Do our tastes revert back to being a child? Here’s mine.

 

Recently, I attended a writers workshop where we talked about resonance within the genre that you write.

“Learn the language so you don’t sound like a fraud.”

Because fantasy is bone deep with me, I am going to dwell there in my writing for a while. I feel very comfortable within its realm. That is another reason why I love going to fantasy conferences and such. They are my people. I could chat about otherworldly things, forever.

I think back to everything I loved pre-junior high. Something happens to us in jr. high, where our tastes no longer become our own. We become jaded and want to impress others.

Below are some of my favorite things as a child and how I have incorporated them into my writing. These have become a part of my history and makeup. They are woven into my veins just as memory and DNA make who I am. As an adult, my tastes still run along what I couldn’t get enough of as a child.

When it comes to writing and reading, I love fantasy and magical realism.

My first two books that became published, were women’s contemporary fiction. I had written other books previous, but they will never see the light of day, unless I do major overhauls. Contemporary fiction means it could happen in real life. My books were stories that I needed to get out at the time. I will do more like them eventually, but the next 6 books in my queue all have fantasy elements and are geared toward young adult readers.

FAVORITE THINGS AS A CHILD THAT RESONATE WITH ME TODAY:

MOVIES:

– Labyrinth. Oh David Bowie, the Goblin King! My first crush, swoon. Honestly, this was one of the most influential of my entire childhood. This was the first time I was introduced to the seduction and the sympathy to the dark side. Ah, and then he would sing and I would just melt. I would watch the entire show just for this song. “As the World falls down.”

– Legend. The conversation below was life changing to me. “The dreams of youth are the regrets of maturity. Through dreams I influence mankind.” I think this whole movie had amazing conversations, especially at the end when they defeat the darkness. “What is light without dark? What are you, without me? I am a part of you all. We are brothers, eternal.”

– Princess Bride. “As you wish.” Need I say more.

– Anything with a horse… when turned into a unicorn, even better.

– The Dark Crystal and The NeverEnding Story. Loved them and was truly frightened of the nothing! “What is the nothing?” “It’s the emptiness that’s left… the despair. People who have no hope are easy to control. And whoever has the control, has the power.”

ANIMATION:

– The Last Unicorn. This was my favorite animation of all time… ever. Yes, it’s creepy and weird and fueled many nightmares. But I loved it back then. Here’s a funny article I found about the movie.

The 20 Creepiest Moments from “The Last Unicorn”

– Robinhood. This animated disney trumped all the princess movies for me.

– The Lord of the Rings and Hobbit. We would watch all of the animated films from the ’70’s over and over and over.

I really wanted the Orcs to break into this song in Peter Jackson’s rendition. 🙂

– The Secret of Nimh

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Thunder Cats

BOOKS:

– Bridge to Terabithia. – First book that made me cry. I realized books have a magical power and influence on our emotions.

The Hobbit. My love of the LOTR books came later in high school. Although, I was very familiar with the story because of all animated films.

– The Witches.

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POETRY:

– Where the sidewalk ends.

– The Highwayman. This narrative poem is without question, the number one reason why I fell in love with words. Back in the day, I had it memorized, much in the same way Anne did in Anne of Green Gables.

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“The wind was a torrent of darkness among the gusty trees, The moon was a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas, The road was a ribbon of moonlight over the purple moor, And the highwayman came riding…

… He rose upright in the stirrups. He scarce could reach her hand, But she loosened her hair in the casement. His face burnt like a brand, As the black cascade of perfume came tumbling over his breast; And he kissed its waves in the moonlight, (O, sweet black waves in the moonlight!) Then he tugged at his rein in the moonlight, and galloped away to the west.” The Highwayman – Alfred Noyes

FAIRYTALES:

Rumplestilskin.

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Twelve Dancing Princesses.

– Red Riding Hood.

TOYS:

– Horses.

– Unicorns.

– Brothers action figures.

PAINTINGS:

– I loved everything Pre-Rapheilite and of course fantasy art.

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I just started a Pinterest board of things that influenced me as a child that now resonate into my writing.

What genre do you write in and what are some of the details that resonate with you?

Happy writing-

Tara

My Best Guitar Lesson Ever!

 UPDATE: This post won an award for “creative non-fiction” at the 2015 LUW writers conference.

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I can be cynical.

Cynicalbelieving that people are motivated by self-interest; distrustful of human sincerity or integrity. A general distrust of others’ motives, believing that humans are selfish by nature, ruled by emotion, and heavily influenced by the same primitive instincts that helped humans survive in the wild.

