Fridays With Dale: I’m the Enemy

Title with image of author

Dale Angel

 


I have the pleasure to announce the return of Fridays with Dale!

Welcome back, Dale. We missed you!

I’m the Enemy

By Dale Angel

                                                  

Sitting in my wheelchair looking out the windows thru mostly closed curtains, I move my leg to relieve pain. I’m exhausted inside myself. I feel the tears of frustration fall as I see another day looming and I am paralyzed with fear and uncertainty. I’ve have added to these feelings.

I have become too heavy emotionally and physically for others to carry. I’m visiting the other end of seventy…no, it’s eighty…and I feel lost. Where do I belong?

I have to get out of this prison I’ve been confined to for months, mostly inside my head. Standing on my good foot I push open the curtains and let light come in, open the door to let air in, and sit trying to figure out the rest of my life.

This is war! …….I’m the enemy.

I wheel chair to the bathroom and see the folding bench sitting inside the tub. It was still wet from my feeble attempts to shower. I roll over to it and carefully fold it. Water spills all over me.  I head for the back landing outside the kitchen door dragging it. There’s barely enough room for both on the porch.  I unfold the bench and try to figure out how to get down the steps. I don’t even know for sure what I’m up to until I set the shower bench on the step, slide onto it, and stand up on my good leg, slide it down to the next step, pulling the wheelchair behind me. It went into a fit and rolled down the steps end over end. I have another step to master and then I’m at the bottom! While sitting on the wobbly bench I set the chair up on its wheels and slide over in it.

I grab my purse and roll for the car. I can get inside, but I need the chair. It took more effort than I had to lift, push, and physically shove it in the back seat on one leg. Anger gives me extra strength. When I start the motor and back out of the driveway, I am a new being. I was dangerously euphoric, my breath came in short puffs my head was buzzing at all the possibilities.

Now what to do? I start to shake with fear. I was a loose cannon.  My heart was pounding, and I shook at the potential of what I had just done. This was power!  I tell myself be sensible, be sensible, I wanted to fling and scream….cast an all.

This is the beginning of the rest of my life. what will I do with it?  It seemed gracious gratefulness was a first step I need to contemplate…don’t I?

Coffee is something I can do. I drive thru and order a Latte, a big one! Sitting in the car along the banks of the river sipping my coffee……I think and think and think. I made a list of where I find myself, my feeble options. I decided on acceptance, this is a little bump in the road of life…… I can do this.

 Pursue contentment most of all feed the spirit because that’s where all joy or depression generates. Cry, but after a while it’s tiring. Work on what I can do, quit mourning over life’s inevitable losses.

I asked for the furniture to be removed out of my living room and for the sewing machine to be set up. There’s a new grand baby coming. It doesn’t need anything, but I do; I need a reason to make a gift.  I placed all the music I could lay my hands on at my fingertips.  Several bird feeders are wonderful entertainment. The order of barrels and potting soil for my mini-garden arrives. I tell myself: cultivate a life…build…walk on old bridges. The structure needs shoring up… you have the material already, called life’s experiences.

Most of my companions are on medicine to help them cope with life. I may be tomorrow, but today, I am able to sing.  Listening to music… is a better description

If a lifetime has gone by, start today working on contentment. You will need that mind set to live without meds. Happiness is home made. Life is challenging and even with all the props, they may fail. Personal interest is a divine gift, use it in either yourself, or who passes by. Your curious intellect is from our maker. Don’t waste it.

I ate my crops, a cup of peas, from the two plants from my barrel garden and tomatoes. Well, only two lived.  Next year, I will do better. The wheelchair and the walker still live with me, we tolerate each other. There are no curtains to block out the light or fear to paralyze me, my spirit has climbed out of that place of darkness. How grateful I am even though damaged…. only on the outside…….. inside… a great healing has taken place.

The enemy has been vanquished.

dale

 

 


Writers Forum is open to submissions for the blog or the newsletter.

Type of Material and Guidelines for e-newsletter and Website Submission: 1.) Your articles on the art or craft of writing. 2.) Essays on subjects of interest to writers. (200 words can be quoted without permission but with attribution.) 3.) Book or author reviews. 4.) Letters to the Editor or Webmaster. 5.) Information on upcoming events, local or not. 6.) Photos of events. 7.) Advertise your classes or private events. 8.) Short fiction 9.) Poetry

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Writing Podcast: The Creative Nonfiction Podcast

Welcome to the next installment of Writing Podcast at Writers Forum.

Another great podcast I regularly listen to for writers is The Creative Nonfiction Podcast. I found this podcast a few years ago when I was looking for podcasts on nonfiction writing that might help me with my memoir. The Creative Nonfiction Podcast, or CNF, as host Brendon O’Meara likes to call it, was one of the first hits on my search. This is a weekly podcast in which Brendon interviews a nonfiction writer each week.

I’ll be honest. When I first hit ‘play’ on the podcast, I wasn’t sure I was going to like it. Brenden seemed a bit too brash for my tastes. A little bit too hip.

