Hey, it’s finally my day once more. Did you miss me?

No? Not even a little? Well fine, forget you…

It feels strange to admit this, but the 4th of July is one of those rare holidays where I can look back at the crapstorm that was my childhood and not have something horrific come to mind. In fact, some of my best memories were of watching parades with sparklers (and getting yelled at by group home counselors for accidentally burning myself because I had a healthy dose of “hey y’all, watch this!” in my mind) and trying to cook burgers.

When I write happy scenes (yes, few and far in between, but they do happen) I think back to the good things that happened in my life. Which usually leads to me thinking back to the 4th of July parades and the cookouts, and remembering probably my favorite 4th ever — when I was TDY in Israel and they held a 4th of July parade for the dual US citizens who lived in Haifa.

Drawing upon your past experiences to fuel certain emotions you try to get across on paper is the oldest trick in the book and yet possibly the hardest to master. One would think that it would be easy to draw upon past experiences, yet time seems to dull just how good the memories are. We’re humans, so we usually temper the good with the bad. We channel our “inner pessimism”, perhaps?

…aaaaaaaaand I lost the internet. Joy.

…hey, I got the internet back. Yay! This can get up before noon.

Anyway, part of the job is taking one’s own experiences and putting it to paper. Taking what you have and sharing it among your characters and story. Experiences, emotions, everything… get it down. Share it. Make them feel the anguish, joy, pain, sorrow, and happiness. Readers and characters alike.

Happy 4th of July!

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  1. It’s funny, I was wondering this morning as I proofed something “what is wrong with me” because I was tearing up as I checked-over a scene where the protagonist, aged 7, is trying to save her battered stuffed toy from a nasty *itch of a nurse maid trying to destroy it because the nurse maid had been scolded for abusing her charge. The child succeeds and things improve rapidly for her from that point on. But wow, are readers going to respond like that? I hope so, but I don’t know.

    One of my most memorable July 4ths was attending a hangar dance in England, during the 50th anniversary of the arrival of the US Army Air Corps 8th Air Force in Britain. There were re-enactors in AAC and RAF uniforms, a small swing band, and it was cold as all get out (upper 50s and damp). A dozen Yanks and a bunch of happy Brits and we had a ball.

    • sabrinachase

      I wonder if they were happy once they knew my Dad was part of the package 😀 I don’t *think* there are any outstanding warrants…

      Speaking of happy memories, and connected–my father very, very rarely drank beer. When he did it was with his English friend, and it was always Guinness, because that was what Dad remembered from being stationed in England with the 8th. So whenever I drink Guinness, I remember Dad and war stories.

  2. Yeah, I can relate–most of the real horror that I write is drawn from the first twenty years or so of my own life. The happy stuff is usually taken from my professional life. My happiest memories are usually about work, where I am appreciated and allowed to be productive. And it is relationships between coworkers that always seem to me to be the easiest and most powerful ones to write about.

  3. Draven

    For my family the 4th has always had a health does of “our great-great-great-great swore his life, his fortune, and his sacred honor…”

  4. Laura M

    You can get a flood of memories with a smell in the air or when the light lands against your eyeballs just so. Getting that on paper or into the pixels is harder.