Friday, August 15, 2008

walking through dirt on a sunny morning


Lynn Freed gave us an assignment yesterday. We have to write an opening sentence. Nothing scuttles the cobwebs occluding creativity as much as a sweaty hike through foreign soil, so, armed with my state-of-the-art 3.2 mega pixel camera and a head full of cotton, off I went into moose country.

Three-quarter miles down the road this line occurred to me:

We used to sit beside one another, the lot of us, and compare our knees for tanness: Corey, Deborah, Inga, me, and a little fag named Joe.

Okay then. Nice sound, rhythm, all of that, but inserting "fag" as a blackout, well, immediately I began the argument with myself. Can I say fag? And if so, what promise have I made the reader upon which I now must deliver?

So I amended the sentence:

We used to sit beside one another, the lot of us, and compare our knees for tanness: Corey, Deborah, Inga, me, and a little tramp named Jo.

It so happens that I just shared a lunch table with a poet and I spoke of this dilemma. I think he thinks I copped out. "the fag line tells the reader a lot more," he said, shaking his head.

Damn it!

2 comments:

  1. Yup. The poet's right. The promise you hold out with "fag" is a lot, maybe more than you want, but that one word brings out:

    world
    social class
    seeds of antipathy
    education
    historical era
    seed for change in speaker
    group dynamics
    relationship between narrator and audience (and how the narrator either wants to manipulate it, or fails to, or both)
    etc. etc.

    It's huge.

    ReplyDelete
  2. You're right, my friend. I went for fag.

    ReplyDelete

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