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ME AND MY BRIGHT BLUE PICKUP TRUCK by Kidd Wadsworth

January 25, 2024 by in category Infused with Meaning by Kidd Wadsworth tagged as , ,
Photo by Misael Nevarez on Unsplash

ME AND MY BRIGHT BLUE PICKUP TRUCK

by Kidd Wadsworth

I’d been invited to a posh dinner to honor director Martin Scorsese. I decided to drive to ‘The City.’ My friend recommended that I take the Lincoln Tunnel. Twilight found me approaching the entrance; I glanced at my gas gauge.

I was young and naive, but I wasn’t worried. “Those New Yorkers are smart,” I said to myself. “I bet they’ve built a gas station right at the entrance of the tunnel.”

Nope, no gas station.

But I wasn’t worried. “Those New Yorkers are smart,” I said to myself, “I bet that tunnel is wide with room on both sides to pull over if you run out of gas.”

Nope, earthworms build wider tunnels.

I may have prayed.

I made it through, wheels still turning, spark plugs still firing. “No need to worry,” I thought. “With all these cars there must be tons of gas stations on the isle of Manhattan.”

Nope.

I looked and looked all the way to the hotel where the dinner was being held. I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw the valets. I knew they could help me.

“Hi, do you happen to know where I can find a gas station?”

The valet rubbed his chin. He looked at the ceiling. Then he yelled over to his bud. “Hey, Rodrigo you know where this lady can find some gas?”

“Dude, I ain’t got no car.”

The valet promised he’d have an address for me when I came back for my truck.

The event was fantastic, lots of stories, great food. As my first introduction to The City, I was impressed. When the dinner ended, I thanked my host and took the elevator to P1, the parking garage.

Yes, my wonderful valet had an address. I drove through dark streets—one eye on the gas gauge—until I found a line of cars waiting to fill-up at the world’s smallest gas station. I had to do a seventeen point turn to get my truck next to the pump. I breathed a sigh of relief. Never have I been so glad to see my gas gauge read FULL.

I asked the attendant. “How do get back to the Lincoln Tunnel?” Half a page of directions later—remember this was before GPS—I headed across The City. It was 2 AM and I was a bit confused. Wasn’t this the city that never slept? And here I was on a very famous street, Broadway, and everything was so quiet.

Until . . .

I came to this place as bright as day. I’ve never seen so many lights—and people, and noise, and guys working on the sewer system in the middle of the night—and I wasn’t moving, not an inch. You see, it was me, in my bright, blue pickup truck and 10,000 yellow cabbies! Those cabbies weren’t giving me any room.

I tried to be polite. Eventually, I realized I was southern in name only. If truth be told very few battles of the Civil War were fought in Texas. Texans aren’t really southern, we’re Texan, and that’s a whole different breed. For example, southerners pride themselves on being polite. Texans respect gall. I looked at those pathetically small cabbies. Then I looked at my BIG, bright, blue pickup truck. The Texan in me figured I had the right of way. I took my foot off the brake.

What do you know? Those New Yorkers are mighty smart. Why they let me pass. Such nice folks.

I left the lights behind still looking for the tunnel. Once more, and only once more, I gave those New Yorkers the benefit of the doubt. “I bet they have a great big sign pointing to the entrance of the Lincoln Tunnel.” (Just so you know, in Texas the signs are HUGE.)

Nope, they had this little sign two feet off the ground with one bulb illuminating painfully small letters:  Lincoln Tunnel –>

Really?

Yes, I made it home, but I realized something. When I go to a foreign country, I’ve gotta know the rules. I can’t assume stuff like—where there are cars, there are gas stations.

So, I asked myself, what would I tell a New Yorker going to Texas?

Here are the things you need to know.

  1. It’s legal to carry a gun.
  2. It’s illegal to be a vegetarian.
  3. Everyone still dresses up to go to church. So bring your lizard skin cowboy boots.

Some of Kidd’s stories are in the following anthologies

Kidd Wadsworth

Kidd writes to bring to life our magical, fire-breathing world. She believes we are super heroes. Its time we put on our capes.

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INTERIOR DIALOGUE by Kidd Wadsworth

December 25, 2023 by in category Infused with Meaning by Kidd Wadsworth tagged as , , ,

My main issue with fiction, written in first person, is interior dialogue. Often interior dialogue is self-serving—or rather author-serving. Take this passage from The Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard:

I’m an accident. I’m a lie. And my life depends on maintaining the illusion.

The character is talking to herself to explain stuff to the reader. This pops me out of the story. It’s unreal dialogue. Very few of us have such cogent thoughts. Instead, our thoughts are entwined with our actions. Our body, our emotions and our thoughts are jumbled together. I’ve attempted to rewrite this passage below.

I tried not to let her see how much I hated her, but I could barely breathe.

I get it. I’ve got to lie for you.

My hand clinched itself into a fist.

