Fiction: Filling in the Blanks

The badness and sadness of this world can be overwhelming. As a writer, my aim is to create uplifting stories of goodness and hope and make them available to those who visit my website.

With that in mind, I want to bring you in on a story I’m writing. The working title is OK, Boomer, and it is one of the Story of the Month stories that I am writing to fill in the earlier months I missed. My “new and improved” website was launched earlier this month, and I’d like to have a story for January, February, and March, too.

OK, Boomer was born out of an experience I had in March while I waited at a pharmacy for my COVID vaccination. I met a young woman there, and, as you will see when you read the story, I take on her point of view and create a work of fiction based on a short time with a remarkable young woman. We did not share conversation for long, but the words she did (and didn’t) speak made me wonder about her upbringing. So, I went with that, and the story was born.

In this scene, while waiting for her turn, she reflects on her parents, who insisted that she obtain her shot sooner than later:

That's what her parents would expect. They never personally told her about their experiences as young adults in college. She had heard plenty, though, from her aunts and uncles. Five of them with the same stories? They had to be true. A source of constant amazement, those stories were. My parents did whaaa?? Plus, she could have sworn she recognized them in a Woodstock photo that she saw on Rolling Stone. And all they would reveal to her was that "we took part in a wild Sixties experiment." That was it. They did not want to discuss it with her. 

So it surprised her when she read about the Sixties and "Question Authority" and "Pigs," when all she had heard throughout her childhood was "Respect your elders. Honor your mother and father."

Within the story, you will find an older woman, a young man, and an older man. Her interactions with these individuals did actually happen. In fact, the older woman is based on me and the conversation I had with her. In keeping with fiction writing, though, I included far more than what we actually shared, twisted some facts, and had a lot of fun doing so.

I love writing fiction. It is my way of filling in the blanks that we find in real life. Hopefully, this story will give you a lift — and maybe even a laugh — during troubling times. You’ll be the first to know when I’ve finished it.

Thanks for reading!

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A Fresh Start After a COVID Year

Hi, Everyone!

Longtime blog subscribers: Thank you for hanging in there with me while I stepped away from my blog and as we all persevered through the past year.

New subscribers: Thank you for your interest in my work. With so much to read online, my aim is for my writing to be worthy of your reading time.

Sadly, the 2020 pandemic, and all that came along with it, deflated my desire to write. I also lost interest in reading. Crazy, I know. Even more, the crisis cut out the occasions we had to interact with others, which so often are my sparks for new stories. You probably felt this yourself — a lack of motivation and inspiration for partaking in activities that once were a daily and enjoyable part of your life.

How are you feeling now? With the advent of 2021, I still felt the motivation lack, but I also came to understand that things will never be the same. With that, I decided it was time to jump back into my blog writing even though I didn’t yet have a plan or any new writing to share. Of course, as soon as I made that decision, my creativity began to flow, and here we are today with my first blog post in over a year.

What’s funny is that, when I read through my personal Facebook posts from 2020, I saw that I was writing throughout the pandemic. I shared plenty of stories; 2020 was a unique and fascinating year, and we all had much to discuss.

Starting with a new and improved website is a good kickstarter. I read through my six years of blog posts and kept only a few for the launch. The Candela WordPress theme has a unique portfolio display, and the cleanness of its layout and typography made it my pick. When you visit my home page, you will see a portfolio set of my work displayed by type. I will add regularly to the work samples that you’ll find in the set. As my portfolio increases, the work will give anyone who visits a clear idea of my creative style.

Click here to see the portfolio/home page. Once there, you can either click on the featured work or click on a portfolio type to see my writing collection and samples. For example, click here to see my Fiction portfolio page. More to come!

On the home page is a menu icon (three bars) you can click to visit my About, Subscribe, Contact, and other website pages.

Currently, I am not active on social media for my writing, but that may change. I will add links via the website if I do jump back into that type of media. In the past, I posted frequently to Instagram and Twitter — entertaining but time-consuming.

Many of you let me know how much you enjoyed my first Story of the Month (SOTM). This is a self-challenge to bring you a solid work of writing each month, fiction and non-fiction. For now, I will use themes associated with each month or perhaps something newsworthy. My first story, published last Sunday, has an Easter theme. The month of May will highlight motherhood. I plan to have a lot of fun writing these stories, and I hope you will enjoy reading them. Click here to see my SOTM page that includes my first, along with teasers for early 2021 months that I will add later to fill out the beginning of the year.

How’s that for a fresh start? It’s good to be back. Let me know in the comments how things have been going for you during this pandemic.

2020: I Can See Clearly Now

Happy New Year!

Flashback.

December 31, 1999, 11:55 p.m., stiff chair, home office:

Picture me in front of my Gateway computer, watching the digital clock tick off the minutes. I was alone and anxious. At midnight, the Year 2000 (Y2K) problem would either occur or not. If the experts were correct, my computer, their computers, the entire world’s computer systems would fail.

