Sunday, March 9, 2014

Southern Belles: Words of Wisdom & Other Shenanigans

A writer should first be a reader.

There is nothing that makes my eye twitch more than someone claiming to be penning an epic, world-altering, cutting-edge series that's sure to fly off the shelves as soon as it's released, who says, "But, I really don't like reading."
The kindergarten teacher emerges as strongly as the writer in these instances. The poor oaf--who is after all only trying to share something original with humanity--is completely unaware that he's just committed the ultimate blunder. Until I fix him with the Teacher Look, that is.  
I've been informed by five-year-old that I have "scary eyes" (let's set aside the fact that these are the naughty, fidgety, and overly Chatty Patty type of kindergartners).  Perhaps you recall it from your days in grade school.  It's the combination of a raised eyebrow, the ever-so-slight squinting of the eyes, and the barest hint of a scowl. The whole expression reads, Really?

With adults, I do my best to stow away the Teacher Look (also known as the Mother, Father, or Evil Stepmother Look) as quickly as possible.  However, there are times when my ten+ years in education take over and transform the dimpled smile of politeness and good humor into something genuinely alarming.

Instead of unduly freaking out my fellow writers, the next time one of them claims membership in the Non-Reader League, I'm going to respond:

How do you know what people will want to read?
and furthermore:
What will be your inspiration?

No matter what, there will still be those blessed souls who pour their hearts into crafting stories they expect others to pick up, while refusing to lift someone else's off the shelf.  But I, for one, refuse to be numbered in their ranks.  My writing suffers when I don't engage with other's creative works and it becomes better, stronger, and clearer when I do so regularly.  

Luckily, in today's world of recorded books, actual reading isn't required.  That's exactly how I first became acquainted with the Sweet Potato Queens.  A sassy bunch of mid-lifers from the South, the Queens bring a whole new definition to the phrase Southern Belle.  Buried between side-splitters like: 

If you have that many cats, I don't know how you found a groom.  And if he knows about 'em and he's marrying you anyway, he has got to be gay.

Let's just say that's a rule from now on: Guys in necklaces and/or wife-beaters or tank tops do not get any.

are genuine Words of Wisdom.  Consider the gem at the beginning of this post.  Is there any situation in which is isn't applicable?  From men to microwave dinners, if it's a dud, there's another one on the market.  No need to deal with soggy personalities or Salisbury Steak, simply dispose of the unsatisfactory product and make a new selection.

I thank the Sweet Potato Queens for making me laugh, think, and aspire to be a better writer.  I leave you with The Best Advice Ever Given in the History of the Whole World:
Warning!  The Sweet Potato Queens are a wise, witty, and spirited bunch.  Jill Conner Browne's books are full of things your mother, my mother, and probably hers would blush over.  Proceed with caution and don't say I didn't warn you. Find out more about Jill, her books, and all the Tammies at

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