Interior dialogue also often lacks ambiguity. People neither move nor think in a straight line. Our writing should mimic that. The reason it often doesn’t is that our real thoughts, like real dialogue would be uninteresting and/or confusing. As readers we want the condensed version. If you’ve ever seen a transcript of an FBI wire-tap you understand. I feel so sorry for those FBI agents. Most of that stuff—a good 99%–is boring and repetitious.

“Should we a . . . a . . . go to Denny’s or—”

“I hate Denny’s. Don’t forget your wallet.”

“Ok, ok, maybe . . . what’s that place that’s orange on the inside?”

“All I’m saying is, I’m not paying for your ass. You mean Panera?”

Of course, this enlightening conversation is taking place while the agents are listening for details about the next bombing attempt. It could be hours before they hear anything remotely interesting like:

“Did you pick the stuff up?”

So, obviously, we can’t write dialogue exactly the way it occurs in real life. Not if we want anyone, except our moms, to read our stories. But when interior dialogue is too polished, it stops being real.

Most interior dialogue also lacks humor. Humor inserts itself into our lives frequently. Yet, because our characters are constantly saving the world, running for their lives, or at least obsessing over which lipstick will make the love-of-their-life finally notice them, we delete the humor. This is a mistake. Humor breaks the tension, but more importantly, if our character is still willing to laugh, especially at themselves, it can draw the reader in, simultaneously making our character more likeable and more believable.

Finally, interior dialogue tends to suffer from monotony. In other words, the character repeats herself. Again, from The Red Queen:

 I can’t do anything but steal.

 And

 I’m a coward.

I am really tired of hearing this character put herself down. These two thoughts are excellent candidates for humor. Consider my attempt:

I’m a coward and a thief. Across the room I spot my next mark. Tall and clean—obviously, he can afford water for a bath. Well at least I’m not a cowardly thief. My fingers are literally itching. I hope he doesn’t smell me coming.

So, here’s the list:

  1. No info dumps.
  2. Entwine the dialogue with body movement.
  3. Add a smidgeon of confusion or exhaustion or forgetfulness.
  4. Add humor.

Happy Writing!

Kidd

You’ll find some of Kidd’s stories in the following books.

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THE CHOICE

September 25, 2023 by in category Infused with Meaning by Kidd Wadsworth tagged as ,
Photo by Tom Barrett on Unsplash

This is a true story.

Two nights ago, I had a dream I could fly. I opened my arms wide, pulled the wind toward me and felt my feet lift off the ground. It was glorious. With my engineering-trained mind I quickly sought practical applications.

First, my husband and I went out at night—so the neighbors wouldn’t see—and I picked all of the apples, red and ripe, off the top branches, dropping them one by one into my husband’s waiting hands. Next, I inspected the flat portion of our roof. Never buy a house with a flat roof. We worry about that 10 x 10 section constantly. Then I decided to fly out to Seattle to visit my son. But about three minutes into the flight—I was traveling at approximately 10miles/hour—I realized that Seattle is 3000 miles away. That’s a 300 hour flight.

Hearing a roar overhead, I decided to fly into the clouds and hitch a ride on a passing jumbo jet.

NO!

Those things travel at 600 miles/hour. My head would get blown off.

I suppose even flying has its practical limitations.

In the final image of the dream, I was in the future and my son had a three-year-old daughter. I had volunteered to watch her for the day. As the scene opened, we were gleefully jumping on my son’s bed. Then I taught her to fly. “Open your arms, like this.” I opened my arms, “and pull the wind to yourself.” How quickly she learned.

“Flying is so much fun, Nana.”

When I woke, I immediately understood the dream. I can do the impossible. The choice is mine.

Last night, I had a second dream. I was agitated and rushed. I slipped the car into reverse, stomped down on the accelerator and backed out of the parking space so recklessly that I plowed into the car behind me one row over. Crying and distraught, I called the police and reported the accident. My silver Chevy Malibu—a huge tank of a car with bench seats and a V8—was undamaged. The next morning, again jittery and overwrought by . . . whatever . . . I backed out and hit another car. That night I hit a third vehicle in exactly the same way, this one belonging to Omar, a guide who had been helping me by showing me around town. “You totaled my car!” He grabbed his head in distress. “How am I going to get to work!”

I was taken before a judge.

“I’m so sorry. I was stupid. This is all my fault.”

She took away my driver’s license.

“I don’t know why I did this. I was just so upset and angry.”

I was sentenced to counseling. “You could have hurt someone,” she said. “When I’m satisfied you’re no longer a danger, I’ll give your license back.”

I woke. Immediately, I understood the dream. I am powerful. I can use my power to destroy things and hurt the people I love.

The choice is mine.

My power is my creativity. Most importantly my power is my writing. With my stories I can reveal truth to those who would hide from it. I can comfort the soul of a hurting person. I can unveil oppression. I can say, I understand, and I stand with you. With my stories I give my heart word-wings to fly where I cannot go. And on these wings my readers soar to longed-for futures.

Or I can ravage tender souls with hate and lust and violence.

The choice is mine.

