Monday, January 11, 2016

Tails--I Mean, Tales of a Bad Test Taker by Karla Stover

     Do you know the origins of "tail" and "tale?" I do. A tale is Old English for the act of telling something while tail is Germanic for the hindquarters for an animal. And knowing this is why I am a bad test taker. My brain is a repository for useless information--information not even usable for playing Trivial Pursuit. My brain needs a better storage unit. The left side will, as it always had, hold anything I might need for writing historical fiction and the right side will hold my grocery list. The left side will remember the movie, Cat Ballou was initially issued with a laugh track while the right side should have reminded me this morning, when I left for breakfast with friends, that I'd forgotten my watch. The left side will never forget that the amaryllis I bought my dad isn't really an amaryllis; it's a hippeastrum; the right side will always remember the potatoes on the stove. But back to the plant, since people had been labeling and selling hippeastrum as amaryllis for years, an agreement was made in 1987 to just let the issue go. 
     I am friends with the right side of my brain, but the left side is my BFF. I simply cannot write historical fiction without trying to be accurate about how people lived and how things were done. I'm a slow writer, but I know why people hung long johns in the outhouse--do you? Accuracy is important to me and so is believability. I just finished a book set in New York city circa 1870 where the heroine couldn't wait to leave her dying friend's house so she could hop into bed with the hero. I mean---really? My BFF reminds me that saltpeter was believed to lower the libido but old Right Side says that has been disproved. However, in 1870 the heroine ( a doctor) wouldn't have known about the disprovement. (Is that a word?)
     I am finishing three books right now: one non -fiction and two historical fictions. Two take place in the old west and the other in England. Keeping up with accuracy has me hoping AND--Alzheimer's runs in the family, which Right Side doesn't let me forget.
     And all this is why I am and have always been a bad test taker. How can I care that the Hypotenuse of a Right Triangle is shorter Than the sum of the Two Sides when I need to research a calico ball?

P.S. Want to know a piece of doggerel written to bowel movements? If so, email me--OR come to hear me speak.