Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Night work

I just came back to New York this afternoon, and I feel really good about my time at home. I ate a lot of good food and slept a ton, and managed to be pretty darn lazy for a couple days without incurring the wrath of my industrious parents. They work harder than anyone else - even when they are "relaxing," they are slaving away in the yard pooper-scooping or rotating the shrubs or something. I don't know.

We watched "Walk the Line" with my grandparents, which was very interesting because they were around when all of those events transpired. I wonder what it's like to see all these pretty twenty-something actors recreate an era of your youth. Is it accurate? Does it matter? How is it to see something you genuinely knew become something fictional?

I was thinking about my grandparents, and I was thinking about this amazing short story collection I just read, Judy Budnitz's "Nice Big American Baby," and I started to write. I thought about a sentence my grandma had said over the course of the weekend and I went from there. My only goal was to create something suspenseful and realistic. I used geography from my childhood and names from my family. In Budnitz's work, she takes a weird or creepy or supernatural premise and just follows it through, but in a very spare way. It's like in fashion when they try to get away with as little fabric as possible to make a dress - or, alternatively, revealing skin you never expected to see to begin with. Budnitz does the same thing with her writing: using a few broad strokes to create a frame and letting the reader fill in the rest, or placing the whole weight of a concept on a few lines of dialogue, trusting the reader to come in and add something more vivid than the writer herself could create.

That sounds high-falutin'. But basically after three nights of work I wrote a little story that I kind of like, so I'm going to spend the next few days revising it. I creeped myself out writing it, so I guess that's a good sign. It feels so good to write something fictional - to create my own world with its own characters, and to try to at least do it well enough on the terms I choose to construct it with.

Last night in bed I was fantasizing about seeing my fiction published in the New Yorker - I could picture my name in their font, I could see myself listed as a contributor. Hot fantasy, eh??

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