I’ve been practicing this writing thing for a few years now, Maybe someday I shall be at the very least mediocre. Alas… I keep pounding away at these blasted keys while rubbing a bald spot into what little hair I have left. From time to time I’ll stop, stare at the words in disgust and scream to myself (metaphorically). You’re a fraud I say, an amateur, a red-neck with no use behind a keyboard.
In disgust, I stand in a huff to storm out of my little “office” never to return. I glance at the mirror, not recognizing the man looking back. Then it hits me. Without my knowledge, I have come to resemble the old stereotypical writer in appearance. He stands there, glaring at me, shoulders bent from hours hovering over a keyboard, grey goatee surrounded by a four-day stubble. Round eyeglasses sit just beneath a bald spot polished to a shine by endless rubbing. To my horror, I notice I’m wearing a button-down cardigan sweater, and a “worlds best writer” coffee mug gripped tight in my gnarled paw. SCARY HUH?
Have I bitten off more than I can chew? The book series and the constant back and forth between agents, endless rewrites, and “please condense your seventy thousand word manuscript into one(1) sentence” guidelines. Did you know(…) has a proper name? “ellipsis,” that term means as much to me as the name of that little thing on the end of your shoelace, (yea… there’s a name for that too), and don’t get me started on the proper use of colons vs semi-colons. ( There’s a reason for this banter, I promise, just let me preach on a bit).
The Tin Cup Clan stories, Some are memories, some are mere musings containing a thinly veiled lesson. Believe it or not, most of ’em come to me around three am. This leaves me in a pickle, if I don’t get up and outline them right away they will be gone come morning. I figured out how to solve this problem and get a good night’s sleep as well. I simply poke at the wife until she wakes then tell her all the gory details, secure in the knowledge she will remember them come morning. She is not happy with this solution.
The Heritage project, this one is important. For hundreds of years, these mountains have been mined for the riches they contain. Resources taken for the love of money are far greater than simple coal. Our stories, our history, our heritage are now for sale to the highest bidder. They are being “mined” just like coal, for likes, clicks, and follows. For that very reason, we will never have banners or ads. Our elders possessed a wisdom far greater than any that can be learned from this modern world. If you go through our posts you’ll meet a fellow named Shag, discover what’s contained in a simple blue jar, learn what DWB’s are, refuse to wear pink socks, and maybe think twice before you grab that first piece of chicken, and many others. Maybe, just maybe, a little of that wisdom can be passed down through the tellin’. That is, as long as my wife can remember them come mornin’.
Back to that ol’ man in the mirror.
Two men came to mind as I gazed in the mirror; one of ’em I had met just the other day, quite by accident. He was a rather stately fellow, well dressed, and neatly trimmed beard. He was friendly but wasted little time in bragging about his life, years spent in academia had forged a quick wit that he was justifiably proud of. I told him I wrote a bit since retirement, a comment he pounced on immediately. Do you know what I can’t stand? he asked. People that misspell words on purpose. Just because you are from here doesn’t give you license to spell-like you speak.
I kept my opinions to myself as he carried on.
And people that don’t know how to punctuate drives me crazy, just the other day I was reading an article in the local paper and found three, that’s right three mistakes. Well, I immediately wrote to the editor, pointing out these mistakes. And would you believe it, he never thanked me, he still to this day hasn’t responded back.
The gentleman had a lot more to say, but after that statement, I really wasn’t paying attention.
I left him to his opinions, but as I drove away I began to feel a bit unworthy. Many times I write as I speak, I believe it gives the words warmth, a “muchness.” But I left him feeling some-what less, than when I met him. I recalled grade school many years ago when a few teachers tried to break us of our dialect, they felt it made us sound unintelligent. “You will be more successful if you learn to speak “proper” English” they would say. Thankfully, those days are gone and so is the “proper” English attempt. But suddenly another fellow popped into mind, another fellow and “mouse turds.”
In the past, I’ve bragged a great deal about my step-dad, and justifiably so. When I was a young man, things as they may often do, became too much for me to handle. He would stop me in the middle of a rant.
He was a loud crusty ol’ Yankee from upstate New York, and second, only to my mother, he made me who I am today. Michael, ( he always began that way). Michael, you gotta quit pole-vaultin’ over mouse turds. He would slap his knee and throw his head back in thunderous laughter. You chuckled just then, I know you did, but think on that comment for a second. DON’T POLE-VAULT OVER MOUSE TURDS. Lawd, Lawd, some of those academics are spinnin’ right now.
Crude, yes, offensive, well nowadays everything is. But he kept me grounded, he was also the source of the “DWBs” (you gotta check that post out). I can’t be sure, and I don’t wanna go braggin’, but I swear I could see him in that mirror, staring back at me, I could even hear his laughter. This lesson wasn’t taught from a book or learned from the interweb. I reckon you might say it was a “passive” lesson, one I didn’t realize I was learning at the time. Funny how those are generally the ones that stick ain’t it.
We may never know the effect our lives have on those around us, oft times the simplest of things have the greatest impact. Even now, especially now, I find myself jumpin’ over the small stuff. Agents and editors pickin’ through the words. A stranger, proud of his ability to find the smallest fault or “misspelled” thought. Don’t get me wrong, I strive to share quality content with each of you, I stress over letting you down and I respect you far too much to offer trash.
Humbled, and a little ashamed, I turned back to my desk, stepped over some mouse turds as I laid my pole down, and began typing. No, these words ain’t perfect, yes you will find a mistake or two, or three. After all, what do you expect of something spilled from this ol’ brain of mine? And I owe a great deal of it to an ol’ Yankee named George. THANK YOU GEORGE
We hope you enjoyed this visit with The Tin Cup Clan, time is so valuable these days we are humbled that you choose to spend just a bit of it with us. Share this little tale with someone, Lord knows there is plenty that needs to hear it. Comments, let us know what you think, kinda gives us a boost to keep going. If you know of someone for the Heritage project drop a note, we would love to hear from you.
Until next time…God Bless
You know, I’ve received some good advice in my time but this one kind of says it all, really. Don’t pole-vault over a mouse turd. I like it!
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Come on Herb admit it. You got a pole stashed somewhere. I keep mine in the back of my truck, in case of emergencies.
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Well, I think a lot of us carry poles, just in case, lol.
I was reading the comic strip “Shoe” and the guy is lying on the psychiatrist’s couch and the shrink says, “So you failed as a pole vaulter in high school?” and he says, “Yes…I’ll never get over it.”
you are lucky to have had people like George in your life. and now your wife, who somehow remembers all of your middle of the night ramblings, is keeping that writing spark going!
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We’ve all been blessed with our elders. But Mrs. Sandra… well I like to think I’m the best thing to every happen to her. I’m sure she’ll agree, but don’t ask her, just in case.
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I am sure it is a mutually beneficial relationship 🙂