~ Kidd Wadsworth

Kidd’s Stories are in the following anthologies

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My Search for Great Adjectives by Kidd Wadsworth

August 25, 2023 by in category Infused with Meaning by Kidd Wadsworth tagged as , , , ,
Photo by Florencia Viadana on Unsplash

Why was the book Dune by Frank Herbert so successful?

Most people would probably say world-building. Herbert created a compelling futuristic world of suspensor lamps, stillsuits and blue-eyed spice-drugged Fremen, and in it he placed the unassuming Paul Atreides, the character every one of us, male or female, identifies with. But let’s dig a deeper, let’s “get into the weeds” as one of my professors used to say. I’m talking adjectives here. And yes, Herbert was a master.

“The woman was a witch shadow—hair like matted spiderwebs, hooded ‘round darkness of features, eyes like glittering jewels.”

I LOVE THIS SENTENCE!

“witch shadow”

She’s more than evil, she’s powerful. Or is she? Witches, even in the future, only have the power we give them. So, who gave her power? Ut oh, it turns out his mother did. She mated with his father on command. But it gets worse. His mother disobeyed the witch.

“matted spiderwebs”

This phrase feeds on the first. Spiderwebs hide in corners and under chairs. Nearly transparent, they are easy to miss. These words aren’t about her hairstyle. Herbert is telling us that her web, and his mother’s disobedience, has caught something—and his name is Paul Atreides.

“glittering jewels”

I confess. I stole this phrase. Yup. I used it to describe the eyes of a dragon. It screams EVIL.

Herbert’s wonderful adjectives aren’t limited to his prose. Consider some of the titles of his books:

The Godmakers

I like this one because it plays on the well known “Kingmakers.” I guess things are different in the future. They don’t just make kings, they make gods.

Whipping Star

I’ve got read this book. What the devil is a “Whipping” star?

My husband is an Alabama boy. He grew up on the gulf coast. His senior year, he and three others went stag to homecoming. On the way home they drove down to the beach to park and watch the sun come up. Not yet legal, they nonetheless were well supplied with beer. They popped a few open, loosened their ties, kicked off their shoes . . .

Waves, coming in the open car windows, woke them up. Nope, the car didn’t make it out alive.

Often my adjectives are like the story you just read—painfully predictable. A great book—or a great poem—helps me splash my readers in the face with borrowed gems. I am also learning to link my adjectives as Herbert did with “witch”, “shadow”, and “spider-web”, to create a picture within a picture. We not only know what the woman looks like, we know she is of the dark, moves in the dark, and more dark is coming.

Happy Writing!

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Dreams in Writing

July 25, 2023 by in category Infused with Meaning by Kidd Wadsworth tagged as , , , ,

I woke at two in the morning from a nightmare in which I was being hunted by an assassin. In the dream, desperate to get away, I hid on the third floor of an abandoned building. I remember looking out the dirty windows and seeing the assassin below in the parking lot looking up at me. He was tracking my cell phone.

I removed the sim card and, just for good measure, smashed the phone.

Two days later, he almost caught me hiding in a bakery. The owner, an old friend, came rushing into kitchen whispering, “The man you described just walked through the front door.” I ducked out the back and hid on the fire escape. As he left, I saw him glance up at the street cams.

Damn.

I hitchhiked into the Indiana countryside. I figured I was safe among the endless fields of ten foot tall cornstalks. I was wrong. As I turned and ran, he shouted after me, “You’ll never get away, I’ve tapped into the satellites.”

That’s when I woke up. Everything was familiar: my bedroom, my sweetie softly breathing beside me. I wasn’t afraid; I was curious. How would I evade an assassin? I turned to that great fountain of wisdom, the TV. As my husband slept, I searched Netflix and Amazon Prime for a movie that would show me how to escape.

Click. Click. Click.

I clicked almost as many times as Indiana has ears of corn. Then I discovered a Bruce Lee movie! Yes! Surely, Bruce would know how to evade an assassin.

Guess what? Bruce Lee never evades. He never hides. He confronts his enemies. He turns to face them, looks them straight in the eye, and kicks butt.

That’s when I knew who the assassin was. My assassin was a family problem. Yes, I wanted to hide. And yes, I definitely wanted to smash my cell phone, but I couldn’t get away. I had to become Bruce Lee. I had to face my problem head on. I needed to look it in the eye—and kick butt.

So, why did I tell you this?

I recently read a fascinating book called Dreams: God’s Forgotten Language by John A. Sanford. I believe dreams can add depth and, strangely, genuineness to a story. But there’s a catch, and it’s a big one. You’ve got to get it right. Dreams follow certain patterns—unobvious patterns—that we all instinctively recognize. So, if you want to put a dream sequence in your story, read an authoritative book about dreams and common reoccurring images in dreams, first. Otherwise, the dream won’t read as “real.” Rather it will seem contrived, a way too convenient plot device, and pop the reader right out of the story.

BTW, I did actually dream about being hunted by an assassin, and I do think my subconscious was telling me to stop running away from my problems. I’m currently working on becoming Bruce Lee, but he’s a difficult act to follow.

Happy Writing!

Kidd Wadsworths Has Stories in the Following Anthologies

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