Friday, January 20, 2012


by G.Parker

Okay, I wish I were in bed right now.  Seriously.  My two youngest sons came down with a cold last weekend, and I think they gave it to me.  Fortunately I don't have the running nose or the coughing like they did, but I have the sore throat and tired achy mass that I just want to curl up in bed and forget I have responsibilities.  Like writing this blog.  Sigh.

But life goes on, and I'll press on -- hopefully you'll get something out of my Swiss cheese and chaos thoughts.  ;) I hope everyone had a great weekend last week and contemplated their civil rights.  We've been having our children watch the move The Help this week (it takes a week sometimes in our house, I tell ya we are one busy group!) and it's been interesting to watch their reactions.  We've watched other specials, documentaries, movies and discussed books before, this isn't the first time.  But it's always a teaching opportunity.  I feel that The Help is also a lesson on writing.  If you are unfamiliar with the story line, I'll give you the gist in a nutshell:

Young woman graduates from Ol' Mis in the early 60's.  Wants to be a writer.  Has never dated.  Closest friends are all married and having children.  She lives in Jackson, Missouri.  Everyone has maids and they're all black.  She decides to write a book from 'the help's' perspective.  She finally gets the help of one maid, which leads to two, and after a terrible incident, several jump on board.  The stories they have to tell are heart wrenching, sweet, and terrible.  All involved are risking life and limb, especially the maids.  They  publish the book and it takes the south by storm, wondering where it's based and who wrote it.  Those involved have one big secret that keeps them safe -- but at a great risk to themselves.  The young woman lands the job she's always wanted in New York, but hesitates to leave now her mother is dying.

As you can see, I'm not good at summarizing plots in one sentence or less.  This would be a great challenge for someone who liked that sort of thing.  ;)  I also have a hard time with summaries, and it's something I've got to improve on if I'm going to submit, right?  Which is my major goal for the year, so I've got lots of work ahead of me.

But I digress.  My point is this young woman becomes very discouraged at one point in the movie because she doesn't have enough stories.  The publisher is pushing her for more maids, and no one else has been willing to help.  The two that have contributed figure she can just use their stories and change names, but she claims that wouldn't be right.

I'm afraid I agreed with the maid.  Who would know??  It was all anonymous anyway -- I think I would have done it.  But she didn't.  She represented integrity in writing.

Have you thought about your integrity in your writing?  With fiction, it's a free world.  You need to be careful if you're mentioning real places and times in history, but otherwise, it's your world, you created it, you decide what's in it.  With non-fiction, it's a whole different ball of wax.  If you mess up, it's a betrayal to the reader.  They realize they can't trust what you write.  You have let them down.

I thought it was good food for thought, and wanted to share it with you.  Have a productive week and see you next Friday.

No comments: