I’ve always written – in my head at least. Before I learned to put the ABC’s into words (a prerequisite to writing) I made up stories and acted them out. Living so much in the world of fiction, I was often left behind when it came to the real world. One of my siblings said, “When I saw the title of your book (The Last to Know) I wondered if it were an autobiography.” I had to think a minute before I got it … proving once again that sometimes I am not really on top of things.
So, what you’ll get in this blog is my point of view – limited. No musings on the implications of existentialism on pragmatic thinking. Just a stream of consciousness from one who often is not fully conscious.
At the end of a rainy Memorial Day weekend with cable channels showing every World War II movie ever made, Fox Movie Channel finally showed my favorite, Heaven Knows Mr. Allison. Made in 1957, this film stars Robert Mitchum and Deborah Kerr as a marine corporal and a nun stranded on a desert island.
This is one of those movies that must never be re-made. I can think of no two actors today who could capture the feelings and, okay, sexual tension, without going overboard. Because the great thing about this movie is that they did not “do it”. She did not break her vows, he did not see her naked and, overcome with passion, take her right there on the beach, oblivious to Japanese bombs dropping all around.
Because, for them, something was more important than sex. (There, I said it.) Something like, maybe, a promise to God.
I am currently reading Without a Map, a memoir by Meredith Hall. Written in 2007, this is her story of becoming pregnant during her junior year in high school. (Though she doesn’t describe it as such, we might now recognize this as date rape, since she was a sixteen year old virgin seduced by a college man looking to score.)
The year was 1965 and what followed the discovery of her pregnancy was shaming and shunning by everyone she knew – her friends, her family, her church and any total stranger who might hear the story. In her whole world, there was not one person who stood beside her. Her father and his wife provided a roof over her head, barely, but never a word of love or understanding. Not even a question as to how this might have happened, which in itself would have shown a certain amount of caring.
The effect the shunning had on the young girl, the lack of empathy for the loss of her child, society’s need to mete out a lifetime of punishment for one moment of indescretion is told bravely in this bestselling memoir.
This is a powerful book you would do well to seek out.
Encouraged by the honorable mention a short story earned in a contest, I tightened the writing and sent it off to a magazine.
The plot featured a fifty-something professional woman dealing with the declining health of her elderly father. On a trip to see him, she experienced an epiphany through an encounter with a stranger beside the motel pool.
As the words fell onto the page, I pictured a Candace Bergen look-alike: trim, attractive, capable and strong.
In a few weeks, the US Mail brought a contract from a national magazine for seniors. What a head rush! The envelope also included a check – payment on acceptance!
After more waiting, I finally received my complimentary copy.
Whoa! The illustrator had drawn my middle-aged business woman about thirty pounds overweight, sitting by the motel pool in a housecoat that must have come from Second Hand Rose. I had described her hair as shoulder-length, caught in a clip. The artist had fashioned it into a short bob from another generation. What happened to the person I wrote about? Did the artist even read my story?
How ludicrous! Could I show this to my family and friends? Would I want to include it in a clip book?
Darned right! A national magazine paid me an impressive sum and published my story. I had already cashed the check and added the credit to my resume. So what if the magazine’s staff artist re-visioned my scenario.
I had become a published writer!
I recently re-read the classic Heidi by Johanna Spyri. This children’s book was written in 1880 and translated into English I don’t know when. Heidi was the first book I remember reading more than once. And I don’t remember having a problem with difficult words in the text when I was ten years old. I must have picked up the meanings from context clues.
The book is over three hundred pages, considered excessive in today’s literary climate. Those in the know about children’s reading abilities maintain that such a long story cannot hold a child’s interest to the end. J.K. Rowling proved them wrong.
In addition to “above grade level” words, Johanna Spyri breaks other “rules” of today’s writing. Long sentences, long paragraphs, long chapters. Yet, as the several times before when I enjoyed this story, I couldn’t seem to put the book down, even though I knew the outcome.
Shirley Temple immortalized the little Swiss girl, Heidi, on screen many years ago. Through the magic of remastering and cable networks, children of today can experience this old movie. I only hope this might then inspire some to search out and read this wonderful book.