I don’t wanna grow up

I don’t want to grow up.

I’m a middle-aged woman with children, a steady full-time job, a new business venture, and a freelance writing business. Still, I have the mind of a juvenile.

I like it that way.

But I may have to tighten up the reins a little bit, especially if I get back in the saddle and continue my writing journey. I guess I’ll have to start with my blog. I mean, who’s going to take me seriously if I all I write about is chasing celebrities. I’m not the paparazzi.

No, perhaps I should focus on more literary-minded topics, such as agents, contracts, conferences, etc. That’s what I should be doing, but that’s not what I want to do. I like sparking the adventure in my reader. It’s okay to be a kid at heart. There’s a time and place for everything. I write to inspire, to make people laugh, to make people feel something. For without feeling, there is nothing left to say.

I ran into my dear friend Rebekah this morning. She’s the one who launched my journey by taking me on as a regular columnist in the paper she published. She’s fearless, possessing no qualms about approaching a source and asking anything.

See, we both like shooting famous people. Not with weaponry—with our cameras. We went on a few trips together to Nashville during GMA week and hung out at the Renaissance Hotel, gawking at every celebrity.

She attacked. I lurked, gathering the nerve to strike up conversations. But we both came home with stories to tell. Treasures.

I miss the hunt…the snag…the trophy shot…the adrenaline rush.

I try to surround myself with people who share my sense of adventure. I have a couple of writer friends at work who are literary groupies. They’re much too sophisticated to call themselves that, but I’m the one doing the writing here. I call it as I see it.

I’ve mentioned it before, but one of my groupie friends actually tracked down one of the most famous writers in the history of all of American literature—Harper Lee.

Brought the woman a milkshake to her assisted living facility. Was promptly asked to leave. But my friend has a story to tell.

Said friend also helped me follow my literary hero Rick Bragg during the Southern Festivals of Books. All I wanted was a trophy photo of me and him. Mission accomplished. My younger son, Michael, however ruined my story by accusing me and Bragg of being intoxicated. The first thing he asked was “Mom, who’s that drunk man you’re standing by?”

Okay, kid. Rick Bragg was exasperated–not drunk. He could not outrun me and my Harper Lee stalker friend through the back alleys and hallways of the War Memorial Auditorium. And I, dear Michael, had been carrying a professional camera bag, a notebook, a bag full of books, and a purse. I’m five feet tall. I was also out of breath and exhilarated. Can’t you see I looked a bit disheveled with good reason?

The dazed look in our eyes is easy to explain. I’m sure he was thinking, “Who is this woman, and what does she want from me?” And I was thinking, “Na-na, na-na, na, na. I got a picture of Rick Bragg —and You don’t.” Whoever You is.

But back to the story. I don’t want to grow up.

After a year off from promoting my writing, I’m hitting the publishing streets with literary feats in the running. I have a passion for helping others like myself find an outlet for their creativity, so I have agreed to sign on as a board member with the Tennessee Writers Alliance. It was through the TWA that I met Etta Wilson, who sparked my desire to write for young adults. I would like to pass on the torch that ignites the dreams of other writers.

I’m preparing to register for my Dallas ACFW conference, and I’m polishing two manuscripts. I have three more sitting in my brain. Two were spawned from killer titles, and the third is based on a late-night adventure a friend and I had while traveling through a small town, laced with mystery and intrigue.

If we hadn’t been in a silly mood that night, if we hadn’t been incognito, if we hadn’t been overzealous and in the red on the juvenile meter, I never would have come up with the plot. Actually, after I went home that night, I dreamed the entire story. Now it’s waiting to be written. A juvenile mind does have its merits.

I don’t want to lose my sense of adventure. The quest leads me to the story.

