FOIBLES


FOIBLES

by Sharon Stevens

I was reading a young adult novel this week.

Let me rephrase that. I attempted to read a young adult novel until I reached chapter four, and I just couldn’t bear to read another word. I had to put the book down.

It wasn’t that it was evil or dirty. The cover was beautiful. The writing was bright, and the characters engaging. The author brought each person to life, gave them a past, and you just knew the story would share a future until the very last word amid the final period or exclamation point.

So why did I set aside a perfectly good book and weep? Only for the simple fact that the author wasn’t true to the characters stored within the soul of the memories.

It was so hard for me to lay down these pages. I wanted to know the ending and how the main character achieved her goals, but I just couldn’t bear witness as the heroine lost her way. I truly felt whoever wrote the book that she or he betrayed the heart just to write the story, not caring if their beliefs mattered or the time period matched.

My passion in life is to read, and I will read anything and everything within reason…cereal boxes, Reader’s Digest, marketing blurbs, I love it all. BUT I will not sacrifice or betray a book just to read a tale.

Our critique group, Wordsmith Six, works so hard to get it right. We try time and again to share our musings, but we are totally honest and true to our craft. Each speaks up when we hear an echo, or we lose our focus, or our characters stray off the beaten path. Every individual in our group helps us to get back on track before we stray too far afield.

Not only that, the speakers that present at our Panhandle Professional Writers meetings, and the presenters at our Frontiers in Writing Conferences, say in so many words time and again to remain true to the characters we believe in, that we write about.

As writers, we not only have the ability and the commitment to build a life and make it come alive, but we also have to honor the most basic concept of writing 101.

We can give our characters a twist or thicken the plot, but we must strive to always be dedicated to those we write into our stories. Instill in them a spirit and passion, trials and tribulations. Never forget that each person connects together at some point, and we have to stand steadfast for each and every one. And please note I would have had this same opinion as a reader way before I became a writer.

My Webster’s Dictionary gives the description of the word “foible” as a weakness. I have nothing against the author of this book, otherwise it was beautifully written. Someday I may return to its pages. To me this was a weakness that would have come across if there had been a strong critique group to catch the glaring errors. He or she has probably sold a million copies. I think it’s that good. And I can imagine that people of all ages have fallen in love with this book. I just can’t be one of them.

My loyalty lies with the characters. They deserve at least that much.

It’s as simple as this, and comes right down to this fact. Bees love flowers, bears treasure honey, and a leopard can never, ever change its spots.

End of story.

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GAN


GAN

by Sharon Stevens

“Gan-A contraction of began, or rather the original simple word.”

1890 Webster’s Dictionary

I BEGAN Tuesday morning with the news of the murder of a man in Lubbock with the involvement of a local doctor here in Amarillo. I ended the day with a news interview on Pro News 7 about Dr. Warner at Pioneer Town at the Panhandle Plains Historical Museum. In between I checked my facebook account, and clicked on the picture of my daughter, Andrea Keller and her friend and colleague Elaine Plybon, both teachers, on their way to a conference in Wichita Kansas for Podstock.

Whew! What a ride!

In words taken from the musical drama TEXAS. “Take good news where you are going, say to the waiting dead that your brothers intend good things.”

The whole day I celebrated good news. Not news of puppies, bunnies and rainbows by any means. I rejoiced in the fact that each of these stories were shared and could be shared on every level and all mediums. As a writer I can write, or share, or click to my heart’s content. Any one of us can read Shakespeare or Edgar Allen Poe, or Harry Potter. Not only that, we could read anything at any hour of the day and night. And just think of it, I only have my husband to tell me to turn out the light and go to bed.

I can sing, even though there are those who wished I wouldn’t. But I can hum and rejoice and worship to any Almighty Power that leads my soul. No one can force me, coerce me, drag me, or guilt me into believing against my beliefs. On the other hand, they can guide me and lead me and stand beside me wherever I go.

