Today, Mom needs to go to the dentist. If I don’t get this finished before I need to leave, I can finish it in the waiting room. Or I can start reading another book. The book may win, as I have several that sound very interesting. “Ticker Tape,” by Nebraska Author Tammy Marshall is probably the one I will land on. It’s about a Vietnam Veteran returning home and his life after the war. It could be any of the men I encounter daily at the VFW Post we volunteer at. It could be the Babe, or any of our friends. I’m looking forward to reading the story.
It’s kind of amazing, in the last three years, since I started writing, I look at stories completely different now. The stories, the scenes, what happens on camera, what happens off camera. What belongs, what doesn’t. It’s a whole different way of thinking. Not saying it’s better, just different. I’m finally coming to understanding of my craft and I can see my own progress. We’ll keep going!
I am greatly encouraged when I can see my own progress. On a daily basis, we get busy doing and may not realize how far we’ve come. And I’m becoming a better writer every day. I want to be a better story teller all the way around. My stories just happen to be written down with words. Some folks make their stories into songs, some folks make their stories into art.
My friend Rick Tiger and I talked about writing, both in the context of songs vs. stories. He told me we would write a song next year, when he returned to the VFW to sing again. Unfortunately, he came down with COVID after he returned home, and the world lost him September 1. I’m still reeling when I think of this wonderful man, this friend who would help pray you through difficulties and check in with you later, is gone. I’m so sad for his wife and family. His story is not finished, not by a longshot. And I may write a song someday, but I know he will still guide me through it. That’s how it works with friends and family who pass on. They’re still with you. You have to be still and feel them. Spirits are strong.
It appears I forgot to post this on Wednesday, so you get two blogs today. See you later!
I was stunned Wednesday morning when a mutual friend messaged me about Rick Tiger’s death. My first thought went to his wife Joyce, their family, and all of the people who love him. All of us who were his friends. We are many. Our header photo is the VFW folks who were present when he sang for us in July. It was a fun night. One couple left early, because the husband wasn’t well. Lenny greeted Rick in heaven, I think.
This photo is a pic I sent Rick after he appeared at our VFW in July. We had a very small crowd, but we had such an intimate evening. Rick sat at a table with all of us and asked about our lives, what we did, and got to know us as much as he could. He was wonderful, as always. He laughed at himself, was such a host, and did what he knows best. Spread love, lessons, and support for our troops, and prayers for our great nation.
At the VFW that night, I told him how I’m very curious about what it takes to write a song. He told me, “next time I come to town, we will write one. Then you’ll know!” Bless his generous heart.
Back to the picture. Rick has a song from a few years ago, called, “Coffee and Conversation.” It’s a lovely song. The Babe and I are reminded of it every day we sit on our deck and rock in those chairs. The song reminds the Babe of how his Grandparents started the day on their farm. As kids, he and siblings spent a lot of time with Grandma and Grandpa during the summer. The whole scenario is lost on most of America these days. It’s just one of Rick’s beautiful stories. I’m so glad to have met and been friends with this man. What a gift. Him. His Music. His Prayers whenever we asked. He leaves a huge empty spot in the lives of many.
How meaningful for my Goldie, the two year old yellow lab, pestered me out of my office/studio, and outside to sit on the deck. Rick told me we would write our song out here. Coincidence? I think not. I firmly believe in messages from God and those who have gone to heaven before us.
Instead of writing words with Rick, at this spot, I’m writing them about him, with a broken heart complete with tears. My words? They pale in comparison with what he can do with a story. His Stories! Included are misfits and born again. Whiskey and virtue. Forgiveness and Jesus. Joyce, my how he loved Joyce! And he always will. We will miss you fiercely, Rick. Hope all who read this will tell a Rick story, and heal their heart a little. It helped me just to finally be able to sit down and write it after avoiding it all week. And that pesky puppy Goldie took me to where I needed to do it. Thanks, Rick. For everything. And especially for writing with me this morning. I’ll never forget you.
Well, maybe not follies. Imagine, if you will, a time and place where the big, bad dog jumps back and forth with the vacuum cleaner, barking, and having a puppy fit over the very home appliance which cleans up her hair that has been shed like sprinkles from cupcakes. Goldie is such a goof. I’m not sure why she does that, she just does. Lexie has always ignored it as part of life on Raabe Ranch. We are nearly finished autumnizing our home. It looks nice if I must say so myself. Bright and happy. I like that.
I had a come to Jesus moment; a revelation; an incredible idea. I’m going to outline the rest of my chapters by scenes, to write with the six steps for scenes Sam told me about last Thursday. Multiple related scenes can make up a chapter. I think it’ll make it a lot easier to keep track of what I’m doing. While it’s great to believe you can just sit down and write on the fly, it’s really hard to resolve all the issues, keep the tense the same, even keep track of who does what to who (whom?), and why they did it. It’s a lot more complicated than it looks. And writers cannot let that intimidate them. The stories we need to tell also need telling.
Now, that said, I cannot imagine what drives Stephen King to write some of the frightful stuff he writes. I cannot imagine if he himself has inner demons in need of release, or it he just thinks of these things and keeps track of his nightmares. What do you think? I know he has many, many fans. I prefer not to have the bejesus scared out of me. (Or is it BeJesus?) Whichever, I think you get my drift.
This time last year, I honestly pictured myself at book signings, talking to people, sharing merch, and having people ask me when another book would be coming out. It is a powerful thought to hold. And I still expect it to happen someday. I do believe age gives me the confidence needed to do this. I still have some things to learn to make it successful. I’m already a patient person, and I know God will get me there when He thinks I’m ready. I trust in His will, seriously.
COVID has taught us a lot of things. I’m tired of the disruptions being blamed on it. Some of the political strife is intensified because people’s spirits are in a shambles. You add racial tensions, and it’s out of control. I read a powerful article in the past month, stating it’s an insult to Rosa Parks, MLK, and all the others to say there is not racial equality. After all, it is illegal to discriminate against a person of color, a different religion, sexual preference, gender, and the disabled. If you say there is no racial equality, you insult Rosa Parks, MLK, and everyone who fought so hard to get the laws changed, and some who died trying. Don’t belittle their life’s work. Think about that. BTW. It was written by a black woman.
Of course, I have music playing in the background while I write. I am able to write while listening to singing, some folks cannot. Of course, I listen subconsciously to the stories being told in the music. My favorite songwriters are the storytellers. The stories they tell, whether they be happy or sad, funny or serious, unique or shared by many, all help us express our feelings about the very same circumstances. I’d like to think I might be able to write the lyrics to a song someday. Just to try it. I took piano lessons a century or two ago. No, I don’t have confidence to sing in front of people. Or my dogs. I have no idea if I’m any good or not – the Choir nun used to make us sing in a high falsetto in Church, so it kind of ruined us for regular singing. We called her Sister Lulu.
I want to thank you for reading today, you know how I appreciate it. It will be unusually hot today in Nebraska, hope it’s done once Sunday is over. Hopefully, we’ll both have successful ventures today. I hope you accomplish all you want to. We purposefully rose early today so we would have enough time to get more done. It’s on track to be a great day of accomplishment. Hope yours is too! Be safe, courteous, and kind. If we all do that every day, the mood of our towns, cities, states and nation could start to calm down. It’s worth all of us working on. See you all tomorrow!