Friday, January 5, 2018

Stories: Show Me Yours & I'll Show You Mine

After the holidays, when my kids filed out the door to go back to where they live, after the tree was taken down and the decorations put away, when the last of the New Year's Eve party snack leftovers were scarfed up (yum!), I sat down to see where I stood on my book.

I couldn't have been more pleased. Because the book I had started writing in late Fall, a light how-to on being a Tourist at Home, had actually gotten better from sitting dormant in my laptop while I partied hardy.

Every writer has heard this advice.

"If you feel that your writing is getting stale or if you feel that you simply are not making progress, then do yourself a favor and have a break from your writing."

My hiatus was a barrel of fun. I spent a week shopping, wrapping and decorating. Another week with my kids in town, cooking, eating, drinking, and orchestrating family traditions we've been doing for more than 30 years.

And then last Tuesday (there wasn't a trace of red and green anywhere), I poured myself a cup of coffee (in my new mug from Russia) and sat down to see where I stood on my book-in-progress. I have to admit, I was kind of dreading it. When I had last left it, I was unsure about the tone (Too funny? Not funny enough?), I doubted even the need for such a book (No one will read this. Everyone will hate me), and I was already flirting with ditching the whole thing and starting a thriller novel about four high school friends, now in their 50s, who get revenge on an old middle school teacher who paddled them (I am absolutely serious).

You can say I was in a bad place.

It's still in outline form, but some branches of the outline are three pages long. It's still without a title, although I'm getting close. And it's about to be infused with a jolt of great stuff. Think Uma Thurmon getting that shot of adrenaline in the heart in Pulp Fiction.

Because I'm ready for your stories.

And if you tell me yours, I'll tell you mine.

How are you a Tourist at Home? How do you make the time? What's the touristy thing you've done in your town? How does being a Tourist at Home benefit your children, grandchildren and family? How do you show off your community to out-of-town visitors? What tips and tricks do you want to share?

Let me give you a couple of examples, so you know what I'm looking for:

My friend Lynn hosts her nieces in Florida every year. Lynn keeps a spreadsheet of all the things they've already done and all the things they have yet to experience. She includes the hours, admission and directions. So when that week rolls around, her nieces have a fun-filled week already planned out for them. And Lynn gets to go along and enjoy being a Tourist at Home.

When I was a stay-at-home mom, I always tried to plan a couple of day trips to local historical sites during the kids' spring break. They probably didn't realize they were learning about local history. But when her third-grade teacher started talking about Washington's crossing the Delaware, my daughter said she could picture the actual spot on the river where it happened. Because we had been there the Spring before,

When my friend Dianne and I were raising teeny-tiny little ones, I asked her how she always managed to have the energy and the time to pick up and take the kids places. She said the everyday things seem to get done regardless. But it's never a bad idea to go to a museum and learn something,

And then there's my friend Barbara whose stories include taking a company VIP on a tour of Washington DC and her car caught on fire in front of the Smithsonian.

This is going to be fun!

I'm eagerly awaiting your stories, tips and tricks -- tell me how you are a Tourist at Home, where you find ideas, how you prioritize, and what successes you've found in getting to know your community like a tourist.

And while you're at it, tell me the problems you encounter, the snags and hitches (Kids aren't interested? No time with your work schedule? You're not sure where to go? Not sure where to look for information?) and I'll be sure to address those issues in my book.

You can talk with me anytime on my Facebook page or by shooting me an email at

Let's chat! 

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