To me it is so important for each of us as writers to take a moment every once in a while to give thanks for the Freedom TO write. I believe there is no greater gift we cherish than to be able to put words to paper or into cyberspace with only the worry of rejection to guide us. How rich are we in our society that we don’t face retaliation against all we hold most dear. Not only can we write, but we can read whatever anyone else writes about such things as vampires or murder or ugliness, as well as whatever sugary sweet confection that appeals to some palates, mine included.

Each and every morning as I BEGIN my day I remember the very basic and simple privilege given to me by those who protect that freedom. Celebrating the ability to write means the world. With this good news I am given the universe, all because I write.

Sharon Stevens

MYRIAD


MYRIAD

by Sharon Stevens

 In honor, memory and celebration of Anna Corn and James Hartwell

 I’m such a slacker! And I don’t mind admitting that fact. “Hi, my name is Sharon and I am a slacker.”

Let’s face it, here I sit in my jammies nestled in a cocoon of quilts in my favorite chair with the TV remote in my lap, a 32 ounce soft drink by my side with a sack of chips and a bowl of chocolate Kisses within easy reach, working on my weekly blog on the laptop perched on a soft cushion. You can’t get any more slacker than that.

Oh sure, at any given moment I could set my work aside, get up and stretch, put a load of clothes in the washer to wash, or transfer them into the dryer to dry. Or if I so choose I could fold any number waiting in the laundry basket.

While up I just might open up the refrigerator and stand there as long as I like perusing the leftovers contained therein. I could choose out of a myriad of the selection before me to select any number of goodies to microwave. (Note to self-remind me to google “myriad” in the online dictionary and compare it to my 1890s Webster’s)

If I want I might load a sink full of dishes in the dishwasher. I didn’t say I would, I just said I might. On second thought who needs to do dishes with a stack of paper goods on every shelf that will fill any need. Silverware, cups, plates, bowls…it doesn’t matter I’ve got it all.

What about if I wanted to go soak in the tub. My words would still be waiting and with just a gentle touch instantly I could bring them back to life and “home“ or “end“, “page up” or “page down”, delete, or insert, or backspace wherever I pointed the arrows..

Or I might just throw on some clothes, run into town and pick up a burger or pizza or chicken or any other kind of take out anywhere at any time. The grocery store is open twenty four hours a day for whatever my sweet tooth desires. All it takes is my keys, my car, a little gas in the tank and with my garage door opener I am good to go. Wait a minute, who says I need to change clothes. “jammies” are an acceptable choice of apparel now a days.

Yep, there is no other word for it and I give no excuses. I am a slacker through and through and I can only hang my head in shame.

I was slapped in the face with this fact while doing research on Panhandle Professional Writers and their history of dedication to the Panhandle Press Association. Their annual convention was being held in Canyon for the first time in their 102nd history on the campus of WTAMU and also at the Panhandle Plains Historical Museum. I had come across a reference from the book, “Lone Star Chapters: The Story of Texas Literary Clubs” by Betty Holland Wissepope. In it she writes of the history of PPW and the bylaws for continued membership in the group.

To be an active member you must have sold a book, two articles, a poem, a short story, a scenario, or a play that had been produced by a theatrical company. In addition to presenting proof of publication active members had to demonstrate they were writing 30,000 words a year. Associate members had to write only 15,000. Complimentary memberships were for beginning writers but expired at the end of the year.

I know thirty thousand words a year doesn’t sound like a lot, especially in this day and time with spell checker, Ipads, Facebook, cell phones and the like and the opportunity to blog like on my Wordsmith Six blog site. But lets face it, in the 1920’s when PPW was formed by Phebe Warner and Laura V. Hamner the entire population of women didn’t work outside the home and some still lived in dugouts. Electricity was a luxury and not even in every household and was shut down at night. Refrigerators could not be stocked with a days worth of groceries and microwaves had not even been invented yet. Laundry washing was done by the hand of the washee, and clothes hung on the clothesline outside to dry. Which meant that after they were dry they had to be gathered in to be folded, and/or starched, and/or ironed, and/or hung, and/or put away, stacked on shelves, hung in closets, or heaven forbid, placed on towel rods in the bathroom. Likewise to the dishes in the cubboard, (oops, spell checker alerted me to a mispelled word I need to change.) cupboard. It automatically change my misspell.

