Baby Huey

Baby Huey and Mama Huey.

that’s what my sister Annette called us

back when we were kids

in the Sixties,

laughing,

always laughing.

 

You have to be old enough

to remember them—cartoon ducks.

I, small, thin, wagging finger,

Mama Huey.

 

Annette, larger than Mama,

plump (fat),

Baby Huey.

 

At supper, Dad:

“Annette, you eat too much.”

She, running away

from the table

in tears

to the bedroom

we shared,

breaking my heart.

 

“Dad, do you have to?” I ask.

I’m seven, going after her

to see if I can soothe,

make her laugh.

 

She and I—

a life of diets.

I, as a teen, turned 

anorexic.

She, in her twenties, began

the way of

The Knife.

 

Decades followed of:

Fill this out.

Laser this away.

Cut this off.

Lift my chin.

 

Slit my throat.

 

Annette’s last

beautifying

youthifying

uplifting

surgery

killed

her.

 

And she never even got

to be the

“gorgeous”

melodramatic

corpse

for all to come and see, which 

she used to laughingly brag about

with wide smile and a

flare of her surgically-slimmed upper arms.

“My luck!” she would have said.

 

Her ashes

arrived in my

mailbox months later,

in a small, black sachet—

all that’s left of my

laughing buddy,

my beautiful

Baby Huey.

 

Untitled Poem by Adrienne Faulkner

Mom,

when I was little

I felt safe

walking behind you

my child’s legs unsure

of each step I took

on my journey.

 

You were my guide,

my comfort,

my protection.

 

But, now I am tall,

my legs longer,

and I struggle

to fit in

behind you.

 

I look over your shoulder,

curious and excited

about the world

I see ahead of me.

 

Mom,

it is time

for us to part,

you on your journey

and me on mine.

 

Please don’t worry.

I’ll be fine.

I’m wearing a coat

of all you’ve taught me.

 

Wish me well,

and watch me fly.

 

Thank you, Mom.

With all my love.

My cousin Rosario      

I don’t usually write poetry, but here’s one I wrote six years ago as the Spirit moved me.  It was a tough time for me and also Rosario then, and I sat down and wrote this as he was pulling out of his parking space in his car to go home after spending a weekend with me after not seeing each other for over 20 years.  In those 20 years, his older brother had died suddenly and my older sister, same.  Also, his father was my favorite uncle and my father, same for Rosario, both of whom had also since passed from this vale of tears.

Here’s the poem, and the link at the bottom to where I had posted it originally on my TwoShores.net blog about my novel by the same name.

My cousin Rosario                                                    by Valerie Serrano, April 21, 2012

My past pulls out of the driveway.

I swallow tears.

 

An unnamed loneliness

slides in.

 

So many decades,

so many stories—

his,

mine,

his father’s,

my father’s,

the war they fought that

scarred their souls,

our mothers,

my sister,

his brother.

 

Back then, he was a kid,

me a teen—

the uncles,

the aunts,

the food,

the fights.

 

My past pulls out of the driveway,

tearing into the now.

 

Safe trip, my cousin

Rosario.

My Cousin Rosario

Quick Tips on Memoir, off the top of my head

Definition:  Memoir is about an incident in my life, not my whole life which is an autobiography.  Also, memoir is “softer” than autobiography in that it tends to be more about impressions regarding events than hardcore reportage of the details of the events themselves.

Educate your reader:  Don’t assume, if you’re writing about some legal matter, for example, that your readers will find it boring if you divulge enough to let us in on it, but not too much that it turns into a college course.

Don’t depress your reader:  Even the saddest story has its bright spots.  Write with some lighthearted relief among the heavier moments and even some humor if and when appropriate, remembering that often the best humor is directed at yourself.

Tell me a story:  Memoir is nonfiction; but always remember you’re still telling a story, with a beginning, middle, and an end. How were things to begin with? Then what happened to change them? Then what did you do, and how did it go? How did it all turn out? Did you learn anything?

Not therapy:  Even if it feels like therapy to write about a tough time in your life, don’t let that come through to your reader. This is a memoir not a psychiatrist’s couch.  Hold back raw anger.  Work that out in a journal before you start writing your memoir. Just tell us what happened and allow us the intelligence to figure things out.

Not me against them:  It’s easy to think back on an event and see ourselves as the only reasonable ones present at the time (me good, them bad), but be realistic and honest (dare I say, mature?) in your telling of the story, including those times you wish you’d acted differently. This adds depth not only to the story but also to you, the main character in it.

Be factually correct:  This is true with all writing.  Don’t insult your reader by not checking factual info before publishing.  Was that town, where my car skidded on the ice and I broke my leg and the orthopedist turned out to be my future husband, in California or Nevada?  Use the internet to look it up if you are not sure.

Be tough:  It’s not easy to go back over past events that were anything less than joyful in the experience.  Be sure you’re willing to do so, or the story may come out stilted.  I think it was Mark Twain who said if you’re not crying while you’re writing, your reader won’t cry when he reads it (he said the same about laughing, too).

2 Quotes, Stephen King

“To write is human, to edit is divine.”

 “Write with the door closed, rewrite with the door open.” 
― both quotes from
Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

 I agree wholeheartedly that when you’re in your first rough draft, keep the door closed, i.e., don’t let others see it until it’s had time to “cook” on the page.

 But after that first draft, it’s time to get tough-skinned and be willing to allow another trusted writer or editor to go over your writing and help you tighten it, with a keen eye for what to keep in and what to throw out.  This is what separates amateurs from seasoned writers.

 Remember, every story you’ve ever read since you were six years old had the input of an editor intermingled with the author’s words throughout.

 Writing is Rewriting.  Hemingway was write … I mean, right.

5 Quotes on Writing

“The only kind of writing is rewriting.”          ~  Ernest Hemingway

“Adversity makes men, and prosperity makes monsters.”   ~ Victor Hugo

“Kill your darlings.”       ~ William Faulkner

(i.e., be willing to cut or delete even your fav lines for the overall good of the writing.  Not easy, but often it’s the answer.

“Describe, don’t label.”  ~ Val Serrano.   This derives from the old famous quote “Show, don’t tell.”  But how to show becomes the question?  And describe is the answer.

Basic example:  She has pretty hair. (label=pretty) vs.  Her long, dark brown hair made her look like a shampoo ad model.  (Not my best writing, but you get the idea).  Here, the fictional character is describing the girl’s hair as he sees it, which also slightly characterizes him.

“The secret of being tiresome is to tell everything.”          ~ Voltaire

Great quote on the concept of knowing what to leave out being as important as knowing what to include in your story.