“The naked happy dance is more effective than medication for most of what ails us!” according to Vikki Claflin. [tweetthis]Humor is so much a part of who Vikki is that it radiates out of her being and leaks out her fingertips onto the page. [/tweetthis]Why, her name even sounds like laughter.
I got a chance to sit down and chat with Vikki last week, and I’m still giggling. I want to know more about how she wrote her book Shake Rattle & Roll With It.
Vikki has an eye for detail that, surely, she got at birth, if not that, she got it through osmosis. She still remembers the dress she wore her first day of school: “a pink and white dress, with crinolines.” It made her itch. “It had a bow in the back, and I had cute little black Mary Janes.” She had a straw mat for naps and a teacher with a “bee-hive hairdo and a Leave-it-to-Beaver dress. She served graham crackers and milk for a snack.” Vikki made me “see” the whole scene.
Fifty-eight year old, Vikki began blogging kinda like I did. She wanted to leave some of her memories for her two grandchildren, Gage and Cami. She just wanted to leave a little slice of “the craziness that’s Vikki” so they could get to know who she was before she was a granny. She blogs at “Laugh Lines: Middle Age. Modern Marriage. Epic Fails.”
Then she got Parkinson’s.
[tweetthis]What’s so funny about Parkinson’s? [/tweetthis]Lots of things, as seen through Vikki’s lens. From putting on the sexy for Hubs, Kenny, to struggling into Spanks, Vikki’s tongue-in-cheek humor is one of the ways she copes. Vikki even makes me laugh at her “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” scenarios. At the same time, she helps me understand the struggle Parkinson’s brings like no one else has. She never intended to write a book, but with the encouragement of one of her acquaintances, Cathryn Castle, who went from beauty make-over customer, to friend, to writing coach and editor, Vikki turned many of her blogposts into a book, Shake Rattle & Roll With It.
Vikki says she writes even when she’s not writing.” Subjects pop into her head, sometimes whole sentence, sometimes just a funny experience she wants to share. “My mind starts writing before I get to the computer. When it hits, that’s when I write as fast as I can think.” She writes everything down stream-of-consciousness. In the next day or two, Vikki organizes what fell onto her virtual paper, tweaks things to make it tear-wiping funny, and figures out why she wants to tell us that story. The third step is her final nudging and prodding to get the words just right. “I have to think things through. In life, I’m full steam ahead. In writing, I’m very methodical.”
Vikki knew she wanted to be a performer of some sort from the time she was in high school. But, writing came much later. Even though she was “supposedly one of the popular girls,” and she was a cheerleader in high school, she felt really isolated; like she didn’t fit in. It was when she joined debate and started speaking in public that a spark lit in her. Imagine that?
Vikki graduated from college with a degree in speech communication. She worked for Estée Lauder for 18 years, teaching and writing about beauty products. Next she became a free-lance motivational speaker. Then she moved to Hawaii and unplugged for a while. Now she’s in a tiny town in Oregon with her husband, son, and two grandchildren.
Somewhere in there, she went back to high school for a reunion, connected with her former classmate, Ken, and well, found her soul-mate. The two of them celebrated their 16th wedding anniversary this year.
Vikki published her first book Shake Rattle & Roll With It independently, through Amazon. She’s quick to acknowledge she would have had much more of a struggle without the help of many people: Besides Cathyrn, she had Meghan Moylan, her delightful illustrator, Doreen Hann, her cover art designer and interior designer, and of course Hubs, who “unflaggingly supports her for a book and blog he’s never read.” He claims he doesn’t need to because he hears about it every time he takes a walk.
Vikki believes in paying it forward, so here’s a wise piece of advice from her: [tweetthis]If you know the direction you want to go, explore all avenues. You won’t be good at it at first. Who is?[/tweetthis] But you’ll feel a spark, a happiness that comes from just doing it. Once you’ve identified the spark, just keep trying different paths until you find yours. You’ll know when you feel that little light go on inside.
Besides selling books, Vikki does speaking engagements for the Northwest Parkinson’s Association. She’s also featured on Michael J. Fox’s website. You can purchase her book on Amazon. Vikki is working on her second book now.
Just for my readers, Vikki’s giving away a signed soft-cover of Shake Rattle & Roll With It. I bet anyone with a later-in-life physical disability will enjoy commiserating and laughing with her antics and adventures. Strike that. Anyone, anyone at all will enjoy her book.