Each meal included full courses with accompanying silverware and plates. This meant every pan, every bowl, every napkin used for three meals a day had to be washed, dried, and put away each and every day. And before this everything had to be cooked fresh, not frozen accompanied by homemade biscuits or fresh baked bread made from scratch. And I don’t even want to discuss the meat. Chickens were alive in the morning and fried chicken for supper that night by their own hands no less. As for red meat, “Pink Slime” hadn’t been invented yet which tells you if it hadn’t been bought fresh from the market that day it probably didn’t smell that good.

And as for transportation, husbands were the only ones who held the keys to the car and HE was the one who drove it to and from work and out on the road for the family weekend excursion.

Lets face it, with raising the children, sewing the clothes, cooking the meals, cleaning the house I can’t see how women were able to write a hundred words, much less thirty thousand. In fact, I found a reference to Olive K. Dixon as one of the original members of PPW. Her husband was the one who made the longest shot in history at Adobe Walls. She was very involved with the museum in preserving the history of our area while raising seven children.

And when you think of Phebe Warner. How did she write all those newspaper articles with jotting notes on a piece of paper with just a pencil? When did she find the time to sit down at a typewriter with carbon paper in between, all the while correcting mistakes, polishing the words, and then getting up to find an envelope and a stamp, much less mailing her manuscript to the Amarillo Globe News, Canyon News or to any of the other area newspapers in the surrounding towns.

All the while she was helping to gather stories of the pioneers and helping to build the Panhandle Plains Historical Museum to house them in. She served on committees of various and sundry civic groups while participating in every community, school and church function centered in her town. Phebe not only formed the first federated women’s clubs in the country she helped form libraries all across the panhandle. AND then to be named as a representative for the state park board and to work tirelessly to get Palo Duro Canyon established as a state park was above and beyond. Think of it, as a woman and a mother in the 1920’s while still maintaining a household and supporting her husband’s practice as a small town doctor is a feat many women in this day and time would find at the very least as tiring.

Who knows what she could have done if she had been a suffogete, (oops-spell checker again), suffragette.

Yep, I’m a slacker through and through. I admit it and embrace it. But I think the founders of Panhandle Professional Writers regardless would be proud of me for the efforts I make on their behalf. They might not cut me any slack, but they would still give me kudos for my contribution. My words might not be as significant as theirs but from their vantage point in the heavens above they know the passion hasn’t changed over time.

Oh, and for your information the dictionary definition of the word myriad is a noun meaning a great number. The description said that recent criticism of the use of this word and to paraphrase… “seems to reflect a mistaken belief that the word was originally and is still properly only an adjective. However the noun is in fact an older form dating back to the 16th century. The noun has appeared in the works of Milton and Thoreau and continues to occur frequently in reputable English. There is no reason to avoid it.”

The winning motto chosen for the founding years of PPW was, “The elevator of success is not running; take the stairs!”

I was just lucky enough to be born in a time where I had the choice to do one or the other, the elevator or the stairs, to slack if I wished to, or to even fly if I wanted.

Just not on Jet Blue.

Sharon Stevens

TRIVIA


TRIVIA

by Sharon Stevens

I just love trivia! Don’t you?

Trivia is fact as well as fallacy. With a simple twist an idea can either stampede, or whisper, fly, or flush, all according to the context in which your story begs to be written. Like Scrabble, trivia can draw controversy with each phrase and welcome all who want to dispute or argue, creating drama where none existed before. I think these bits of flotsam and jetsam are akin to Pavlov’s Theory that cause you to react from your point of reference. This is what makes your words worthy to be written.

