Welcome to Dee's Pad

My life as a writer, and as a wife, mother, and grandmother.

Sunday, June 01, 2014

Interview with Cousin Ken

Like so many folks these days, my Cousin Ken was laid off from his job when they downsized. He chose to go to college and find a new career. While taking English II, he had to write an essay. He asked if he could interview me about my writing. I said sure. 
It makes me sound better than I think I am! Here is it. Let me know what you think. By the way, he got an A on his paper.

Interview with Dee
By Ken Erhard

Cousin Dee has been one of the most out of the box thinkers I have ever known. I have always looked forward to spending time with her and listening to her stories of the antics of our family.  For many years she threatened us with being placed in one of her stories but we took that for granted.  It wasn’t until that last ten years that those threats became real when she began getting published. I never knew she was taking writing seriously until I started receiving reports through a social media site that she had one story published, then another and so on.  I decided to interview her about her writing as I have also given some thought of writing from time to time and wanted to know her experiences while achieving her goal.

I first became interested in writing when my fifth grade English teacher pulled me aside to tell me how much she liked a short story I had written.  To my surprise, this was also the case when I asked Dee the question of when did she start writing?  She stated that “she always wrote but started giving it more thought during her senior year in high school when she received an A on an English paper”. She also stated that her mother was not very supportive and suggested she become a nurse and “not something crazy like a writer”. Dee kiddingly added her mother said she would never make any money as a writer and added that her mother was correct in the latter statement.

Dee and her family moved out of state around 1976 and kept in contact with the rest of the family through letters.  It was through the responses to these letters that she started to become more serious about writing. She would write amusingly about her family and other things and I recall laughing hysterically over some of the stories while my mother read them. I remember when she started sending duplicated copies due to the number she was sending, and was always glad to see one laying on the dining room table when I got home.  It was through our supportive replies that when she decided to go to college “at the old age of 38 I was asked what I wanted to do, I said write”. The first class she took was Creative Writing and followed that with journalism.

These family update letters became the basis for many of the stories she has had published and are the favorite subjects to write about. One that she is most proud of was titled “My Beloved Crazy Relatives” that was sold to Chicken Soup for the Soul.  She also sells stories to True Story and True Confessions and all deal mostly with families. Selling to these publications may not sound like a large accomplishment but as she states later in the interview, “The competition is fierce.” She had to learn to toughen up and realize that not everyone will like what you write and can be harsh critics.  I came away from that portion of the interview realizing in order to make money as a writer you have to sell stories to whomever is willing to purchase them.

Along with earning money from the stories I asked what writing does for her personally. “It keeps me sane” was her immediate response. She then jokingly reminisced of a bad winter shortly after moving to Indiana from Ohio. “The kids were out of school more than a week. If it wasn’t for writing home to family and friends, I may have ended up in a padded room, instead of a closed door bedroom, while the kids fought and were loud.”  She has come to understand that if she doesn’t write for a while for whatever reason, she begins to feel “grouchy”. The next statement she made an impact on me; “Writing for most writers is like breathing. You have to write”. It made an impact because usually when I pick up my pen and paper, it’s to release something that’s building up inside me. It has been a way for me to release stress and tension over the years.

Another question I asked was for my own needs. I struggle with having many ideas for stories but letting them fall away as well as getting “writers block”. Here are some of the exercises she uses to deal with these issues. “I lay in bed early in the morning, eyes closed, and start concocting story ideas.” She warns that sometimes it can take days to get through a block but most times she can start writing again that day. To keep the creative ideas flowing she recommends is to journal non-stop for ten minutes regardless of what you are writing.  I personally have used this method in the past with success. Still another suggestion is to pay attention to what you see and what you hear. An example she used was “Have you ever heard the news and thought who would do that?” She then will take the news report and see if she can develop a story from it.

As I stated earlier, Dee didn’t start getting published until more recent years yet her dream started over forty years ago in high school.  I asked her what suggestions she would give aspiring writers. She replied she would have “quit letting life get in my way and sit my butt to the chair, block out everything around me and write more”. She explained that she needed to work to help  make ends meet at home over the years and that took away from her writing time. She also added “Never give up your dream. Don't listen to the internal person saying you can't make it, why bother trying”. She also had to learn to take criticism and not let it impede her writing. She also added that if one story fails, go on to write another or ask a person you respect to give you feedback on the work. The key for her it seems is to just keep writing.

I have developed a new respect for Dee and what she has done to achieve her dream.  It was not until this interview that I realized how long she has aspired to be a writer and how much strength it took for her to keep going.  Thinking back over the years and remembering her telling us she had written stories but could not get them published never really occurred to me what that meant for her.  The rejection she went through and so forth. Dee has become an inspiration to me and also one of my “respected people” I can go to for feedback and help with my writing.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Med side effect and grandkids

I haven't blogged for a long time, so thought it was time to start again.

Sometime before Christmas I was watching TV in the bedroom and moved the rocking chair so I could see it better. At 10:30 I was ready to go to bed and moved the rocker--right into my leg. I looked down and saw blood gushing like a volcano out of one of those Hawaiian Islands.

Did I mention I don't do well with blood?

Hubby was sleeping in the family room with the TV blaring and I decided the bleeding would stop soon. Band aid after band aid I was still gushing, then put a lot of gauze over it and went to bed. I know, I should've gone for stitches, but who wants to sit in ER at that hour and wait for someone to get the thread and needle out and stitch your leg?

I kept doctoring the leg, sure any day it would be healed. I never had trouble healing. Besides, Christmas was coming up soon and another baby was entering the world, Larry had leg problems and was in treatment, and I volunteered a few hours a week in grandson Noah's Kindergarten class.

Christmas Day arrived, but we won't talk about that drama, the baby arrived, Tyler Phoenix Ana Hase, then New Years. And the leg still wasn't healed.

February was about to arrive and the leg still hadn't healed. I had a talk with the leg. "Damn it! Get over this. I don't have time for more doctor appointments." I visited my primary doctor again. He said to keep any eye on it.  How could I not? 

Two more weeks passed and I called and said okay, my leg still isn't healed. Ok so perhaps you need to see a wound doctor, Primary said. Meanwhile, here's some antibiotics. Another three weeks I got to see Wound Doctor. He gave me two more antibiotics.

I don't know about you, but I never read that long list of side effects. If I did, I'd never take any medications. Along with the antibiotics, Wound Doctor gave me some witch's brew to clean the wound with. Cleaning an open wound hurts like the devil, but I could do this, and wear lots of gauze over it.

But then I went to lunch on the second day of drugs and picked up my grands from school. I noticed I was getting cold. Real cold. We're talking about Florida here. 

Noah gets in the car and I ask how his day was.

"Not good. I got into trouble and I'm on red now."

"What did you do?"

"We'll talk about it when we get home." 
That sounded serious.

Then Emma gets into the car and I ask the same question.

"Good. I now have 25 dog bones."

Noah: "You have 25 dog bones? I only have one and it's for Art."

(dog bones are some type of awards at the school)

Noah grumbled the whole way home. When we got home, Larry gave him his  usual chocolate milk, but in his haste of being upset over Emma having more dog bones he yanked with the pop-up on his cup and milk came flying out all over him.

"It's your fault, Papaw! You put too much milk in here."

Meanwhile, the side effects of one of the meds kicked in big time with me. I wrapped up in blankets and shivered, had a headache, and even my teeth rattled. I called the doc 's office and was told medicine x was probably causing it. I read the paper and yep, I had a lot of those things going on.

My leg is slowly healing, we will pick up the kids in a bit and hopefully, Noah had a good day!