Last week I told you that I was "born to be home, tending grandkids, working the land, cooking meals from the garden, and writing 'til my heart squeezes the last words onto the page." I said that this life without a day job is the dream-come-true, the life I've yearned for every single day for the past few decades. It's my heaven on earth, my own private nirvana, my paradise.
So, in order to squelch the nerves that are trying to break through and mess up my happy place, I've decided to write about all the wonderful things that happened because Kodak got rid of me.
Bella is so easy to please! Bella loves cow or soy milk, and will happily drink water or juice. She eats all the garden produce I put in front of her with gusto: green beans, fresh tomatoes, watermelon, kale, beets, potatoes, blueberries...you name it, she'll eat them with unabashed enthusiasm. When she's done, she lifts her arms high above her head and somehow communicates that it's over. It's not a whine, or a screech. Just two syllable baby words that sound like "all done." She chatters like a magpie, in her own language, but on occasion we've been certain she said, "Trot, trot!" (a game we play bouncing her on knees), "dog," (we have two who love her and her mom has three), "Hi," and "Peekaboo." She hasn't said them a lot, but it was a treat to hear them for the first time and not have to get a call at work to tell me about it. Being there first hand certainly has its advantages.
As soon as she arrives for a visit, Bella runs for the piano, and starts pressing keys. Her great grandmother (my MIL) holds her on her lap and plays the Hungarian Rhapsody for her. I do the same, and Bella holds my two index fingers while we play chopsticks together. Okay, so I'm a little rusty on my Chopin waltzes... She has a peculiar way of asking for me to repeat the song, a sort of little jiggle and bounce with big eyes turned up at me. There's no doubt that it means, "Do it again!"
When daughter Melanie plays her guitar, Bella is fascinated. Unlike Bella's older brothers, who we helped raise, and who would have grabbed and broken the guitar strings in a boyish macho fit of excitement, she delicately strums the strings. It's similar to the way she gently taps the wind chimes on the porch and seems to delight in their sounds. When I used to lift Gordie up, he'd smash them with a fist and laugh at how they flip flopped all over. He didn't mean it to be an act of violence. He's just a boy. ;o
So, once again, thank you God (and Kodak) for freeing me up this summer. Thank you for the time I've had with my darling granddaughter, for the weeks of play and tenderness, for the first time I took her swimming in the pool and her little feet paddled so strong, for the strolls in the garden with Bella holding my finger toddling beside me, and for the time I've enjoyed when she got sleepy and lay her little head on my chest. I've grown so close to her, it hurts when she leaves.
So what's this got to do with writing?
Everything. It's life. And that's where stories come from. I'll end up using many of these observations as traits for Gus LeGarde's twin granddaughters (Celeste and Marion) and even for Sam Moore's grandson, Timmy. Almost every scene I've ever used with these children has been based on my real life: daughters, grandsons, and now Bella.
The next time you get stuck on a story, or feel that dreaded block coming on, just stop, get up, and live life for a while. Not only will you have participated in your own life (a very good thing!) but soon the words will pour out of you, I promise.
Watch for Part 3 in a few weeks. I'll be delivering my daughter back to grad school in Boston next week and visiting my family, so probably won't get to post next weekend. Have a wonderful few weeks!
Aaron Paul Lazar writes to soothe his soul. The author of LeGarde Mysteries and Moore Mysteries enjoys the Genesee Valley countryside in upstate New York, where his characters embrace life, play with their dogs and grandkids, grow sumptuous gardens, and chase bad guys. Visit his websites at www.legardemysteries.com and www.mooremysteries.com and watch for his upcoming release, MAZURKA, coming in 2009.