Take Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho”. I came across a filler in the Canyon News listing “Totally Random Trivia”. This specific article related to tidbits about toilets, and I came across several facts I didn’t know, like the statement that people use about fifty seven sheets of toilet paper every day, or that the life expectancy of a toilet is fifty years. But the most interesting fact was that Hitchcock’s movie was the first to include a scene showing a toilet being flushed. In fact this scene received many complaints at the time about being indecent.

Up until that moment I didn’t know this earth shattering bit of trivia. To everyone else this was probably a passing thought that didn’t amount to a hill of beans. In my books it was a call to action meaning I had to pull out my dictionary to look up the definition of trivia and had to fire up my computer to research “Psycho.”

Voila, there it was, and there it wasn’t. My 1890’s Webster’s Dictionary only referenced trivium, Medieval Latin for grammar, logic and rhetoric meaning a place where three ways meet. Much as I wanted to follow that thread I would have to wait for another day and another story. Trivia as a newer word had more relevant expressions such as the ones expressed by Ed Goodgold and Dan Carlinsky who felt “trivia is concerned with tugging at the heartstrings”. They produced a book, More Trivial Trivia, and criticized practitioners who were “indiscriminate enough to confuse the flower of Trivia with the weed of minutiae”.

But back to the flushing of the toilet; in reading between the lines I found also the  motivations hidden within the shower scene.

Marion had decided to go back to Phoenix, come clean, and take the consequence. So when she stepped into the bathtub it was as if she were stepping into baptismal waters. The spray beating down on her was purifying the corruption from her mind, purging the evil from her soul. She was like a virgin again, tranquil at peace.

Ah trivia! This meant water played a part in flushing the toilet AND flowing down the drain.

As writers we are at our best when we can take a common bit of filler, research a thought, find a little background, give it a little life, and weave it into a story. This is all we need. We can take any and all words and follow where they lead. Either for murder or mayhem or love and lust, we are the only ones who can zig or zag, or remain on the beaten path.

And on a final note, did you know that the stabbing effect in the shower scene, a score that will live with the movie going public forever, was accomplished by Bernard Hermann who conducted screeching violins, violas and cellos. Hitchcock like James Cameron in “Titanic” didn’t want music invading the drama of the scene. But after much persuading, Hermann just like James Horner was able to convince their respective directors that THEIR contributions could carry the theme. And, as they say, the rest if history.

Last but not least I leave you with this little bit of trivia, what you do with this knowledge is up to you. Did you know most toilets flush in the key of E flat?

Sharon Stevens

MYRIAD


MYRIAD

by Sharon Stevens

 In honor, memory and celebration of Anna Corn and James Hartwell

 I’m such a slacker! And I don’t mind admitting that fact. “Hi, my name is Sharon and I am a slacker.”

Let’s face it, here I sit in my jammies nestled in a cocoon of quilts in my favorite chair with the TV remote in my lap, a 32 ounce soft drink by my side with a sack of chips and a bowl of chocolate Kisses within easy reach, working on my weekly blog on the laptop perched on a soft cushion. You can’t get any more slacker than that.

Oh sure, at any given moment I could set my work aside, get up and stretch, put a load of clothes in the washer to wash, or transfer them into the dryer to dry. Or if I so choose I could fold any number waiting in the laundry basket.

While up I just might open up the refrigerator and stand there as long as I like perusing the leftovers contained therein. I could choose out of a myriad of the selection before me to select any number of goodies to microwave. (Note to self-remind me to google “myriad” in the online dictionary and compare it to my 1890s Webster’s)

If I want I might load a sink full of dishes in the dishwasher. I didn’t say I would, I just said I might. On second thought who needs to do dishes with a stack of paper goods on every shelf that will fill any need. Silverware, cups, plates, bowls…it doesn’t matter I’ve got it all.

