I had dinner last week with my friends Kathyn and Mary. They are both writers, and Kathryn is the editor of the Newport Review.
Kathryn and Mary proposed a game of Bananagrams, a game kind of like scrabble at which they totally whipped me. Then they proposed a writing exercise where we would write a short story using the words from our Banangrams tiles.
You know, it’s way easier to write creative fiction when you have some prompt words and encouraging company. Creative people are praise junkies, mostly. I’ll bet even Emily Dickinson wouldn’t have minded hearing from someone that she wrote real good.
Today I visited my Dad, and he was clearing out his workshop of things he had collected and never got around to using. He’s a retired commercial artist and has an eye for good stuff. He had saved some thin aluminum sheets that were used in a printing process that has been outmoded by the laser printer. This is exactly what I had been looking for.
There’s kind of an art fad of painting on metal, and I’ve been begging used olive oil containers from the Liberty Elm Diner and cutting them up to get square sheets of aluminum. It’s difficult and greasy. The printing aluminum is thinner and flat and clean. It will invite a different kind of expression.
But speaking of finding stories in random words and mystery in found things, I read the Obits in the ProJo today.
As of a couple of years ago, you will die unrecorded if you do not fork up some serious money to Belo Corp. to have your obit published. For over a hundred years, such passings were considered part of the news. But now they charge.
Anyway, the words I quote were written by people who cared and were able to share them in print–
MARY IDA HOLDEN, AGE 83
She was born in North Carolina, the last survivor of ten children–
“She was a quiet and peaceful person that was devoted to keeping the family together. Her outward appearance did not reflect her true inner strength, which we will always remember.”
Mary Ida Holden ended her life in Charlesgate Nursing Home. It is so true that the person at end of life has a history their caretakers will never know. We hope that goodness and quiet heroism will not be forgotten.
CHRISTINE M. (CHRISSY) SLOAN AGE 42
She worked in administrative jobs for several years but also was an Emergency Medical Technician and a Certified Nursing Assistant. She could have taken care of elderly women like Ida Holden.
“Chrissy was always there to provide for all living things, especially the disadvantaged, the lost, and the innocent.”
So much to write about in the real lives of real people. Why make stuff up?