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.