I take mental snapshots of the places I go so I can weave the experiences into the stories I write:  my trip to Roswell, New Mexico; my visit to Fishtail, Montana, to the world’s best little bait shop-gem shop-coffee house ever; my stop in the art district of Oklahoma City to wander into Galileo’s Coffee Shop. There are too many more to mention: Voodoo Village in Memphis, Elam’s Mansion in the Boro, and the Badlands of South Dakota top the tip of my inspirational iceberg.

But, alas, this summer I have to put on my writer face and behave like a professional. At least in public. And I can’t just talk about writing; I have to do something about it. It’s time to get my manuscripts to the agents and editors. I think I have my strength back. I think I can do this.

When God gives us gifts, He does so for a purpose. There is nothing in the world that makes me feel better than giving to the people I love. Maybe I can do for someone else what my writing mentors have done for me.

As an added challenge to my writing summer, I’ll also be taking graduate classes in English. I don’t want my professors to think I’m totally looney, so I have to be very careful not to spaz out. Focus, focus, focus. Focus shall be my mantra.

It’s only May 3, but already I feel summer coming on. I write best at night when no one else is around. And, like Gus on Psych, I have a super sniffer. I am very sensitive to smell. Honeysuckle and campfires spark my creative passion. Have you been outside at night lately? The fragrances are alluring.

Let the adventure begin. Yeah, I know. I’ve got to tone it down. Study. Do my homework. Dress professionally—save the tee shirts, flip flops and shorts for summer nights. Ease up on my Southern accent. Leave my yalls at home.  

But I shall always, always, always carry my notebook with me. Because no matter how sophisticated and cultured people appear to be, they’ve all got their quirks. They’re all characters waiting to appear in in somebody’s story.

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About Tee

Sometimes when we least expect it we stumble upon the desires of our heart. Some call it a coincidence, but I call it a Godthing. I believe when we walk closely with Him we'll see more of the wonderful hidden blessings He has for us. I've been a freelance writer for several years, interviewing celebrities about the way God is working in their lives. My work has appeared in several Lifeway and Vox publications in addition to many others. I am a frequent writer for the Living Light News out of Edmonton (Canada). When I’m not writing, I spend my time teaching dual enrollment Motlow (college) English, sociology, and high school journalism.

Posted on May 3, 2012, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. Never ease up on your Southern accent. Ever. And I have smelled the honeysuckle, too. It’s everywhere around me. Taunting me that summer isn’t really here yet.

  2. I used to be really embarrassed about my accent. Now I realize it can be an asset. Most of my interviews these days are phoners, so the accent is a nice conversation starter. I write for a Canadian publication, but I have a very Southern accent. I like to explain why. And then there was the time I went to the NCTE conference and met one of my favorite writers, Sigmund Brouwer. He complimented me on my Southern charm and accent, and I was giddy for days. Most recently I went to a Nashville concert, and the guy behind the counter serving nachos asked, “So where are you from?” And then he said, “You have the most unusual accent.” What? I’m from Nashville, well, almost!” How could he not be familiar with my yall drawl? People are funny.

  3. Rebecca Stibrany

    I want to do that! I’d love to stalk Harper Lee. You’re so much cooler than I am.

  4. What a great post,Tee. It is so full of hope and promise. That is surely what keeps you young! I am so excited for you as you continue your journey anew! I know you are a big success.

  5. Sometimes I think my young translates to juvenile. But I don’t feel any older than when I was in high school. I think I’m even more adventurous, but I suppose that’s the writer in me coming out. Thank you for being an encourager. You build my confidence.

  6. i think you should stay young forever, who wants to grow up to be some corporate junky? let alone a writer with a boring story, it’d never work. your audience obviously shares this outlook with you. never change yourself for anybody but yourself

    • Good advice, grasshopper. :-) I definitely don’t want to be a corporate junky. I like being eclectic–or maybe even eccentric. :-)

  7. I hope you enjoy working with the TWA. That sounds like a neat opportunity.

    • Unfortunately, the TWA disbanded. I was so disappointed to hear the news. I have several people interested in a local writers group. We will probably have a workshop in November.

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