Only fair to warn you about the novel
For those of you who don't know, November is National Novel Writing Month. Let this be fair warning: I'm writing a novel. The good part is that with winter upon us it won't seem quite so odd that I've holed up inside the house, or that my trashca...
For those of you who don't know, November is National Novel Writing Month. Let this be fair warning: I'm writing a novel.
The good part is that with winter upon us it won't seem quite so odd that I've holed up inside the house, or that my trashcans are overflowing with empty Cup O Noodle containers and Little Debbie's Nutty Bar boxes.
Don't laugh, together I'm sure they make a complete protein and will sustain me though the winter of midnight oil burning.
The bad part is that I'm a little out of practice. The last time I seriously attempted this novel-writing thing was almost 20 years ago.
They say write what you know, and I'm not sure what I knew worth writing about at that age, but I did manage to entice an editor to read beyond initial queries and sample chapters, to the point of asking to see three full manuscripts.
Not all at once -- that might have killed me. No, I wrote and mailed off three 50,000-word novels in succession. Each time, I was given a little bit of praise and a big 'ol, "No thank you, but please try us again."
You know what they say about three strikes. I shelved the novel writing for a while, thinking that perhaps my life needed a little more seasoning.
That time has come, as evidenced by the salt and pepper in my hair.
And the fair warning? My brain has switched into stealth observer mode. Everything I see and hear is framed in the context of whether or not it will add a splash of authenticity with just the right twist of colloquial quirkiness to my story; and like the perfect martini, will leave an editor wanting more.
The trick is in trying to see and hear what I have seen and heard, living here for better than half a century, as if I had never seen it or heard it before. Not unlike Andy Griffith's famous, comedic recitation, "What It Was, Was Football."
For instance, visitors to the Twin Ports will note that we have two bridges, the George Blatnik Bridge and the Richard I. Bong Bridge. I, however, grew up calling the older bridge, the High Bridge.
Now if you've lived here all your life, the subtle humor in that may escape you. But just how many towns do you suppose there might be in which you can drive over a bridge named bong and come back over one called high?
How about a certain small village in rural Douglas County, where the Fourth of July Parade is so short the floats and marching units have been known to circle the route three times just to make it last longer.
You can't make this stuff up.
And while placing wagers on the date the ice will finally take leave from any inland lake might be a wide spread practice, the betting over which local yokel will sink his fishing shack and truck trying to pull it off the melting ice, narrows things down a bit.
Mention that it has become an annual spectator sport with the You Tube videos to prove it, and now you've got ink of a different color. Suddenly, it's the kind of stuff to make the likes of the Cohen brothers wet themselves over the potential box office turnouts. Of course, they'd probably add a duffle bag of ill-gotten gains in the back of the truck.
Leave it to me to go for the laughs first. That's not to say there isn't plenty of good, uplifting, heartwarming fodder for my word mill, too. Like the fact that I could forget my purse with wallet, check book and credit cards in the seat of a shopping cart in a parking lot of Wal-Mart and have it all returned with not one thing missing.
Or how the sidewalks of the little old couples get mysteriously shoveled; how a quart of homemade soup shows up on doorstep when you're sick, and the way everybody stills carries jumper cables in their car because somebody, somewhere in the dead of winter, is going to have an even deader battery that needs a jump.
It was a dark and snowy night ...
Judith Liebaert was raised in Superior and now lives in rural Douglas County. She blogs online as the Mad Goddess™. Send your comments or story ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org .