I wrote most of “Making Room” while reading the Harry Potter series. I can’t quite figure that one out, since my story does not even come close to anything Potter-esque. But I think it’s because HP is so completely different than MR, it freed the romantic-comedy side of my brain to write. That said, it is not often that I pick up a non-fiction. A novel? Yes. Real life? No. I’d rather have the History channel version. But there are some stories that I can’t help but read, specifically the following five autobiographical-type stories that I have read in the last three years.
Brad Paisley, Diary of a Player. I was teased mercilessly by family members growing up for liking country music, but this book proves me right – country music is full of down-to-earth people who just want to make music that tells a real story. Mr. Paisley somehow managed to pursue his dream of music-making in a sensible, humble, yet incredibly passionate way. That’s the way I want to pursue my dreams.
The Greatest Generation (compiled by Tom Brokaw). I miss my Grandpa Pompili every day and this book reminded me of him. It reminds the reader that our lives are much, much bigger than we see them at 20something or 30something, and that the way we live our life matters. The way we treat people matters. Everyone’s story may not be immortalized in print, but that doesn’t change the fact that our ideals and attitudes contribute to the world around us.
Lucille Ball, Love, Lucy. Lucille Ball, the greatest comedienne in the history of television, was told by a drama teacher she would never succeed. Her story speaks of hard work and passion, the key ingredients to the life she led. I learned about fighting for what you want, whether it be a part in a show or a child you want to bear after the typical prime child-bearing years.
Betty White, If You Ask Me (And Of Course You Won’t). She hand-wrote all six of her books; I hand-wrote about 75% of “Making Room”. She is 91 years old, was married to one man, had no children of her own, and lost her filter long, long ago. Maybe it reminded me of my Grandma Pompili (the no-filter part). Maybe it gave me a picture of what I hope I am at 91 years old.
Jim Beaver, Life’s That Way. A collection of e-mails updating his circle about the challenge his family is facing at the time of the writing: his non-smoker wife diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer in her 40s. An incredible story I ate up in about 3 days. It helped me understand more of the grief process in a story-telling way (as opposed to a list-of-things-to-do-when-someone-is-grieving kind of way). The title is a double entendre. The side I took: life moves forward, and one foot in front of the other is sometimes the absolute bravest thing you can do.
How did these vastly different stories influence “Making Room”? They gave me insight into different aspects of the human condition. Realistically, we cannot be exposed to every kind of person there is. Realistically, we cannot make every mistake there is to make in one lifetime. And so, we need stories to reflect upon, identify with, and learn from.
You Tell Me:
Who have you learned from, in your own life or someone you’ve read about? Who have you looked to as an example?
Since 4/5 of the above books are about people from the WWII generation, below is a picture of my Grandma & Grandpa Pompili. They had a hand in raising me, and they are two of my favorite people to learn from.