Today we conclude our summer series of merit badges for writers.
Writers of a Certain Age
This one is for writers who have been around a while. Who began their writing careers writing in longhand or using a manual typewriter. Who remember the smell of mimeograph ink and the way it turned fingers purple. Who erased on carbon copies with a small brass stencil and a crumbly erasing pencil, which had a white eraser on one end and a stiff blue brush on the other end.Who can remember sending an SASE with their submissions and getting International Reply Coupons if their submission was going to another country. Who had to look up words on a dictionary and bits of data by going down to the library in person.
We’ve been around for a long time and this badge celebrates our persistence! You go, girls and guys!
Writers of the Purple Page
Award this badge to yourself if you’ve ever written—well, let’s just say anything involving parts of the body or clothing, which throbbed, heaved, ripped, or enlarged, or characters blessed with milk-white skin and raven locks. If you’ve ever written anything that would embarrass an elderly, conservative relative. If you’ve ever written under your burlesque name.
Burlesque, for those of you who don’t yet qualify for the Writers of a Certain Age badge, was a form of entertainment popular in Britain and the United States from approximately 1880 to 1920. It involved ribald humor and dances that would embarrass an elderly, conservative relative. The women who danced in burlesque theaters worked under pseudonyms, sort of nom-de-danse names.
To find your own burlesque name, take the name of your first pet combined with the street you lived on when you were ten years old. My burlesque name is Blackie Freemont, which has a nice ring to it. I may name a character that one day.
Of course, this formula doesn’t always work, especially if you lived on a numbered instead of a named street. In that case, try this alternate formula: combine an object that is either sweet or has a lovely odor with the name of a bird. Rose Nightengale? Robin Cinnamon? Hey, those beat out Bowser 68th Avenue.
What better symbol for writers of the purple page than a Mardi Gras mask? As they say where I come from, Laissez les bon temps roulier—Let the good times roll. If you're a little hesitant about going public with having written purple prose, you have my permission to keep this badge in a drawer instead of displaying it on your badge sash.
Stop Me Before I Volunteer Again
I don’t have to explain this one. Those of you who have earned know who you are. Even though your contributions are hugely appreciated it's okay to stop volunteering! Why not spend the next few months at your word processor instead? A new novel is a good thing, too.
You can’t burn the candle at both ends forever.
I hope everyone has a lovely fall.
Writing quote of the week:
I love myself when I am laughing.
~Zora Neale Hurston, American novelist (1903-1960)