I love to write. I get up each morning obsessed with what I'm working on, where my characters will take me, the next story I plan to write. And each time I leave the house I come back with new ideas, notes I've scribbled down, and snippets of conversations heard here and there.
Some snippets stay in my head for years before I use them. As was the case with a Don St. Arbor quote.
Don St. Arbor was one of Terry's best friends. He lived across the field from us, so they practiced basketball together, hunted and fished together. He was there much of the time, so during the summertime he could often be found at our dinner table.
One day Mother baked two chocolate pies for dessert. Her pies could win a contest, the chocolate filling smooth and velvety, crust tender and flaky, meringue standing in peaks.
Since guests were always served first, we drooled as Mother turned to Don. "Would you like a piece of pie, Don?" she said.
"No, thanks, Mrs. Wilson," he said, "Seems like all the chocolate pies I been eatin' lately have been awful lumpy."
Now, what writer could resist a comment like that? I used it in a story forty years later.
Another snippet stayed with me over fifty years before I pulled it from memory and put it on paper.
When I was three, I went with Maw Maw Wilson to take dinner to an old riverboat pilot in Laketon. I don't know what his real name was, but everyone called him Pilot. He lived at the bottom of Laketon hill in a tiny tarpaper shack, and he had no family that anyone knew of. He was all alone. And he was very sick.
I felt very sorry for the old man, but I was a little afraid. So that is probably why the following incident left such a deep impression on me.
"Do you need anything, Pilot?" Maw Maw says, placing his dinner on his bedside table.
A bushy grey head appears from deep within the covers, eyes dark and sunken. "No, thank you, Miss Muriel," he says, "I don't need nothin' a-tall. But thank you for being here."
My story, Thank You For Being Here, has been accepted by Kentucky Monthly, and will be the featured nonfiction piece in their literary issue. It will be coming out in November.
The snippet list is getting longer each day. So I'd better get busy. If I wrote all day for the next fifty years, I would never be able to use them all.
But I will try.
All words and pictures © 2008 Brenda G. Wooley