September 26th, 2005


Jo's Monday Morning Warm-Up

Describe something you “weren’t supposed to” see, hear, or know, but did anyway—and what you learned from it. If you don’t want to get personal, try this exercise from the point of view of a main character from your current WIP. Be brave!

Mom was letting me wait in the car.

I felt very independent, at nine, being allowed to wait in the car while she took my sister into the grocery store with her.

I remember sitting in the front seat (those were pre-airbag, pre-child-in-backseat days). I didn’t have anything to do. Worse - I didn’t have anything to read. It’s all very well to be allowed to wait in the car instead of being forced to tag along like a little kid … but now I was bored.

Wait. There was one of Mom’s magazines sitting right next to me. Ms. magazine. I picked it up and perused the front cover. One title in particular caught my attention: “How to Tell Your Child Where Babies Come From.”

Then I put the magazine back down and gazed serenely out the window.

No, I did not!!!

I devoured the child-friendly text and illustrations in a fever of fascination.

I still remember the feeling of epiphany: ohhhhh, that’s how it works!

The primary parts in the oldest story in the world were pronounced in my mind as pennis and vageena for a long time. I remember when I finally learned their true pronunciation I was dismayed; I preferred my gentler vowel sounds. They seemed to suit those pretty illustrations better.

I remember putting the magazine back where I found it and waiting in a daze of revelation for Mom to come back.

Did I look surprised? Enlightened? Guilty?

She never did sit down and tell me where babies came from.


I don't remember that she regularly read Ms. magazine, either, despite her hip single status at the time.

So I have to wonder: did Mom leave her voracious reader of a daughter in the car that day – with the instructive reading material – on purpose? Was it easier to provide me with the information than to broach the subject herself?

I never asked.