#Fiction Friday: #Novelines from the Book

Mormoni

I became somewhat of a Pollyanna during the heyday of my Mormon experience. I didn’t look around, but straight ahead—to the end I had to endure to.

The Coveys had more kids than the Von Trapps, & all by the same mother & father.  I had a feeling there was going to be some matchmaking going on, especially since the Jonases had all girls & the Coveys, all boys.  It would be like the Mormon version of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.

My friend Brad saw in me then, what I did not see in myself—the love I had for my stepfather that went beyond fatherly.

The Fosters—the owners of the diner David & I had secretly dined in—had been the aunt & uncle who’d raised him, the foster parents who’d never approved of Mother.

Beth & Gerald had loved me as if I were David’s very own. If only I’d known, I would’ve loved them more while they were alive than after they died.

The lovely couple I had known in that diner in the woods were the shapers, if not the creators, of the man on whose lap had I sat.

He had never let them go, even as he had never let me go.  He had held on to his secrets, so he could hold on to my mother.

That was why they had seemed so familiar, for I had, in a way, grown up with them, even as they had watched me grow up, playing with my memories.

It was incongruous that David grew up on a farm in rural Pennsylvania, only to become the epitome of urbanity in a township in Green Haven, Florida.

Writing prompt: The symbols of your life

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I wish I could take credit for this idea, but my Contemporary Literature professor last semester asked us to examine our life as a literary text–to search for symbols.

My name is Sarah Lea, which is symbolic of my love for baking, as well as a nod to my playful nature (when it comes to writing, anyway).  And though I’m not generally a fan of Urban Dictionary, I rather love the definition they attributed to my name:  https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Sarah-Lea

As for the things I carry, well, that always includes a tube of Revlon’s “Love is On” lipstick (symbolizing my love for anything red or retro), a pair of tweezers, and a flosser.  (There will never be a hair on my chinny-chin-chin.

In the pocket of my red purse (which my husband helped me win at a “Dirty Santa” party), I keep a USB drive, which represents my love for compact, but tangible things (verses saving everything to a mysterious “cloud”). It’s why I read physical books and not e-books. It’s why I write articles for the print version of The Corsair and not for the web (unless they ask me to or shove a story I wrote for the print edition online because they “ran out of room”).

For me, there is something more permanent and prestigious about print. It cannot be edited once it’s been printed (like an online article) and it looks so much better in a scrapbook.

A brand-new suitcase, now several years old, reveals that I never have enough money to travel, but that I hope to someday. The fact that it exists at all is optimistic, which I attribute to my Pollyannish nature. For now, the case is a storage space for my out-of-season (or “when I am skinny again”) clothes, which forecasts that a trip to Iceland or Australia (or Skinnyville) won’t be happening any time soon.

So analyze (or psychoanalyze) the symbols that make up the text that is your life.  You just might learn something new about yourself.

Writer’s Digest Wednesday Poetry Prompt #425: Happy Distraction

Poetry in Motion Pictures

In Pollyanna,
I saw myself as the Sunday school girl
who focused on the “Happy Texts,”
because it helped me “keep the faith.”

In A Tree Grows in Brooklyn,
I saw myself in Francie Nolan—
that lies weren’t lies if they were written as stories.

In The Wizard of Oz,
I saw myself as Dorothy—
who fell asleep to dreams
well-lived.

In The Sound of Music,
I saw myself as Liesl von Trapp,
who saw the greatness of her country
diminishing.

In Kitty Foyle,
I saw myself as “that sassy Mick”—
once in love with an unattainable man.

In Elmer Gantry,
I saw myself as Sister Sharon Falconer—
whose faith was strong,
even as her love for a man made her weak.

In Seven Brides for Seven Brothers,
I saw myself as Milly,
who tried to smooth out a rough-hewn man.

In Gone with the Wind,
I saw myself as Scarlett O’Hara—
who proved that strength and tenacity
could save it all.

Classic movies have always been
my happy distraction,
for in them,
I saw the parallels of my own life,
and though their pain wasn’t my pain,
their joys were my joys.

