Thursday, August 21, 2014
At a restaurant prophetically called Fork in the Road, my son once said to me, “Mom, I think you ought to try your hand at fiction.” I now truly do see he was right, because:
There is something I know,
that I feel purposed to express,
but it can’t be done through non-fiction.
Fiction is the only way I can share this without being preachy or insufferably pontificating. Simply put, what I need to show is this: that we know we are going to die; we just don’t believe it. I have been trying to do this, however, since 1983 -- trying in vain to offer a poetical expression of that idea. Images that have come to mind:
The Air Hose. I’ve realized that we (all people) require oxygen but we don’t appreciate that there is only one air hose that provides it. Oh we, like sheep, don’t realize that there are countless counterfeits, myriad oxygen tanks that are deliberately mislabeled as containing oxygen, but they do not. They contain air, but it is smoke-filled, or smoggy, or infiltrated with dust particles. Unwittingly, I kept settling for substitutes and wondering why I was air hungry, never realizing that what I needed was a nice, deep, comfortable breath of actual air.
Fake Fruit. I need to develop vignettes to sow that artificial fruit can look exactly like real fruit. And that, for me, the only way to tell was to take a bite and admit that it was only paper -- varnished over and hollow in between.
So far, it looks like I spent more than half my life with a mental block about writing fiction. It scares me; it’s too hard; I’ve tried it before and I have lost my way in its shadowy rabbit warrens. I have lost my voice in there, calling for light, hearing only the calls echoing and re-echo back to the place where I stood, stuck. STUCK!
Then the other day, a friend suggested I might change the terminology. Instead of cowering before the word fiction, might I consider something she called narrative poetry. Suddenly, the gate was flung wide open! I saw a pasture filled with bright ideas and memories with skin on. I have been writing ever since, running after butterflies and capturing them -- specimens that show what it is like to breathe smog instead of air … and what it is like eating air.
What a gift I was handed over A Hot Mess at a place called Fork in the Road!
This photograph is from a Facebook page called So Happy Art.