Today in the New York Times, there was an article titled “Dad, the Ant Killer”. This article is the story of a dad trying to protect his son from the world. Today the problem is ants. But the story really is a universal tale of love and power and helplessness all at the same time. It moved me. And I loved the phrases…so many great starting lines. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/12/opinion/dad-the-ant-killer.html.
For Example the tag line on the front page of the NY times is:
Op Ed: Dad the Ant Killer.
These words bring up so many images….Dad in a super hero suit, armed with a large bottle of ant poison. Dad, bigger than life, holding his son up above the massed of large killer ants. And the line has so many other story starts. You can use those words in many ways. Dad the cat chaser. Mom the dog catcher. Mom, she who must be obeyed. Grandmother, the supreme cookie commander. It’s a phrase that has rythem and power. I’ll have to remember it for my stories.
Call me a bad person if you want. I can’t help it. I’m a father.
This reminds me of the classic line. “Call me Ishmael”. But with enough power and flexibility, that I can reuse this line again…
Call me a bad person if you want. I can’t help it. I’m the dragon cat lady.
And I am the dragon cat lady in my new business Dragon Cats and Doggie Bags. It got launched a couple weeks ago at the worlds most unsuccessful and yet wonderful craft show. My friend and I are selling kits to make shopping bags with original artwork — dragon cats from me and doggies from Carolyn. We took a couple of other people out for dinner on Saint Patrick’s Day, March 17, to learn how they were successful in terms small craft businesses. And we got challenged to participate in a craft show the following week. It was rough, writting patterns and getting kits ready for sale in less than a week.
We did it I am proud to say. We had a great booth. Lots of great products, lots of interest from the other vendors. But no customers show up for the show. So no sales. Did make some connections for future craft shows. But that was a challenging week for both of us. The show was on Thursday at lunchtime. On Tuesday, I started a new job. Same company as before, but a new boss, new tasks, and new expectations. It’s not a great start when you meet your boss on Tuesday and tell him that you need Wednesday afternoon off followed by a long lunch on Thursday and that you will be making up hours on Friday (your off day). But he was good and rolled with my schedule.
Carolyn had similar issues with a boss that decided to change the rules about what hours were acceptable for working without any notice. In general, core hours are 9-3 with an hour lunch. As long as you are there for the core hours and get your nine hours of work in the day, who cares if you get in a 7 am or 9 am. Well he decided that everyone had to be in at 7 am. Of course that person isn’t driving in traffic, so he has no idea how bad the impact is on everyone else’s life. Have to hate people that are that selfish.
But I digress from my story today, the great lines that can start an entire story like:
I am a father, my superhero power is worry
I’ve been using this line for years. I’m a mom, I can think up any number of worst case scenarios. You bet I can think of the worst case and usually I plan for it. But he put the line so succinctly that I will reuse it in many ways. I’m an engineer, my superhero power is writing the worlds most boring documentation. I’m an artist, my superhero power is buying to many pretty colored pencils. I’m Robine, my superhero power is bringing chaos to the kitchen table.
Does that make me a bad person? You tell me.
No, chaos is not a bad thing. It shakes up everything and allows me quick access to my toys–the books, puzzles, pencils, iPad, earrings off the tree, or dragons guarding the tree. But chaos can also mean trouble, bad feelings, and uncertainty. Something the dad covers in the main body of the story. His conclusion is very precise. He ends with a long description of how he kills ants, and then summarizes with the line “I’m a father. So I try.” I like that ending and hope I can write one as moving for my novel.
No matter how much poison I pour, I know it’s no use. A lifetime of threats against my son — bullies, drug abuse, disease, violence — are still breeding down there in the dark, waiting to spill out from the earth, and there’s nothing I can do to stop them. But I’m a father. So I try.
Now contrast this with the new daily prompts — single words only. No evocative phrase that is difficult to adapt, no challenge in defining a new word, no need for the daily blog editors to do any thinking. Take for example today’s word “bedtime”; who cares about the word. It’s the end of the day, the time I don’t like on a Sunday because that means the work week is starting. But there is no story. No passion. No inspiration. And that’s why I am not writing as many daily prompts.
Of course, there might be other explanations. Starting two new jobs in the same week is emotionally exhausting. Various small events that take lots of time and some amount of emotional energy. Forgetting how to say the word no and thus end up spending a weekend day volunteering. Working on a large number of art projects simultaneously. Movies to see, places to go, work that has to be done. It all adds up to no time but lots of fun. And speaking of time, “I am a wage slave, so I have to go.” The open road, hopefully not filled with other wage slaves going to their jobs, awaits. My desk and computer at work await. And the dreaded daily 9 am status meeting awaits. So I go.