Monday, January 04, 2010

Bearing fruit, breathing fire...

I have been living up to my one New Year's Resolution (not bad, eh? It's January 4, and I'm still on track!) -that being to write every day, no matter how much or how little.  You'll recall that Paul Anderson of Write Anything inspired that resolution, and it's a good one. If I start to feel lazy and put upon, I look straight at the resolution in my sidebar and say something like "Come on. Just give me one sentence!"  Once I write that one sentence, of course, at least a few more follow - if only to finish my thought. Of course, I was writing most days anyway, but that little push from Paul is just what I needed - and I am pleased to report that my efforts are bearing fruit. I'm carrying a notebook or two everywhere I go, taking advantage of ten minutes here, five minutes there to write something. A lot of the time what I write is pretty mundane Dear Diary stuff, some of which isn't even interesting to me, much less to anybody else - but last night I had a bit of a breakthrough.

I was using one of Natalie Goldberg's techniques - starting with "I remember" - and suddenly I wanted to write about an ex-prostitute I knew about forty years ago. I couldn't - and can't - remember her name, but I'll call her Barbara. I remember a lot of other things about her - starting with the fact that she had been set up in business at the age of fourteen by her mother. (Doesn't that just warm your heart?)

Barbara didn't say much about her father except that he had been a cross-dresser.

Barbara was blonde, beautiful, and very successful. She told me about some of her customers, but I've tried three times now to tell you one of those stories, and my delete button keeps stopping me. (Not yet ready for prime time, I guess)

So, moving right along...Barbara was involved in a terrible auto accident. She was shattered. She spent many months in hospital, and for much of that time her jaw was wired shut, so she lived on milkshakes that she sipped through a straw. As a consequence, she gained over a hundred pounds. Her face was permanently scarred. Her career as a prostitute was over.

When I met Barbara, she was married. I can't remember a single thing about her husband except that she had one. I do, however, remember that they shared a house with a seven-foot tall, blond fire breather named Marcel, who wore purple shirts. I think maybe Barbara's husband just wasn't all that memorable. It would be hard to compete with his wife and housemate.

So. The moral of this story is that if you just keep writing, you will eventually get through the layers of "what I had for breakfast" and find Barbara the ex-hooker and Marcel the seven-foot fire breather waiting to be remembered and written about and maybe turned into characters (not that they weren't characters to start with!)

Oh. Also. Do you know that if you google "Free Clip art prostitute," you won't come up with anything at all useful?

History of Fire Breathing -- powered by


Totalfeckineejit said...

Wow, now they are wild colourful useful memories for sure!

Sandra Leigh said...

TFE, it's a little frightening to glimpse what lurks in the depths of the memory bank!

willow said...

Sandra, I just ordered Milosz's "New and collected poems, 1931-2001" from the library. I can't wait to dive in. I think I'm in love.

Sandra Leigh said...

Me too, Willow. I have his Collected Poems (mine only go up to 1987, though), and I treat the volume the way some people treat the I Ching, opening it at random, entering it, finding something beautiful (and/or something I don't understand at all) there - then closing it, putting it carefully away for tomorrow.

Karen said...

Wonderfully entertaining post, Sandra!

Bagman and Butler said...

What an amazing portrait inspired by two words! Touching, poignant...raw.

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