An event like that would be disastrous for me. You see, up to and including that very moment, 1999 had been a disturbing year:

  • In January, my husband came home for lunch one day. He let me know he did not want to be married to me anymore. 
  • He left, but half of the “marriage debt” that we legally shared did not. I had been a stay-at-home-wife/mom. Now I was on my own with a 10-year-old son and a typing service with two clients. Rent, food, utilities, and the debt from the marriage — there was more money due than I had coming in. Thank God for child support laws.
  • I gave my typing service an overhaul and called it a secretarial and design business. I worked brutal hours to get it established and gained a good stable of clients. Transcription, graphics, resumes, spreadsheets — without a working computer, I would not have a business. 
  • In November, my mother died of cancer at the age of 68.

And there I was, New Year’s Eve 1999, staring at my computer, after a year like no other, and with the world on the edge of sci-fi-esque destruction simply because a coder didn’t think about a new millennium.

Fast forward. 

December 31, 2019, 11:00 p.m., comfortable sofa, living room:

I am typing on a MacBook Air, which is pretty much the size of my old Gateway’s keyboard with about a million times the power. Twenty years have zipped by:

  • Today we laugh about Y2K.
  • I did not remarry. In the early days of the divorce, I felt that, as a woman, I was deficient in every way. After a pitiful time of trying to convince myself otherwise, I prayed that God would help me to remember who I was in His eyes. He did. That was the beginning of my total satisfaction with being a God-dependent woman. I think men are wonderful, but having time and space all to myself is a gift — definitely not for everyone, but it has been God’s plan for me. 
  • (Side Note: Recently, a co-worker asked me if I had a boyfriend. “No, I don’t. I haven’t had a boyfriend since I met my ex-husband forty years ago.” I gave her my divorce details and ended with this summary: “You really can enjoy the company of men without sleeping with them.” I don’t know if the women who were listening bought into that bit of wisdom, but they all nodded their heads — thoughtfully, at least from what I could tell. Perhaps a little shocked? I laugh when I think of that conversation.)
  • When my son began high school, I retired my business and took on jobs as an administrative assistant. For over a decade, I have enjoyed a steady income and — hallelujah! — company-paid medical insurance. Self-employment is fulfilling, but it is tough to keep your finances in the black when you live in an expensive town and don’t have a second income for the household to enjoy. 

Through it all is God. Present, knowing, unchanging, loving, and forgiving. God carried me and set me down in perfect places, though many of those places would not have been my choices. When I think back on these 20 years of heartbreak, joy, and everything in between, I can see clearly — with a spiritual 2020 vision — that God was, is, and always will be in control of my life, allowing and withholding in ways that He sees best for His purposes, His glory, and my good.

Writing stories, serving my employer, suffering through illnesses, laughing with family, watching loved ones die, or celebrating in a friend’s joy: I want to see and do all of life through God’s eyes, and with the clarity that these past 20 years of His faithfulness give to me.

What is your 2020 vision, goal, focus, hope?

The beautiful art in the photo was created by Cassandria Blackmore, my glass-shattering friend. Visit her website to see more of her awesome work.

“Your Blog Helps Me” — A Precious Message From a Reader

From July 2018:

“Hi, Darla —

Just wanted to say hi and say I’ve missed reading your blog. Or rather to ask if you have not been writing it. I rarely comment, but I love your writing and subject matters. I especially loved the post about your hero, your brother. It moved me (I keep it to re-read occasionally). I had an awful childhood, lousy youth, life-threatening automobile accident at 21 that changed my life, tried to commit suicide, and then was saved. Had a wonderful 36 years with my wonderful husband and suddenly lost him to multiple myeloma and horrible doctor care. Then I crashed and 16 years later I’m trying not to waste what little time I have left. Your blog helps me. Anyway, hope you are doing well and enjoying life.

All the best,
[Reader’s Name]”

Your blog helps me.” I responded right away to her message. I told her that, after a time of focusing on other things and having website technical issues finally solved, I was planning to return soon to sharing my stories. Inspired by her words, I looked towards 2019 with a sparkle in my eye.

December 2018 was a good month. The printed, first draft of a novel was in my hands. My 2019 list of goals was long, organized, and exciting. It was time to get my writing life restarted. On January 1, 2019, I posted an adorable photo of my nephew, which I hoped would inspire all of us for the new year.

Before the end of that month, though, news arrived that put a stop to everything I had planned. I felt like a deflated balloon and lost all desire to create. Writing stories and blogging moved over to my “Maybe Someday” list.

But here we are now, close to the end of the year. The January shock has turned into a gift of greater faith. One day I might share that story. For now, my plan is to return to storywriting in 2020, knowing absolutely that my words may help someone.

Two days after Thanksgiving, I tracked down and reread that email from July 2018. Her words struck me this time in a familiar and more powerful way.

I hit “Reply” and typed a message to let her know I had not forgotten her words, and that I was on my way back to sharing stories.

My message returned with a reply: “The email account that you tried to reach does not exist.”

I double-checked the email address. No, I had not made a mistake.

And so:

Dear Friend:

If you see this post, please know that I treasure your message. I hope that you are still checking my blog now and then, and find that I have returned to writing. I feel honored to know that my stories helped you through your life challenges. Though 2019 was a particularly troublesome year for me, I am confident that God will help both of us to move forward in whatever it is that He wants us to accomplish in 2020.

Sincerely,

Darla