A Silly, Little, Winking Word

A Silly, Little, Winking Word

I’ve been ruminating on this post for some time now as my family welcomes a new, happy, healthy addition to the clan.  Well maybe not ruminating as that implies an organized stream of thought. Nietzsche was someone who could really ruminate.  Me, at this time in my life, it’s more like stealing moments on a weekday evening or on the train to work.  I try to fit them in whenever I can because this pursuit, to pursue writing, is the one that makes the most sense to me.  Recently, those snatched flashes of reflection have been concentrating on one word, a word that seems to wink at me as I research the criteria of many different agents.  This silly, little, winking word is…. ready for it….. preachy.

In today’s lexicon, one can easily create an adjective by adding a y to the end of the word.  The addition of the y implies too much of that something.  To start, I am not a fan of this trend.  As Bill and I have been discussing the adjective preachy, I have a hard time not snickering after saying it, a method of punctuation to pass along my opinion of this trendiness. However my opinion, regardless of how much I like it, is irrelevant here. The trend has caught on.  We see it used in the biographies of agents across all genres when they are describing what they do not want.  “Nothing too preachy” or “avoid being preachy”, a statement emphasizing the importance of the storytelling and not the lesson. That seems pretty obvious to me that a story should have a point or a “lesson” but it cannot be so overt that it insults intelligence.  This is the balance we strive for in our work as I’m sure all writers do.  To write with a pulse, a certain cadence that delivers the story as a punch in the face, letting the story linger with the reader as they are left to ruminate in the rubble of whatever moments they can seize.  Those moments of contemplation, the ones by the reader, determine the lesson or lessons to be learned.  In a great story, those lessons, I imagine, are different for us all.

While working on the many various projects for Pour on the Cool, we’ve been submitting a manuscript called The Troubled Times of Thomas Peters. This has been our learning submission as we craft a variety of query letters to pitch our stories, trying to see what works.  Since we haven’t heard back from anyone, even Ed with the ear hair is playing hard to get here, we would appreciate any thoughts on the “preachiness” of the story below:

The Troubled Times of Thomas Peters

“Oh, my heavens” says Thomas Peters

On the verge of despair, he teeters

“What is wrong?”, his friend asks

“Do you just have too many mundane tasks?”

“Oh, my heavens it’s that and more,

School and life make my head feel sore.”

“Sit down,” he says with a slight chagrin

“I honestly don’t even know where to begin….

“The itch on my leg is definitely a skeeter

And I didn’t get an A because I’m not a cheater.

The runny eggs for breakfast was from my mom’s egg beater

And I’m cold because my brother turns off the heater.

“My sister’s room is always neater

And again, and again I’m told I ‘m not a good eater

And worst of all,” says Thomas Peters

“I get sloppy kisses from Grammy when I greet her

Thomas takes a pause and then a breath

Before he goes on with the rest

“My dad snores so loud I don’t sleep til dawn

And the neighbor’s let their dog poop on our lawn

All my secrets are told by my best friend Shawn

And even though Mom drinks coffee, she constantly yawns.”

And on and on goes Thomas Peters

Whose list of complaints measures in meters

But after much time has come to pass

And the complaints of Thomas Peters have run out of gas

His friend rises from her listening pose

To look him in the eyes after staring at her toes

And she says with the best of her kindest heart

Hoping to encourage a brand-new start

“Thomas my dear I think it’s time I said my part

And let you know you should change your heart

If your secrets are being told by Shawn

Just tell him that you think it’s wrong.

Ask the neighbors to respect your lawn

Because if you don’t tell anyone it will go on and on

Wear pants when you know you’ll be around them skeeters

Ask your mom to boil the eggs to avoid using the beater

And for goodness gracious just ask for another heater.”

 

Exasperated from her long-winded reply

She took a deep breath and looked towards the sky

“Thomas my dear,” she said with a coo

“You are getting mixed up with the wrong point of view

In life there are highs and in life there are lows

And up and down the journey goes

So find what you love and follow it through

Because the unfolding of life is the unfolding of you.”

Now she stopped and waited for Thomas to think

As his cheeks turned rosy and his ears turned pink

He looked down to the ground and shuffled his feet

Waited some more til his thoughts were complete

 

“I think I know now that you are right

It seems to be clearer, I can see the light.

Through all the silly things and all the apparent strife,

I see the importance of being grateful in life.

Because you can’t always choose the life you’re livin

You can only live the one you’re given.”

 

 

Note:  Yes this is a picture of Putin winking.  However, I did not take it.  I found it on reddit.com and fell in love with it.  Quick Joke:

What did the democrat say when three of his aides farted during a speech on Russia? We must stop putin…Good night

 

3 Comments

  1. October 18, 2017 / 5:15 am

    Congratulations on the new addition to your clan!

    For my taste, the ending is a little “preachy.” In fact, it took me by surprise because as I was reading the story I thought the lesson it was leading to was, “Quit complaining, and do something about it,” which I would consider a practical life skill that children would benefit from learning. I’ll be interested to hear what your other readers think!

    Vladimir the Creepy strikes again . . .

    • Ryan
      October 18, 2017 / 10:26 pm

      Hi Liz,

      Thanks for the congratulations. My family and I feel very blessed to add one more to the crew.

      About my story, I didn’t want to hear that from you because it confirms those thoughts I didn’t want to admit. I think you are right and I appreciate your honesty. It kind of tips over into preachiness towards the end. This story is driven by dialogue, not by a journey, so I had to fill the space and keep it rolling as a conversation. Maybe, in the end, the friend talks too much? Sometimes we can get a little preachy if we talk too much. At least I know I can. I’ll revisit this one and see if I can tone it down just a little.

      Thanks for taking the time to critique it. Your honesty is priceless and Vladimir thanks you for it.

      • October 19, 2017 / 5:51 am

        You’re welcome. Good luck with your revision!

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