What about if I wanted to go soak in the tub. My words would still be waiting and with just a gentle touch instantly I could bring them back to life and “home“ or “end“, “page up” or “page down”, delete, or insert, or backspace wherever I pointed the arrows..

Or I might just throw on some clothes, run into town and pick up a burger or pizza or chicken or any other kind of take out anywhere at any time. The grocery store is open twenty four hours a day for whatever my sweet tooth desires. All it takes is my keys, my car, a little gas in the tank and with my garage door opener I am good to go. Wait a minute, who says I need to change clothes. “jammies” are an acceptable choice of apparel now a days.

Yep, there is no other word for it and I give no excuses. I am a slacker through and through and I can only hang my head in shame.

I was slapped in the face with this fact while doing research on Panhandle Professional Writers and their history of dedication to the Panhandle Press Association. Their annual convention was being held in Canyon for the first time in their 102nd history on the campus of WTAMU and also at the Panhandle Plains Historical Museum. I had come across a reference from the book, “Lone Star Chapters: The Story of Texas Literary Clubs” by Betty Holland Wissepope. In it she writes of the history of PPW and the bylaws for continued membership in the group.

To be an active member you must have sold a book, two articles, a poem, a short story, a scenario, or a play that had been produced by a theatrical company. In addition to presenting proof of publication active members had to demonstrate they were writing 30,000 words a year. Associate members had to write only 15,000. Complimentary memberships were for beginning writers but expired at the end of the year.

I know thirty thousand words a year doesn’t sound like a lot, especially in this day and time with spell checker, Ipads, Facebook, cell phones and the like and the opportunity to blog like on my Wordsmith Six blog site. But lets face it, in the 1920’s when PPW was formed by Phebe Warner and Laura V. Hamner the entire population of women didn’t work outside the home and some still lived in dugouts. Electricity was a luxury and not even in every household and was shut down at night. Refrigerators could not be stocked with a days worth of groceries and microwaves had not even been invented yet. Laundry washing was done by the hand of the washee, and clothes hung on the clothesline outside to dry. Which meant that after they were dry they had to be gathered in to be folded, and/or starched, and/or ironed, and/or hung, and/or put away, stacked on shelves, hung in closets, or heaven forbid, placed on towel rods in the bathroom. Likewise to the dishes in the cubboard, (oops, spell checker alerted me to a mispelled word I need to change.) cupboard. It automatically change my misspell.

Each meal included full courses with accompanying silverware and plates. This meant every pan, every bowl, every napkin used for three meals a day had to be washed, dried, and put away each and every day. And before this everything had to be cooked fresh, not frozen accompanied by homemade biscuits or fresh baked bread made from scratch. And I don’t even want to discuss the meat. Chickens were alive in the morning and fried chicken for supper that night by their own hands no less. As for red meat, “Pink Slime” hadn’t been invented yet which tells you if it hadn’t been bought fresh from the market that day it probably didn’t smell that good.

And as for transportation, husbands were the only ones who held the keys to the car and HE was the one who drove it to and from work and out on the road for the family weekend excursion.

Lets face it, with raising the children, sewing the clothes, cooking the meals, cleaning the house I can’t see how women were able to write a hundred words, much less thirty thousand. In fact, I found a reference to Olive K. Dixon as one of the original members of PPW. Her husband was the one who made the longest shot in history at Adobe Walls. She was very involved with the museum in preserving the history of our area while raising seven children.

And when you think of Phebe Warner. How did she write all those newspaper articles with jotting notes on a piece of paper with just a pencil? When did she find the time to sit down at a typewriter with carbon paper in between, all the while correcting mistakes, polishing the words, and then getting up to find an envelope and a stamp, much less mailing her manuscript to the Amarillo Globe News, Canyon News or to any of the other area newspapers in the surrounding towns.

