on researching and writing and keeping it real

When I decided hey, I’m gonna write a book, I had no idea the amount of research that would be involved. Researching. Writing. Sitting around eating Jiffy Pop helps me keep it real. It’s all part of the deal I made when I set out on this adventure. One leads to another, Sunday melts into Monday, and shockingly it’s March. A year later. And I’m still working on “my book”. What began as memoir has morphed into fiction and taken me on a path I never imagined, even though I’m the person doing the imagining. Crazy how that works.

the someplace, Mississippi Co, Ar. Tate Farms

The setting for my story is part of me. The place I grew up during the time I grew up. 1972. And even though I lived that time and place, research is a big part of my project. Making sure I have the description, sound, smell, feel of a specific place or object accurate for 1972, that’s imperative. I want my readers to see through my eyes. Feel what I feel. Taste the Jiffy Pop.

Mark Twain said Don’t say the old lady screamed. Bring her on and let her scream. That’s what I’m trying to do. Letting the old lady to scream takes work and time and research and remembering.

A sample of the things I’ve researched the last few days: Watergate, Chinese finger trap, phases of the moon in 1972, Memphis cotton trade, Mark Spitz. Just your regular, run-of-the-mill, 1970s stuff.

Sometimes I listen to seventies music while I write. Sonny & Cher. Tony Orlando and Dawn. Marvin Gaye. Yes I do. That takes me back to my groovy cassette player as quickly as anything. (I loved that thing. I hated that thing. It ate more tape than it ever played.)

Saturday I even made Jiffy Pop. Jiffy Pop was a weekend tradition at our house. Shaking that pan over the flame, hearing the kernels sizzle, then seeing the foil expand like a balloon (more quickly than I remembered) made that memory as real as it could be forty years later, plus it was a fun snow day activity.

on researching and writing and keeping it real

On researching and writing. Jiffy Pop to keep it real. www.gracegritsgarden.com

Now, back to writing. If anyone needs me, knock three times on the ceiling, but only if you’re bleeding (to quote my friend Laurie Reichart).

Happy Monday.

Grace Grits and Gardening

Farm. Food. Garden. Life.

Knock Three Times, Tony Orlando with Jimmy Fallon & Will Forte (sorry Dawn)

“The challenge of the writer is to transform—artistically and imaginatively—a unique personal experience into a universal, meaningful story.”

― Hillel F. Damron

Farm Art Friday: Frozen Field

Farm Art Friday - Frozen Field, Grace Grits and Gardening

I love the winter fields, resting for spring, waiting for new life. And these trees. Frozen, they bow to the earth. We may be growing weary of ole man winter, but there’s no denying the beauty of ice and snow. Tiring, sometimes dangerous, yet beautiful.

I’d love to see your winter pictures. Tag me on Instagram @gracegrits or post to Facebook.

Happy Friday! Stay warm, everyone.

Grace Grits and Gardening

Farm. Food. Garden. Life.

Musical Pairing:

Frozen (you knew it was coming, right?)

“I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently? And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt; and perhaps it says “Go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again.”

― Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass


speaking of dentists and collard greens…

And speaking of dentists and collard greens… Were we? Well, I have been talking about dentists with my mother’s college roommate who hates hates hates going to the dentist. And collard greens, lots of people hate those too, but not me (keep reading for more on this tie-in). I’ve never minded the dentist and in fact, if I could get my teeth cleaned every month and have insurance pay for it, I would.

One of the absolute worst things about moving to another state has been having to change doctors. I loved my Dallas dentist and all the ladies who work there. If you live in the area and need a dentist, I highly recommend Travis Spillman / Dental Center of Lakewood. He isn’t one of those dentists who tries to refill every old filling in your head or sends you off with a detailed financial plan for future work. He’s a young (but not Doogie-young) guy with old school ways and a super cool office that includes flat screens in each examination room so you can watch television while getting your teeth clean. Nice.

Luckily, Dr. Spillman referred me to a dentist in Rogers. Todd Phelan, DDS. They went to dental school together. Yay. Having a referral makes changing much easier. Yesterday I went for my first cleaning. I’m telling you, it was a pleasure.

First off, when I first walked in, the background music was Talking Heads. Good music set the stage for what followed. (I once had a dentist who played opera and sang along with it. After a while, it got to me.)

Secondly, you know those two pages that must be filled out every time you walk into a doctor’s office? His was the best questionnaire ever. One of the questions was tell us a little about yourself. Another was what are your hobbies? Oh my, these are dangerous from a writer’s perspective. I filled the page down the margin, included a shameless plug for my blog, and even worked in how I love collards. No kidding. I’d eat them every meal if I could. And I could if I made them more often.

collards. yum.

Third, the entire staff was so friendly. We have already bonded over a certain hilarious story I can’t discuss here but may have to write a short story about.

Fourth, the examining chairs vibrated. Yes. Massage examination chairs. Nothing weird, just a little relaxing vibration on the upper back, shoulders and head. Heaven at the dentist office and those words may never have been written together until now. Maybe this is normal for Northwest Arkansas, I don’t know, but the only place I ever experienced this in Dallas was at Fine Nails. And, I’ve been to some fancy schmancy doctor’s offices in Dallas, specifically those that charge half a semester of college for a root canal.

Fifth. I’m sure there is one, but I can’t get past those chairs. Well done, Dr. Phelan.

Grace Grits and Gardening

Farm. Food. Garden. Life.

Musical Pairing:

Talking Heads – And She Was