Creating Memories for a Lifetime

A wall of magazine covers may not seem like a big deal, but to a young girl, it’s the beginning of dreams, stories, and memories. How? I mentioned a new app for Life magazine cover art recently and a sweet story emerged from a lovely lady I didn’t know too well, until now. She reminisced about how her family was the last one on the block to have a TV. Instead, her father cleared a wall in the living room and pasted the covers of Life magazine and The Saturday Evening Post on the entire wall until it was completely covered. Norman Rockwell art, photos of President Kennedy, fashion photos, black and white shots frozen in time.

This was the wall the family looked at every day, finding something new to talk about and wonder about each day. It was colorful and a conversation starter for anyone who entered their house. It is something she still thinks about these many years later, long after both of her parents have passed away.

Why did he do it? She didn’t remember. She only knew that he resisted getting the television, fearing it would separate the family and bring about too much solitude. He loved family conversations, loved the discussions the covers generated, even stories made up to the Norman Rockwell paintings on the Post covers. Eventually, he gave in and the television was brought in and placed against a wall in the same room as the magazine wall.

The TV wall became the focal point from then on. “I don’t remember looking at the magazine wall after that,” she said. “Instead, we sat around the TV. I didn’t realize the importance or significance of the magazine wall until I was much older. Even now, I miss it. I think it made him sad that we didn’t look at it anymore.”

What a beautiful memory, and a creative way for a father to connect with his kids. I wish I had known him.

And now I want a magazine wall…


Timeless advice for writers or actors

I saw a brilliant musical adaptation of the novel Daddy Long Legs at the Herberger Theater in Phoenix yesterday morning.

If you haven’t had a chance to see it, I highly recommend it. It’s there until January 15th and moving across the country.

After the performance, we were lucky enough to attend a Q&A with the actors, Megan McGinnis and Robert Adelman Hancock. They were generous with their time even though they had just performed for more than 2 hours.

Of course, the obligatory question came up: What advice would you give upcoming actors? But the answer Hancock gave  resonated with me. He answered, simply, “Learn as much as you can about many things.” Don’t focus on just acting or just singing. Rather, learn about chemistry, engineering, drama, English, history, etc. This way, you are able to pull from so much knowledge about life and that can only make your craft stronger. Simple advice that many people forget in the pursuit of a profession.

And the same advice applies to writers, does it not? That book you’re reading on physics is not a waste of time, and neither is that Nazi documentary on the history channel. Even reading People magazine can be helpful and build your knowledge of current trends for future writing. It’s all research and education. Don’t feel guilty about hitting the art museum or Musical Instrument Museum, it will help you when you least expect it.

I was advised when I entered Journalism school to take as many classes in as much as I could in order to be a better writer. I believe it was the best advice I was given (other than to stay away from that burrito place on Mill Ave).

I agree with Hancock and it definitely shows in his performance of an early 20th-century gentleman. Go see the show and then grab a Newsweek Magazine on your way home.

At least it’s not the plague

I’m knee-deep in research for the WIP and this leads me to try and find a deadly plague that works with my timeline (late 1700s)  and setting (Europe). Not so easy since I want this to be believable enough but also work with my story. After considering Russia, Germany or France, I’ve decided on a time and place (you’ll have to read it to find out). But now comes the research of the actual symptoms and oh my, that was a nasty business.

So many people died, and such an awful death. The best that can be said for it is that it was quick. Dead within a week (Ok, a long and painful week with swelling, fever, delirium, pain), or within hours with the pneumonic version (sounds good after the bubonic version). Lovely huh? And, your entire family was probably going with you.

Downer, right? But at the start of this new year as I ponder all the wonderful things I want to do and all the great things I have planned for family and career, it’s a great comfort to know that we’re not going through a plague, right? (I’m trying to be positive…it’s a resolution) So, my new mantra is…”at least it’s not the plague.” How does that work?

Oy, my back hurts…at least it’s not the plague.

Damn, I can’t sleep…at least it’s not the plague.

I can’t find my muse and I’m stuck on a storyline…at least it’s not the plague.

I feel better already.