Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Corner Cafe's Shonell Bacon on Being Moved to Change

Have you ever been moved to change?

It's a question that's at the heart of my short story "I Wanna Get Off Here," which is available in the wonderful, eclectic collection, The Corner Cafe: A Tasty Collection of Short Stories.

available for only 99¢ at Amazon

On June 14, fellow CC author, Morgan Mandel, talked about life-altering events in real life and in fiction at Straight from Hel. In most life-altering events, the choice to be moved to change presents itself.

A choice is definitely given to Bay, the main character of "I Wanna Get Off Here."

In the story, Bay is a sweet, quiet bus driver with a dream in one hand and a bucket full of pain in the other hand. Her dream is one that many of you reading have or have achieved: to write and to more importantly DO something with her writing. In the bucket full of pain, we find low self-esteem, we find familial strife, we find a relationship that leaves so much to be desired. Much of the pain she endures keeps her from believing she could be better, that she could do something with the words she writes.

Does she ever find herself moved to change: to face the pain head on and say, "Enough is enough! I'm doing me now?"

Well, you'll have to pick up The Corner Cafe and read my story to figure that out.

But that move to change, that final hurdle, obstacle where you have to make the choice to fight to the death to obtain your desires or to tuck tail and call defeat is a powerful one. It's what we read stories for. It's often what makes the most significant moments in our lives.

I know about the move to change.

The summer of 2001, I was trying to figure out what to do next in my life. I knew I wanted to pursue a master's degree, but I had so many passions in my life it was hard to narrow down to one thing. One day, in an online group digest e-mail, I read about a school in Louisiana that was looking for students to apply to its MFA program. Only thing I knew about Louisiana was the stereotypical things I knew about Mardi Gras from TV. But something stirred in me to apply. Writing stories had been a part of my life since I was ten, and being able to better my craft and teach appealed to me. On a whim, and with the new semester beginning in a month (Gah!), I applied, and two weeks later, the fiction professor called me. We shared the best two-hour phone call I've ever had. In the end, the professor said, "We want you, Shon." I felt a warmth spread in my chest as I said, "And I want to be wanted." I had the choice to continue trying to figure out what to do with myself or to take a leap of faith and follow this path. I was moved to change, and that move has changed my life.

My life would be moved again in 2008. At the time, I feared that I would be losing my job soon, and I didn't know what to do with myself. I lamented over money, had a hard time finding another job, and I was right at the point of thinking I was a loser. How could I have all of this education, yet no one want to hire me? One day, while I walked across campus, a breeze touched my face, and I heard God say, "Apply for your Ph.D." I had thought about doing so numerous times in the past, but always said no, thinking I wouldn't get in, fearful of taking the dreaded GREs again (I absolutely SUCK at standardized tests). God made things even more interesting for me when he told me to apply to one school and even told me which school to apply to. Who did that--applied to one school? Wasn't the goal to hedge bets and have at least one "safe" school--just in case? Again, life had build itself up in a way where I had two choices: go for the gold or tuck tail and stay lamenting. Again, I chose to act instead of retract. And again, the move changed my life, presenting me with new experiences, new friends, new milestones achieved, and new dreams to fulfill.

Like Bay from "I Wanna Get Off Here," like many other characters, like many of you reading this, there always comes a moment when we are finally made to choose between breaking through fear and achieving a goal or walking away with our dream still in one hand and our bucket of pain and regret heavy in the other hand.

Have you ever been moved to change?

What choice(s) do you give your main character to face in your latest work? 

[Join The Corner Cafe Tour tomorrow as it chugs on to Alberta Ross' blog!]


CA Verstraete said...

Those were big changes to make, but sometimes it takes such bold decisions to move on and make your life better. As in your story, I loved how the character finally stood her ground.

Red Tash said...

Absolutely been moved to change. Many times. And sometimes facing failure is still a huge step toward finding success.

To answer your q. about my latest work, a character is definitely moved to change. She wants to right wrongs, and she doesn't know how. She's so way out of her depth, there is no scale of measurement. Leagues upon leagues upon leagues. But she is given a power, and a push in the right direction, so she leaps.

She's going to fail. She doesn't know that yet. But she will. And in the end, the choice is between whether or not she has the guts to pick herself up and try something different, or remain stuck in the loop of failure forever.

S.B. Lerner said...

I love the way you've followed the voices in your head, even when they seemed illogical. That's very difficult to do. The fact that you've persevered to not just start, but to achieve your goals, is inspiring.

Marian Allen said...

You just became one of my heros!

I've made many scary, "stupid" decisions and never regretted them.

Quit a job without another one to go to? Did it, and got one that led to many stories and to my husband.

Marry a widower with three children, when I was an only child and knew nothing about raising kids? Did it, and got three wonderful daughters and a wonderful birth daughter, plus the world's best husband. --NO ARGUMENTS, PLEASE!-- lol


Maryannwrites said...

Really enjoyed getting to know more about you and your character. What a wonderful character set up this simple line is "Bay is a sweet, quiet bus driver with a dream in one hand and a bucket full of pain in the other hand."

One of the big changes in my life was being dragged kicking and screaming from Texas to Omaha, Ne 20 years ago. It turned out to be a real life-altering experience as I had to give up my PR business and ended up taking classes to become a hospital chaplain. Talk about taking a real fork in the road. LOL However, it was a wonderful experience that made me a better person, and I think a better writer.

Helen Ginger said...

Hi Shonell. I really liked "I Wanna Get Off Here". What a great story about a woman finding her own strength!

silfert said...

Moved to change? Oh, yeah! How much harder is it to change our own lives, rather than blame everything on others and try to change THEM?

Notes Along the Way with Mary Montague Sikes said...

Change is hard. Defy it or embrace it to shift in another direction. Change is good because it can turn your life in a better direction.

Years ago, change forced me in a different direction that brought me to a career in art--my dream!

Thank you for a wonderful and inspiring post!

Mary Montague Sikes

Shonell Bacon said...

Thank you, Chris, :-D

You know, you mentioned it takes bold decisions...sometimes, I wonder if it is a bold decision or the fear of what might happen if you don't make a decision...or if that's the same thing.

Shonell Bacon said...

Red, you know, I read your comments and got struck in the chest with some pain for your character. That's one of the hardest decisions to make... after you've already tried and failed having to get back up and try again.

Shonell Bacon said...

Thank you, S.B. It's been a hard road, but I think, "Surely the really great things are not supposed to be extraordinarily easy to obtain, right?" If I had chose not to be moved, the questions that would remain in my head would have been the "What if?" questions instead of the questions that I get now that though tough ultimately push me to grow deeper and wider.

Shonell Bacon said...

LOVE that, Marian! Those were some awesome choices, weren't they? :-)

For me, for every great choice made there were so many bad choices made that if I were to write about them, I'd never stop. LOL But I like to believe that those bad choices were just part of that plan and journey to move me toward the choices that would further my growth in a positive direction.

Shonell Bacon said...

THAT, Maryann, sounds like a really intriguing change there, and definitely life-altering. Wow. Always love the stories when it seems like your life is being turned in a 180, yet that turn ends up being the absolute BEST thing for you.

Shonell Bacon said...

Thank you, Helen. :-) You know, I've always had a hard time pigeonholing myself as a writer, finding my "genre," but I always realized that I had a thing for "the broken women" -- the ones we often don't like to talk about in public, but the ones who ultimately shine brighter than all others when they pick themselves up and walk into their destiny.

Shonell Bacon said...

I feel you, silfert. Believe me. And I am not ashamed to admit that too many times, and even still now, I am GREAT at blaming things on others before I'm finally struck with the truth that it's ME and that IIIII need to change something. And then even hitting that point of truth doesn't necessarily move you to change. It can be, like you said, HARD.

Shonell Bacon said...

Aww, thank YOU for coming over, Monti, and commenting. :-D

The BEST changes always give us something wonderful, like our your art. :-D

Anonymous said...

I'm always moved to change. Change is good. Evolve or go extinct. That's my motto.

Dani said...

Shon, why did I think you were born and raised in Louisiana? And should I tell about another story in the collection? Or zip my mouth? ;)

Shonell Bacon said...

Definitely a good motto to have, Stephen!

Shonell Bacon said...

Dani, feel free to tell it. LOL I don't mind.

And nope...born and raised in Baltimore. But been in LA long enough where I'll slip in a "fixin' to" in my speech. LOL

BodieP said...

Great post--have I ever been motivated to change? Many times. I've come to see unhappiness and anxiety as the canaries in the coalmine of my life--they chirp away, alerting me to the fact that there's a problem, and I'd better be about fixing it.

Patricia Stoltey said...

I love hearing stories like yours about great turning points in our lives. I've had a few, and one of the biggest was retiring from real world work and trying to write a book. I'm glad I listened to the little voice that kept saying, "Do it. Just do it."

Shonell Bacon said...

Thanks, Bodie. :-) I often hear that chirping, but I'm sooooo utterly hardheaded and stubborn, and often need them to start pecking at my forehead for me to see I need to do something about the problem.

Shonell Bacon said...

That's awesome, Patricia. One of my best friends is RIGHT at that moment in her life, too, and it's been interesting to sit front and center at this moment to see what choice will be made and how she will fare.