It Was an Accident!

A friend recently fell off a ladder while attempting to trim a tree with a chainsaw on a pole. She ended up with a hairline fracture of her leg. She hobbled around a bit and then tried to make the fracture a full-on break by slipping in cat vomit.

While she had my sympathy initially, when it got to the cat vomit part all she got was laughter.

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Another friend trying not to faint after trying to break her hand

Then I thought about all the stupid things we do as our instinct screams ‘you idiot!’. When you know better, but go forth anyway in the hopes of conquering in spite of your common sense.

Like the time my husband climbed a ladder to rescue his kitten while wearing only a bathrobe and a slippery pair of wet Crocs. Both survived.

Or the time my mother dislocated her shoulder chasing a rooster. She fell over the cage. The rooster escaped.

During my years on a fire department I saw many, many accidents. After a while you realize that pretty much everything in life is just one big accident after another. Think about it. Car accidents. House fires caused by faulty wiring or a tea kettle left simmering too long. Mistakes at work. Taking the wrong turn and getting lost.

The girl whose dog knocked her down inside an old growth tree stump where she was stuck, feet sticking out, until we showed up.

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What could go wrong? Well, actually, nothing. He’s pretty safe.

I wonder how many times my parents fell for the line, ‘but it was an accident!’.

Followed by ‘I didn’t mean it!’.

Followed by ‘it was her fault!’.

And then followed with, most commonly, spankings.

My first trip to the hospital: learning how to ride a bike without training wheels and thinking the bike would magically stop if I pulled up to a curb. After all, that’s what cars did.

Beth, me, Arthur Lake Serene

Nothing was ever the fault of these two siblings, not even this hike that scared my husband so bad

There was the time I swallowed a ring and was scared I’d get in trouble so I didn’t say anything. For days I could feel it in there every time I swallowed. Eventually, I assume, it…passed on.

Of course not all accidents result in bad things. I met some wonderful friends because I didn’t understand the distance between two points while wandering in northern Scotland.

Every day tiny decisions are made that take us through life in ways we never foresee. Where would I be right this moment if I’d been running late this morning, or early? Would I then have been in the car accident instead of driving by? Millions of tiny decisions all throughout the day impact us and most of the time we aren’t even aware of them.

If you think about this too much you’ll never get out of bed. So instead I’m going to remind my sister of the time she brilliantly thought she could swing out on a rope tied to a tree growing out of a steep hillside, and land without breaking any bones.

Holly little

Broke her ankle

We’ll ignore the part where the siblings who shall remain nameless told her ‘you go first and test it’.

Followed by ‘but it was an accident!’.

 

Unloved Books

Sorry, I know I just posted here, and I try to avoid flooding people with blog posts, but I just saw something that fascinates me. I’d post about it next week, but I’m going to be away from the Internet for a bit.

Goodread’s Facebook page just asked people to list what one book everyone else likes, that they don’t.

Wow, so many responses! I kept scrolling through more and more comments, and then started seeing a theme.

A lot of the same books were listed over and over. 50 Shades of Gray and Twilight were at the top of the list.

What fascinated me enough to want to blog about this, though, were the reasons. Even though we can never make all people happy, writers want to know why someone likes a book, or doesn’t. That knowledge gives you something to strive to avoid.

A lot of people listed classics like Grapes of Wrath, Moby Dick, etc. The almost-universal reason was ‘it’s boring’. That makes sense to me because the classics were written for a different era and a different generation of readers. Back then, the world we lived in was much smaller. People didn’t travel like now, and the internet wasn’t there to open the world for us. So books tended to have long passages of narrative description to show the reader that world. These days a few sentences of description are all that is needed for most readers to ‘see’ the setting.

Some responders wrote that they hated a book so much they threw it against the wall when they were finished. I kind of want to read those, because for a book to cause such a strong reaction, there must be something there. The reader may hate the book, but obviously a few nerves were touched.

Most responders though, had similar reasons for not liking a book. Boring. Flat characters. Unrealistic plot. Unlikeable characters. Stupid protagonists. No change from the beginning to the end (in other words no character growth). Condescending to children. And just plain bad writing.

Those are all things writers strive to avoid and learn how to improve upon.

So how would you answer that question, and most importantly, why? Show us writers what to avoid.

Stories and Wills

Whether you’re a writer or not, everyone knows the world is full of stories. Everywhere you turn there’s a story. Every conversation you have is a story. Each thing that happens as you walk through your day is a story.

Some take those stories, embellish them, and write a book. Some add a few words and create amazing short stories or poems or songs.

And some stories are found in old high school wills.

Way back in 1978 when I graduated from high school, we were asked to write a will for our senior newspaper. They were to be symbolic of our leaving school and moving into ‘adult’ life.

Mom and Lisa 1978

Senior mother-daughter tea

Recently, I came across that collection. High school was difficult for me in a lot of ways and I didn’t know the majority of the kids. I had my small group of wonderful friends, but outside that group, I spent most of my time off in story world. But I thought it would be fun to read this collection after so many years. I couldn’t remember what I had written. Would it be wise and profound? Would it be something where I would see the seeds of a writer?

As you can imagine, a lot of these were the typical sort, where a guy wills to freshmen his secret spot for smoking pot, or the best route to skip class. But what amazed me was that several were stories. In a sentence or two, I could see the story, hear the writer’s voice, and feel the emotion behind their words.

One girl, who had obviously struggled in her bookkeeping class, willed to her teacher all 3,013 unbalanced worksheets. The story? I know of this woman and she is a finance person for a city.

From a girl to a guy: two musty tolo tickets and a wilted boutonniere. For those who don’t know, a tolo was a dance where the girl asked a guy, something not normally acceptable for ‘ladies’ to do back then. So what’s the story? Was the dance so wonderful she kept the souvenirs? Did he stand her up and not show? Is there anger or bitterness in those words, or humor, or sweet memories?

One guy willed to another guy in the same class better luck next year ‘cuz he will probably be back.

A guy to a girl: enough diamonds to last a lifetime. Sweet, but did those diamonds last a lifetime? Are they still together? Has he realized that she is shallow and has spent all their money on diamonds? Is she furious because he’s bankrupted them over the years, buying diamonds they can’t afford? Do they sit with gray hair, holding hands and seeing that single small diamond on her finger?

One guy willed his coach a lifetime membership in the National Sadist Club. That made me laugh. And probably any kid who has suffered through a physical education class will laugh, too.

One guy willed a girl my bad reputation ‘cause I’m not worth it. Ah! I see a bad boy and a bookworm! I’m convinced they eventually got together and lived happily ever after.

And then there were these. Read and hear the stories.

A smile to anyone who thinks life isn’t worth living.

The borrowed time I’m living on.

To my brother, the sense to come down to earth.

The best of luck coping with the world.

The ability to lose weight and drop a boyfriend.

For a bunch of eighteen-year-olds, some of these are almost profound.

And what about the will I wrote, you ask?

Three cases of yogurt, to one of my best friends.

Yep. No seeds of a future writer there. Nothing profound. And I have absolutely no idea what that was about. I’m going to call her and ask though, because after all these years we’re still best friends, and I’m sure she’ll remember the story.

19th birthday 1979

19th birthday. Loved that dress; hated the hair.