Monday, June 07, 2010

The Sum of Our Parts

You may have read earlier that I am gearing up for The Kiddo's birthday. I'm beginning to think $5 iPod cupcakes are a steal, now that I've tried (and mostly failed) my hand at making my own. Frosting and I get along about as well as Saran wrap and I do, which is the same as saying not at all.

The one thing that the Kiddo really, really, REALLY wants for her birthday is an iPod (hence, the iPod cupcakes.) I have been asking her what songs she would want on her iPod, should she get one, maybe, hmm, for Christmas.

The usual suspects crop up: a boatload of Taylor Swift and Hannah Montana, and of course that irritating song by the Bieberdroid. (No offense to his mother. He is a cute kid, but that song could be considered torture under the Geneva Convention.) The Kiddo is a girl from the South (even though she came via China), and her tastes tilt heavily toward country -- Brad Paisley & Kenny Chesney & Jason Aldean.

But then, as I was wrapping up a list so long that it made my credit card company call me up to see if a tweenager had hijacked my plastic and was smoking it in iTunes, The Kiddo had one more request.

"And Mommy, I've GOT to have Sweet Home Alabama."

My head whipped around. "What?"

"You know, Sweet Home Alabama."

The child is not even double-digit in years yet. How could she know about Sweet Home Alabama? True, it is practically the anthem of the South, and no child of the 70s and 80s was considered grown up until she could at least sing the refrain. Boys were not considered adult until they could air guitar the entire solo, bonus points if they could do the long version.

"Which Sweet Home Alabama?" I asked, not sure if there were another, perhaps Disney, version out there.

Dadburned if The Kiddo did not start belting out Lynard Skynard.

"Let me get this straight. You want Lynard Skynard on your iPod?" I asked.

"Leonard who?" she asked. "No, Mommy, I want Sweet Home Alabama." And she began singing again.

"Yeah, yeah. I know it. Of course I know it. Where'd you hear that song?"

She shrugged her shoulders. "Oh. Somewhere." At that point, she wandered off, sure in the knowledge that her mother, never the brightest bulb in the box, knew which song to put on the iPod that, yeah, right, was coming for, oh, yeah, Christmas.

I tend to view even the most random happenings in my life through the filter of writing. And as I found my finger hesitating over the buy song button by Sweet Home Alabama in iTunes, I thought about the myriad of influences that makes us the writers we are.

The odd bits of life that we happen across, those are the things that make a person who she is. Like coin and stamp collecting, it's the variances, the oddities, that make someone interesting. I know I bring everything I've ever experienced to the table when I write. I'm not -- and I don't know of any successful writer who is -- a sheltered hermit too timid to embrace life.

Yes, we need to work on our craft. Yes, vocabulary and wordsmithing are important. Yes, reading is critical. But above all, we have to live. We have to experience ups and downs, joys and sorrows, the mundane and the exotic. Because without living? Well, the writing would be mighty dull.

And my little writer? Well, one thing she's experienced is the pulsing beat of Lynard Skynard's Sweet Home Alabama. Yeah. The long version.


Elizabeth Flora Ross said...

That is especially true for me, since I write ABOUT my life! LOL And I think it is hysterical that a whole 'nother generation is getting down to that song!

Paul C said...

So true about the heart and soul of a writer coming from life, all its varied influences and textures. Who knows what comes forth from our sub conscious, like an obscure song from the distant past...

Piedmont Writer said...

Go Kiddo! And Kudo's to you Mom for allowing her to have it. That was our theme song in high school as well as Free Bird and I lived in Rhode Island so it's not as much of a southern thing as you might think.

KLM said...

Good Lord, my three girls have yet to discover the Bieber, but we're wall-to-wall Taylor Swift and Mily Cyrus and Jonas Brothers. We did buy each of them an Ipod Shuffle (cheap on Ebay!) and now car rides are a dream because there's no fighting over who gets to listen to what.

But on your greater point -- yeah, I realize now why my 20s didn't produce much in the way of great art. Still had a lot of living to do. :)

Linda G. said...

Your kiddo has good taste--I love Lynyrd Skynyrd. Even Taylor Swift is okay. Hannah Montana & the bieberdroid? Uh...not so much. ;)

Lickety Splitter said...

IPODS rock ... I think they are the best thing since sliced bread.

