Sunday, July 28, 2013

Sunday Spinners #3

As I'm sure some of you have realized from my posts, I love to write about the characters I meet. The first night of writing camp, I was sitting alone in my dorm room, trying to settle in and adjust to the environment before I ventured out to get to know some people. I heard a knock on a door. Thinking it was someone else's door, I kept writing and munching on Honey Nut Cheerios. The knocking persisted. Finally, I opened the door to see what was going on outside, when I recognized a girl whom I had briefly spoken with earlier, standing outside my door.

"Can I come in?" She barged in. "Have you read that paper our professor gave us today?"

"I started it," I said. For our first non-fiction homework assignment, our professor had assigned us to read "The Situation and the Story: The Art of Personal Narrative" by Vivian Gornick.

"I don't know if you got to this part yet, but this part really fascinated me." She took my paper off my desk and read:
It was remarkable to me how excellent were relations between this narrator and this narration. The speaker never lost sight of why she was speaking––or, perhaps more important, of who was speaking. Of the various selves at her disposal (she was, after all, many people––a daughter, a lover, a bird water, a New Yorker), she knew and didn't forget that the only proper self to invoke was the one that had been apprenticed.
I looked at her.

"'...she was, after all, many people,'" she repeated. "I love this! Because it's true that we are all so many different people. Because we meet so many different people..."

"...and every one of those people affects us in some way," I added. We talked for a solid thirty minutes. She paced around the floor and watched our reflections in the window as we stood side by side.

She pointed her hands forward like a traffic guard waving on cars. "We're all going down our own path." I nodded. "But sometimes..." She turned to face me. "Sometimes we cross paths. We meet at intersections."

"And that's when we affect each other's lives."

It was such an intriguing conversation. As soon as she left I pulled out my laptop and wrote three pages about it. And there is so much more I want to write. Imagine how many human interactions we have every day. I'm not talking about conversations. I mean interactions: the awkward eye contact in the grocery line, the bump on the street, the woman who returned our dime.

I believe we are all a ball of clay. We all have the ability to mold each other. Some people will chip away at us. Some will add to us. Some will twist us around ourselves and make us question who we are. Some will rough us up. Some will be there to smooth us out. Sometimes we may harden with resistance. Some people will take advantage of this and pick us up and drop us. Others will be there to sweep us up and glue us back together. 

We also have the ability to look for opportunities to mold ourselves, better ourselves, redefine ourselves. The shape we are today does not have to be the shape we are tomorrow. In fact, we should never stay the same, but rather always be slightly changing, so if we were to make a stop action film of our lives, we could see ourselves shifting.

So here's the exercise: Select a minimum of two of your favorite characters. They can be from a novel, a comic, a movie, or even people you know personally. Try to combine them and spend 5-10 minutes free writing about them. (Girls, it's like finally being able to combine those two guys. You love so many things about one, and so many things about another, and you wish you could just morph them into one person.)

Happy Writing!

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