April 13, 2012

Letting Loose = L: Blogging from A to Z

Today, I welcome Mom, Angela Silverthorne, back to the blog. Mom and I co-wrote Depression Cookies and work together as much as we can.


Letting Loose

When I first began writing, I dreamed of writing for children. I wrote short stories and poems about little ones who were always getting into trouble. It helped that my protagonist lived right under my roof, my little brother. He was forever up to no good, to the point I thought my poor mother would go bald from running her hands through her hair.
But writing about little brothers gets tiring. I wanted to let loose and do something no one else had ever done. My initiation into letting loose began on my 16th birthday. At that point in my life, my favorite author was Victoria Holt. Since there were no knights in shining armor or damsels in distress in my neighborhood, I decided to write about the characters around me. 
Mom and Dad back in the day
A character study is similar to stalking. At sixteen, stalking is not easy. The whole time I tried to be covert, I was stumbling over my own two feet or giving myself away by blushing. Instead of being reckless and daring, I was careless and timid. But I was determined.

At the top of our street there was a General Store. It was the perfect place to stalk. Customers strolled inside and took their time. Men chatted in groups of two and three. Women lingered longest at the meat and cheese counter. I found the perfect corner to lean into and just watch. When Ms. Patty, the owner, glared at me, I’d pick up a package and pretend to be reading the contents. After 30 minutes, I realized the task at hand was a lot more difficult than I had imagined. It was hard to hear what my subjects were saying and most of the time they kept turning their backs to me.

Sighing, I decided to leave and think up another strategy to get writing material. As I turned to leave, a man twice my age with half my teeth grabbed me, pulled me through the throng of customers and pushed me past the screen door. He didn’t let loose of me until we were several feet from the building. I was terrified. He was huge! 
“You best go home now, you hear?” he yelled at me, still clutching my arm. “I ain’t lettin’ you go until you promise to quit trying to steal my aunt’s merchandise.”

I stopped flat still, looking up at him in total disbelief. “Steal? I’m not trying to steal anything.” Incredulous thoughts whirled around my brain until I realized how guilty I must have looked. “Oh, you’ve got this all wrong. I’m a writer. I’m trying to do a character study.”

“Character study?” he repeated, spitting out a wad of tobacco, “You’d best be trying to study school and not be a dumb ass like me. Now git!”
I ran all the way home. It took me two days to write the whole event down . . . embellishing and letting loose on the best character study ever. Now when I even hint at writers' block, I remember being sixteen and pushing the limits. That’s the key to being a good writer. Letting loose.
How do you let loose?

Thanks for hanging out with us for L day. Please come back to see our takes on M through Z, and visit other A to Z bloggers here.


Susan Flett Swiderski said...

That General Store sounds like a place that used to be down the alley from where I grew up. A great place for loitering and people-watching. Sodas were kept in a huge cooler full of ice, so to get one, you'd have to root around in the icy water until your hand was blue and you fished out the proper icy cold soda. Frosty root beer, Nehi grape or orange, RC cola, small bottles of Coke ... the "old" kind that kinda burned your throat going down. Then after paying for it, you could sit on that cooler and drink it, while swinging your legs and taking it all in. Then you'd turn the bottle back in for a two-cent refund, and either head out, or hang around to do some more socializing. Thanks for reminding me. I spent a lot of time in that place when I was sixteen, but can't say that I was doing character studies, at least, not knowingly. Mostly, I was flirting and having a good time. Fun post.

Tia Bach said...

Thanks, Susan. I think writers, or anyone intrigued by people and what they do, are constantly doing character studies whether we are totally aware of it or not.

Thanks for stopping by and commenting!