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I wasn’t always this way. It is a trait that has evolved over the past five years or so. Yes, I fight it. I take my thoughts to battle. But still, with all of the heartbreaking news and depressing social media feeds, it compounds the issue.

So, yesterday when I went to a local guitar shop, my mind was churning over a cynical situation that had been really bothering me. I grabbed my old guitar out of the trunk, walked into the store, and placed it down on the counter. I breathed deep, because this was hallowed ground. The smell of wood and lacquer and musicians reliving the good ‘ol days, rested my mind. I smiled as the shop owner stopped jamming with the only other customer in the store and then walked behind the register.

“What’s this?” he asked, eyeballing my ratty old guitar. His gaze skimmed over the not-so-sexy lines of my unusual guitar.

I pressed my lips, feeling a wave of protection flood over me. No one makes fun of my blue guitar. This instrument was bought in China for $5 US dollars. It had been my companion on the dirty, rancid forty hour train rides through rice fields and bread loaf mountains. I was stopped and searched at customs in Malaysia, Thailand, and Macau because I as too stubborn to leave this guitar.

I told him these things. He played it and confirmed what I already knew… My guitar had died, but I still clung to our memories in hopes that the shop owner could resurrect life into it again.

No, he couldn’t.

I stared down at it a long time, looking over the doodles and the collected stickers and stamps, which mirrored my old passport. What would I do with it now? I couldn’t just throw it away, or donate, or keep it as a decoration. Maybe I could just hang it on the wall for display, but I knew the o.c.d. decorator inside me would never let me do that. I had even written this guitar into one of my books and considered it a character. My heart clenched and I strolled over to the wall of guitars to hide the emotion on my face. Who cries over a buried guitar, one that would most likely end up collecting dust in the back of my closet?

The new guitars with their shiny wood and shimmering metal strings, sang to me, beckoning. Their voices rich and full. So much different than my humid warped, aged guitar. I caressed the lines of the beautiful instruments with jealousy and longing.

I stopped. There it hung. An acoustic electric that I had always wanted. Not so extravagant, and yet it would take me a while to save for. The shop owner pulled it down, selling me all the bells and whistles. Yet, I had already been sold. I just couldn’t get it yet… not for a while yet.

“Sit down and play. See how it sounds, how it feels,” he urged.

I pulled up a cushioned stool and sat down. It was like meeting a new friend. I’d like to imagine that my fingers flew up and down the frets with fluidity and grace, but I’m sure they weren’t, as I was still a bit frazzled. Picking and strumming, getting a feel for its song.

I began to tell the shop owner and other customer about an amp I had in the basement that wasn’t working anymore. We chatted. Small talk about how I was sad about my guitar and maybe someday I’ll buy this one. They were nice people. I’d hung around enough music shops to know that they are all generally nice people.

I continued to play. Time stalled as it usually does when I create music, or art, or novels. The walls faded away. I was falling in love.

A tap on my shoulder and a show of a receipt. “It’s yours.” He pointed. “The guitar.”

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I stood, almost dropping the instrument. “What? No. I’ll have to come get it another time.”

“No really. He wanted you to have it.” He pointed to the only other customer who was getting ready to leave. The man was unassuming in his faded jeans and t-shirt.

I wondered why…

Right here… Here is where my cynicism makes an appearance. What did he want in return? What were his motivations? I looked down to see what I was wearing. Turtle-neck sweater, no make-up, and hair in a bun. I had my wedding ring on and I had talked briefly about my kids playing guitar earlier.

“Why?” I asked.

The customer paused, then said, “because I have money and it has caused me nothing but heartache. I want to do something nice with it.”

I refused — even went to hang the guitar back on the hook.

The kind man just shook his head. “It’s already been paid for. It’s done. Just be happy.”

I was happy. I was ecstatic!

Tears welled in my eyes. Nothing like this had ever happened to me before. “I don’t know how to thank you.” I struggled for words.

“You just did.”

I stopped him from leaving. “Well let me get a picture with you.”

He refused this time. He didn’t want any fan fare.

“Let me at least give you a hug.” So I did. It wasn’t strange or awkward. It was a meeting of similar hearts, bound by the innocent love of music.

Driving home, I felt both joyous and inadequate. What to do with such an unrequited show of generosity? People are good. He restored my faith in humanity. I thought of the many ways I could pay it forward because I knew I’d never see him again. And I also knew that’s the way he would want things to end.

