Thursday Chatter – March 5

Good morning, Flamefolk.

Darlinleo’s topic post has had me thinking all week about the sounds, sights, and scents of my hometown. And the fact that my hometown is not a town, but a soulless sprawling suburb with ineffective public transportation and no central area where people just chill together and have conversations on which I can eavesdrop.

Where do you go to find the “color” for your characters when it’s not happening naturally? What kind of memories do you pull from?

In addition to having trouble finding a jumping off point for this week’s topic, I have a concern of sounding inauthentic or appropriating someone else’s culture. I also don’t want to appear to be making fun of or mocking my neighbors. I love the diversity of the cultural make-up of home. In the office where I’m working, just in the accounting areas, there are people from seven different South American countries, three Carribean Islands, five Central American countries, and a smattering of people from India. The woman who shares my workspace was born in India, but grew up in Nigeria and then South Africa. Her voice alone could keep me writing for a week. I love the way she says. “Here.” It’s very crisp and has a distinct ‘y’ in it. I told her this and immediately worried that she would think I was making fun of her – I wasn’t.

So I’m trying to find some balance to describe, in a fiction format, what it is like being in the minority nationality while living in the nation of your birth. And to pass on how flavorful that experience can feel, while at the same time always feeling like the outsider who has to have things like food explained to them.

Talk to me


Reminders –
Go vote. This is your last chance. The final week of drabble is waiting for you. #govoteflames #goread #commentlove

Go write. You’ve got a few days still, but why wait. Go write some “Local Color” today. #gowrite

We are now taking application for guest chatter hosts. Apply within.

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About t.s.wright

Writer, reader, casual photographer, nature-lover, dog mom. I grew up in a tree, inside a book, whispering possible futures into discarded seed pods that curled up and exploded each summer. One day, they cut down my tree and I was forced to go to school while waiting for the replacement trees to grow strong enough to hold me. But while we waited, I grew too heavy and awkward to climb, so I had to get a job. I spent my days surrounded by flimsy walls covered in carpet that made boxes and people who forgot to look out windows. I worked really hard. Possibilities were replaced with formulas and exactitude. Eventually I forgot how to climb a tree...and how to smile. Then one day, a dog licked my foot excessively and I remembered smiling. That reminded me of more things that didn't cost money and couldn't be tallied in a spreadsheet - like hugs and love and being happy. So I found myself a Steve who reminded me what home was. Then we filled it and our hearts with dogs. Eventually we planted our own tree, together. Even though I'm happy right here, right now, I remembered that we all need possibilities to dream of, so I've started writing them down.
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One Response to Thursday Chatter – March 5

  1. Did I ever tell you about my first work day in San Diego? I got a job as a restaurant hostess, and the first thing I noticed that day was that everyone seemed to have a New York accent. I was enjoying the heck out of myself watching and listening to the surfers, the well-heeled business people, and the adorable little families as they came and went while the supervisor tried to keep my attention on the training process. A few hours later she cut me loose to work on my own. My first customer was one of those business people, of the male variety. I handed him his change and sent him off with the same friendly goodbye I had used as a waitress back home, “Y’all come back.”

    The guy stops in his tracks, turns around wearing an intense expression, and says, “Say that again.”

    Scared the hell out of me.

    He must have realized this by my expression, because he smiled and said, “That was the most gorgeous phrase spoken in the most gorgeous voice I have ever heard. Please say it again.”

    After I giggled for a full minute, I repeated myself and waved goodbye. He didn’t leave. He stepped back up to the counter, tipped me twenty bucks, and said, “I certainly will.”

    The supervisor returned to whisper in my ear, “I can’t decide if that exchange was creepy or sexy hot.”

    I thought it was hilarious! For my entire three month career at that restaurant, I amped up the southern in my voice to eleven. There were days I got better tips than the wait staff. When I returned home, my mother wanted a full explanation as to why I sounded like Elly May Clampett.

    I said all this to say that in my experience, people are either flattered or they’re not when complimented on their accent/speech. A lot depends upon how we extend our compliments, and a lot more depends upon how that person is prone to accept any compliment at all.

    One of my coworkers in the photography business (years after the hostessing career) was from Sicily, and I nearly melted every time she spoke. I told her this, and she confessed that she always feared Americans would think her accent ugly. My response was, “You’re kidding, right?” She said, “What is this … kidding?” And I melted into a puddle.

    As you told me about my worries over adopting folklore, it may very well be that if the respect and appreciation you have for this great diversity of beautiful voices comes through in your stories, you’ll be fine.

    Like

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