Sydney Salter is the debut author of the the newly realeased My Big Nose and Other Natural Disasters.
I love doing writing exercises to hone my skills. The initial idea for My Big Nose And Other Natural Disasters came from making a list: five terrible things that have happened to you.
Come back with me to the summer before my senior year in high school. I’d just gotten a job delivering cakes, pies, and flowers in Reno, Nevada. That same week, my mother—renowned for her creative (extreme?) parenting—had grounded me from driving for a month (okay, she locked my car in a mini-warehouse). So I biked to my job as a delivery driver. Nice irony, huh? Well, about four days into the job I headed off to The Colonial Inn Casino to deliver pies.
Now, in my defense:
* I drove a small Datsun hatchback (when it wasn’t, you know, locked up due to a stupid fight with my mother).
* The delivery van’s back windows were painted over with blue paint.
* The delivery van’s side mirror was cracked, creating more of a prism effect than a see-what’s-behind-you effect.
* The alley was kind of narrow. The van was kind of wide.
* Reverse? Not my biggest driving skill. Last December, I accidentally backed into my sister-in-law’s car, not once, but twice. (How many of you got a new taillight for Christmas? Very romantic gift, if you’re looking for ideas).
Okay, so back to the delivery van. I threw the long, skinny gearshift of the rather wide van into reverse in the rather narrow alley. And backed the sliding door through a short metal post. I’m still haunted by the horrific sound of metal ripping through metal.
Now did I mention the wedding? After the pie delivery my boss and I had to rush off to set up a garden wedding across town. Have you ever tried to load a tiered wedding cake through the front seat of a delivery van because the side and back doors (not my fault) don’t open? Okay, sure. But have you done it with a woman who wants wring your neck with her frosting-covered hands?
Now, in my defense:
* I only wanted to help.
* We were kind of late, you know, because loading a cake through the front of a van takes a lot more finesse than going through the sliding door.
* How hard could it be to stick a few columns in a cake and set another layer on top?
Okay, so back to the wedding cake. I plunged the plastic columns into the elaborately decorated bottom layer. I ran back to help my boss with the flowers. While I was gone, the top tiers of the cake had tumbled from the columns onto the ground. I’m still haunted by the horrific vision of frosting mixed into a shapeless ball of cake and grass.
I got fired. And bicycled home in tears. My mother felt so sorry for me that she immediately released my car from the mini-warehouse (it was a really stupid fight).
I wrote My Big Nose And Other Natural Disasters during National Novel Writing Month. The story came pretty easily when I combined this disastrous day with my strongest insecurity: my big nose. The title just came to me too!
Thanks so much, Sydney!