It’s Just a Fig Newcome of Your Amalgamation

That’s what the little boy who lived next door called it. He had no imagination. The entire neighborhood knew Larry was going to grow up to be a scientist, or a mathematician. (Sidebar-last I knew he was working for NASA)

A little backstory I grew up commuting between my great-grandparents’ farm in upstate New York, my cousin’s house in Miami, Florida, and New Jersey, eleven miles outside of New York City. A ripe setting for an imaginative child. Best of all, this was in the halcyon days of sending your kid outside to play after breakfast and not looking for them until supper. Add to that the fact that I was the only girl in any of my venues. We were a posse. We were a military division. We helped the Lone Ranger and Tonto track the evil doers. We road with Roy Rogers. We hitched rides in pickup trucks looking for Lassie, and almost all of us wanted to fly like Sky King.

My job in this grand army of boy children was the creative director. I didn’t know it then, but what I was doing was honing my story skills. We’d meet outside on my porch right after breakfast and talk about who needed saving and who needed killing. I’d lay out the inciting incident, take the group through a quick outline of the never sagging middle and bring the story home with a burst of glory at the end. Then we’d head for the park, or the fields, or the river and immerse ourselves in the story, creating sets and dialogue, learning to shape reality from fantasy. Let me assure you, it is possible to make fire from two sticks.  But it takes a lot of work. We believed in authenticity whenever possible!

All except for Larry. His job was to bring us water and ice pops in the summer, and a steaming thermos of hot chocolate in the winter. He’d show up every morning on my porch, eager to hear about what we were going to do. Every morning I’d ask him if he was going to play with us too, and he would shake his head and say, “Kait, it’s just a fig newcome of your amalgamation. None of it is real. I’ll just help.” Took me years to figure out that fig newcome of your amalgamation meant figment of your imagination. Larry kept right on saying it that way until girls grew cooties and I learned to confine my stories to paper. He probably still says it that way.

So, where’s that fig newcome today? Ah, tucked away as my secret weapon. All it takes is the tiniest spark to ignite it. A glance, a snippet of conversation, a vignette of interaction, and that fig newcome is off and running. It spins whole plots from gossamer wisps of what ifs. Brings scenes and chapters to life and never, ever, fails to entertain me and helps me bring the story home, with a burst of glory at the end.

What about you? Do you have a fig newcome?

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Author: kaitcarson

I write mysteries set in South Florida. The Hayden Kent series is set in the Florida Keys. Hayden is a SCUBA diving paralegal who keeps finding bodies. Underwater, no one can hear you scream! Catherine Swope is a Miami Realtor with a penchant for finding bodies in the darndest places. I live in an airpark in Fort Denaud, FL with my husband, six cats and three birds. And oh yes, a Piper Cherokee 6 in the hangar!

16 thoughts on “It’s Just a Fig Newcome of Your Amalgamation”

  1. Oh Kait – I love that. “A fig newcome of your amalgamation.” I still imagine myself in other people’s stories – rewriting their endings where I don’t like them. It doesn’t take much to set my fig newcome off and running.

  2. Isn’t it true. I’m not in touch with the kids I grew up with anymore — too much time and too many moves, but I often wonder if there isn’t a whole subset of adults who still have fig newcomes.

  3. You made me laugh out loud, Kait! I always cringe at those people who don’t get jokes or whimsy or irony or satire or make-believe. The folks who take everything absolutely literally. On my blog and on facebook I post a lot — a LOT — of silliness, and recently I had to pull someone aside and whisper, after he posted the obvious for the zillionth time, “That’s the joke. You don’t have to explain it.” So now, he prefaces all his Captain Obvious mansplainy comments with, “I know you don’t want me to do this, but this seems too important not to mention.” Gah! No whimsy! No amalgamation! From now on I’ll just tell him to bring me an ice pop or a thermos of hot chocolate.