All the while she was helping to gather stories of the pioneers and helping to build the Panhandle Plains Historical Museum to house them in. She served on committees of various and sundry civic groups while participating in every community, school and church function centered in her town. Phebe not only formed the first federated women’s clubs in the country she helped form libraries all across the panhandle. AND then to be named as a representative for the state park board and to work tirelessly to get Palo Duro Canyon established as a state park was above and beyond. Think of it, as a woman and a mother in the 1920’s while still maintaining a household and supporting her husband’s practice as a small town doctor is a feat many women in this day and time would find at the very least as tiring.

Who knows what she could have done if she had been a suffogete, (oops-spell checker again), suffragette.

Yep, I’m a slacker through and through. I admit it and embrace it. But I think the founders of Panhandle Professional Writers regardless would be proud of me for the efforts I make on their behalf. They might not cut me any slack, but they would still give me kudos for my contribution. My words might not be as significant as theirs but from their vantage point in the heavens above they know the passion hasn’t changed over time.

Oh, and for your information the dictionary definition of the word myriad is a noun meaning a great number. The description said that recent criticism of the use of this word and to paraphrase… “seems to reflect a mistaken belief that the word was originally and is still properly only an adjective. However the noun is in fact an older form dating back to the 16th century. The noun has appeared in the works of Milton and Thoreau and continues to occur frequently in reputable English. There is no reason to avoid it.”

The winning motto chosen for the founding years of PPW was, “The elevator of success is not running; take the stairs!”

I was just lucky enough to be born in a time where I had the choice to do one or the other, the elevator or the stairs, to slack if I wished to, or to even fly if I wanted.

Just not on Jet Blue.

Sharon Stevens

CHOICE


CHOICE
by Sharon Stevens

Recently a news journalist remarked that this was a wonderful time to be a reader, with books, magazines, libraries, bookstores, I-Pads, the Internet and so on.

I beg to differ. I don’t think there is any better or more glorious time in the history of our world than to simply be a writer.

Let me give you an example. On the way into town one morning, I passed a work crew on our neighbor’s land replacing electric poles of the “walking giants.” They were silhouetted against the morning sun and I could just make out the men and women getting into their safety gear, ready to climb into the buckets of their “cherry pickers” in preparation for the assent to the top of the poles.

I got out of my car to snap a quick picture and took just a moment to contemplate the scene before me. For a writer, this pastoral scene was simple and straight forward. But with a flick of my imagination I could conjure up any number of plots and characters. There were so many choices open to me on both sides of the grid requiring no human contact at all. My story could lead in so many different directions and avenues. I could use any emotion or genre of my choice.

My 1890 Webster’s Dictionary defines choice in so many ways. “The act of choosing, the voluntary act of selecting or separating from two or more things. The thing chosen. The best part of anything. That which is preferable and properly the object of choice.”

Again, as a writer, this puts the dilemma right in front of me, making it almost impossible to tackle. Or it does for me.

For instance, I could write a drama regarding one of the men being so distracted with troubles at home, putting the lives of his fellow workers in danger. Or I could pen a romance of the electricians and engineers erecting poles with hard muscles, strong spirit, dedicated heart, and with faces that exuded masculinity or sexuality in their smile, through eyes etched with desire that could look deep into your soul.

Or maybe I could write about safety, including hard hats, or lifelines, or anchors to the ground such as those about safety first that fellow Wordsmith Six blogger Natalie Bright wrote in her book Oil People. What about tragedy and the loss of friends on the job, senseless acts, terrorism on a national scale, shutting down the power grids all across the country. I would have to do a lot of research, but it’s doable.

On the one hand I could write about the power conglomerates tearing up the land, killing the environment, gobbling up natural resources. Or maybe I could choose to focus my story on the hawk I witness every day on my way home from work that settles on top of one of the cross bars of the electric pole just high enough to survey his domain as he looks for a tasty meal from his lofty perch.

