Every creative female has her secrets. Don’t you?
September 2020 Issue
by Sharon Baker
Some of mine are darker and scarier than you’d ever guess.
But achieving the still juicy tomato age of 67 this September made me realize: Why keep all my creative secrets locked inside my Pandora’s Box? So ladies. Open your favorite box of chocolates and read on.
THE CREATIVE TEEN
“Sharon is exceptionally creative,” my high school guidance counselor ethused. “Aren’t you so proud of her many accomplishments?”
“She’s lead Soprano in choir,” my mother beamed. “And VP of Yearbook Staff and Photo Club. You have mostly straight A’s, don’t yah hon?”
She winced. “Except for that D in calculus…. Did you know Sharon wrote the sweetest story about adopting our dog Hoodie?”
I put on my best Mona Lisa smile, staying oh so very silent.
How’d I adopt a puppy, you wonder? Disobedient at age 10. Despite Mamma’s warning to “never ever leave the from yard,” I happily followed an energetic little beagle out my front yard, across the six-lane highway, uphill to the dangerous guns/drugs/hooker neighborhood and picked him right up.
A snarky teen in a green bikini and red stilettos (I would kill for) snarled, “He’s mine.” But I grabbed his tail.
“No,” I insisted. “Hoodie just wandered out of our house.” Before scratching each other’s eyes out, a shiny black police car flashing a beautiful cherry light arrived.
“Your mother’s sent out a county-wide notice that a girl named Sharon ran away from home,” the police office said. “Would that be you, miss?
Bikini babe ran away, sobbing.
“Meet my new puppy,” I declared triumphantly. “His name is Hoodie.”
That nice policeman actually gave Hoodie and me a wonderful ride home. Mamma stood tear-streaked at our front door.
First I got a butt smack. Then a bear hug. Mamma was so happy to see me not dead; she let me keep that naughty dog.
So I wrote a pack of lies story on “How I Rescued Hoodie.” That essay got me an A in English and a full ride scholarship to Northwestern University Journal-ism/Theatre in Chicago. Every Christmas I visited Hoodie, thanking him for keeping our secret.
THE CREATIVE 20-SOMETHING
When you’re just starting out, of course you’ll tell prospective employers everything you’re good at. Since I was masterful at making stuff up, I mailed resumes to 500 international magazines.
“I’m a brave, confident, adventurous, globetrotting travel writer,” my cover letter lied. “To get a fantastic travel story, I’ll go anywhere, do anything.”
Over the next 15 years, editors, who had never been outside, asked me to write about really scary things. Outside.
Imagine scaredy cat me kayaking with orca killer whales off Vancouver Island. Swimming with giant whale sharks off Cancun. Climbing to 15,000 feet in Peru. Riding Thai elephants in mosquito-infested jungles. Wading Trinidad’s rivers teeming with boa constrictors. Diving with hungry hammerhead sharks off Palau.
The scariest? Freezing on a Polar Rover bus in icy Churchill Canada, where-upon a 12- foot snarling polar bear almost snatched me out the bus window for his lunch. My essay, “A Polar Bear in my Window,” and my YouTube video, “Hey Mr. Polar Bear,” were global sensations. But no one cared I was nearly devoured. Not one bit.
The more danger I was in, the more assignments I got. I would cry to my editors how terrified I was, how I hated being cold, hot, lost, starving. Their re-sponse? “Good Sharon. Keep Writing.”
I found out: Once you’re a creative liar, no one believes you when you tell the Truth.
THE CREATIVE SENIOR CITIZEN
So now that I’m happily retired, spending languid days with my golfer husband, Kenny, my one-eyed cat, Sage, and a pack of fun-loving gal pals, am I still creative?
No. I can easily while away a whole day watering flowers. Or Swiffering the entire house. Or ambling through a grocery store: Should I buy chicken fingers for our gourmet dinner, or get take out from Chick-fil-A?
Yes. I’m writing comedy stage plays inspired by my global adventures and pitching theaters worldwide. I’m enjoying books by authors who have secrets waaaaaay darker and scarier than me.
The great part? Everything I write now can be a Big Fat Lie.
It’s called Fiction.
I’m just the same creative girl I always was.