Monday, May 13, 2013

Don't Add Spice to the Story!

by Kimberly MacCarron

It was hard to think of the worst advice I’ve ever received.  There was probably a ton of it through the years, but I’m a bit on the hardheaded side.  Unless it lines up with what I want to do in the first place, I don’t generally take it.
I guess the worst advice (or maybe the best, depending on the circumstance) I’ve been given that would also influence my life today would be:  Don’t Add Spice to the Story!

Now, I’m sure you’re all wondering what that means.  I won’t sugarcoat this.  When I was a kid, I lied.  A lot.   

My mom lived her life vicariously through me, and that’s a lot of responsibility to heap on a young girl’s shoulders.  She lived to hear my stories about school and friends, but how exciting is elementary school?  Not very. 

Now, all my stories started with facts.  They were based on facts.  Just the final tale wasn’t a true reflection of the actual event.  Yes… I lied.  I told you that!   

If we had a fire drill at school, in another girl’s story, we went outside and then came back in.  My story usually had people running in various states of panic, kids getting lost and hiding under tables. Oh, my, there was a lot of drama going into the telling too.  Don’t get me started with my hand gestures and body language.  And I’m not even Italian!

My mom slowly—maybe a little too slowly—picked up on my special art form, and she would ask, “Kimberly, are you adding spice to the story?”  Then I would nod and look away.  Or sometimes I even lied about that.  Because if the end story was super duper good in my head, I had to let it out.  The story had to be told!

I didn’t have much money growing up, but apparently I had enough to have a complete circus come to my house.  I’m not sure why the other kids believed that one.   Then there was this time I saw this tiny little monkey in the Guinness Book of World Records.  He reminded me of that stuffed koala bear whose arms attached to the end of my pencil.  Oh, my God!  I wanted that Pygmy Marmoset!  I dreamed of the little fellow.  I showed all the kids at school the picture and then told them that I had one.   I went on and on about my cute little Pygmy.  How much he loved me and would climb right up my thumb and attach himself there.

Then Show and Tell Day came.  My turn up to bat.  I needed a Pygmy Marmoset, stat! 

I went home and told my mom about the lie I told (because by this time she was in on my super-secret power) and I needed her help to get me out of it.  At that time I thought my mom would do anything for me, and she probably would have.  Unfortunately that didn’t include a quick jaunt to the Amazon and overnight transport of my record-holding friend.  Most people would own up to their lies.  Be a better person and all that jazz.  I calmly went into school and told an outrageous story about climate issues not being good for my tiny teeny friend, and he sadly passed. But I was able to show them the decorated shoebox where he lived those last few hours.

This “story-telling” gift I managed to make for myself came with lots of problems though.  Although my mom understood, kids really didn’t get that I was telling a story without much fact.  Who knew that was important at that tender age?   But I loved being the center of attention when I told a story.  I loved that people couldn’t walk away.  I loved that wide-eyed I-can’t-even-believe-this-happened look. 
And God help the poor girl who actually had a truthful story that was better than my imaginary one.  

On a trip to an all-day Girl Scout camp, this girl started talking about how she had ridden horses before.  Well, that got everyone’s attention.  We all listened.  I thought about the horse I used to ride at Camp Kon-O-Kwee, where I used to go to summer camp.  I thought about my favorite and what it would be like to own her.  For her to be my very own horse.  So, I stole that other girl’s spotlight lickety-split with these words:  “I HAVE a horse.  Her name is Misty.”

Yes, folks.  I told that busload of overly excited girls that I had a horse.  To make matters worse, my mom had driven to the camp to chaperone for the day, so when Colleen Lynch ran over to my mom and said, “I didn’t even know Kim had a horse,” that ball of lies sat uncomfortable-like in the pit of my stomach.

My mom smiled, nodded and looked away.  By that time Colleen had found something extremely exciting—like the leather braided bracelet station and took off.  My mom gave me THE LOOK and mumbled to me, “Yeah, neither did I.” 

