when I grow up

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

-Everyone Who has Ever Talked To A Four Year Old

I wanted to work at Seaworld and be a dolphin trainer.  I also wanted to own cats.  I wasn’t sure if that was an actual profession, but I wanted to do it anyway.

Ten years later I was in middle school and people started asking me again, “What do you want to do after high school?”  What do I want to do after high school?  I just wanted to survive high school!  Such a response wouldn’t pacify the average friend-of-the-family so I simply said, “I want to be a writer,” with upmost confidence.  That was my story, and I stuck to it all through middle school, and the first two years of high school.

Up through then, my favorite subject had been English.  I liked writing essays and reading books, but I wasn’t sure if writing was a direction I wanted to go in because sometimes it was hard to find money in it.  I felt lost.  High school is precollege.  You take a certain set of classes that will get you into the university that will give you the best education in your major, and I didn’t even know what I wanted.

Beginning of eleventh grade came and everyone was already filling out their applications and studying for the SATs.  My counselor sent a mass request for all of us to talk to her about our plans.  I did what I was asked to do:  I went to her office, and stood in line for an hour and a half until she was free.  I sat down in a chair that smelled about thirty years older than I was as she brought up my profile.

“What do you want to do in life?”

My lips were ready to say the ever-familiar phrase when something stopped me.  I just sat there with my mouth agape and thought about what I wanted to do.  This was college; I do anything.  I could educate myself to be the best whatever-I-wanted that I could be.  I thought about how I liked to read, I liked good dialogue in movies, I liked comparing different styles of character development, I hated pizza rolls and people who wore Uggs in the middle of August, and I spent my time writing stories.  I looked back at her and said, “I want to be a writer,” with upmost bewilderment.

My name is Lauren The Largemouth Bass and I was almost a marine biology major.

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an impactful life experience involving a turtle

I used to work at a plastic brick-oriented theme park, which for reasons of my own shall remain unnamed.  I didn’t actually work for said park, I worked for a separate company and happened to be stationed at the theme park.  This unnamed company had bought out all of the carnival games within the park and was run by it’s own employees, including myself.  However, we all wore the same polos with the park’s logo on it, so park guests never knew any different.

In case you didn’t catch the key word, I’ll re-illiterate.  They bought out the carnival games.  I ran carnival games.  I was a carny.  I was a sober carny with a full set of my original teeth; yes it was quite the paradox.

My job at the unnamed theme park, was essentially to lie to people and take their money in exchange for a 20% chance of winning a ten cent toy.  It was great.  Not to say that people didn’t win, plenty of people won, if no one ever won, no one would ever play.  It’s like Vegas, but kid-friendly.

My favorite game to run in particular was the Camel Derby.  It was basically a horse race but with camels.  You would sit at this ski-ball station and roll the ball into the holes, if the ball got into the highest holes, the camel would run faster across the track.  If you beat the other players, you won the prize.  It was my favorite game because there was a winner every race, which translates to the ability to say, “I give out a prize every time,” in a very loud microphone.

One day, a women and her three-month-old daughter came over and I explained the game to her.  Usually we need two players to play the game, but I decided to bend the rules a bit and let them play at one station for one three-dollar round.  Right before we were about to begin a large group of people came over and started to check out the game.  I am paid to say, “Hi, want to play?” so it comes at no surprise that I said “Hi, want to play?”  The moment those words left my lips that women with the bubbly little baby in her lap, completely froze and stared me down.  Her eyes turned to slits and I could almost swear she was baring her teeth.

We played and she lost.  The group left with their prize and she just sat there.  She sat there with that stoney look on her face as if to say, “you disgusting slut.”  I knew that it stupid that she had lost and I understood why she was upset, so I offered her another game where she would race herself for only a dollar.  She said no, she had paid enough.  She got up in a rage over how I baited those other people to come over and threatened to report me.  I would “never work in this town again.”  It’s a well-known cliche, but up through then I had never heard someone actually use it.

It was near the end of the day and I was tired and had some extra stuffed turtles.  So I gave her a turtle.  Some would say I did it was because I was afraid of getting reported and losing my job.  Not so.  I had done my job and my boss would take my side, I gave her the stupid worn-out neon piece of poorly stitched crap to shut her up.  But she didn’t.  She thought I was trying to bribe her and strode off to find my employer.  It was that day that I realized I did not want to spend the rest of my life in retail.

I’m Lauren the Largemouth Bass and this was almost a self-revealing blog post.

writing is scary

“I am convinced fear is the root of all bad writing.”

-Stephen King

The above is an excerpt from Stephen King’s On Writing.

What King means when he says this is that when a writer is afraid that the reader won’t fully understand them, they freak out and try to dress up their writing with fancier words and over-punctuation.  While having an extensive vocabulary is important, it is possible to drive a piece to the point where it just seems unnatural to the mind’s ear.  Where Mr. King is convinced that fear is the root of bad writing, I am convinced that he only half right.

Though I think he has a point, I also believe that the problem is bigger than simple misinterpretation.  Bad writers tend to write out of fear.  Appalling romances are known to come from writers who fear dying alone.  Horrendously extensive autobiographies usually come from people who fear the prospect of being forgotten.  Therefore, I think the true root of bad writing is the fear of misinterpretation and crappy plotting.

I am willing to admit that fear has gotten in the way of some of my best writing to date.  It has happened to me with school papers, newspapers, even writings I work on for fun.

Currently I’m writing an epic adventure and I find myself getting so wrapped up in the way I word things that I forget to get to the fundamentals of what’s actually happening in the story.  Not to mention the fear of what will happen if people don’t like my story.  This leads to inappropriately revealing new plot and character developments as well as outright crappy writing.

Even now, this could have been a great post, but I am so amped up on disagreeing with Stephen King and impressing people by going against his On Writing that I am forgetting what it is about his theory I disagree with.

In the words of Forrest Gump, “That’s all I have to say about that.”

My name is Lauren The Largemouth Bass and this was an almost intellectual blog post.