Transmission from the Sick Couch

I haven’t written here in a while, which is due to many reasons, some of which I’ll explain:

1. The Writer’s Voice was an online writing competition via Twitter and various writerly blogs. I was very lucky to be chosen for a “team” (#TEAMKRISTA) and to receive some exciting requests from exciting agent persons. I met (virtually) some talented and generous writers, and it essentially gobbled up any internet time I had for an entire week. I’m sad it’s all over, actually. So much nail biting and happy dancing, both for myself and my co-entrants.

2. Oh, the illness. I’ve been sick, ya’ll. My great hope is that this monster is on its last legs, but I’ve been totally wiped out lately. I had to miss more than one summery-fun party (HAPPY 30TH BIRTHDAY LIZ!) and I’m so bored with blowing my nose and death-bed coughing, I can’t even tell you.

3. Silence on the dial! Ok, so this isn’t an excuse to not write, but The Eyes and Ears of Tigertown have grown silent with the summer! I guess the kids are on vacation, or approaching it, and don’t have an interest in pursuing programming now. This bums me out to no end. I promise to check back in periodically and hopefully in September we’ll be back in action.

As of tomorrow I’ll be starting in on a Novel-In-A-Month exercise so my hope is that my latest work in progress will have a shiny (probably rusty, bulky, clumsy) first draft by July. That’s exciting stuff to me.

Also, later on in the summer I’ll be working with some really amazing people on a show called The August Monologues. This means that I’ll be spending some time working on a monologue…obviously. I think it’s going to be about the nature of fear and anxiety. And after Ryan and I encountered a crazy man who tailgated and almost beat us up in a strip mall last night, I am feeling particularly tuned in to this topic. *Shivers* (No one was hurt, just kind of …yelled at? Boof, the underbelly of the suburbs…)

But, it’s all inspiration, right? Right! I’m wishing for a writing-heavy summer, and clear nasal passages.

 

On Not Being Funny

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Ryan picked up one of the “Conversation Starter” cards on the restaurant table and he read, “What is your favorite part of camping?”

Without hesitation I replied, “The open mic.”

This is a story about the least funny thing I ever did.

I grew up next to Logan Airport and by “next to” I mean “practically on the runway”. Winthrop, though a pretty suburb, is also lousy with jet-fuel. Most outdoor conversations endure long pauses to allow for overhead traffic. We lived minutes away from downtown Boston, and camping was just something people did on TV.

But we did have a Brownie troupe and my mom was the lead-mom. We made crafts and drank juice after school on Tuesdays in the cafeteria. It was great and sometimes there was freeze-dance. Which ruled.

I think all Brownie/Junior/Girl Scout participants have to go on a camping trip, and ours took us to some big lodge that seemed like utter wilderness. In actuality I think it was probably just 10 minutes away from a mall. Oh, but we were wild, free, and checked for ticks pretty much every 15 minutes.

I’d heard the song, “Camp Granada” somewhere and thought it was the height, I mean, the height of hilarity. When I think about the way my sense of humor developed as a kid, I get a total kick out of it. Just that sentiment of , “They’re feedin’ me SLOP over here!” was uproariously funny to me.

So, for the open mic I did a rendition of “Camp Granada” only Brownie style. I don’t think I had anything particularly planned, but I just got up and started singing …and singing…verse after verse of improvised “camp is a drag!” lyrics. I think I replaced “Camp Granada” with “Brownie-ada”. Right.

It was the least funny thing I ever did.People just started getting up and getting snacks/going to the bathroom after verse four. Even the adults. It was a true comedy fail.

When I think back on it now I cringe a little, but moreover, I’m in awe. In second grade, when I was hanging out with my friends, I didn’t give a crap. I liked singing, so I sang…and sang…and sang. If this story was set in fourth grade, just two measly years later, I wouldn’t have dreamed of getting up in front of everyone. Adolescence brought on so much anxiety for me, as I think it does for a lot of people.

I was just reflecting on this – the pure joy and confidence of being a little girl. To not even know what embarrassment is! I think I’m still on a journey of trying to get back to that place of total unselfconsciousness.

We should all be able to just sing and sing and not be funny, and not care. That’s living.

So then Ryan responded, “What? Erin, do you know what camping is?”

The Writer’s Voice: THELMA BEE

Here is my entry into The Writer’s Voice Contest! Having missed the 9am window by a few seconds I’ll be rushing to submit this at 9 tonight.

Plot outline from query letter:

Eleven-year-old Thelma Bee might turn red as cherries when she’s embarrassed, but she’s no wallflower. Thelma has adventure in her blood. There’s not a whole lot of opportunity for exploration in her hometown of Riverfish, MA, though, so she and her best friend Alexander Oldtree are often left to their own devices – with mixed results. The full-scale Viking Longship, for example, was a magnificent flop.

But one October night, Thelma’s sixth grade year takes a turn for the peculiar. A ghostly visitor kidnaps her father, leaving her alone and scared to death. Her only clue is a centuries-old jewelry box and one cryptic word the ghost whispered into her ear: “Return”.

She’s got to get her dad back. Soon the adventurer-in-training is drawn into a world where her family tree unfolds a mystery that’s more extraordinary than anything her imagination could concoct. With her team of amateur ghost hunters, Thelma delves deep into the New England woods where the lines between folklore and reality become dangerously blurry. To save her family and friends, she must find the bravery to overcome a dark magic that has stalked her ancestors for centuries…and discover just what she’s made of.

 First 250 of THELMA BEE:

Chapter One: A Twitchy Visitor 

Thelma Bee had short confident bangs, a heavy red backpack, and no idea that a very strange thing was about to find her. When the final bell of the school day rang that Wednesday afternoon, she closed her eyes and the sound transformed into a celebration of mariachi trumpets. Just one more school day until the long-long weekend. She busted out of the front door with the excitement that only 2:30 p.m. can bring, and navigating a path through a weird-smelling ocean of middle-schoolers, Thelma set a course for her dad’s antique shop.

Mr. Henry Bee was the proud proprietor of Bee’s Very Unusual Antiques – which was, in Thelma’s opinion, a bit of false advertising. Sometimes they sold items that were quite ordinary, like an old chipped mug, and sometimes they sold things that were not antique at all, like Mrs. Edelstein’s homemade cookies. Maybe, she thought, the shop should be named something more like Bee’s Very Unusual Antiques and Also Some Very Normal Antiques and Also Cookies. Not very catchy, but honest.

“Hey Dad!” She threw down her backpack and plopped herself on an overstuffed avocado and orange colored chair from the 1970s.

“Hey kiddo!” hollered Henry.

He emerged from his workshop in a worn-out brown apron. Henry Bee sported the kind of thick eyeglasses that were fashionable in the 1950’s, as he had a passion for the old and unique. Once a journalist for the American Post, Henry traveled the globe reporting on strange occurrences from Albany to Antarctica.