These harmless stories went on and on until the sixth grade where I ventured into rumor about real people.  And that’s where my story isn’t funny anymore.  The girl who made out with this one guy didn’t really do that and I knew it, but I said it anyway.  And I ended up creating a huge mess for myself that wouldn’t go away since she lived right next door.  It was ugly.  It was, in fact, so ugly that I ended up going to an entirely different school.  My mom enrolled me in this Christian school, and I made a pact with myself that my fibbing days were at an end. 

When I started the new school, I turned over a new leaf.  I didn’t add spice to the stories anymore, and I felt this hole inside me.  I wondered what it meant that I felt lonely without the lies.  Then I realized I was lonely because I just wanted to tell a story. 

And my writing days were born.  In the comfort of my room I could make up all kinds of stories and put them down on paper where they would never hurt anyone.  Where nobody would know the stories weren’t real.  They were real to me.

In a way, I’m still a liar.  I still make up stories and switch facts around to suit my needs, but now it’s considered a profession.  Go figure.

I’m off to add spice to another story—a written one.  I guess that’s advice I never followed either.  That’s such a shock…

Kimberly MacCarron   


Melissa Landers said...

Haha, I always wanted a horse. I would have been that little girl running to your mom, begging to come ride it.

Great post, Kim. At first I thought you were referring to romance and smoochy scenes when you said "spice," and I hurried over here to advise MOAR SPICE!!!


Kimberly said...

That's funny! I'm a big believer in the right kind of spice. My friend Vanessa calls that "kissy bits," and I love it. The kissy bits, that is.
The funny thing is that I never even wanted the actual horse. I just wanted the attention. LOL

Pintip said...

Oh my gosh, Kim! I know this was supposed to be funny (and it was funny), but when I got to the part about how you had a hole inside you because you couldn't tell stories anymore, I got all choked up inside. You are a BORN STORY-TELLER. This is what you were meant to do, and I'm so glad you're doing it.

Kimberly said...

Thanks! I am equal parts amused and horrified at the stories I told. LOL.
Every time I threaten to stop writing, I can't. Because of that stupid hole. And the alternative to not writing would be fibbing again. And I turned over a new leaf and all I'm stuck with writing stories. :-)

Darcy said...

Wonderful post, Kim! And oh so colorful...just like you ;) That moment you realized the "spices" were actually your stories screaming to be told gave me warm fuzzies. I love your brand of spice and that you'll never stop writing!!! Because then I'd be forced to point and chant, "LIAR, LIAR, PANTS ON FIRE!"


Kimberly said...

You're so funny. I always dreaded hearing that chant, so I think I'll continue writing to avoid it. :-)
You have a big decision to make, so stop reading blogs and get to it! LOL

Unknown said...

I also had a mother that loved to hear about drama. I too fell victim as a child to be creative with what happened at elementary school. Which now follows me to this very day. I can totally relate to your situation.

P.S. - Misty is a terrible horse name.

Bonnie Staring said...

Awesome post, Kim!

OMG, I was right there on that bus with you, envious that you had a horse and I didn't. ;) So glad you found a home for all those spices in your writing and that you're so willing to share them with us!

Amy said...

Fabulous! My grandmother actually used to call telling lies "story-telling" as in "Amy, what happened here, and don't tell me a story." I also had a penchant for, shall we say, elaboration. And as you illustrated so well, now we have a great excuse! Enjoyed your post so much.

Kimberly said...

That's so weird about you, too, having a mom that liked to hear boring elementary school stories. LOL. I bet I told her spicier ones...:-)
I was in third or fourth grade when I named my imaginary horse Misty. And Misty totally rocked! I loved her so much. *big sigh*

You DID have a horse. Her name was Misty, and I give her to you gladly. We can share her in our active imaginations. LOL.

I loved listening to my grandmother's stories so much as a child. I guess I figured mine had to be equally as good. I just didn't realize how many more years of experiences she had at the time. So, here's to listening to great stories and telling some great stories. Elaboration (and a little bit of exaggeration) is a great thing. Mostly...

Leslie Lynch said...

Great story, er, post, Kim!

