In time honored tradition, I would like to take a break (ahem….procrastinate) from writing a synopsis in order to share a fond memory of the first fiction story I ever submitted.
To negate my guilt from not working on previously mentioned synopsis, while I was working on it this memory popped in my head from out of nowhere and had me smiling. I had to share.
Murphy’s Oil Soap. The stuff that has cleaned and polished church pews, kitchen tables, and floors for ages. It gives a home that fresh scent smell, treats wooden surfaces to restore and preserve, and makes a house a home. The shiny and pristine result is amazingly cherished by those who faithfully buy this product time after time.
Okay, end of pitch……….you get the idea.
I grew up in a single parent household that consisted of only my Mom and I. Times were mostly tough, at best, and many days I wondered how I could help to make her life easier so she wouldn’t struggle so much.
One day she left a bottle of Murphy’s Oil Soap out after cleaning and I picked up the bottle to read the label. Yeah, I was weird at 9 years old, and I’m weird now.
There was a promotion for a lifetime supply of Murphy’s Oil Soap if I would send in a specific experience I had using it and how helpful it was. My name would be entered for a chance to win if I submitted my feedback. Standard marketing procedure. Give something away to show appreciation to customers, they tell their friends, friends buy it, etc, etc………
Well, I didn’t know about marketing and feedback as a kid. I only knew Mom would never have to buy the stuff she loved to clean with and we could maybe have more food. So, since I was brought up to “do unto others as you would like them to do unto you,” I went for the gold and wrote my first fiction story. It was the most exaggerated, cheery, and over the top tell I could think of.
I vaguely remember it, but I am almost certain it had something to do with a Mother and her daughter constantly exclaiming how wonderful and refreshing it was to use Murphy’s oil soap. At one point my Mom may have channeled Vanna White and did a gracious sweep of the arms presenting her (nonexistent in real life) wooden floors to the great and powerful (marketing bulk entry mail readers) of OZ.
I wonder now how the people who read my story reacted to it. I had the penmanship of an adult thanks to late nights of perfecting it with my Mom, and she helped me address the envelope and send it off properly. They most likely were not great and powerful, but just ordinary employees who thought I was one kooky cleaning obsessed freak with a wild imagination. I imagine it gave someone a good chuckle or at least made them crack a grin.
Some time passed, then one day I received a letter addressed to me. I knew who it was from and immediately tore open the envelope. Inside was a $1 coupon for Murphy’s Oil Soap and confirmation stating I was not a winner, but thanks for using their product. I was disheartened for a beat, but with the shiny coupon in hand I marched up to Mom and said, “I didn’t win the prize, but I want to give you this to help.”
Mom smiled and said, “Yes. This will help. Thank you. You’ll win next time.”
I’ve been writing ever since. It wasn’t fiction most of the time, but lyrics, poems, and diary entries. It became a part of life and I could always immerse myself in the world of writing at any time. It was a comfort, an expression, a channel I used at various times to pull me through to the other side of thought when it seemed there was only one perspective outcome.
Once again, as I continue on this journey to become a published author, I have turned to writing. Appreciating the positive aspects and dealing with the occasional negative situation involved in growing as a writer to be the best I can be and make a difference in someone else’s life with a story.
It is a constant. It is part of me. It is meant to be shared. It will be completed. It will be published. It will help someone else. They will help another.
All this brought to you by the hopeful and kooky Murphy’s Oil Soap coupon winner and by her Mom who believes in her.