  4. Your idyllic childhood sounds like mine. Luckily, though, I didn’t stick around long enough in any one place to meet a fig newcome!

  5. Love this post! I haven’t thought about Sky King in such a very long time. Up until I was four years old, we lived in a house situated in a stand of birch trees. Dappled light. Crunchy forest litter. Bird song. I was the only kid on the circle and I’d spend my days wandering around the birch stand thinking about my true family, leprachauns, and wondering when they were coming for me. Pretty sure my grandfather had put a bug in my ear. Still waiting.

  6. Becky, Thanks! I feel so sorry for folks who are so literal. They miss all the skewed delight that life has to offer! That was Larry’s gift. He knew he didn’t “get it” and couldn’t join in, but he was fully there to support us. And I think we amused him. After all, when we built a raft and tied the logs together with rope, he WAS the one dry on the bank of the Passaic River when we sank. Sounds like your FBer has the same attitude as Larry. Wait. It’s not, is it?

    Sue, you were another one of the lucky ones! Wasn’t it a great way to grow up. Seems like you did find a fig newcome though. After all, you’re a writer.

    Keenan, That is wonderful! Seriously, don’t you go look for the end of a rainbow. Of course there are leprechauns, we know that. Have you checked out any perfect mushroom circles? One of my neighbors has a lawn that seems to encourage them. I always look for the wee folk.

    Thanks, Sam.

    Kimberly, there are times I want a time machine too. It was a magical time. Well, all childhood is magical. You write YA, you are triply blessed because you have the ability to capture it again and pay it forward for the new generations.

  7. Love this post, Kait! It’s so sweet and fun, and made me think of Figment from Journey Into Imagination at Epcot in Disney World 🙂 Thank you for sharing!

  8. Kate, there really is a ride name that? I gotta wonder if Larry had a hand in it with that name! Wouldn’t that be a stitch.

    Pet, Thanks–it is all about the magic. We’re so lucky as writers that we are in touch with it.

    Cynthia – Hey Lady! Good to see you.

  9. Well, I just have to share this “fig newcome” story even though it has nothing to do with the topic — but it will produce a little chuckle. I was substituting in a kindergarten class (by the way one of the HARDEST sub jobs for a teacher) and the lesson was on rhyming and phonemic awareness using nursery rhymes. (They were making a little nursery rhyme book.) We started with “Mary had a little lamb” and discussed rhymes (snow – go) and vocabulary (lamb — this is LA, no farms) and I asked if they knew what fleece was. A little girl raised her hand and explained that “fleece” were the little bugs that jumped from the dog and bit her legs. Made my day.

  10. That is hysterical 3 no 7. The bigger question…why is kindergarten the hardest? I would think 7th or 8th grades would be the worst. Teachers deserve way more credit than they ever get. It’s basically a 24/7 job and just balancing all those personalities (the kids and the parents too). Wow, my hat is off.

  11. 3 no 7 – ha, ha! Love it. My sister taught preschool/kindergarten. She’d rather have 7th or 9th – yes the kids present a whole different set of challenges, but you can deal with it better. At least she could.

  12. Kindergarten is the hardest because five year olds are NOT flexible. They do not embrace change. No matter how many times I told them that “today will be a scrambled egg day — just like a regular day, but mixed up” they absolutely did not adjust. If the music teacher was supposed to come at 10:05 and it was 10:05 and 30 seconds and no music — they came unglued. And, for some unknown (????) reason, there were always sub jobs for those willing to take Kindergarten, and not everyone is willing to do that. Kindergarten teachers were “sick” a lot, and they, more than any other group, were “attacked” by paper cutters during the day, got a bad cut, had to go home, needed an emergency sub (to relieve the principal who was currently in the classroom) and how soon could I get there?

    When I was a substitute (before I got my own full time position) and needed the money, I had more “Kinder” assignments than anything else, even middle school (which had a terrible reputation with subs as well). At least in kindergarten they were small.

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