Valentine’s Day 2016
The title smacks of romance and sparkling wine, chocolates and satin sheets, and triggers memories of desire, lust, and sexual adventures. Fortunately for many of us, we have those memories of our youth and middle age to call on when it comes time to write a romantic passage. For the rest of you, if you’re still in that age range, enjoy it while you have it!
I was asked at a workshop this week, “Do you find it difficult to get into the head of a six year old or a teenager when you’re writing?”
After a few moments for thought, I had to confess that I do not find it difficult at all. That is one of the best things about being a writer: one can meander through the tunnels of the mind and find those years, those moments. Dragging a sick raccoon home from the creek one summer when I was eight. Being shot in the back by my brother with a BB gun because he wanted to see what it felt like to shoot someone. Maybe I was nine. Playing with my brother’s friends as one of the boys and then one day thinking of them from a girl’s point of view. Remembering sitting in my homeroom-gym watching the guys shoot baskets and joining them as a colleague, but being regarded as a girl. I just wanted a friend.
What was it like at six getting injured on the playground and then having the male coach ask me to pull up my “petticoat?” I didn’t know what a petticoat was, but I knew I had an awful lot of blood running down from my hip where I fell and scraped it while flying on the Maypole. That was the device which consisted of a big pole with about eight chains attached. The chains had ladder-like handles so kids of all sizes could play on it at once. We ran in a circle until the momentum allowed us to lift our feet and fly. Which is apparently what I did, only I didn’t hold on well enough. I hit the gravelly ground and skidded, thus the blood running down my leg. Nearly seventy years later I have a remnant of the scar. I remember being most embarrassed at not knowing what a petticoat was than having a man I didn’t know cleaning and bandaging my leg. No one got very excited about the event.
What was it like at thirteen walking to school on Miami Beach, my seventh school in eight years? South Beach in 1952 was like a foreign country. Old ladies sat in front of art deco hotels and spoke in an unfamiliar language; churches bore foreign script, the majority of the kids in school were Jewish, a religion I had never heard of. I felt out of place and out of time. Once my Russian grandmother explained the facts of life, I slowly came to recognize and understand how many of those old folks came to live in South Beach. Suddenly I sought out every book on WWII in an effort to comprehend how such atrocities could occur.
When The Diary of Anne Frank came out, I read it. I actually envied Anne because she had family and loved ones around her who cared about her. Yes, I mourned her loss, but she had people who loved her. How awful was that?
What I like about writing and remembering, is when I have a character who has a happy home life, I love to recreate one for her based on what I imagine that might have been like.
Writing is my own Valentine gift to myself: I can be whoever I want to be at any age.
Veronica Helen Hart is the author of several novels that include women of all ages. It’s safe to say she has lived through all of them, except the final stage. You can find her work at Champagne Books and on Amazon.com. As always, remember to include the H or Helen as the middle name unless you want to wind up on a porn site.
**I posted this yesterday but apparently did something wrong so it did not appear as scheduled. Geez.