Monday, June 14, 2010

Hometown Stories

Did you see where a good old Southern boy, Jimmy Dean died June 13, 2010? This is a momentous occasion for country music fans (and ham fans too). Over the years he wrote several songs and had a couple #1 hits, one big hit was “Big Bad John”. I never really kept up with his music but I can still hear him singing the title.

He also did several television shows, and once I read that he donated $1 million to a home town church (a million dollars in spite of the fact that he never graduated high school). If you’re familiar with Jimmy Dean you know that he was the spokesman for a company he created, the “Jimmy Dean Sausage Company”, which was later bought-out by Sara Lee; and then they fired him when he got old. ;-(

Hearing about his death caused me to think about how we take things for granted until it’s too late. I haven’t thought about this man for years, probably not since he lost the position of company spokesman. But immediately after reading about his passing I could hear him singing that song!

It was a similar day when Elvis Pressley died. I had spent little time thinking about Elvis and shortly after he was gone I wanted tickets to a concert and I read that his album sells kicked into high gear. I can’t say the same type of memories flooded my mind when I heard about Gary Coleman’s passing, but when my kids asked who he was I had no problem looking at them and responding, “What cha talking about Willis”?

What have you taken for granted? What did you miss after it was gone? I went away to college, then moved out of state and rarely see people I know from high school or college. Facebook has made it possible for me to be connected somewhat but it’s not the same. However Facebook does provide us all with contact information right at our fingertips. But many elderly people from my younger life have passed away, and with me living far away.

Don’t wait until it’s too late, give people a call or visit them in person; email just doesn’t have the same impact as a personal visit. You’ll feel better about it too.

How could a story be developed from a hometown life? Hometown stories are common. Young person grows up poor, needy, and looking for a break or goes away to live the good life and then dies knowing that it was not all necessary. After living through some grueling drudgery or a spectacular life, many characters realize that all the years being away were not necessary for achieving happiness. The wanderer returns for love, fame or fortune (or with a fortune), or like the epic Star Wars hometown saga the main character lives an action packed life only to realize that family meant more and it could have been better. After all, when you’re alone and lonely family is often the only thing you can really count on, right?

To write a hometown story you’ll have to come up with some sort of ‘twist’ that allows your writing to stand-out from the rest of the world. Predictable is something that I would try to avoid unless you’re writing for the Hallmark network.

Star Wars had the twist!

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