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 425

I Am a Slow-Speaking Lady

Reflections, Saint Patrick's Day

I am a slow-speaking lady,
a cracked Southern belle.
I am a Pollyanna at times,
an H.L. Mencken at others.
I am a Christian outside church,
a skeptic, a questioner, inside.
I am a lover of old things,
a user of new things.
I am okay and not okay.
I go by no other name—
no Mrs., no Dr.,
and never Sally.
I am someone’s brown-haired,
less intellectual
Diane Chambers.
I am a Lucy,
looking for her Ethel.
I am a bra-hating
non-feminist,
stuck in a society
stuck on teats.
I am a 35-year-old mama
playing her gender role
to the cross.
I am a black Irish,
white-collar,
working-class gal,
whose freckles
number the stars.
I am an open book,
a woman of mystery—
right down to the
witty gritty.
I am unilaterally deaf,
bilaterally blinded by
what is going on in the world,
for mine is a series of
unnatural disasters.
I am strong as spider’s silk,
as vulnerable as Hitch’s
leading ladies.
I am all these things;
I am more than these things,
for there is no end
to that which makes me,
me.

#Micropoetry Monday: Faith & Spirituality

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He preached to the masses
of their filthy rags of righteousness,
but it was when he preached the “Happy Texts”
that his people saw less the ugliness of man,
& more the beauty of the Divine.

They were not found in Salt Lake,
nor in the Church of Scientology.
They were not found in buildings,
nor in any book or prophet.
To know Him
was to know His Words–
words that had been translated
so many times,
that the person who sought Him
tried to make sense of what was left.

God was everywhere,
whether or not we chose to
drink Him in.
His DNA infiltrated our cells—
He had taken His image,
& made copies—
worth more than original
Picassos—
every one of which He paid
the highest price for;
though some would sell themselves
to the lowest bidder.

I’ve lived a thousand deaths such as these,
but the only two that will matter in the end,
will be the one that separates me from this earth,
& the one that reunites me with the God
whose work behind the scenes of my life
I recognize as per His direction.

When they eradicated all of the mental defects,
they eradicated the physical.
When they had done that,
they eradicated the ugly,
but in place of beauty,
there was only coldness,
& no one left to save
or be saved.

“For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant,
and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness;
and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.”
(Isaiah 53:2)

#Fiction Friday: #Novelines from the Book

mormoni

She turned to me, but I wasn’t prepared for the bombshell she was about to drop. “You see, I met David the day before I was to be married.”

“When your father moved us here, I thought we had lost David, but he found us. He always found us. I could never run away from his love.”

“I didn’t know David until it was too late,” Mother was saying, though I was only half-listening, uncomprehending, unprepared.

I ran to the sidewalk where Caitlin stood, the balmy breeze blowing her paisley skirt around her knees. It was finished.

I felt about Sundays like the servants of Polly Harrington’s had. I hated them, though instead of a sour stomach, they gave me a migraine.

Every Sunday was St. Patrick’s Day for us until the day Mother decided to give it back to God who had been, as David, waiting patiently for her.

Lancaster County—where we hadn’t been back since the day we’d left our Amish & Mennonite friends, never to hear from them again.

Mother canonized Patrick long ago, even as my sister prayed to him like a Saint. As for me, I had deified David, so I had no use for the dead.

David left us every Saturday evening, not to return till sundown Sunday; those hours were for mourning Patrick, or St. Patrick’s Sabbath Day.

Knowing that Mother had known David before she married my father made me wonder just when it was she fell in love with him.

Mother’s talk of betrothals & marrying my father out of honor seemed archaic & passionless to me.

2016, A Year in Review (and a few resolutions, too)

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Twenty-sixteen was my best year yet when it came to writing (not so much the number of words, but the number of finished projects, publications, and contest wins).  I’ve decided my minimum is 300 words (Stephen King’s is 2000, but unfortunately, I’m unable to write for a living yet).  If I want to go over that, that’s wonderful, but the overage won’t count towards the next day.  I have to keep myself accountable.

