Parents


Outtakes 201

Parents

By Cait Collins

This past Sunday, Fathers’ Day, I watched Dads interact with their children. Some were very attentive to the kids. Other ignored them. A few were stern disciplinarians, while others allowed the kids to run wild. I wondered how their attitudes might affect their kids in the coming years.

I was a lucky kid as my folks managed to strike a balance between too strict and completely permissive. I had my share of spankings and my Dad’s I’m so disappointed in you looks, but the discipline was offset with lots of love. Their influence on my life helped me become the woman I am today.

So how much of a role do our parents play in our lives? Let’s look at the way we write our characters. A boy grows up without parents. Lacking the family relationship, he looks to the gangs to supply the close associations he thinks he’s missing. On the other hand, another young man who has no family aligns himself with a church group looking for brothers and sisters. He accepts that true love may not be part of his life, but he continues to hope for happiness.

Then there are the characters that have been abused and abandoned. Without proper guidance, they have no self esteem and seek acceptance wherever they find it. Or worse, become abusers themselves. Some take a higher road believing they have worth and work to better themselves and find fulfillment.

What about those who do have good parents? Let’s face it; a proper upbringing is no guarantee of happily ever after. But great influences can help. What if the child rebels? Perhaps he takes up drinking or gambling. There are endless possibilities for writing about the family unit and how the influences play on the lives of children. The manner in which the characters develop in the story makes the difference in an exciting attention grabber or a cliché/

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Holiday Blessings


POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE

Holiday Blessings

By Nandy Ekle

We love our relatives–our mothers, fathers, siblings, in-laws, out-laws, and everyone in between.  Each family is as unique as the individuals that make it up. No two families are alike. And that’s what makes our holiday times special.

Most of our family members are pure gold and we can’t wait to be with them. We feel so warm and comfortable with them and hate when the time comes to go our separate ways again. There are other members of our family who . . . well, we shake our heads and wonder if our genes actually match.

But I learned something a few years ago. After a fairly stressful year, a new job, a few changes in the dynamics of my immediate family, and an injury–the holidays felt more like impending doom than fun and joy. I slipped away into my own world and read a book (don’t even remember which book) and I found the answer to my holiday joylessness.

If I could change my attitude, I was sure I would find a way to enjoy the whole yuletide process. I knew the people I would be around, I knew that I love them and would do anything for them. And that’s when it dawned on me. I would be in a goldmine. I would be surrounded by characters and stories that I could embellish like a Christmas tree.

And boom! There it was! I was suddenly excited about the holidays.

I repeat, I love every single member of my family, the ones I’ve known my whole entire life, the ones who have joined us over the years, and the newest ones. The thought of spending time with the whole crazy bunch thrills me. There is always fun and laughter, joy and love. And through it all, the muse sits on my shoulder taking notes.

Congratulations. You have just received a post card from the muse.

Negative Spaces


POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE

Negative Spaces

By Nandy Ekle

Negative space is a compositional tool used in both two- and three-dimensional work. The simplest way to describe it is as: “space where other things are not present.”

A famous picture that uses negative space effectively is the famous Rubin’s Vase. This is the vase that could also be two faces. The focus of the picture is the vase, but the space around it becomes its own picture.

Writing also has negative spaces. If you write a story about a certain subject, you might actually be writing about several things, simply by the words you don’t use. Suppose I tell you a story about two soldiers in a war who are in the middle of hot combat. On the surface you might see a story of action, courage and stamina. However, what you might not see right away is the story of their families back home, how the man in the red uniform has a wife, three kids, and two parents waiting for him to return.  On the other side of the vase is the other man’s story of an empty car, empty head, empty home.

Read some stories and see if you can find the negative in yours.

Family Matters


TRAILS END – The Novel

     Family Matters

I hope everyone enjoyed the Christmas season. Dianne and I made the long trip to central Kansas to be with my side of the family.

It’s so nice to spend such a meaningful holiday with close relatives. I believe this time of year must be especially hard for those without family, or those who are away from their loved ones. We should all try to be aware of those people who don’t have anyone to share this special day with, and include them in our plans if we can.

Donnie Williams has no family, and sometimes as I write the story, I forget what that might be like for him.

I’m going to try to keep the lonesome part of Donnie prevalent in my mind, and also do the same for the real people in the same situation.

Thanks for reading,

Joe Nichols