What about cattle ranches and farmers? Each pole the power company erected was across generations of neighbors’ land on both sides of the spectrum. I could write about the power companies taking Eminent Domain, growth hormones, Mad Cow disease, PETA, or vegetarians. Or I could write about Molly and Charles Goodnight and the Goodnight-Loving Trail, John Wayne, saving the environment, the beef industry, steaks sizzling on the grill for an outdoor cookout, hamburger sliders at a tailgate party for the Super Bowl.

And where would we be if there was no electricity or fuel to run the tractors, the cotton gins, and the grain elevators. Without this most basic commodity farmers would not be able to feed their neighbors, their families and their friends here in the community, but also throughout the world.

And then there is politics. I could choose any debate on the energy crisis, oil embargoes, foreign oil, offshore drilling. Or I could write about how thankful I am that Franklin Delano Roosevelt worked so hard for us to have rural electric power that runs our water well, the microwave, the washer and dryer, the lights, the heat, the air-conditioner, the refrigerator that keeps all food and produce at the peak of freshness, and of course, last but not least, our T.V.

But I am also intent on sharing the story that electricity levels the playing field for all businesses, corporations, and CEO’s, that reach from the tallest sky scrapers down to the littlest mom and pop shops alike.

The sky remains the limit for me or any writer worth their salt. I could undertake a screenplay, a stage play, a murder mystery, non-fiction, horror, science fiction/fantasy, westerns, children’s book, or even a song lyric. “I am a lineman for the county,” as Glen Campbell would sing. And if my little heart desires I could find a place for vampires, werewolves, blood sucking aliens, or energy guzzling robots. And how easy it would be to connect and pay tribute to all that protect and serve against all forms of those who spew evil in every walk of life.

So many choices, so many avenues, limitless possibilities.

After staying to watch the men work to link the cables that stretched from one end of the earth to another I knew I had to get to town. I took one last glance and climbed back into my car. My heart was heavy with the magnitude of decisions I would have to make. Once I left this place I feared the memories would dim. But as I turned my eye I caught the reflection of the breaking sun. The brilliance burst across the horizon through the clouds. I knew I had my answer. I could choose to write about the worst of society, the ills of mankind, the stupidness of humanity at large, or I could go with my first impression.

What I first witnessed in my heart and soul when I saw the framework of trucks embracing the giants was the Holy Trinity…the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, and encircled within was the symbol of the cross. I could see the light of the Spirit rising above the scene with all of His majesty. I pictured the fields and the pastures and all the creatures below enveloped in the warmth of His gentle embrace all across the land.

And that leaves me with MY definition of “choice” from Webster’s Dictionary, “Holding dear, selecting with care. Worthy of being preferred, select, precious, very valuable.

And I knew at that precise moment what I would write.

No question, this is truly a glorious time to be a writer!

Sharon Stevens

CHOICE


CHOICE
by Sharon Stevens

Recently a news journalist remarked that this was a wonderful time to be a reader, with books, magazines, libraries, bookstores, I-Pads, the Internet and so on.

I beg to differ. I don’t think there is any better or more glorious time in the history of our world than to simply be a writer.

Let me give you an example. On the way into town one morning, I passed a work crew on our neighbor’s land replacing electric poles of the “walking giants.” They were silhouetted against the morning sun and I could just make out the men and women getting into their safety gear, ready to climb into the buckets of their “cherry pickers” in preparation for the assent to the top of the poles.

I got out of my car to snap a quick picture and took just a moment to contemplate the scene before me. For a writer, this pastoral scene was simple and straight forward. But with a flick of my imagination I could conjure up any number of plots and characters. There were so many choices open to me on both sides of the grid requiring no human contact at all. My story could lead in so many different directions and avenues. I could use any emotion or genre of my choice.

My 1890 Webster’s Dictionary defines choice in so many ways. “The act of choosing, the voluntary act of selecting or separating from two or more things. The thing chosen. The best part of anything. That which is preferable and properly the object of choice.”