I have several New Year’s Resolutions:

  1. Get more organized.  This will waste less of my precious time.  I have spent part of the last day of the year clearing out my favorites, deleting e-mails, organizing my USB drive, transcribing my notes that are scattered from pillar to post, polishing the drafts in my blog account so I can either “plush or slush” them (this I’ve done over the last week, explaining my prolific posting).
  2. Do more, and by that, I mean trying different things (especially physical ones, liking biking, climbing, etc).
  3. Plan meals so that I never have to wake up needing to cook.  (I hate cooking in the morning; I’d rather have fish for breakfast…and I have.)
  4. Write something using dictionary.com’s “word of the day”.  This will help me remember it far more than simply memorizing it.
  5. Don’t start writing any more books until I’ve finished (and edited) the ones I’ve written.  (This will take all year.)
  6. Keep coupons in the car or purse.  I am just too forgetful.
  7. Don’t respond to outlandish status updates on Facebook or you will be expected to post one.  I’m sorry, but these really piss me off.  Just like the ones that say “If you love Jesus, you’ll share this”, and others of its ilk.
  8. Include, in my daily to-do list, all the activities I want to do with my daughter.  This includes not just reading stories at bedtime, but other books during the daytime.
  9. Make at least one video of my daughter a week.  I’ve slacked on this as it’s harder to edit videos (or take good ones) than it is a photograph.
  10. Wear less black and gray (yes, it’s slimming).
  11. Do different things with my hair (it’s one of our greatest accessories).  I dug out my old crimper (I’m an eighties girl) and got many compliments on my new look; got a snood for Christmas and if you don’t know what that is, look it up.
  12. Work on Christmas gifts all year long (which would include trying a new recipe weekly).

And that’s just the beginning, but it’s a start.

~

One of my proudest moments this year was winning first place (in the same contest I placed in second twice last year) for my story, “The Punch Drunk Potluck”, about what happens when a saucy girl brings pot brownies to a Mormon Church party and spikes the punch.  Let’s just say everyone’s spirits were lifted.  (I will post the link when the online newspaper editor has it up.)

first-place-short-story

I was also published in Bella Grace magazine, for which I wrote a narrative poem about the magic of childhood.  The magazine seemed tailored just for me, with its almost “Pollyannish” take on life (Pollyanna being one of my favorite movies).

I also got published in the anthology below.  This site, http://writingcareer.com/, has been a great help to me in finding places to submit.

I wrote for the student newspaper this fall semester, am writing still for a parenting blog (https://getconnectdad.com/?s=sarah+richards&lang=en), and help write and design the newsletter for a local veteran’s organization.

As far as my personal writing goals, I got on a blogging schedule, where I only have to create new content once a week (the Writer’s Digest Wednesday Prompt); for the months of April and November, I successfully produced a poem a day.  My Monday and Friday posts come from what I’ve tweeted out, which I artfully compile.  I’ve started a Facebook page with writing tips and truths (https://www.facebook.com/sarahleastories/), also of which will someday end up on this blog (waste absolutely nothing you write).  All of these things have helped me become a better, and more confident and prolific writer (and it all counts towards my daily 300).

Though I’ve enjoyed this year immensely, I am never sorry to see it go, because every year just gets better and better:  I learn more, I become more.

Cheers!

Sarah Lea

#Fiction Friday: #Novelines from the Book

mormoni

I was such a Pollyanna then, believing religion only made people love one another more, but it was simply one more thing to disagree about.

Goodness was worthless in Protestantism, but required in Mormonism—just as works trumped even faith.

Mormons thought marriage more beautiful than celibacy, for people were trees to bear fruit, or, as David said, future tithe-payers.

Though marriage was between 1 man & 1 woman, I believed marriage was however one defined it; even Mormons believed in heavenly polygamy.

When one reached exaltation, or the celestial kingdom, they weren’t as angels, in relation to God, but as families, in relation to one another.

Protestants believed at death, your fate was decided regardless, but the Mormons believed in second chances for those who knew not their faith.

This Holy Spirit they spoke of, testified to the truthfulness of all things.  It wasn’t even a voice or a personage, but a vapor, a feeling.

They asked me to put their faith to the test—to rely not on fact, but on feelings from this invisible Holy Ghost of theirs that had no name.

They gave us a Book of Mormon & a video called “The Mountain of the Lord”.  It was what adult fairy tales were made of.

“I’ve loved all the families I’ve met so far on my mission, but you, Nolans, & David, too, are special to me in a way God has yet to reveal.”