Tawna Fenske said...

Thanks to you, I'm going to have that song stuck in my head ALL DAY LONG!

But thanks for the gift idea for the kiddo. An iTunes gift card, perhaps? :)


Mia said...

Very true :) My books all have parts of my life sprinkled in. Which basically means all of my characters are klutzes who get themselves into embarrassing situations everyday. My friends and critique buddies have read parts of my book and said, "Oh my word, that scene was so funny. Can you imagine if that happened in real life, though? What kind of idiot would get herself into that mess?" I just shut up and smile. What they don't know can't hurt 'em.

Cynthia Reese said...

Elizabeth, I'm still getting over the shock of The Kiddo wanting Skynard on her iPod.

Paul C, it is amazing how life weaves together to add that texture to our writing.

Anne, now I'm doubling shocked! A RI high school had a theme song of Sweet Home Alabama? FREEBIRD, I can sort of understand ... but hey, spread the love!

KLM, how The Kiddo discovered the Bieberdroid, I dunno, but I could clobber the soul who helped facilitate it. Shelter your ears -- I mean your children -- for as long as you can. ;-)

Linda, since I share no genetic material with The Kiddo, I can beam and say, "Yeah, she DOES have good taste." And we can blame Disney on Hannah Montana.

Lickety Splitter, love my iPod. It drives The Husband crazy, though I keep it low so that I can carry on conversation -- kind of like my own personal soundtrack for This Is My Life. ;-)

Tawna, as broke as I am after all those downloads, just send cold hard cash. ;-) Kidding! Anything you have in mind would be much appreciated. The Kiddo loves to get postcards from you -- she was showing off her stash to me over the weekend as we were decluttering. She had all her postcards in her don't-you-dare-throw-this-away hat box.

Mia, I've had that happen before -- only it was an editor, and she said, "XYZ needs to go, b/c it could NEVER happen in real life."

I grinned and reached for the delete button. Editors are NEVER wrong.

Jennifer Shirk said...

If you successfully make those cupcakes you HAVE to take a picture. It sounds really cute!1

Al said...

What a fun story.
the cute little idiosyncrasies that got to make up a person. Lov it.

Gee I hope you have time to get everything ready for "Christmas".

Posey said...

Love, love, love that song, and the movie too. Which I want to watch now... as soon as I stop singing the song.

Cynthia Reese said...

Jennifer, my cupcakes were definitely #cupcakefail material. I have outsourced them. (hangs head in shame.)

Al, it just so happens that I got an iPod just in time for, ahem, Christmas! Yay!

Posey, I'd forgotten about the movie until I started looking up images that I could use for an illustration of the post. By way of curious trivia, did you know that some of the exterior shots of SWEET HOME ALABAMA were shot in, ahem, Georgia??

Simon C. Larter said...

"But above all, we have to live. We have to experience ups and downs, joys and sorrows, the mundane and the exotic. Because without living? Well, the writing would be mighty dull."

Hell to the yes. I couldn't agree more.

Wait. Am I allowed to say "hell" in your comment section?

Wait again. Why am I even asking? It's not like you'll answer back saying, "No, you can't say 'hell' in my comment section. Please erase that." Okay, you could, but by the time you typed all that you could've deleted my comment yourself about sixteen times. Point being, I don't really know why I asked that. Oh, well.

Anyway, back to my original point, which was: hell to the yes... I couldn't agree more.

Oh, and you must be a proud, proud parent right now. :)

Cynthia Reese said...

Simon, I don't believe in censorship ... so YOU may say that in my comments trail, as you meant it in the spirit of respect. Now there might be a word that I'd have to draw the line somewhere ... but thanks! (Oh, and let's not tell Linda G about my no-censorship policy ... She just might try to find those boundaries of mine!)

Anonymous said...

I really cannot agree more. It's life, it's living life, that gives inspiration to art and to everything we do.

P.S. I'm hesitant to admit this, but I don't think I've ever properly listened to Sweet Home Alabama before. *is embarrassed*

Zai Abd Rahman said...

Oh the Kiddo has good taste in music. Lynyrd Skynrd rocks. One of my favorite group!

Kelly Breakey said...

I am pretty good on the air guitar on this song myself, so if she needs someone to show her how, I will gladly do it.