Monday, January 23, 2017

A Few Things I Learned in 2016

By Patricia Bradley


It's New Years Eve as I write this, and I am curled up on the couch, reflecting about the past year. It was a great year for me with exciting events and some not so exciting events. And as always, it was those not so exciting events that I learn the most from. 

Like:
  • If you put eggs on to boil and go back to your office to write, the eggs will eventually explode. Honest.
  • Don’t try to put a frightened cat into a pet cage by yourself…even if you’re trying to get it out of the house because you’re afraid its lungs are going to be damaged by the smoke from the burned beans you remembered when you were lying face down on a massage table.
  •  Never ask a woman when her baby is due, even if she looks 8 months pregnant. Ever
  •  If you drop an open-faced, peanut butter sandwich, it’ll always hit the floor peanut butter side down. That goes for a jelly sandwich, too. 
  • But not for an English muffin. Somehow it always lands right side up and the honey doesn't even drip onto the floor. 
  • When someone says they want to hear the truth, they’re usually not telling the truth.
  • Consider your answer carefully when a friend asks if you like her new hairstyle. (See previous bullet)
  •  When a friend asks you to critique her granddaughter’s story, RUN.


I’d like to say I didn’t actually do any of these things. That they are all figments of my imagination. I’d like to say that. I will say that each of the events happened only once, except the ones about dropping food. Hence the title, A Few Things I Learned in 2016. 

There is a positive side to my lapses of common sense. Thank goodness. The resulting stories make entertaining blog posts. And since I’m a writer, at some point, in some story, my hero or heroine will forget the eggs or do one of the other dumb things I’ve done, not just last year, but during my lifetime—today’s list is way short. 

And guess what? My foibles will strike a chord in readers, endearing my protagonist to them, even if they’ve never exploded an egg. Because they have done something similar. They can identify. And that’s what it’s all about for me. Creating characters readers can identify with and care about.

So, would you care to share something you learned in 2016? It doesn’t have to be something crazy like my list. Just something you’ve learned.

26 comments:

  1. I love this post, Patricia! You are so right about our everyday occurrences/foibles making wonderful story material to help readers identify with and care about our characters.

    I know there are lots of silly things I've done, but I'll share a positive thing I've learned. It's very easy to put a bright smile on a stranger's face by offering a simple but genuine compliment. It's wonderful to see someone's face light up when you tell them they're wearing a nice dress, have terrific hair or their child is adorable! I must admit that seeing others smile, makes me feel good, too!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kate, how wonderful that you make someone's day with something so simple! It doesn't cost us anything to give someone a genuine compliment. And when we do that, seeing those smiles do make us feel better.

      Delete
  2. Thanks for the smile this morning, Patricia. I have one to add -- When you put a load of laundry in to wash, and then sit down to write, it's probably a good idea to notice if the washer has overflowed and water is running under the laundry room door and flooding the laminate flooring and rug in the family room. Who knew a flood could be so silent!?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ouch, Patricia. Who knew, indeed. :-) Thanks for stopping by!

      Delete
  3. Lol. I love this, and can't wait to read them again when they happen in books.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Liz. They will. They definitely show up. BTW, after I jumped up off the massage table to race home, I got stopped by every traffic light and a train.

      Delete
  4. I loved this, Patricia! I wonder what happens if you drop an English muffin with peanut butter on top? One thing I learned is if you're going to put something into the oven before sitting down to write...use the timer. Did you know if you bake chicken tenders for three hours, they turn to dust?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm laughing, Jill. Thanks for the warning about the chicken tenders.

      Delete
  5. Oh boy, Patricia, I did explode an entire dozen eggs. When we lived in an apartment and I was very pregnant. I forgot I had them on the stove. I was reading in another room. I kept smelling something and wondered if I could go see if a neighbor needed help. LOL. When they started to explode--yikes. Icky egg yolk even on the ceiling and all over the kitchen. Of course Denny was deployed at the time. I was cleaning up egg for a month it seemed. Not long after I put 2 cokes into the freezer to get it cold quicker. When I remembered it---opened the freezer door just as the cap exploded off the bottle. I can attest that frozen cola is no fun to clean up either as both blew at once. Mercy, what does that say about me??? Great post.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Roz. I'll have to remember that about cokes. One time I forgot my pressure cooker and it blew chicken all over the ceiling...that was no fun to clean up either. :-)

      Delete
  6. I love everything about this post! So funny and relatable. You're exactly right!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Laurie. We all do crazy things sometimes. And it's good to be able to use those things. :-)

      Delete
  7. Patricia, you made me laugh. My lessons are technology related. I learned that if you get a new type of cell phone, it's a good idea to call yourself and learn to answer before you accidently hang up on people because you're not wearing glasses and can't figure out which way to swipe. I also learned you shouldn't rely entirely on your car's GPS navigation, because it sometimes decides to reboot a mile from the highway exit whose number you didn't bother to memorize because the system would tell you.

    Roz, my son has learned the same about canned cokes. Well, I say learned, but he still blows them up regularly because of course he'll remember to take them out of the freezer in time.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Beth, one time when I relied on my GPS to get me to a library to speak, it took me to a center for mentally challenged people...so I used the map I printed out and it took me to a soybean field. I try to call now and get directions. :-)

      Delete
  8. So glad I mostly use the microwave! Although, my son covered a bowl in foil and put it in and that has its own problems. I learned that a feisty little dog with major attitude can be a giant pain while walking, but a comforting, snuggly delight when I'm contemplating a revision. Fun post!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Uh, Muriel. Did your microwave survive? And those little furry beasts can be aggravating sometimes, but they are worth it!

      Delete
  9. Your post was a great way to start my day and thank you for that, Patricia. While I've never had an egg explode, I've certainly HARD boiled quite a few. I especially like the way you plan to use some of these domestic accidents in your characters' stories! Great idea!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Janice. My characters somehow act like me all the time. :-)

      Delete
  10. I learn the same thing every year--writing and cooking do not combine. I burn things every time I try! I've exploded eggs. I've burned boiled eggs until they were black. I've burned beans. I've burned casseroles. I've burned frozen veggies... So I really do sympathize with your exploded eggs! LOL! And for some dumb reason, I keep thinking, "Oh, I'll just put this one the stove and go check over that last scene..." Mistake, every time!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, how I identify, Patricia. Have no idea why we never learn.

      Delete
  11. Your post had me laughing so hard a few of my kindergarteners are a little concerned about my sanity. (well, they do that anyway, lol). Something I learned in 2016 was that it's okay to say no. After volunteering for way too many things and stretching myself too thin, I've learned that it's okay for me to put my priorities first sometimes.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good for you LeAnne! With deadlines, I had to learn that one. But it's still not easy. Now I just say, can I get back to you when someone asks me to do something. That gives me a little space to make sure I can actually do something before I commit.

      Delete
  12. I love the things you have learned, Patricia. I learned not to boil a can of Eagle Brand milk in water to make a Carmel pie, fall aleep, let the water run dry, and have an explosion of hot caramel all over the stove and ceiling.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My friend did that one time. Taught me to NEVER try it, Melanie.

      Delete
  13. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Loved this post Patricia. So comforting to know I'm not the only one.
    Cynthia

    ReplyDelete