This week’s guest post is of special interest to writers and creatives. Katie McCoach wears many hats: developmental editorial coach, book reviewer, and writer. I’ve asked Katie to put on her writer’s cap for this post. Her brief: write about what you’ve learned from your grandmother which now helps you in your writing. It’s not a post every writer/editor would agree to do, so I was really, really glad that Katie obliged, making time for us in her hectic schedule–and in the most wondrous way!
Her’s what she’s got for us. Just watch out for the trolls!
Gram without Boundaries
My parents are CPAs. My mother, a tax accountant, and my father, a finance consultant.
And I am a fiction content editor.
I still count with my fingers and open the calculator app on my iPhone at the end of a meal at a restaurant, but place a novel in my hands and I’ll be itching to tell you about how the author swept me into another dimension (and yet, at the same time I’ll tell you how the author could have probably done X, Y, and Z to really bring out the protagonist’s transformation by the end of the novel).
In any given day I use my heart and gut to make decisions
instead of numbers and facts.
But clearly this right-brain thinking didn’t come from my parents, so who did it come from? Where did I learn to be creative, and driven by story, passion, and emotion?
I attribute this way of creative thinking to my grandmother, Annalisa (even her name sounds artistic, right?). Growing up, I’ve been fortunate enough to spend a fair amount of time around my grandparents and they’ve influenced my life because of it. There are so many characteristics that make up my grandmother—and she’d probably shake her head at the one thing I’m focusing on for the sake of this piece—but one of the funniest things about Gram is her imagination.
That seems simple enough, really. Lots of people have an imagination. But my grandmother’s stories were always about something you wouldn’t expect. Although, usually a troll was worked in there. I’m not sure why, she just seemed to have a fascination with them.
In writing this article I remembered an essay I wrote in college about a family summer trip on the lake. I dug it up and I think this excerpt speaks well to who my grandmother is:
“So who wants to start the stories tonight?” Gram asked, looking around at everyone, her eyes landing on me.
I shook my head. “Not tonight.”
The fire cracked and popped as we all sat silently staring at the flames. My mom prodded the fire with a long stick, and my cousin ran around trying to find pieces of wood to throw in it—the pyromaniacs in the family were at work.
“Alright, I’ll tell one then,” my grandmother spoke up, and we all laughed, as we knew she was going to anyway. “This one is about Alfred, the troll who lives under the swimming dock…” All of her stories were about trolls; I don’t know where she got these crazy ideas from. She always liked teasing us kids as we grew up, making up creatures or stories about things. She was what you could call eccentric, I guess.
The way Gram told stories was silly and fun, and it always included something off-topic, which I realize now was to catch us grandkids off-guard. It worked too. If it wasn’t something she’d put in a story, it’d be something she’d say, such as how she would get her belly pierced that weekend, or get a tattoo on her boob. Do all grandmothers try to gross their grandkids out?
But I think that is the beauty of my grandmother. Her creative side doesn’t have boundaries, instead it pushes them and she creates her own. And as a result, that strange, unique view on life has trickled down to me, skipping a generation (my mother), and has given me the ability to think outside of the box. So when a writer comes to me and asks for my help in developing their story, I am able to bring a unique, open view to the table and push ideas that either enhance the story, or get the writer to come up with their own new ideas that they struggled to discover before. And yes, all of my ideas involve trolls.
There are so many ways the people around us influence our lives,
and Gram not only passed down her artistic genes to me,
she encouraged me to see life outside of the box,
and I aim to pass that on to others.
Some things just need to be shared.
What has your grandmother shared with you? How has it influenced the way you live your life or your career?
Thank you, Katie! That’s a wonderful aim, and a really cool Gram! Thanks for sharing.
Join me for the final post in this series celebrating grandmothers. I’ll be talking about what I learned from my grandmother and sharing a small recipe with you. So don’t miss it :-D–Leenna
KATIE McCOACH is a developmental editor working with authors of all levels. She is a member of the Editorial Freelancers Association and Romance Writers of America. Katie is also a writer, with essays published in TrainWrite and Kalliope, and is currently working on a contemporary romance novel. For more articles and advice, check out her blog and connect with her on Twitter: @katiemccoach.