Sunday, April 22, 2012

Writing the Lyric Essay

I found it time to enroll in a writing class at the local college. I've dabbled in fiction, trying to describe, plot, structure paragraphs, detail characters, all those points known authors push at writing conferences. However, I actually like to write about the history as it progressed from my 1930's birthday to the present. Little points, like the clothes I wore, music I enjoyed, fun I had in high school (there wasn't much but movies and listening to radios, in the home or with friends). All those memories will appear ancient to my grandson when he is a teen. For this reason I'm taking a non-fiction class to better spiff up my writing.

I've rarely explored the different kinds of non-fiction beyond the memoir, but Monday night I'm delving into my first attempt at writing a lyric essay. It's sort of poetic, much imagery (which is difficult for me), and seemingly disjointed paragraphs with the same theme.

As much as I dislike seeing snakes, I wrote my first lyric essay on that subject. I have a number of snake "snapshots", little bits of remembrances that I want to put into words. For example"

Mother once told me at age eight her older brothers had thrown a snake at her feet after they killed the creature. That, despite it being dead, coiled around her ankles. From then on she never wanted to see a photograph or drawing of snakes. Later with a family, she depended on us to hide the reptiles with a sheet of paper the photos.

 My sister and I spent most of our teen life at home perusing magazines and newspapers to find snakes and either cover them up or write on the cover: "Skip Page 12". No explanation was needed. Mother either didn't read that periodical or she skipped page 12.  We thought it funny (ha ha funny) for Mother to have such a phobia, despite her telling us the above story. Perhaps we thought by making light of the subject Mother would understand she'd never if rarely ever see another snake. She worked in the city and Dad worked the yard on weekends. Unless one hooked itself to the underside of the family car or slithered inside the house unannounced, Mother had nothing to worry about. 

She didn't mind my purchasing a pair of snakeskin shoes  with my first salary. The pair didn't remind her of snakes. It was the reptiles in sight that scared her. A  trip to the zoo didn't include a pass by the reptile exhibit. Somehow I caught that phobia and had difficult looking at a snake in my maturing life.

When our local newspaper printed the photos of the most common poisonous snakes in our state, I made myself look at them. We have a wooded area behind our house and I've always been leery of traipsing into the brush, or getting close to the edge of the yard. I need to know what to expect.

I want to remember the herpetologist's advice upon seeing a poisonous snake: "Ignore the snake, walk slowly back from it."  I imagine I'll stand in place with my eyes closed trying to remember what he said.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012


I boast daily that I wish to live until I'm 140 years. Those within hearing distance smile, cluck their tongues, or peer sideways as though someone else may be listening. My reasoning is to accomplish all the ideas I have to rushing through my mind. I worked without enjoying life for 30 years. Now with retirement long past, I work to enjoy my life. One of those ideas I work on is recording my memories on paper.

Being a kid who was born in the early 1930s and learned about the world around me in the 1940s, and got educated and dated boys in the 1950s, I have many experiences about my family and those who came before me, the summers I spent in the rural areas of Mississippi, and the funny happenings within my own family.

Now with  grandson Henry in the picture, the urge to write almost overcomes my waking moments. What will he have to remember "Veve" with but reams of paper snapped up in a series of notebooks that reveal all these wonderful years of my life?

Time. It seems to stand still when the day begins, then  leaks slowly out of my life and darkness arrives too quickly. I hold that brief snapshot that jumped into the mind's eye until the next morning. When I drive any distance, memories flood  the car's interior and I'm living in the past for an instant while trying to keep my distance from the car that stops suddenly in front of me.

When the above photo was snapped in the back yard of an early home, I had no idea at age seven what I'd be thinking or doing fifty years later. Fortunately, I'm active, exercise, and have fun with friends. Why not want to live 140 years?