“Avoid Deep Dives” is good advice for my summer. There are many perils to be aware of when deep diving. If I just recklessly hurl myself into any body of water– is the water deep enough? First of all, I could break a limb, snap a neck, or rip open my belly. Is it clear of unaware people and obstacles that I might damage or indeed hurt myself with in return? Do I have the kind of bathing suit that will survive the impact and not be ripped embarrassingly from my naked body or get wrenched up painfully into delicate unsuspecting crevices? Have I taken a deep breath and plugged my nose? Will the temperature of the water give me hypothermic shock? Is anyone watching and thinking cruel thoughts about my diving dress and technique? Will I make a gargantuan splash or set about endless elegant ripples with a near splashless entry into the water? Do I jump in feet first in an elegant pike or riskier yet a perfect swan dive hand clasps in an arc above my head body straight and toes pointed straight just so? So many things to consider when diving!
The summertime is an huge expanse of deep time that many would envy. I have two months off. July and August. I could do so much! I could deep dive into a very busy, productive and social summer! Or I could dip in a toe and paddle a bit by the pool side and gradually slip into the water one body part at a time soaking in the cool and adjusting to feeling the water like a blanket of warmth. I am growing tired of the excitement and breathtaking thrill of deep diving and now as I approach the summer of my 50th birthday I want to luxuriate and linger and to slow down…no big commitments. I might not make a big splash this summer. I think it is time to avoid deep dives.
I was alone for Christmas. Despised and rejected due to an unexpected gift…a touch of flu. Not wanting to spread the joyless gift to my unsuspecting relatives and friends I remained at home. Alone. I refused to feel sorry for myself. I decided to be fully present in the moment of my seclusion. I cozied up with a blanket and hot cup of tea and my faithful companion Esme and immersed myself in movies on Netflix. I watched Romantics Anonymous and enjoyed its charm thoroughly. But now what? I had not including afternoon naps of wellness at least 10 more hours to fill my home- alone Christmas Day. As the feelings of loneliness and self pity threatened to overwhelm me, I chose instead to plan Family Day in February. I sent out save-the-date evites and planned a delicious menu. Stuffed Chicken Breast, Beef Wellington, Stuffed Baked Potatoes, Orange Glazed Carrots, Ginger Garlic Green Beans, fruit and cheese and trifle for dessert. Yum! I would plan it to be a buffet. Family did call before dinner to see how I was. I could hear the fun and business of Christmas Day in the background…wishing I was there and enjoying the delicious smells of turkey and stuffing roasting in the oven. I wished all well and poured myself some gingerale. More movies…more planning the menu for February Family Day and many naps later I made it 10 p.m. on Christmas Day. Esme looked at me expectantly…outside for a quick pee, a bedtime treat of dried liver, than off to bed. I did it. Christmas Alone. The world did not end. Remarkable!
Scene: Middle aged woman on the heavy side ordering fries at New York Fries Food Stand in a mall food court in the midafternoon. She walks with a bit of a limp and lurch due to bad creaky knees. She settles at a food court table.
Bent: Un, unh. No. Don’t you dare!
Kneel: No more French Fries!
Bent: We thought we talked about this?
Woman looks around confused.
Bent: Who’s talking?
Kneel: Look down you ingrate!
Woman keeps head facing forward, pauses fry in opened mouth and with raised eyebrows glances down.
Bent and Kneel: Yes. It’s your trusty knees. Always there when you kneel on us. ( guffawing)
Woman chomps on fry and wags her head frowning.
Bent: Nonsense. It’s you that’s the pain!
Kneel: Go easy there Bent. You know stress isn’t good for us.
Bent: Actually Kneel, you have to admit the regular physiotherapy has been quite
beneficial. And things have been lighter since Madam lost those last 11 pounds.
Woman smiles. Pushes fries away.
Kneel: Latisha the physiotherapist is pretty hot too!
Bent: Oooohhh doggy! Love the way she massages my cap.
Woman looks down in disgust.
Bent and Kneel: Eeeww? You know knees can be sexy.
Woman gets up and right knee buckles a bit.
Kneel: Ouch! Did you take your Celebrex yet, sweetie pie? My meniscus is a little sore.
Bent: Yeah the hamstrings are feeling a little tight. How about a few stretches?
Woman does a right side hamstring stretch balancing on the food court table for stability. Walks gingerly towards the stairs.
Kneel: Whoa! Take the elevator for knees’ sake!
Woman sighs. She pushes the Up button on the mall elevator door.
In my Haliburton School of Art, Creative Writing course, Catherine Graham presented the idea of creating characters, plots etc from inanimate objects. At the time my knees were twinged with pain from the damp morning air. My knees were speaking to me and as they spoke I thought of those two TD Bank Commercial old guys sitting at a park bench kvetching about life in general. So my knees became two griping old men. I then thought about writing this as a play. I called it Kneel and Bent ; A Play .
Now I am thinking about creating vignette plays of many of my body parts. I think this could be very humorous, perhaps sad, erotic, beautiful? and very challenging to get in the psyche of a body part. Your nose for instance…two nostrils, septum, olfactory senses …nose with an allergy…smelling something pleasant, unpleasant, sneezes could be orgasms for the nose… What parts would the be involved in a sneeze…brain, lungs, vocal chords …challenging indeed. There needs to be a bit of dissection a bit of cutting a body part away from its connective tissue and elements in order to have it take on a character.
