Thursday, July 14, 2011


There was a woman on TV the other day who was reading her bucket list – a list of everything she wanted to do and goals she wanted to achieve before she kicked the bucket. She made me stop and think about what the top priority would be on my bucket list…if I had one.

I guess I’d have to say it’s always been the same thing, ever since I was about 10 and wasn’t nearly as close to meeting the bucket as I am now. My goal has been to write a book and get it published. I don’t want to self-publish a book because that’s not challenging enough. No, I want a publisher to offer to publish it for me…and give me money for it. If nothing else, I’m a big dreamer.

During the past 40-plus years, I’ve probably started to write at least a dozen books, but finished only one of them. It was one of those formula-type romance novels, the kind that contains a virgin with heaving bosoms and a long-haired, muscle-bound, testosterone-fueled hero. I wasn’t comfortable writing the book, but at the time, I felt it was the “in” thing to do. So when I sent the manuscript off to a few publishers and one actually wrote back and told me she’d like me to resubmit it after I made a few changes, which she described in detail, I never even bothered.

Back in 2000, I was cleaning the storage shed and happened to come across a box that contained some of my old diaries. I grabbed a pink-covered one that was dated 1962 and sat down to read it. Immediately I was transported back to the summer when I was 12 – the summer when my friend Janet and I, two city-slickers, spent two weeks with my parents in a two-room camp along the Exeter River. The camp had no plumbing or electricity. It did, however, have an abundance of snakes and mosquitoes.

As I read about the camp as seen through the eyes of a 12-year-old, I couldn’t help but chuckle at some of the things I’d written. One page, for example, described the time Janet and I put on our bathing suits so we could go swimming in the river.

I wrote: “Janet is so thin, her goal in life is to weigh 100 pounds someday. My goal is to be able to wear something that doesn’t say “Chubette” on the label. When we stand next to each other in our bathing suits, we look like the number 10!”

The more I read the diary about our crazy antics at the camp, including my growing dread of the constipation-inducing outhouse, the more I laughed. I decided right then that I was going to turn the diary into a book. Within a week, I’d written six chapters.

My enthusiasm turned out to be short-lived. I don’t know what happened, but I put the book aside and forgot about it. I didn’t find it again until I was packing to move to our new house back in 2009. I read the six chapters I’d written, had a good laugh, and once again set the book aside.

I didn’t think about the book again until I saw the bucket-list woman on TV. I searched through (well, tore apart) my office until I finally found the computer disk with my six chapters on it. I’ve faithfully been writing on the book every day since.

Last night, I reread the chapter I’d written about a walk Janet and I had taken down a busy country road near the camp, and I couldn’t help but smile at the memory of it.

I wrote:
Janet and I walked silently in a single file along the side of the road. I was in the lead and she was behind me. We were hoping to find some kids our age to hang around with, but all of the houses we passed showed no signs of life.

Finally, as we rounded a curve, I spotted something moving on the lawn at a Colonial-looking white house on the other side of the road. It was a big black dog. In fact, it was so big, it resembled a bear. The dog was running loose in the yard, and the moment it spotted us, it launched into a series of barks and growls so vicious, it sounded just like Lon Chaney, Jr. when he’d transformed into a werewolf.

“Look straight ahead and keep walking,” I said over my shoulder to Janet. “Don’t make eye contact with him. He probably won’t run across the road anyway. There’s too much traffic.”

The second I uttered the words, every vehicle on the road vanished. Janet seized the traffic-free opportunity to move up next to me and together, shoulder to shoulder, we walked quickly and stiffly. I heard the dog’s barking become louder and more frenzied. It also got closer. Soon, the barking was directly behind us.

“Walk a little faster,” I said to Janet out of the corner of my mouth.

“I-I can’t.” Her voice barely was a whisper.

“Why not?”

“Because the dog is attached to the seat of my shorts.”

I stopped to look. Sure enough, the dog’s teeth were sunk into the back of Janet’s shorts, which, luckily, were so baggy (because she was too thin to even come close to filling them), the dog wasn’t able to grab any of her skin.

I prayed the dog wouldn’t decide Janet was such slim pickings, he’d switch over to my shorts. Mine were so tight, the beast would be all but guaranteed to taste a big chunk of butt meat.

I’m hoping to keep writing at least 10 pages a day on the book and finally finish it, then try to fulfill my bucket-list goal and get it published. Of course, I realize I have one chance in a gazillion of that ever happening, but I have to give it my best shot before the bucket gets any closer…or my brain cells dry up.

Now if only I can remember where I put my diary…

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