Telling Tales (and “Let Me Help”)

In my enthusiasm to tell you that this blog was not ending, I forgot to mention in “The End of the Story” why the end of the story made me decide not to end this blog. I apologize for that, and also for beginning this post with three “ends” and an “ending.”

You see, when I heard that person say she reads the end of the story before the writer intended it, I realized that I want to write about writing (which of course includes reading). I don’t know everything there is to know about these two R’s (and I know zero about ’rithmetic), but I do know a thing or two, and I’m happy to share it with the world. So from now on, dear world, this blog will be about writing.

Telling Tales
Or perhaps I should say it will be intentionally about writing. This blog has always been about writing. The subtitle says it’s about art, and the art form I know best is writing. (The subtitle also says this blog is about life, and I always try to throw some of that in as well.) Every post I have written so far I have written with two kinds of readers in mind: those who like to write; and those who like to read. (Every reader does not have to be a writer, but every writer must be a reader.) Henceforth, every post I write will have something about telling tales.

Yes, dear world, there’s a pun, but not the one you’re thinking of. The pun is only in “telling.” I’ll share what I know about how to tell a story (which encompasses more than the story); and I’ll share what I know about stories that are telling (in the sense of being effective).

“Let Me Help”
The subtitle of this post comes from one of my favorite people in LA, a five-year-old boy named Joshua. I sometimes babysit Joshua and his younger sister, and what they say and do have supplied me with countless hours of entertainment. Once, while babysitting at their place a couple years ago, I began experiencing severe back pain. I had forgotten my medication at home, so I decided to do a little stretching, which sometimes helps with the pain.

Since I had never exercised in their home before, I thought I’d better tell the children what I was about to do. They would still bombard me with questions (an enquiring mind is a great asset for a writer, by the way), but I didn’t want them to feel frightened at the sight of Aunty Sharon in a supine hamstring stretch.

“Guys, my back is hurting,” I announced. “I need to do my floor exercises.”

Joshua gave me a half-pitying, half-chiding look and said, “It’s our floor.”

The subtitle of this post comes from the time I was trying to get him out of his car seat. After watching me struggle with the seat belt buckle, Joshua said, “Let me help.”

If you’re struggling to unbuckle the seat belt in your writing, let me help.

Floor exercise

Making It Up
Some years ago I began dating Winkie. That’s not the name his parents gave him, but it’s the name he gave me when I asked what name he’d like if someone ever wanted to write about him.

On our fourth or fifth date, by which time we knew we wanted to date, Winkie and I were waiting for a table at the Cheesecake Factory. It being a Saturday evening the wait was going to be a long one, so Winkie and I beguiled the time by discussing what we’d like our dating relationship to be. He shared the one item on his list, and then it was my turn. My list began, like his, with one item, and as the wait progressed, progressed to eight or nine.

Now Winkie may have been smitten and all, but before my list could enter double digits he said, in the accusatory manner he uses in court, “You’re making this up as you go.”

Since I am an honest person (in court or out of it), I replied in the affirmative. In other words, I said yes.

Writing and life, dear reader, are about making it up as you go. For example, I knew what this post was going to be about before I began writing, but I didn’t know every word. And I didn’t know I was going to drag an ex-boyfriend into it. One collected thought led to another, and I simply made it up as I went.

Even though I’m ignoring the Word Counter, the Wall Clock is telling me it’s time I went. Happy making-it-up-as-you-go, and we’ll meet again. Which is more than I can say about Winkie, who I trust is living happily ever after.

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