Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Here, Essay

(Get it? Play on words? Heresy?....Rolls eyes at herself in the mirror.)

This post was supposed to be commentary on "The Three Musketeers," but the video "All For One (And All For Love)" was nowhere to be found on the internet save for a Spanish YouTube with password requirement (not quite sure what to type or where to type it when they slap me with the Spanish), so the romance of the piece was lost and I tossed the idea overboard. There would probably be a lot more eye-rolling if I would have posted that, so I'll take it easy on everyone tonight and talk about my essay muscle and how it is rapidly growing flabby.

Because I wasn't born here and because I don't want to write about work (can't decide if this is the hardest damn job I've ever had or if it just doesn't make sense), I feel limited on my essay topics, but honestly, it doesn't matter how long I have lived in the Bay Area. Still not going to write about the job if I can help it, but California is rich in topics. This technological age is rich in topics. And then there are essays themselves, always.

One of the first collections of essays that I ever read were by Garrison Keillor--"How to Write a Letter" was my favorite, followed by one on sex that I can't remember the title of, but it melted my young (at that time) heart. Then came a Creative Non-Fiction class in college, where my favorite essay was how to eat an ice cream cone, and then my long and torrid love affair with the New Yorker.

These days the essays I read are 140 characters or less (you learn a lot about John Mayer and Ashton Kutcher based on their Twitter-streams), and the New Yorker accumulates on my Kindle. I miss an essay I could sink my teeth into and get all over my face, like something from the travels of George Orwell, or thoughts on 9/11 by Barbara Kingsolver, or how to write by the one and only Stephen King. Who gave them the permission to write NON-FICTION? And yet they shine at it--you try not to barf reading Orwell, not to sob reading Kingsolver, and not to doubt King. Memoir and essay shine on in even keel, like a matched pair of mallards on a sunset-bathed pond, creating bisecting V's from their tails. Amy Tan, Joan Didion, and Isabel Allende write stunning memoirs, but what a treat to find them in the neat sandwich of an essay. Small bites later, I'm satisfied.

The class that I'm currently in is "Writing Fiction From Life Experience." It means you start with a life experience and then lie like hell, more or less. For my first story (which I am presenting tomorrow night--gulp) I wrote on an ATV accident I was in as a teenager and then how it affected my sexual health. From the exercises we've written so far, most people have guessed what I make up is real and what is real is actually made up, which means in this story I was never in an ATV accident and I had sex for the first time at 18. But in my case, my delicious, delicious case, the sex is the falsehood and the ATV accident is the life experience. (Although, for all I know I may never get pregnant because of it, but I don't think my gynocologist would agree.) In another funny flashback to the first day of class, we were to come up with a series of strange facts about ourselves and one lie--and we couldn't tell anyone what the lie was, so that the rest of the class would forever guess. Here's my list:
  • I was born in the same town as the home of the Etch-A-Sketch
  • I have one scar
  • I operate a mouse with my left hand, but write with my write hand
  • The scar I have is from having my appendix out

It's like a Roald Dahl story, right? My God, the ETCH-A-SKETCH??? But that's not the stretch. I have never had my appendix out. Still got it. The scar I have is from my stupidity in college in deciding to clean a brownie pan with a serrated knife instead of letting it soak a little longer, and with one fell swoop I had a serrated knife in my left wrist and to this day probably have bits and pieces of chocolately delightfulness coursing through my veins.

The boring standard is the fiction. How fantastic to have surgery. *Shrug.* No dice yet.

Perhaps the fictionalized minutiae is what is required. I'm missing a lot of the life experiences that everyone else has had. (No taste of lamb until I was 32, no sex until the same year, no Rocky Mountains...good grief.)

Wonder if I can make up a pregnancy. :)

Sleep well, dear reader.

No comments: