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Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Childhood Fun

By Kristy McCaffrey

What did you do for fun as a child? Chances are you’re still drawn to whatever activity brought you joy. And if you’re not doing it at this point in your life, then you should be.

When I was ten years old I began a habit that I still continue today. Every time I went to the movies, I transcribed it into my Movie Log. It began after I’d seen Star Wars and was mesmerized by the scope and spectacle thrumming through me as I watched such an amazing mythology unfold before my eyes. I soon contrived to see the movie nearly 30 times in the theater and was compelled to start a Movie Log to keep track of each viewing.

I still add every film I’ve ever seen to the list. By now, my kids and husband tease me about it, or as my daughter recently said, “You really ought to put it in a file on the Cloud before you lose it.”

The reason this activity brings me so much joy is related to my vocation as a writer. My Movie Log is my collection of stories. Every writer, in order to have a vast reservoir of material to work from, must amass stories in some form. This is my way of keeping them all close. I can review the list at any time. I can remember how I felt when I experienced that particular tale. I can track how deeply a story made an impression on me by the number of times I engaged in repeat viewings. (Flash Gordon, anyone?)

This activity still brings me satisfaction today, which is why I’ve continued it. (I also suspect I’m a little OCD, but I digress.) What childhood activity did you engage in that made you blissfully happy? And more importantly, are you still doing it?

My Movie Log. It's very high-tech.
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Kristy McCaffrey has been writing since she was very young, but it wasn’t until she was a stay-at-home mom that she considered becoming published. She’s the author of several historical western romances, all set in the American southwest. She lives in the Arizona desert with her husband, two chocolate labs, and whichever of their four teenage children happen to be in residence.

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  1. That's an unusual, but interesting activity, logging movies you've seen. But I see the sense in it. Stories, whether they are on films, audio, or written, can inspire the writer in us.
    I was an avid reader, once I finally got the hang of reading, finally, in the 3rd grade. I loved going into the orchard and reading in the old apple tree there. My parents read adventure stories to my sister and me when were little. My dad was very cautious about what movies we could see--Disney mostly. Those of us who have "the writer gene" which is mostly the ability to have empathy, will find inspiration in almost anything, because we're built that way.
    I am fascinated by your movie log. Such an interesting concept, Kristy.

    1. Sarah,
      I too was an avid reader. There was a time when I tried a book log but it was more difficult to manage. Movies are short and sweet, yet still carry strong narratives. As a child, I was obsessed with logging them. And my parents weren't strict about my movie viewing, which was both good and bad, as you can imagine LOL. And I agree--as writers we find inspiration in many different ways. I think mostly we pay attention to the little things more than the average person because we need to know how to write about life.

  2. Kristy--funny...before I got to your comment that you might be a little OCD, I thought, this beautiful talented author is a bit OCD... However, I wish I'd done such as you did with this journal. I certainly don't recall every movie I ever saw, but I remember quite a few--those that impacted my feelings in some way. And I have watched a handful of movies over and over and over.
    The one "toy" I loved above all others were paperdolls. I had boxes of them, and even "made" clothes for them using the Sears and Roebuck Catalog as inspiration. So, this reminds me of a blog I wrote about 10 years ago that I will pull out and post on my next PRP blog day...if I remember.
    I see that my childhood was decades before yours, so our memories are somewhat different! One movie I do still love is Star Wars. I was an adult and it was the first science fiction drama I had ever seen. I was never a Star Trek Fan..but Star Wars was special.

    1. Celia,
      I loved paper dolls too! So much fun, mixing and matching outfits. As for my OCD--for a long time I never mentioned my movie log outside of the family. I knew it seemed strange. It's such a habit now. It wasn't until a few years ago that I finally realized why I do it. I'm a story-collector and these are my collections. But I think it speaks to my favorite childhood activity, and that was going to the movies. These days, I get a little antsy if I can't have a date movie night with my husband with regularity. I crave it and go a little crazy without a hit. Maybe you should pull out your paper dolls LOL? Do you even still have them?

  3. Kristy, when I just read what your blog was about on FB, I first thought--who would ever write down EVERY movie you've ever seen? Talk about OCD! Then I laughed--out loud, because for a few years I must confess I wrote down every title and author of historical romances I read. Yep. That's the truth. When I was young, if my mother saw me reading(and she even bought the standard books for young girls for me way back then) she'd find a chore for me to do in the house, outside, whatever. She wasn't a reader and thought if I was reading, I wasted time. With that history, I managed to read some wonderful stories, but not often. When I fractured my back at age 30, and was laid up before and after the surgery, my best friend loaned me about 30 historical romances. I was like a queen holding court while flat on my back, doing hardly anything, but indulging in fascinating stories that swept me away. I devoured those books having never read romance and became a maniac--Okay--I too kept the OCD log. I tallied hundreds by the time I returned to work and normal living. From then I've read, read, read--especially romances and then I finally took the plunge and started writing. So I don't think you are OCD, or nuts, but so enjoy what you watch, you want to savor it, never forget any of them. Not a thing wrong with that. Thank you so much for taking me back to a time when I too kept those wonderful stories close at hand for anytime I wanted to sit back and recall them. So much fun. Great post.

    1. Bev,
      It's good to know I'm not alone! Yes, I think it's about savoring wonderful ideas and stories. I kept a book log for awhile but I struggled with it because I sometimes didn't finish a book, so I gave up on that one LOL. I love going back to the movie log and remembering films I saw with my grandmother, etc. So many memories are there beyond the movies themselves.

