Thursday, April 24, 2008

A Sort Of Modern-Day Stigmata

Posting "On The Steps Of St. Something" this week, I remembered when I was writing it, trying to make it work. I liked a lot of things about it as I wrote it, love setting a story at Halloween for any old reason. Thought about the costumes we wear, the way time changes us. I had a nightmare before I started writing it, one in which I entered a baptismal and came out of it with knife marks all over my face, irremediable bleeding scars that in that crazy nature of dream logic were both fresh and had been there forever and always would be, a sort of modern-day stigmata. The feelings in the dream informed the story, although the actual scene never made it to the final version, that deep sad nostalgic feeling about both understanding how much there is to enjoy in the here and now and how much energy we spend escaping it, trying to tamp down our pain or be somewhere else that doesn't require so much work.

When I workshopped this story in a summer conference, the class consensus was clear; I'd left out the most important part. In that draft, I'd jump cut away from the sex scene or what actually wasn't a sex scene but rather the exquisitely painful position of finding yourself somewhere you don't want to be and maybe having to do something you don't want to do for reasons you can't possibly understand. So I wrote it, cringing the whole time, the way I do when something is working. But I don't cringe because I'm worried that people will think the character is me (a frequent fear of my students -- I could not care less) or that my parents will read it (they're dead) or that I'm disgusted. I'm not. But sometimes the truth is ever so painful that you can hardly bear it. I have a friend who bit off his tongue in an accident, something he'd been doing metaphorically for years. When it happened, I couldn't help but marvel at the world and its perfect symbolism. Life is so strange, strange enough to make you bleed and scar at the same time.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"Freeing yourself was one thing; claiming ownership of that freed self was another."
Toni Morrison

Cocktail Hour
Drinking movie suggestion: Juno

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Thursday! Congratulations to my beloved Pistons for last night's big victory!


Anonymous said...

A poet can see a universe in a grain of sand.--Anon.

the walking man said...

I like the way you transitioned away from the "sex scene" to the next morning and the drive home. It in my opinion, added to the piece's strength in that Alexa really wasn't there for sex as much as companionship so she could sleep. Sex may have relaxed her some but the the guy was a bit warped once he got her in his own space.

I found it compelling that Alexa was so desperate for comfort (pills, sex, companionship)she'd go to whatever length necessary to find it even if it meant leaving her personal zones to try to find a "right" stranger.

Michelle, it is hard not to see some of you, in your characters because you have so openly shared what is the real (non-writer) you here. *shrug* it is no conflict because as a writer I know I have no shame in my past, just understanding. Someone taught me to think that way.

Overall I found it to be a good read, not a barn burner, but one that for it's length and style I would not put down even if the nurse called me into the exam room.

Thanks for the commentary on your own work in this post. The origins of the background makes the work a bit more shiny.



eric1313 said...

Speaking of grains of sand, your poem "Evaporate" is one of the best things I've ever read.

Speaking of stigmata...

Well, I won't.

Cheri said...

I have to catch up on this story this weekend! I've been so dang busy. But I took one look at this picture and the last and holy moly Michelle, beautiful!

Anonymous said...

Wings win, forcing Av's goalie Jose Theodore out of the game--early!! "Theodore had been a peacock last week but became a feather duster in Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals." Go Wings!!!--JLCGULL(Woody Paige contributed to this report.)

Anonymous said...

Zee dogprance, eh?--Inspector Clueso

Anonymous said...

Your roman a clefs have gone too far. Your shamelessness is shameful.--Rabbi Dr. Jacob Goldbaum

Anonymous said...

We can be the cutmoufs guys in Michelless> nex story's!!!--Short bus and Special

Anonymous said...

I'd love to do a love scene with you. Perhaps we can both show just the hint of nipple.--Mr. Skin

Anonymous said...

The crown of thorns was bad enough. But then they beat on it with a club!! Sweet me!!!--Jesus

Anonymous said...

"On the Beach," yes, that was one of my favorite Fred Astaire movies, if you know what I mean.--Rodney Dangerfield

Me_Again said...

At times, your writing causes me to feel you are writing about me...Stranger Than Fiction.
She took a bus to Mack and Lemay...why?

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