Ever since I was a little girl I have been writing stories. The earliest story I remember writing was in grade two. It was about the Easter Bunny. It likely didn’t have much content but as I read it aloud to my mom and her friends there was one part that garnered some chuckles. It was the part where I explained the Easter Bunny was going to have babies and she was keeping the eggs warm.
I hadn’t meant that part to be funny. In fact, I hadn’t wanted my story to be at all humorous. I was upset. And, if I had been one to blush, I would have been beet red with embarrassment.
Although, I didn’t know why my audience chuckled until many years later, it was my first lesson in understanding how important it is to get your facts straight when you write.
When I write your story, I promise to get the facts straight.
In promise one I shared a story from grade 2. Let’s fast forward to grade 5. We were tasked with writing a poem relating to Christmas. My mother wrote poetry for fun and inevitably they included rhyming couplets. I knew that style, so it was the one I used too. I still remember the first few lines, “Deep in the forest of Puddledee, Lived a very lonely fir tree…” I was immensely proud of the A+ that poem earned.
But, there was one sour note. A school board official was touring our school and read my poem. He wanted to meet me. As I recall, he loomed over me. He seemed very tall in comparison to my 9-year old self. He started out by saying something like, “Your poem is very good. Excellent in fact. But I can’t believe you wrote it all by yourself. Are you sure you didn’t have help?”
I was mortified. That was cheating I thought. I would never cheat. The man did not seem appeased when I assured him that it was me and me alone who had written the poem.
I didn’t realize it until many years later but that man hadn’t been accusing me of cheating. He was accusing me of lying. That was my first lesson in how important it is to stand your ground and show your integrity.
When I write your story, I won’t lie and say all your ideas are great if they aren’t. I promise to work with you in an honest and open fashion to get your story right.
During summer breaks from school I would put on shows with neighbourhood children. It could be a variety show where kids danced, or sang, told jokes or performed magic tricks. But it could also be a play. Ever the bossy boots, I was always the director!
One year, it was a variety show. I was taking ballet at the time and thought it would be good to have a ballet duo in the show. My best friend didn’t take ballet, but we practised some simple moves together and she nailed it. The dance was Hawaiian themed and our costumes were bathing suit tops and green garbage bags cut into strips to resemble a grass skirt.
My mom was in charge of the music. I had explained to her that she wasn’t to play the whole song through but that I wanted her to lift the record player arm at a certain part in the song. She assured me she could do that.
Show time! I feel our dance is going very well. We are both smiling at the audience as the routine comes to an end. But the music doesn’t stop! My mom had forgotten to stop the music! We couldn’t end the dance! I whispered to my friend out of the corner of my mouth that she should just follow my moves. She did and it worked. But, it seemed an eternity until the final bars of that song played!
I think that was my first lesson in “thinking on your feet” (literally in this case) and how important it is to be agile and able to come up with a ”Plan B.”
When I write your story, we may face some unforeseen circumstances which cause us to re-think our plan. If that happens, I promise to use my agile mind and writing skills to come up with a “Plan B” that works for all of us.
In grade 8 music class, we worked in small groups to write a musical. The script had to be original but the music did not. We could reference any recorded music current or past. Back then I wasn’t a fan of working in groups. It always seemed that one person ended up doing all the work. But, this time that didn’t happen. You see, there was another bossy boots in the group – and this one was bossier than me! That meant that I wasn’t the director this time.
We all worked well together under her leadership. We brainstormed and came up with some great ideas and some not so great ideas. But, the point was, that everyone was contributing and not one person was left holding the bag.
I don’t recall one iota of the script. But, I do recall it was a war protest themed play and the songs included “Easy Rider” and “War.” I also recall we got top marks. Better marks I think, than if we had worked independent of each other.
I think this experience taught me two things:
- putting many heads together can inspire great thinking and a great product; and
- with a good group dynamic, working co-operatively in a group can lead to great results.
When I write your story, I promise to work co-operatively with you and any other team members to produce content that is as great as it can be.