However, I really wanted to hear the author he was interviewing.

I’m glad I stuck around. Brendon’s persona during the interviews is totally professional. He asks penetrating and engaging questions, and then backs out to let his guest answer the question. I’ve tried to listen to too many podcasts in which the host seems to like the sound of his/her own voice too much. CNF is not like that at all. I have never come away from a CNF episode without learning something and being encouraged in my own writing.

Brendon is passionate about helping writers find their voice. Check out his podcast. I think you’ll be glad you did.


Writers Forum is open to submissions for the blog or the newsletter.

Type of Material and Guidelines for e-newsletter and Website Submission: 1.) Your articles on the art or craft of writing. 2.) Essays on subjects of interest to writers. (200 words can be quoted without permission but with attribution.) 3.) Book or author reviews. 4.) Letters to the Editor or Webmaster. 5.) Information on upcoming events, local or not. 6.) Photos of events. 7.) Advertise your classes or private events. 8.) Short fiction 9.) Poetry

Please submit copy to the editor at writersforumeditor@gmail.com . Electronic submissions only. Microsoft Word format, with the .docx file extension, is preferred but any compatible format is acceptable. The staff reserves the right to perform minor copy editing in the interest of the website’s style and space.

Lessons From ‘The Freebird’s Dilemma

Today I share the most important lesson that I learned from writing ‘The Freebird’s Dilemma.’


I wrote “The Freebird’s Dilemma” in 1992 as a submission to Bridges, the Los Medanos College literary publication. That was the year that I first took a lit class. I was also in a supportive writing group that included my lit instructor, Madeline Puccioni. That was the year that I started writing seriously.

I also learned my most astonishing lesson of all from writing “The Freebird’s Dilemma”.

The submission guidelines were simple and direct. Twelve-point Times New Roman font. Double spaced. Ten pages maximum.

I wrote the story making maximum use of my experiences working on trail crews in Yosemite and Kings Canyon National Parks. I also used my experiences of feeling trapped in the town I lived in and really wanting to be back out in the wilderness. And I threw in a romance. I figured that couldn’t hurt, but that part was total fiction. Mostly. Rachel was based upon a single mom that I did know at college, but there was no romance in the real relationship.

I wrote the story. I edited the story. I got it down to twelve pages. And then I didn’t think I could cut out any more. Anything else that I cut would eliminate what I thought was critical information for the reader to have to understand my characters. I thought that it was going to be a twelve-page story, and that was that.

I explained my problem to Madeline.

She grinned and said, “Welcome to the world of writing! Ten pages means ten pages. Those are the submission guidelines, and there are no exceptions. Trim two pages, or it won’t even be read.”

This was the second most important lesson I learned from this piece. Submission guidelines are not suggestions. Not even when your friendly teacher and writing group coach is the one enforcing them.

The day before the submission deadline, I had a long afternoon break on campus. I sat in the cafeteria with a cup of coffee and looked my manuscript over one more time. The story opened with exposition of Joe and Rachel’s background, explaining how they had gotten to the point they were at in their relationship. I realized that the exposition made for a slow start, so I tried to find ways to tuck that information into other places in the story. Shuffling material around didn’t help me trim two pages, though. I could not let go of my need to make sure this background information was in the story.

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Member Monday: The Freebird’s Dilemma, by George Parker

Today’s Member Monday submission is Part One of a two-parter. ‘The Freebird’s Dilemma’ is a story that I submitted to my college’s literary magazine in 1992. Tomorrow I will post the most important lesson that I learned from writing this story.

The Freebird’s Dilemma

By: George T. Parker

“You’re sure you want to leave?”

“Yep.”

“Even if I give you a raise?”

“C’mon, Pappy. You know it’s not the money.”

“How about a vacation, Joe?”

Joe glanced up from the parts catalogues spread across the desk then looked back down at the forms and other paperwork. “You know why I’m leaving, Pappy.”

“I guess I do at that,” Pappy said softly. “You’ve been here a long time. Pert near a year. I had a hunch you’d be movin’ on soon.”

“How could you tell?”

“I used to have the wanderlust when I was your age, too. How long have you been thinking of moving on?”

“A couple of months ago I sent applications for field technician jobs to the US Forest Service and several universities in Canada. I got a reply from the University of Winnipeg yesterday.”

Pappy nodded and said, “Can’t say as I blame ya. Movin’ on can be an excitin’ thing. Didn’t get it out of my system til I was almost forty years old.”

“I don’t think I’ll ever get over it, Pappy,” Joe said as he gently tugged at his beard. “I’ve been on the move since high school—ten years now—and I still get the fever every time I pick up a National Geographic or look at a map.”

Pappy looked out the window over his workbench. Green was returning to grass on the hill and the tree across the street after the rains of the last few weeks. He could see the lavender blooms on the lilac branch just poking up from below the window. “It usually hit me at springtime, too. Everythin’ is comin’ alive again. The days are gettin’ longer.” Pappy looked down at the torn apart chain saw on his workbench. He picked up a screwdriver again as he asked, “What about Rachel?”