I will admit to embellishment. "Just the facts, ma'am" doesn't work for me, because MY world has all these exciting things happening in it! People are fascinating stories packaged in normal-looking exteriors! My husband rolls his eyes when I point out that the traffic stop we just passed had FOUR cop cars and I launch into speculation as to why that might be!

Thank God for the outlet of writing - and I'm really, really glad you found your passion in life, Kim. :-)

Kimberly said...

Thanks for stopping by, Leslie! That's so funny about you speculating about the cop cars.
I have this painting of an old man with a violin. It belonged to my grandma, and every once in awhile, she would ask me to tell a story about him. Why he looked so sad. The stories were always different, but I loved making them up.
So, I really get that speculation and curiosity.

Sandra Owens said...

What a great and honest post, Kim. So cute and then kind of sad. With your imagination it's easy to understand why you're now a writer. I love how your grandmother asked you to make up stories about the old man and his violin.

Kimberly said...

Thanks, Sandy,
Life is kind of bittersweet that way. We have the sad, the happy, the cute. It all mixes together to create the final project. I'm still working on mine. LOL.

Diana Belchase said...

So honest and so wonderful, Kim.


Vanessa Barneveld said...

Loved this post, Kim -- and that's no lie! I think you and I are very similar in that our younger selves added a bit of flavour to our real-lives. It must have been awfully tough when you had to change schools, but the upside is that you found your niche in life -- storytelling.

Sharon Wray said...

I loved your post, Kimberly. I too used to add spice to my stories until I got found out in High School and lost a good friend who just didn't understand.
Now I keep my spice firmly in stories, but have noticed my children's penchant for elaborating things. I don't know whether to be proud or scared. I still remember the things I could talk my way into or out or in high school!

Kimberly said...

That's no lie? LOL! You crack me up. My favorite book when I was younger was called TREAD SOFTLY. It was about a girl who made up a happy home life. After she gets found out, her grandpa is explaining the difference between lies and dreams. And he says, "tread softly because you tread on her dreams." It makes me cry every time I think of that. :-) In a way, our make-believe are dreams.

We are too eerily the same. Haha. That's so funny. I've found myself asking my kids several times if they're adding spice to the story. And I, too, could talk my way into and out of so many things.

CareyCorp said...

Kim - I laughed about the horse and teared up about the fibbing. Your spice makes you original and special! I'm so glad you didn't put it aside for good!!!

Kimberly said...

Thanks! I think we all have a certain amount of spice or we couldn't tell a story, right? :-) I really just recycled the fibbing in everyday life to my books. LOL

Nan Dixon said...

Oh I am glad you found a productive and supportive outlet for your creativity -- and one that can't hurt people. Great - post that shows the depth of your understnading of why you write.

Kimberly said...

Thanks, Nan! So glad you stopped by. It's never a party without you! You add lots of spice to life, my friend! :-)

Unknown said...

Great post, Kim! Thank goodness you are now using your powers for the benefit of the reading world! Also, when I was a kid I think I had that same little stuffed koala bear whose arms attached to the end of a pencil. And that's no lie!!! :-)

Sheri Adkins said...

Awwww, Kim... what a great story! I loved it. And I was right there with you. Then, I couldn't help but wondering--did you add "spice" to this story? LOL! Storytellers love to embellish. :) Glad you found the best place to funnel that spice!

Kimberly said...

I saw your link to my koala bear pencil topper. So funny! But, if you saw the Pygmy Marmoset, you would have been jealous that I had one and you didn't. LOL.
Thanks for stopping by.

That's too funny! My husband said I should ask at the bottom of the post if my readers thought any of it was the truth. Maybe it was all a big story...
Unfortunately, it was all too true. :-)

Gail Hart said...

Too funny, Kim! I hope you'll keep on using your powers for good instead of evil for a long time.

Kimberly said...

I'm doing my best. Doing my best. :-)
Thanks for stopping by, my Lucky 13 sister!

Jennifer McAndrews said...

Kim, this was funny and sad and wonderful all at once. You are a born storyteller indeed! Keep up the good work!!! *vbg*