In high school I of course took English (which I loved until….Shakespeare!) I also took theatre arts and joined the drama club. I loved the stage and I loved performing in productions of all genres. Drama, comedic, mystery, musical, even some “off the wall” pieces that made little sense to me. I loved it all.
In one particular production I was a serpent suspended on a trapeze. My role involved curling around that trapeze, flicking my tongue and hissing words that had the letter “s” in them.
“Ssssssooo you think you can outsssssssmart thisssss ssssssserpent? Think again misssssster.”
Our audience was made up of elementary school children – grade 3’s I think. As the play ended and actors took their turns bowing, the kids applauded enthusiastically. Until, that is, it came to my turn.
I was applauded with boos and words like “you’re mean,” “I don’t like you serpent,” and “you’re a bad guy.” Which I was. That was my role in the play. I was the villain and I gather from their response I played the role effectively.
Had I not however, played up the hissing “ssssses” I don’t think my character would have come across nearly as nasty. I learned that when performing, actions and words are important but how you deliver those words is what will make or break your character. The same can be said with voice in writing.
When I write your story, I promise to use a writing voice that most effectively suits the content and your brand.
The English language is one of the most difficult to master if you are learning it as a second language. Just think of their, there and they’re. Or words that have multiple meanings depending on the context. The word bark or squash have multiple meanings but not nearly as many as the word “set.” According to the Oxford English Dictionary the word “set” leads the pack with 464 definitions!
If you want a reader to correctly understand your message, word choice, word order and using words appropriately given the context is incredibly important.
This is so readily apparent when reading headlines gone wrong! I worked for a newspaper for a while and would sometimes run workshops. One of the activities I always brought along was about headlines.
Look at these gaffes.
“Homicide victims rarely talk to police”
“Missipi’s literacy program shows improvement”
“Students cook and serve grandparents”
“Something went wrong in jet crash, expert says”
“Red Tape Holds Up New Bridges”
“Planes forced to land at airports”
“Breathing oxygen linked to staying alive”
These are real headlines. They actually made it to print. Although they make me smile or groan you can see how important it is to review your writing – multiple times!
When writing your story, I promise to be mindful of the words I choose and will edit, edit and edit again.
One summer I wrote an original script loosely based on one my favourite book series, “Little House on the Prairie’ by Laura Ingalls Wilder. It was called, ‘House of the Rising Sun.” I corralled the neighbourhood kids and assigned them parts in the play. We rehearsed and rehearsed and rehearsed again. Everyone knew their lines. Everyone knew when to exit stage right or left (the stage being half of the basement across which my mom had strung a sheet to act as a curtain.) I had plucked out the theme song (can you guess which one based on the play’s title?) on my guitar and recorded it ahead of time.
All was set and the curtain was about to open. But one little girl got stage fright. I thought she had been a natural during rehearsals and she was. Yet come performance time there was no way she was going to go out on that stage in front of all those people! No amount of cajoling or bribing on my part would convince her that she could do it.
Well, I couldn’t disappoint. We had a full house! Using that agile mind again, I came up with a ‘Plan B.” I apologized to the audience and said I would be playing both roles. And so, I did.
That was my first lesson in understanding that ‘the play must go on.’
When I write your story, we may face obstacles that impede completion of a project. I promise I will find a way to resolve the obstacles and see the project through to completion.
Once upon a time I was a classroom teacher. I taught grade 4, 6, 7, 8 and special needs students. I learned a lot during my time in the classroom but nothing I think, as important as taking the time to listen to my students. I mean, not just hear what they were saying but really listen.
When I leaned into a conversation and made eye contact with a student they knew I was paying attention. When I asked a question about what they were saying they were doubly certain that I was paying attention and that I was interested in their story. This gave them confidence and made them feel valued.
And that is how I wanted all of my students to feel so I listened – a lot!
This was also so important when I became a mom and raised my three sons. They wouldn’t be the wonderful, successful and confident young men they are today if I hadn’t listened to them and listened to them well.
When writing your story, I promise to not just hear your ideas. I will listen to them. Only in doing so can I hope to do your story justice.
And I want to do it justice. I want your story to shine.
I’m ready when you are!
Lets create your story!