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.