Day 3: 100 Summer Days Writing Challenge

May 29, 2013 at 3:38 pm Leave a comment

Summer Writing Challenge: If you want to join in the fun, check out Shannon’s other writing prompts here:

Reflection Wednesday.
Wednesdays during this challenge will be reserved for reflective prompts. Reflective writing is a fantastic tool to add to your writing repertoire. It will help you make connections between your experiences and the writing theory you are practicing.

Prompt #3: Write about a moment in your past that lives infamy for you.

I decided to keep what I wrote this morning just for me — reflection, and clearing the head, and getting rid of the stuff that gets in the way of writing.
My page today was filled with middle school embarrassing moments and bad mama angst. So one thing the prompt did for me, however, was to remind me to look for the JOY.

  1. 7:00 AM / ~15 minutes
  2. Mood: curious – wondering what I would write about.
  3. Reminder: Don’t think; write. No editing. No questioning. Permission granted to fail on the page.

Having cleared my head, I was able to work on a story that used to be 14 minutes long when told. I’m trying to get it down to under 5 minutes. The morning 15 minute head dump cleared the way for this:

I ran downstairs and skidded to a stop in the kitchen. Even though I was only 10 years old, I could tell right away my mom and dad were having an argument. At least my mom was.
“No.” she said to my dad.
“For goodness sakes, you can’t wear that.”
“Go put something else on.”

I looked at my dad. I didn’t understand what the problem was. He was wearing his:
navy blue pants
white socks
dirty brown work boots
and  … his long-sleeved navy blue shirt with a frayed white tee shirt sticking out underneath.
That’s what he wore every day.

But my mom was shaking her head and she said it again, “For goodness sakes, you can’t wear that. Not tonight, Al.”
He didn’t say a word. But he did turn and head back into his bedroom. Within moments he was back wearing his:
clean navy blue pants
clean white socks
dirty brown work boots
and …. a white shirt … an ironed white shirt ….  and a red tie.

“Daddy? What’s going on?”
Silence. He wasn’t a talker. Instead, he picked up the car keys; we all piled in, and headed out to the Red Barn not too far from town.
On Saturday nights the old Red Barn was transformed into a dance hall. The wood floor was swept clean. Tables lined one edge of the barn. They were overflowing with tuna noodle casseroles, chocolate chip cookies, and bowls of jello. Bottles of pop were cooling in the mountain of ice that spilled out of the horse trough. A 3-man polka band played the accordion, banjo, fiddle, harmonica, trumpet, drums, and cymbals – all at the same time.

Right away – just like he had changed his shirt earlier, Daddy’s face changed too. His Saturday night smile was huge. His toes were tapping and his arms were stretched out wide. My mom walked into those open arms and they danced in that crowded barn through the first polka, the second, the third, and fourth.
By the time the band started to play their next polka my mom needed a rest. My dad danced with her to a metal folding chair so she could sit down. He polkaed over to the barrels of beer near the horse trough, poured my mom a cold one, and brought it back to her.
Then his eyes began dancing around the room. Who wanted to take my mom’s place?
I already knew the answer to that, of course. One of the ladies – the ladies sitting in metal folding chairs along the wall – the ones who always watched my mom and dad dance. They knew this moment would come. They’d been waiting for this.

I was standing near the wooden post not too far from the chocolate chip cookies.  I watched my dad look from one of those folding chair ladies to another. And then he looked at me. He tilted his head to one side and smiled – at me. He stretched out his hands and curved his fingers – toward me. It was my turn to learn to dance!
“Really, Daddy?”  He smoothed down the front of his white shirt and adjusted the red tie so it looked just right. Then he took me in his arms.
The band played. I held on tight, afraid I’d step on his toes. He just laughed and squeezed my hand and twirled me even faster.
And that’s when it happened. My dad started talking to me. Not with words. But in the turns and spins and smiles … and song.
♫ Roll out the barrel. We’ll have a barrel of fun. Roll out the barrel. We’ve got the blues on the run. ♫
He was saying, ‘Sue, you’ve got to chase the blues away. Sing out loud with your friends.’
And so we did.
♫ In heaven there is no beer. That’s why we drink it here. And when we’re gone from here, our friends will be drinking all the beer. ♫
This time it sounded like a joyous shout as my dad whirled me around.  ‘Enjoy this day. Enjoy this dance.’ And so we did.
♫ Oh I don’t want her you can have her she’s too fat for me, she’s too fat for me. ♫
“Daddy? Daddy, they’re laughing at Mom.”
But his twinkling eyes had found hers and they whispered, ‘You’re beautiful.’
He looked back at me with those same shining eyes. Then he danced us over to the accordion player and requested a new song.
♫ I dream of that night with you, lady when first we met.
We danced in a world of blue how can my heart forget? ♫
He pulled me a little closer so he could bend down low and rest his cheek on the top of my head.
Daddy? ….. ♫ I was in heaven that night, dancing the waltz with you. ♫

Entry filed under: Just Do It -- Stories from the Field, Living Out Loud, Noodling Around -- New Stories, Steering the Craft_Writing Exercises. Tags: , , , .

Day 2: 100 Summer Days Writing Challenge

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