Monday, July 02, 2007

Missing Lesson: Reflections of self

Wednesday morning of the writing workshop we finished reading and critiquing our "First 3-pages". I read Josiah (now titled "Mining for Glory"). My editor (a friend with a publishing background) asked me to move Josiah into the 1st person a month or two ago. We'd also talked about using out-take chapters as a writing device. The out-take chapters will be letters Josiah writes home and Editorial articles on the politics of the California Gold Rush to his dad's newspaper.

My first 3-pages are such a letter home. In it's original form it was about 6 pages long - and repetitive. In reformatting it, I realized it was amazingly repetitive in imagery and topic. So I trimmed, trimmed, trimmed.

There were a few good places - but overall, the consensus was "Get Out of the Letter"! It was distancing, stilted, and I was throwing too much information all at once to the reader. (Hi, Blue!) I am happy to have this feed back as I like writing in the 3rd person better, but also enjoyed the "bird" section in the first person. I really don't like this part of the story in a letter. When I get the re-write done, I'll share with you.

Yesterday we were asked to bring in a photo from our childhood - a fairly young picture, and this would be used in a different type of "free-write". Eons ago in High School I was asked to put together a photo collage of "my life" for an English class project. I still have the 13 photos, pasted and grouped together on some chipboard papaer. I gabbed them - and headed for the workshop.

Our instructions were to chose a picture (some, not just me, brought more than one), and then spend 5 minutes staring at it. As we looked at it we were to answer the following questions:

  • Where was the photo taken?
  • Why was it taken?
  • What is the time of year?
  • Is anyone else in the photo, why are they there?
  • What happened just before the picture was snapped?
  • What happened just after the picture?
  • What does the subject in the picture want to say?
  • I chose a photo from when I was about 12 years old. I wish I had a scanner, so you could see the picture. Hopefully my words will paint it for you.


    He came upon her playing in the water. Mittany sat so still, staring into the pool of summer water. Somehow he knew the toy boat was there just to give me permission to daydream.

    The way the sun struck the water and filtered through the leafy bower made Dad lay down his fly rod and reach into his creel for the old Pentax camera. Unaware of her father, listening to the music of the stream, Mit sits at ease with her surroundings. The tree stump was a perfect perch - leaning out into the water. One of the reasons she'd stopped at this place was because the trunk reminded her of a rocking chair sitting in a tilted back orientation to the water. The back was suspended above the water and the rockers were anchored in the earth.

    Mittany didn't know it then, but this was a shining moment, like a well-polished piece of stone. This image would be a talisman throughout her life. Stream music, gentle shade, comforting nature, nurturing solitude. What she also wouldn't know until years later was the beauty of herself. That young, coltish girl; thin, relaxed, centered, at peace. This image is a place she always returns to in her writing. It is the genesis of it all.

    Edified, nurtured, complete. How wise was her father to capture this moment in time and give her this unknowing gift.

    1 comment:

    tp said...

    In my old age, I don't remember the picture you paint. Somehow, it seems they always were frowns????

    The picture you paint here is one I wish I had known the substance of. You never have shared 'those' feelings about our trips.

    This is a picture of myself on every stream I've ever fished - tho I wasn't sitting on a stump - I was walking the stream and hopefully, catching fish ! *o*