Sometimes the writing process is danged fun!

15 Aug

By L. Stewart Marsden

This might be somewhat repetitious from an earlier post, but different enough so I’m okay writing and posting along the same ground.

Last night I had Writer’s Insomnia. That happens when an idea gets stuck in the gears of your brain and everything basically shuts down except the idea. Like a song you can’t eject.

So all through the night, rrr — rrr — rrr it went, clanging loudly and frequently. No tossing nor turning, no arm flinging nor leg exposing offered relief. Rrr — rrr — rrr.

Finally dawn crept through my bedroom window, and I wearily got up and showered. As I began to give off more acceptable odors, and when my teeth and mouth had been scrubbed afresh with baking soda-containing toothpaste, I turned my attention to the task.

Illustrating a story.

I should tell you that drawing is not my forte. I’m no competition for those who have the talent to look, perceive, and then translate to paper, canvass, marble, steel or whatever in wonderful artistic strokes of genius. I’m more autistic than artistic in that regard.

Here’s the storyline: a pet lion eats everyone in the family, then burps them up again to resume status quo.

I heard that story umpteen times as a camp counselor at a YMCA camp located not far from Roaring Gap, NC. Herbert Burped left us all in stitches whenever it was told. As you might guess, the punchline was roared out by everyone at the story’s end!

Several days ago the story came back to my memory, so I googled it. What came up was a grandmother somewhere in the northeast repeating a similar story on YouTube. It was cute, I’ll grant you — but not the same as the story I heard years ago. Apparently, Herbert got around.

I set about working on stick figure drawings. You know the kind … those decals on the back windows of minivans that tell everyone how many people are in your family. May as well post them on Facebook. I googled stick figure drawings and found ample examples of the yukky drawings. Also found some stick figures that were better suited to porn sites. Amazing what you can find online!

Here’s the process I went through, illustrated with pictures I snapped along the way:

  1. I have a roll of newspaper print paper, about 20 inches wide, which I rolled out and began early sketches in pencil. Studies, I guess you might say.


2. I retraced the pencil sketches with a fine-point marker …


3. I jury-rigged a back-light so I could retrace each of my characters on a separate cell … I used to do this kind of thing when I was a kid. Then, I would tape the drawing to a window pane that was sunlit. Same results.

jury-rigged backlighting

4. Now I could trace each character to a separate sheet of paper …

voila - ready for tracing

5. Let the tracing begin …


6. Once my individual character sheets were complete, I scanned them into my computer …


7. And saved them to an external hard drive …


8. Now the fun begins … I pulled each jpg into Photoshop Elements and manipulated them, inverting each …


… until:



Kind of a lugubrious process, I know. But I don’t own Illustrator or Photoshop, and can’t do this onscreen. For those of you who have that skill, I am envious. But, for the vast majority of us, this works pretty well.

As I worked on each character, I mentally developed a back-story that was more adult in nature. If this becomes, as my intention is, a children’s book, then these stories will not be part of the work. Duh, yeah!

The story begins,

Once there was a Daddy, a Mudder, a Sistah, a Brudder, a Dog, a Cat, a Boid, a Fish, and Hoiburt, the Pet Lion.

Here are the adult back-stories:

The Daddy

The Daddy is king of his castle, lord of his wife and kids, and all he surveys. In reality, he is subservient to everyone. No one understands him, except for the really-buff guy he accidentally met on Facebook. The Daddy is questioning much about his life, and is ready to meet his online friend at the local bar and spa.

Copyright, Lawrence S. Marsden, August, 2015

Copyright, Lawrence S. Marsden, August, 2015

The Mudder

The Mudder (mother) is a compliant female who is a people-pleezer — especially in regards to her place in the home and the church. Secretly she harbors anger and suppressed emotions, wanting to “fly away” at the first opportunity — but she dares not. She is secretly in a Facebook relationship with a guy whose profile pictures make her swoon. She knows this will probably remain a fantasy.

The Mudder

The Sistah

The Sistah (sister), while hoping to inherit her mother’s great physical looks, also disdains Mudder on account of what she calls “hypocrisy!” Under a pseudonym, Sistah is posing as the hunk of a man her mother is in a secret relationship with on Facebook.

The Sistah

The Brudder

The Brudder (brother), aka “Scooter,” is an avid skateboarder, which everyone knows is a gateway activity to cocaine and heroin abuse. He is pro-legalization of marijuana as a recreational drug, and has Rand Paul in 2016 stickers all over his Plan B skateboard.

The Brudder

The Dog

Fido (not his real name) is a rescued dog. Actually, a family down the block forgot to spay their female ho-dog, who did it with every dog within a three mile radius when she was in heat. Fido was the runt as well as the ugliest, and the owners put him in a cardboard box when he was six week’s old which they left on the doorstep of our favorite happy family. The Daddy said “No #%&@-way, but the Mudder, the Sistah and the Brudder prevailed.

The Dog

The Cat

The Cat, aka, The Cat, is content to live off of the family and contribute nothing to the upkeep and running of the home. A one-time feral, he quickly figured out it is much easier to let someone feed, groom, and take care of your medical needs than to fend for yourself out there among the crazies.

The Cat

The Boid

The Boid — aka, Caruso — livens the house with his beautiful arias. He especially-loves to sing from Madam Butterfly. He read Maya Angelou’s “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” and put it down halfway through and has never resumed reading it. He is certain Angelou never hung around in a bird cage before.

The Boid

The Fish

Cicero is the 4th generation (well, the fifth survivor) of predecessors who were overfed and died, underfed and died, strangled in untreated water that had too much chlorine, or somehow got minced away by the garbage grinder when Brudder cleaned out the fish bowl like his mother told him to do. His motto is Fish who live in glass bowls should not do so sandwiched between a cat and a lion.

The Fish

And last, but definitely not least, is Hoiburt, the Pet Lion

Cecil — uh, I meant Hoiburt — came to our favorite family as a gift of a great uncle of Daddy’s who illegally buys and sells exotic animals on the black market. As he grew into adulthood, Hoiburt was treated like a little lamb, and fed straw, grass, and oats. You know … lamb stuff. And he had been content with that diet until one day he sneaked into the kitchen and ate the roast chicken that Mudder had left out to cool before serving it for dinner. That took place just before our little story begins.


Thus Phase One of this project is somewhat complete, and the next phases begin: fleshing out the illustrations for the entire story, formatting the book for submission to a publisher, and then submitting it.

Let’s arbitrarily target November or December to begin submitting it.

A very, very, VERY enjoyable journey thus far. Now, I hope I can get some much-needed shuteye tonight!

Copyright © by Lawrence S. Marsden, 15 August, 2015

One Response to “Sometimes the writing process is danged fun!”

  1. Sandi August 13, 2016 at 1:47 pm #

    Holy Cow! This is already hilarious. I can’t wait for the finished book.

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