  4. I love the movie log idea. I bet you have fun looking back on it. So, you got me thinking. One of my favorite activities as a child was to sit under tables or hidden in stairwells and observe the adults in conversation. Sometimes I'd make notes. I didn't put this together until now, but when I write my favorite part is writing dialog! I often first write the conversations between characters and then go back and fill in the other details. I think there is a writer's gene. When my daughter was in preschool she would fill notebooks with scribbles, but to her they were stories. Her preschool teachers even gave her a weekly slot to read her "stories" to the class. It became so popular other preschool age writers read their books to the class. She's just getting back to writing and I have to say at 20 she is already a far better writer than I. Thanks for the post today. It was fun to read your posts and the comments it generated.

    1. Patti,
      I love that! Maybe you need to occasionally sit under the table again LOL. But it's interesting how what we were drawn to as children is still a part of us today, and the deeper reasons why we were drawn to it in the first place sometimes aren't obvious to us. Yes, I believe there's a writing gene. I think is has to do with expression. My mom is an artist but she works mostly in stained glass now. She doesn't like to write. We all must honor the way our brains work best.

  5. I'm so glad to know you made a list of movies, Kristy. I've never done that, but I did make a list of the books I read, the author and a bit about the book. I also rated them as P,Poor, F,Fair, G,Good, VG,Very good, E,Excellent. Unfortunately when I moved in 2012 my list was lost or destroyed. But, I didn't give up. I started again in 2013, but now keep it on computer. Many of The 'E' books, I've gone back to read again. Nobody knew about this list until now, but you gave me the courage to confess. Thanks.

    1. Agnes,
      Confession is good for the soul LOL. What a wonderful list that must be. How awful to have lost it! I really need to do something about mine, just in case. I think as writers we love research, and these lists are just another way of keeping track of things.

  6. Kristy,

    I, too, was a reader of everything and anything I could get my hands on and my parents were more than willing to accommodate my reading habit. We were also avid movie-goers, and we never missed an episode of any of the now 'classic' western tv shows. Hollywood has been a hobby (fascination, perhaps?) for me for as long as I can remember. Watching movies and reading were how I’ve always spent leisure time, and my own writing was woven in and though what I took away from those activities.

    I've never been one to journal; I'm more of a spreadsheet girl. I have my library of dvds listed in alphabetical order with columns for premiere date, actors, actresses, genre, time period, director, and music composer.

    When I was a kid, I would act out movie and tv episodes in my 'only-child-living-on-the-ranch childhood'. I also spent hours rewriting tv episodes, and I'd add my own twists or new characters. I am SOOOO thankful those embarrassingly awful reams of fan-fiction have disappeared over the years. Joking aside, though, ever since I was old enough to write a story, I've wanted to see my name at the end of a movie with the words: 'Based on the novel by...' I'd really be happy if the director of my book-to-movie was Clint Eastwood. *wink*

    I tend to obsess over certain actors. For instance, I still have my poster of Steve McQueen on the motorcycle in 'The Great Escape'. I couldn't get enough of Dean Martin in any role he played. At one point in my young life, my grandfather carved a wooden gun for me and also carved the name "Tom Elder" (from Sons of Katie Elder) on it. I lost that wooden gun in a house fire many, many years ago. :-(

    I was particularly fond of Cameron Mitchell in High Chaparral and Lee Majors in Big Valley, so much so that my youngest son's name is Cameron Lee. My oldest son's name is Heath William (William is a derivative of "Uther" from my love of King Arthur stories). My middle child is Robyne Marie, which is from the Robin Hood and Maid Marion stories.

    I am a diehard Trekkie, but only with the original series/movies and the recent remakes with Chris Pine as Capt. Kirk. And Star Wars? Love, love, love every movie, and I watch them over and over without tiring of them.

    If you could visit my writing area in my house, you’d see large framed movie posters of: Casablanca, Van Helsing, and The Princess Bride, along with a smaller poster of Hellboy (and, of course, Steve McQueen).

    My family accuses me of being an over-the-top 'phan' of Phantom of the Opera. Perhaps it has something to do with all of my trinkets, memorabilia, images, music, script, every movie version on dvd, etc. My obsession with the phantom is such that in every story I write I include the word 'phantom' at least once. I have a novel (currently out of publication) and another manuscript that has never been published in which the heroines are drawn to and must ultimately chose between, two vastly different men. There is no denying the influence that Phantom of the Opera has had on my writing.

    I could go on about my Hollywood fascination, but I wouldn't know where to stop, so I'll end with my ultimate obsession: Vincent from the Beauty and the Beast tv show. *sigh* just *sigh* My family has never understood why I still have a near-life-sized poster of Vincent.

    1. Kaye,
      Oh my gosh, you've way outdone me. Love it! I had an extensive Star Wars poster/photo collection. I've still got one hanging in my bedroom. I was a huge fan of the movie Excalibur!! Devoured everything King Arthur. I too have named my kids after characters and actors. Daughter Kate is named after Katharine Hepburn. Son Ben has the middle name Duncan because all I read were Scottish romances when I carried him. Daughter Hannah was named after a favorite character in an Elizabeth Lowell novel. My mom LOVED the Beauty and the Beast show so I used to watch it with her. What would we do without our film and tv shows? I hope one day you see your name on the big screen!!

  7. Kristy, you and the lady I work with at the CVB. She keeps ticket stubs and photos of the movies she's seen. I suppose, with the memory I use as an actor, I just remember the films that made a difference. I actually wrote about thoese 'inspirations' on another blog recently.

    For me, I've always read. You could say, complusively. I've lost more books to damage from floods and fire than is probably sane. But I go right back to collecting reading material. Doris

    1. Doris,
      My son collects movie ticket stubs as well. I've done it a little bit but I'm not consistent. So many of us are compulsive readers but then that's part of why we're drawn to writing. :-)