Again, as a writer, this puts the dilemma right in front of me, making it almost impossible to tackle. Or it does for me.

For instance, I could write a drama regarding one of the men being so distracted with troubles at home, putting the lives of his fellow workers in danger. Or I could pen a romance of the electricians and engineers erecting poles with hard muscles, strong spirit, dedicated heart, and with faces that exuded masculinity or sexuality in their smile, through eyes etched with desire that could look deep into your soul.

Or maybe I could write about safety, including hard hats, or lifelines, or anchors to the ground such as those about safety first that fellow Wordsmith Six blogger Natalie Bright wrote in her book Oil People. What about tragedy and the loss of friends on the job, senseless acts, terrorism on a national scale, shutting down the power grids all across the country. I would have to do a lot of research, but it’s doable.

On the one hand I could write about the power conglomerates tearing up the land, killing the environment, gobbling up natural resources. Or maybe I could choose to focus my story on the hawk I witness every day on my way home from work that settles on top of one of the cross bars of the electric pole just high enough to survey his domain as he looks for a tasty meal from his lofty perch.

What about cattle ranches and farmers? Each pole the power company erected was across generations of neighbors’ land on both sides of the spectrum. I could write about the power companies taking Eminent Domain, growth hormones, Mad Cow disease, PETA, or vegetarians. Or I could write about Molly and Charles Goodnight and the Goodnight-Loving Trail, John Wayne, saving the environment, the beef industry, steaks sizzling on the grill for an outdoor cookout, hamburger sliders at a tailgate party for the Super Bowl.

And where would we be if there was no electricity or fuel to run the tractors, the cotton gins, and the grain elevators. Without this most basic commodity farmers would not be able to feed their neighbors, their families and their friends here in the community, but also throughout the world.

And then there is politics. I could choose any debate on the energy crisis, oil embargoes, foreign oil, offshore drilling. Or I could write about how thankful I am that Franklin Delano Roosevelt worked so hard for us to have rural electric power that runs our water well, the microwave, the washer and dryer, the lights, the heat, the air-conditioner, the refrigerator that keeps all food and produce at the peak of freshness, and of course, last but not least, our T.V.

But I am also intent on sharing the story that electricity levels the playing field for all businesses, corporations, and CEO’s, that reach from the tallest sky scrapers down to the littlest mom and pop shops alike.

The sky remains the limit for me or any writer worth their salt. I could undertake a screenplay, a stage play, a murder mystery, non-fiction, horror, science fiction/fantasy, westerns, children’s book, or even a song lyric. “I am a lineman for the county,” as Glen Campbell would sing. And if my little heart desires I could find a place for vampires, werewolves, blood sucking aliens, or energy guzzling robots. And how easy it would be to connect and pay tribute to all that protect and serve against all forms of those who spew evil in every walk of life.

So many choices, so many avenues, limitless possibilities.

After staying to watch the men work to link the cables that stretched from one end of the earth to another I knew I had to get to town. I took one last glance and climbed back into my car. My heart was heavy with the magnitude of decisions I would have to make. Once I left this place I feared the memories would dim. But as I turned my eye I caught the reflection of the breaking sun. The brilliance burst across the horizon through the clouds. I knew I had my answer. I could choose to write about the worst of society, the ills of mankind, the stupidness of humanity at large, or I could go with my first impression.

What I first witnessed in my heart and soul when I saw the framework of trucks embracing the giants was the Holy Trinity…the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, and encircled within was the symbol of the cross. I could see the light of the Spirit rising above the scene with all of His majesty. I pictured the fields and the pastures and all the creatures below enveloped in the warmth of His gentle embrace all across the land.

And that leaves me with MY definition of “choice” from Webster’s Dictionary, “Holding dear, selecting with care. Worthy of being preferred, select, precious, very valuable.

And I knew at that precise moment what I would write.

No question, this is truly a glorious time to be a writer!

Sharon Stevens