As far back as I can remember there was always something that made me stand out.
From kindergarten to sixth grade it was my height and weight: I was taller (and skinnier) than all of the boys and most of the girls throughout elementary school. In class pictures from those years, I stand awkwardly on the back row of the bleachers in the gym; my pink, frilly dresses an anomaly next to the clip-on ties and black suit jackets worn by the boys who flank me on either side. They called me Olive Oil, after the super-thin character from the Popeye’s cartoon, and I endured endless taunts including the dreaded “You’re so skinny you could hula-hoop with a cheerio!”…
Read more at: http://rosalindwiseman.com/2010/04/15/you-talk-like-a-white-girl-the-drama-of-growing-up-outside-the-box/
Attempting to write fiction is like coming up with one elaborate lie after another. It’s so hard to keep all the lies straight, to create these full-bodied characters: people with jobs, lives, and habits, wide brown eyes and thick,frizzy hair. To mentally design these undeniably real rooms: beds that creak in the same spot because of a broken spring, a floral, torn table cloth that a mother just cant seem to let go of, peeling or frayed wallpaper. To come up with events: everyday occurrences of breakfast, lunch and dinner; supernatural happenings like meeting a witch or dancing with an angel, and then to make those events embody abstract concepts of love, hope and fear.
How do authors do this? I really am trying, because I have so many characters. Endless Tobies and Jacksons and Penelopes and Marias. People whom I’ve never met but who I know inside and out. I see their hair and hands, and at the same their hobbies and pet peeves. So many rooms and cities inventing and reinventing themselves in my imagination. Big cathedrals I’ve never visited with cracked stain glass windows and dusty corners. Tiny, poorly-lit cafes with fading lamp-shades, a sweaty barista and a slim waitress. Events that flash like memories, detailed scenes from some other life that was never mine and that I can’t get rid of without writing them down.
And all of it is driving me crazy.
So, at this present moment, I have about 4 unfinished novels that I’m “working on”–all of which are at various points of completion and none of which are even close to being done. When I sit down at my computer and open up the various word documents where my characters lives remain halted, I can’t seem to think of what to write next. And then there are the days when I suddenly get a brand new idea for a brand new story/novel/novella, to add to the growing list of stuff I haven’t finished writing. It seems like I have the inspiration part down, but I can’t move on to ordering my ideas and putting them down on paper.
With one of my ‘books’, (and I use that term very loosely), I get these flashes of scenes, details i know I want to include, but the overall structure of the book has yet to come together. With another one, the part that I’ve written so far came at once, in a rush, but now its hard for me to come up with the rest of it; to answer the question of “what happens next?”. Another one has become an obsession of character and place. I can’t stop describing who these people are (what they look like, things they do, activities they enjoy) or the place where they live, long enough to develop their plot. I get so focused on details that I can’t figure out or even see the bigger picture. And the bigger picture is a vision you have to have before you can finish a novel.
So what should I do? Just write down all the details as they come to me and hope it all comes together in the end? Or be more focused and organized, force myself to think about plot and storyline to help myself get beyond character and setting?
Until I figure this out, my details won’t have a place to live because the big picture is where all the tiny details have to learn to fit.
You know, now that I’m actually starting to read pretty regularly, I’m consistently surprised by how much of a book I can forget in a very short period of time. I mean, I remember the characters, the major plot points, setting and even tiny moments that for whatever reason stuck out to me, but beautiful details about the way a character’s hair looked in the sunlight? Or what a character said in a particular scene? Or how their legs or eyes or face changed when they were angry? These things are lost shortly after I put the book down. These tiny points that the author imagined and worked to perfect and wrote (i’m sure) over and over again… I forget all of that stuff.
On one hand I feel really sad about forgetting. I question whether I was paying enough attention as I read, whether I was distracted, or if I’d left the television on. I wonder, if my surroundings had been different when I read a sentence about how the sun glinted off broken glass in the street, if I would remember that detail. I wonder, if I hadn’t decided the moment after I read a paragraph to grab a sandwich, or if I had reached my stop on the train ten minutes later, would those forgotten moments have stayed?
On the other hand, forgetting some of the things you love most about a book provides a reason to read them again. Sometimes, if you’ve forgotten enough, reading a book again can be alot like reading it the first time. And often, re-reading a book you love always is.
So while I lament the loss of details in books I know I’ll never reread, or books I’ve, since reading them, completely forgotten, I revel in the forgotten moments of my favorite books. Maybe, if I re-read them enough, I won’t forget anything. But then again, if I don’t read them for a few years, I’m sure those tiny details will disappear again, and give me a reason to pick up right where I left off.
Have you ever wanted to do something that made a difference but you didn’t know where to start? Were you sure that, if you knew how, you could change the world? If you’ve ever wanted to give, volunteer, or donate your time and money to a cause but been overwhelmed by the sheer number of charitable organizations out there, a new company, TBD, may be able help…
This blog post was actually written by Allison Ghegan, another intern at Washington Life, but I edited the video and interviewed the designers.
Washington’s most fashionable philanthropists gathered for an afternoon of purpose at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel and to get a close look at the runway shows of four “Project Runway” designers….
Two weeks ago, a justice of the peace in New Orleans refused to issue a marriage license to a local couple. He refused because the man and woman in question were not of the same race….