Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Look out! Here comes Bronwyn... Step aside, please. Move over, would ya?
Why I Write
I think every writer is asked the question, “Why do you write?” or “What made you get into writing?” Answers are long and varied, and usually prompt other questions such as “How much do you make?” “Can I be a character?” and “Please stop talking to me. All I wanted was combo number seven with cola. Am I going to have to call your manager?”
So. Why do I write? The usual reasons. I wanted to work in a creative profession, I had stories to tell, and I felt the writing industry was severely understaffed with highly-neurotic, over-achieving perfectionists who are convinced their latest book would be their last. But I also had another, more pressing reason for writing.
I suffer from TNTLS, a debilitating disease that affects over 80% of the population. 80%. That’s a huge number, but true. This statistic is based on years of scientific research, thousands of case studies, and the fact that 75% of all statistics are made up.
TNTLS, otherwise known as Talk First Think Later Syndrome has plagued me all my life. It was an early onset disease—y’know, like from the moment I could speak. I blame genetics (not naming any names here, but let’s all pause and glance at the parent with the double-X chromosomes). As I’ve gotten older, it’s worsened—so much so that it’s a little like Russian roulette when I go out.
The attacks come out of nowhere, hit any time, and are best left to the discussions I have with my psychiatrist (who assures me that I will conveniently be cured at the precise moment my bills have paid for his five-bedroom home in the Swiss Alps).
The aftermath of the attacks can be so distressing, it’s just better I stay home. I’ve found two triggers: when I’m relaxed and when I’m stressed. So basically, if I’m breathing, I’m liable to have an attack (true to my over-achieving nature, I’ve been known to have a TNTLS attack in my sleep). You’ll agree, I think, that “as long as you’re alive,” just isn’t the best pre-warning symptom for knowing when an attack will happen.
For example, a few years ago I was out of town (trigger alert: stressor) visiting a friend, Lee. We went to her friend’s house where a party—full of people I don’t know (trigger alert: stressor)—was in full swing. Lee stayed with me for about 2.3 milliseconds. She claims it was much longer. Pfft. Who are you going to believe? The stable one or me? Sane people never keep proper track of time. I, on the other hand, am constantly counting “one Mississippi, two Mississippi,” and not just because saying “Mississippi” is darn fun. Nope, I’m keeping time and counting down to the moment I can leave the situation without looking like a Dash and Run guest.
So, all alone, counting the Mississippis, I’m roaming. Thankfully, most people take pity and talk to me. I think because in stressful situations, I give off the same pheromones as lost, frightened puppies. Everything’s going well, so I breathe easy and stop counting (trigger alert: relaxation). And into this expansive space, enters a man big enough to fill it.
At first, realizing that my height stops somewhere around his kneecap, I’m just thrilled he doesn’t step on me (trigger alert: stress...and yeah, it all goes downhill from here, so I’ll stop recording the stressors).
He’s not as wide as he is tall, but, BUT, the man has biceps bigger than my head. Bigger. Than. My. Head. And when he looks down at me, I suddenly feel a close kinship to Jack and truly, for the first time, understand how terrified he must have been when he heard those fateful words, “Fi, Fie, Fo, Fum...”
So this giant looks down at me and says, “Hi. How are you?”
And I say, “My bones are brittle and would probably stick in your throat.”
To which he replies, “Huh?”
Ah, TNTLS, my nemesis. We meet again.
The conversation, mercifully, takes a turn for the better and soon we’re chatting about life, liberty, and the pursuit of smooth-tasting, easy-drinking beer. At this point (or shortly after. We just weren’t talking about the pursuit of beer, but in true, hardy, Canadian fashion, pursuing the pursuit), we start talking about post secondary education.
And we’re chatting about the mandatory classes you’re forced to take, even though they have nothing to do with your degree, or y’know, real life. Those Just-Give-Me-a-Lobotomy-Because-It-Would-Be-Kinder boring classes full of pretentious professors who miss the irony of their jobs and education.
So, we’re commiserating over Statistics (seven years of therapy and I can finally type that word without stuttering), and a bunch of other classes, including introductory Archaeology. And I say (y’know, because I suffer from TNTLS), “Why is it that if you dig up a grave of a man buried last week and take his possessions, you’re a grave robber, but, if you dig up a grave of a man buried in the last century and take his possessions, suddenly, you’re an academic and an archaeologist?”
He kinda looks at me, in that “I think you’d be tasty with ketchup and a dry white wine,” way and says, “Actually, I am an archaeologist.”
Great, Bronwyn, just great. You’ve now called a friend of Lee a grave robber, impugned his education and job, AND you’ve done it with a man big enough to use your scrawny, little body as a toothpick.
Damn you, TNTLS, damn you!
Of course, in a situation like that, there’s only one thing to do. I puff myself up as big as I can, glare at him, and say (in my most stern, authoritative voice), “Well?!”
And I learned something that day—besides the fact that mint chocolate and beer make a terrible taste combination. I learned a big man will capitulate to a tiny Brown girl, if she looks psychotic enough.
Is it any wonder then, that I so identify with Aggie, the heroine in my story, The Genie’s Curse? Poor Aggie, who loves Dillon and finds a genie’s lamp. Well-meaning Aggie, who tries to rescue the kitten genie, Ebony, from a life of enslavement. Silly Aggie, who—in getting completely caught up in a conversation with Ebony and forgetting the lamp is cursed—utters those TNTLS words, “I just wish I was in his [Dillon’s] arms.”
Did I mention the lamp is cursed?
She ends up in Dillon’s arms, all right, as a stray dog. Now she’s got to rescue the cat, get the guy, and save herself, and all because of a TNTLS moment.
I wonder if she had to take archaeology, too...
© 2008 Bronwyn Storm. All rights reserved.
If you’d like to purchase The Genie’s Curse, head to right on over to The Wild Rose Press.
Reprinted with permission.
Bronwyn Storm is a super-hero in training—hey, one day being a klutz will be a superpower…if she doesn’t break anything vital in the meantime. When not tripping over her feet, she writes for The Wild Rose Press and plays butler and cuddler to her four furry boys. Check out her website www.bronwynstorm.com and drop her a line, she could use the excuse to stop petting the dogs and cats.