Joe was silent for a minute. “Yeah. What about Rachel?”

“Why don’t you ask her to go along?”

“Aw, Pappy. I couldn’t ask her to just pull up and leave her town. And what about Jason? Tramping around the mountains is no way for a kid to grow up.”

“There are worse places to tramp around.”

“A kid needs stability.”

Pappy shrugged and said, “I suppose so.” He sat up straight and stretched. He grabbed his white ceramic coffee mug with greasy hands, smearing new designs in the grease already covering the mug. He peered over the top of his black horn-rimmed glasses at Joe filling out the parts inventories and order forms. Pappy gulped the cold, black brew, put the mug down, and went back to work.

Joe rubbed his eyes. They burned from the harsh florescent desk lamp. He reached out to the chaotic pile on the desk and pulled a new catalogue from the bottom of the pile. Two other catalogues slipped from the pile, knocking a framed picture from the desk and sending a storm of papers to the floor. Joe muttered as he gathered the spilled papers. He picked up the framed picture and looked at the image of a far younger Pappy with his wife and little girl. He asked, “How did you know you were ready to throw down some roots, Pappy?”

Pappy shrugged as he said, “Don’t rightly know. I don’t think I ever felt like I was ready. I spent all my time driftin’ from job to job, city to city, state to state. I met a lot of men just like me out there. We all bragged about how great it was to be mavericks with no corral. I read a book by Thoreau once that said somethin’ about the herds bein’ keepers of men rather than men bein’ keepers of herds. It made for fine, manly soundin’ talk. But when the shop whistle blew or the foreman called it a day, us young bucks went back to our greasy spoons and lousy flophouses while the married guys went back to wives and kids and home cooked meals. As much as we talked, quite a few of us would have traded places with them in a heartbeat.”

“So how did you know it was time to settle down?”

Pappy paused his saw work as he thought. “I guess it just seemed like the right thing to do.”

Joe sat for a while staring at the poster on the wall of a snow covered mountain with a creek and a cabin in the foreground. He found himself planning a route up the peak.

********

Joe sang along with Lynyrd Skynyrd as he drove to Rachel’s apartment. He turned his stereo down as he pulled into the parking lot. His heart beat as hard as it had on their first date.

A boy answered his knock. The boy said, “Hi, Joe!” and raised his hand for a high five.

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Writing Podcast: Writing Roots

Have you ever listened to a writing podcast?

If you haven’t yet, you might want to look into this convenient trove of writing advice and inspiration. ‘Podcast’ might sound like a foreign high-tech word to some, but it’s really nothing different from listening to a radio talk program, except that you can listen to it at your own convenience instead of having to be at a radio at the right time to catch a broadcast.

Podcasts are also portable. You can listen to them anywhere you can take your digital device. I had to drive to Sacramento and back today for work, and I wasn’t at the mercy of whatever radio broadcasts I could pick up along the way. The podcasts that I regularly listen to are downloaded on my smartphone. I just had to connect it to my car stereo. You can do that with Bluetooth, or with old fashioned wires if you are so inclined.

The podcast I wanted share with you first is called Writing Roots. Writing Roots is hosted by Ley Esses and Leigh Hull, and every week they bring you informative and entertaining advice on the craft and business of writing. They are currently running a series on myths about writing. The latest episode is on the myth ‘Said is Dead.’ You can listen to the latest episode here. Previous episodes over the last few weeks have discussed the myths ‘Write What You Know,’ and ‘Don’t Judge a Book By Its Cover.’

The links in the above paragraph will take you to their podcast website, but you can listen via most services you might already use for podcasts. I listen on Podbean. They are also available on iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify, Pandora, Google Podcasts and others.

Ley and Leigh pack a lot of information into a short podcast. Episodes are less than fifteen minutes long, which is very short for a podcast, and they do not waste your time. They get right to the meat, and serve it up strong.

They are affiliated with AspenHouse Publishing, an ‘assisted publishing’ house. They are geared to helping you self-publish your book. Their website’s FAQ tells us:



Assisted publishing is all the convenience and professionalism of a traditional publishing house combined with the freedom of self publishing. We’re here to offer as much support as you like, but you maintain all the rights (and profits) of your work after you’re out there for the world to see.

Give the Writing Roots podcast a listen! I bet you will be glad you did.


Writers Forum is open to submissions for the blog or the newsletter.

Type of Material and Guidelines for e-newsletter and Website Submission: 1.) Your articles on the art or craft of writing. 2.) Essays on subjects of interest to writers. (200 words can be quoted without permission but with attribution.) 3.) Book or author reviews. 4.) Letters to the Editor or Webmaster. 5.) Information on upcoming events, local or not. 6.) Photos of events. 7.) Advertise your classes or private events. 8.) Short fiction 9.) Poetry

Please submit copy to the editor at writersforumeditor@gmail.com . Electronic submissions only. Microsoft Word format, with the .docx file extension, is preferred but any compatible format is acceptable. The staff reserves the right to perform minor copy editing in the interest of the website’s style and space.