-motion, my words became woefully stagnant.

I’m getting over the hump. Without resorting to therapy or alcohol, I realized I was simply trying too hard. I was forcing myself to write, and, like leading a horse to water, I was leading myself to a blank paper, but I couldn’t make myself write.

Forced writing doesn’t work for me. Deadlines do. It’s a crazy thing, but when I have a set time to finish something, I’m a Tasmanian devil. Left to my own devices, I write when the mood hits – loose and free and off the cuff.

We’re all writers, in one form or another, whether it’s a full-blown novel or a memory jotted down in a notebook. How do you get over the block?

(A plug for my Saints: Who Dat! Black and Gold all the way!)

J J Dare, author of Joe Daniel’s “False Positive” and “False World,” and numerous short stories

2 Comments

Filed under Humor, musings, writing

‘Tis the Season for Creativity

There is just something about the Christmas Season that brings out the artsy/craftsy, uber-creative side of my personality – sometimes with mixed results. (See last year’s blog on “When Good Crafts Go Bad”)  My husband and sons are not exempt from this need to express their creative natures, but their outlet is the exterior of our home.

To appropriately set the stage, you have to understand where I came from on the Christmas decorating continuum.  I grew up in a home where the Christmas decorating fell under the category of understated.  If my mother was feeling particularly daring, we might have a spotlight on the front door to showcase one of her handmade wreaths. (These wreaths were each lovingly assembled from the boughs of pine, holly, running cedar, and other evergreens that my siblings and I would venture into the woods behind our home to collect.)  Once out on my own, I may have used a few more pinecones in my wreaths, or a more vibrant hue of red in my bows, but I still strove for that simple elegance with my holiday decorations.

Then I got married.

My husband is something of a “Clark Griswold” when it comes to exterior décor at Christmas. (To the few people who don’t get the reference, go out and rent National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.)  While we haven’t achieved a spot on the Richmond Tacky Christmas Lights Tour, nor have we blinded the neighbors – yet – it is still a far cry from the simplicity of my unmarried days.

Every year around the 1st of December, my husband drags out his collection of outdoor decorations.  He has this large padded bag – large enough to conceal the remains of a wife with no sense for holiday lights, or so he assures me – where he keeps the extension cords, light timers, and assorted light strands.  As soon as “the bag” comes out of the attic, I know he will soon be found outlining our roof and chimney with lights, hanging garland lights from the eaves, draping shrubs with light nets, and wrapping the dogwood tree in the front yard with enough lights to trick it into believing that spring has come.

Once the kids were born, he added a train with lights that gives the illusion of movement, a giant “Santa, Stop Here” sign, a family of reindeer, and what looks like landing lights for a small airfield that he either puts up on the roof or across the front yard.  (So far, no small planes have tried to land in the yard or on the roof, but since we are on the flight pattern for the local airport – I do worry.)

He also likes to drive by the houses on the Tacky Lights Tour and ask the kids, or me, for opinions on what might work for next year.  Thus far, my comments that some candles in the window and wreaths on the windows would suffice have fallen on deaf ears. 

When I am hitting the after Christmas sales for bargains on things like gift wrap, ribbons and cards, he is hitting Wal-Mart, Lowe’s and Home Depot to snag deals on additional lighting, extension cords, outdoor multi-outlet stakes with dusk to dawn timers, reindeer, or other yard display items. He and my sons have been eyeing an inflatable at Wal-Mart and I have a feeling that it is only a matter of time before a 6 foot inflatable Christmas tree and cheerful elves are gracing the front yard.

While I know that my mother cringes when she has to come over to my house after dusk during the Christmas season, even I have to admit that there is something joyous about the blaze of lights when I turn onto my street in the evening. Even more illuminating are the expressions on my children’s faces when they and their dad have finished plugging in that last strand of lights. The three of them working together have created something. It may be bright, it may be skirting the fringes of taste, and it may be doing nothing more than increasing the bottom line for Dominion Virginia Power, but the sense of pride shining on their faces far eclipses the glare from the lights.

“Mommy, isn’t it beautiful?” asks my youngest, holding my hand as we stand in the street to get the full effect of the display.  I think for a moment before responding, looking from his smiling face to his brother’s. “Yes, my Little Man, it is.”

Mairead Walpole is the pen name for a somewhat introverted project and contract manager who has 20+ years of business and technical writing under her belt. In her spare time, Mairead reviews books for Crystal Reviews (www.crystalreviews.com) and writes paranormal romance. Her first novel, “A Love Out of Time” is available through Second Wind Publishing (www.secondwindpublishing.com) or Amazon.com.

3 Comments

Filed under fun, Humor, life, Mairead Wapole, writing