The Writer’s Digest resource has some good ideas about crafting a good beginning to a story. Need to find other resources about beginnings to short stories and novels. This is a start. Please leave a comment or suggestion of other resources you may find helpful in crafting a good beginning.
I eat oatmeal for breakfast. Not that I particularly love oatmeal. It’s habit—and my Grandfather.
“First meal of the day should stick to your ribs,” he’d say. “Sugar? No. It’s poison! Stay away from that stuff.”
Oatmeal is bland and good for me. What was Mother Nature trying to achieve by giving me taste buds for not -good-for -me delicious foods like chocolate ice cream or sizzling steak dripping with fat? The outrage! I just wished that bland, green and fishy appealed more to me than sweet, fat and salty. Grandfather often said Mother Nature had her cruel side as a matter of necessity. I want to break free from necessity. One morning sans guilt, I will frivolously order a Sausage Egg McGriddle and Mango Chiller in the drive-thru.
One day; not today. Necessity demands that today I sit alone at my kitchen table swallowing the last bit of gruel that sticks not only to my ribs but cements me in a life of doing what is good for me.
“In order to walk longer, we must walk slower”. Words of wisdom from my massage therapist. Like the idea of slowing things down so we can enjoy life longer. Also about how to endure things or make things last. Like savouring delicious food. Enduring love….two meanings really. Like experiencing time.
Watched a documentary “The End of Time” by Peter Metler. It was hard to watch because it was so slow. Then I couldn’t stop watching as I was entranced. But that was in part its message to alter our perception of time. Watch this when you have a lot of time. It is worth it.
Gets me thinking about time as a writer/reader. We have rules around time… deadlines, spare time, out of time, blank page time, inspiration time…objectively we could measure this but this indeed does not capture the experience of time. Time fading away when immersed in a good book.
How might a writer capture the experience of time for characters, for readers, etc.?
A childish game of chance
With a roll of the dice
Your fortunes are blessed by ladders
And cursed by serpents.
The youthful day warming in radiant beams of energy
Prickly green blades tickling bare feet
Bumblebees buzzing their Honey Symphony
Serenading Mother’s enchanted roses
Who surrender sweet intoxicating potions to spellbound noses.
Swaying in protective arms
Gazing up into dark hazel eyes
Gold flecks sparking lightning bolts of recognition
My soul mate.
At my hooves
Forcing me forward in unwanted directions.
Fearing the stabbing pain of its teeth.
A warrior worn from a cancerous battle
Lays down his sword of strength and shield of will
“I just want to have a nice long nap”
Turning out the light with a kiss.
Pointless wandering loss in dank underground blackness
Blind, cut off, suffocating
Familial miners digging for the healing surface
Knocking on walls. Can you hear our pain?
Encompassing all that was, is, and shall be
Existential thoughts, memories, and wishes of a lifetime
Will it burst?
Soaring in misty cloaks of imagination
Cresting mountains of creation
Swooping down valleys of lessons learned
Gliding over glistening waters of wisdom
Migrating across vast memories
Horseshoe Lake Road trapping the distracted traveller
In its deceptive web
Sucking out the life force from her best laid plans.
Colourful images painted in bits of black
Ebony lines undulating laughter, fear, loathing, and fantasy
Across an undefined white
Whispering dreams into countless possibilities.
Fighting what is immutable.
Forcing what was not meant for you.
Failing to accept your flaws.
By green lights of passion
All the way to your ultimate destiny.
I found engaging in Free Falls the best way to get into the zone of writing. Read something for inspiration. Look at a photo. Hear a snippet of someone else’s conversation or suggest a character setting and problem and then for 5 to 10 minutes write like a fool. Do not edit, revise or worry about the best word right now. Just splat your brain down onto the page. If you are by yourself set a timer. At Haliburton School of the Arts our instructor, Catherine Graham, read a passage from Ralph Keyes’ The Courage to Write and then said Free Fall write for the next 10 minutes.
I thought about writing…I thought that writing felt selfish like time away from others. I thought of mothers and how they can be very selfish about their own child. Mothers will put their child above all other children deserving or not, husbands, parents, friends and so on. Mothers are not cursed or shamed or questioned when they do this. It is considered natural. No matter how destructive some of their choices are in putting their child first, society condones these very selfish acts and then calls it self-sacrificing…a virtuous act of motherhood. I thought I must treat my writing like my child. I must put my writing above all other obligations, loves, passions etc in my life. I should live for writing. F or now I am not published as yet, so I cannot claim to write to live. Yes, I must do anything to live to write.
I will post my revised and edited piece about writing being my child soon. Haven’t thought of a title for it yet.
When I am stuck for writing now I go to my writer’s notebook and look for something to twig my interest or inspire me. Then I put on my online timer for 10 minutes. On your mark get set go! Perhaps this photo will inspire me today…morning sun, reflecting lake, clouds drifting carrying away the dreams of the night, the ball of the sun skipping like a rock over smooth water…..Give it a try. On your mark, get set, Free Fall!