I learned a lesson yesterday. Yes, there are tough things that we go through that can turn us cynical, doubtful, and hopeless. But little miracles happen everyday. It doesn’t have to be something as big as this to make you see the good in people. Look around. It seems everyone is in a funk. What can you do to brighten their day? I promise it will make your day better in return. It will make you feel rich with happiness. I think back to that man and how he said, “money gave him nothing but heartache.”

When I was leaving the guitar shop, with my old lifeless guitar in one hand and my new hope-filled guitar in the other, I looked back. The kind man had a huge smile on his face and I knew that the act of giving… is where the treasure truly lies.

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Thanks for stopping by. I love your comments. Has there ever been a time when you were the recipient of unrequited generosity?

Tara

Crawl out of the hole when writing a memoir.

Sitting alone in a crowded hole

Demons possess my inner soul

Caught in a place I can’t escape

The only way is to sit and wait

Fight the thoughts that encompass my mind.

Hurry up, I’ll soon go blind!

Blind to the consciousness of right and wrong

To lose that feeling, everything’s gone

Be strong enough to conquer the worst.

Crawl out of the hole is what to do first.

– from my novel Broken Smiles by Tara Mayoros

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(image found on canyon collective.com)

Sometimes we are stuck in the holes of our own making. We crawl, we fight, and we can emerge from our despair.

Recently I attended an intimate writers workshop. For some reason, many of the attendees have written or are in the process of writing memoirs. Most of the stories were born from past tragedies of life changing accidents, abuse, and thoughts of suicide. Words bring people together. Words heal. There is something uniquely sweet when virgin words are shared. Un-jaded by the industry, those shared moments whittled away at my heart and left me bleeding for their sorrow.

What does it mean to be brave?

Being brave to me, is sharing words that you know will cause a stir, maybe even a hurricane. One woman shared a piece that was gut-wrenchingly beautiful. She had sat on it for months and months, not wanting to offend others or tell her inner most secrets. Maybe it was because none of us knew each other before hand, or maybe she needed to have validation. For whatever the reason, she shared, and cried… and noticeably, a weight was lifted.

The instructor made a very good point when writing a difficult memory… write it with all of the emotion and feelings attached. Do not fight, do not filter your words. It is therapy. Feel what you write, if you want it to be felt by others.

Then, finally, when the story within you has been told, and a certain time and space has distanced you from it, dissect the placement of each word and scene. Don’t be hasty in publishing your final memoir. When writing memoirs, ask for permission from real life characters because everyone has a different side of the story. Or change the characters enough to not be obvious. When writing characters from real life, you run the risk of keeping those people and scenes in the past. You have suspended them in time by publishing them into your book. Do not imprison you and your characters into a book that you wrote fifteen years ago and the situation and people have changed personally.

Expect others to shy away from you. Expect judgements. You must put aside the fear of upsetting friends or family members. It will stunt you if you can’t get past writing the “safe” writing. If your words emerged from a sincere and ernest soul, how could you keep those words inside of you to simmer and boil from the inside? It feels a lot like climbing out of a dark hole, not knowing what the terrain will be like once you have solid ground.

Here are a few ways to dig deep and write a memoir:

Narrow down your life experience: A memoir isn’t your autobiography, it is a peek into your life. It is often one experience that impacted your life greatly. Focus on this one experience to share your message.

Pull out old photos, journals, and objects: This will help bring back the memories. These objects tie you to the past and will help you relive and resurrect the thoughts and feelings you had at the time.

Allow your emotions to flow: Do not write from your mind. Write from your heart. If the memories are scary and confronting, do not close your heart. Your writing will fall flat. I think it is important to write everyday to keep the feelings alive and fresh.

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The silver lining of the long unseen clouds is that your memoir has the ability to change lives.

Many of the authors at the workshop, who were brave and took the plunge of publishing difficult words, shared reviews and comments from readers. The readers said that their books saved their own life or changed how they viewed the world. What better payback is there? No amount of royalties or fame can compare.

Isn’t it worth the fear of being judged?

I have started writing two different memoirs. It is difficult. Much harder than writing fiction or even non-fiction. Quite honestly, I have written fiction to escape what I would put into my memoir. I don’t know when I will ever be able to share my memoir, but in the meantime, I answer the call of my memories and crawl out of the hole which has kept me prisoner… and just write.

I love to hear from you. Please comment if you write memoirs or even blog and journal and have insight.

Thanks,

Tara