Monday, November 14, 2011

Eat, Walk, and Write

Once upon a time I co-authored two books:  Developing Learning Skills Through Children's Literature Vol I and II.  During the time I wrote volume I with Dr. Mildred Laughlin I married Jack and we moved our three teens into a tiny little house.  Liters of Dr. Pepper kept me energized  daily so I could work, cook, write, and spend time with our new family.  Weekly I'd visit Mildred and within a year and half the book was done. I never slowed down long enough to put on weight in those years.   Book two I wrote with Terri Street, and by then our kids were in stages of leaving home and returning.  We'd moved to the country and I was teaching only part-time. I found myself walking and daydreaming instead of meeting deadlines, so I came up with a major "motivating" agent--Red Barron Pizza.   I ate my way through volume II, and managed to meet the deadlines, and it only cost me several cases of Dr. Pepper and pizza plus an extra 10-15 pounds.  It was a good plan, but it had flaws.

Here I am once again in a revising rewriting stage of my first solo book about growing up as a golf pro's daughter in Miami, Oklahoma, and I'm down the to the weight I was twenty years ago!  I truly do relax and enjoy the writing process of just getting the story out on the page.    I am learning every step of the way thanks to an online writing class on Memoir from Lisa Dale Norton.  For those of you who know me, it does not come as a surprise that my mind is jumping all over the time period from 1956-1968 with stories.  There is no order, yet, but I know it is coming.    
1960's Women golfing.
I have stories and notes hidden throughout the recesses of my mind's eye and in notebooks and scattered papers in my shelves of journals.  I never know when a story might jump into my mind.  One day I was at Dillons grocery and enjoyed a flashback to Bob Hill's corner grocery.  Being afraid I'd forget that story I pulled out my cell phone and wrote it into my notepad.  Whether I ever use it or not isn't the point, it is just one of many memories I've collected from growing up in Miami, Oklahoma.  So now I keep a spiral notebook and note cards with me at all times.

This week I'm rapidly approaching a revision deadline of only 4000 words.  It really is simple to write that many words, but I want them to have meaning.  In our class we have turned in five episodes or installments to our memoirs, now it's time to fill in the spaces with more dialogue, reflection, thoughts, time period postage marks, and details.  By 9am this morning I had already taken one fast paced walk with Lucy just to clear my mind and energize me.  As I walked through the garage into the house my eyes fell upon the case of Dr. Pepper.  I didn't even bother to open a can, I walked right by, and as for the pizza, there's none in the house and there won't be for this book.  Maybe when I finished those 55,000 words I might reward myself with a Papa Murphy's veggie pizza, or better yet, fresh seafood from the Gulf of Mexico while relaxing in the sun with Jack in Biloxi, Mississippi.  But first I must write, or go to the garage and pop open a Dr. Pepper.

Letty Stapp Watt
storyteller and historian

Friday, November 11, 2011


Leaf Fall.
As the light mist floated up from the hot tub this morning, I breathed in the healing moisture, smiling and licking the wetness off my lips.  The sun played hide and seek with me from behind the barren tree limbs, while colors changed from dull muted browns to glistening golds and waxing greens before my very eyes, when the sun set its mind to glowing.   I think it was the warmth of the water that set me at ease; I felt composed of a light airiness.  Today like so many I simply floated around in the water, calmly; not turning on the bubbles, listening; not stretching my aching muscles, watching.  Perhaps I'm more relaxed on the days when the winds are calm and gentle.  

A leaf lingered in the air above me, hesitating before dropping into the water.  One by one the leaves fell this morning, and I was there to watch, to listen:  for the sound as one drifted into the water;  when one skidded on the frozen grass still green with hope;  when several leaves layered together awaiting a gust of wind.  I was too early for the birds and their swooping, chirping, pulsating early morning flights.   I was there for the leaves.