The Canadian Writers' Collective

Writing, and writerly tangents

Saturday, April 29, 2006



Patricia Parkinson

"She" looks back at me.

It's the first word of a story I'm working on. Is, "she" the the right word? How many other ways can I say, "She?"

There's "her," which seems the logical choice. But then, what? "Her," what? It's all too complicated.

What is she doing? Is she sitting or standing or walking or dead or dying? Is she having an affair? Or is she going shopping for her first bra? This is for me to write. I can make her do anything. Anything. It's daunting and exciting and paralyzing. It makes me feel nauseous. That's when I know it's good - when the words come fast and the feeling stays in my hands.

"She" can be anyone or everyone but more than anything, I want her to be someone.

Is she a mother? Yes, right now, writing this, she is. Does she work? No. Is she pretty? a way. She likes to sing.

Maybe she's alone in the world, or maybe she's walking home from a party with a man, with a boy. She's walking with a boy. He asks if she wants a cigarette. She only smokes cigarettes with white filters. She declines his offer of an Export A.

Is she healthy? Or is she sick? Is she fighting breast cancer? She has kids. I could not write about this.

Maybe the boy stops under a tree, out of the breeze, and lights his cigarette. She can look at him in the light of the flame. What will she see if she does? Is it interesting? Can I make it interesting, enough?

If it's a boy she's walking with and I know she's a mom, who is he to her? Her son? No. She's not that old. She's a girl. He's a boy, an older boy, out of school. They're in love. She's going to have a baby. This is why she doesn't smoke. But, I really like the white filter oddity - will keep it and work it in somehow.

I love the story already. It's full of possiblity.

What will happen? I have to decide and then I have to write the words that follow what each of them must define. It will come to me, in a rush. When I write the second word she could change completely and not be in love. She could be in lust, or in denial or both. She might be stepping off a train or waiting for one. She could be standing on the sand of an ocean she's never stood on before or maybe she's shopping for groceries and buys herself a purple, blue, green hydrangea.

Maybe she's someone I know, someone I saw at a park or a hockey game or through the window of her car last week when it was raining and I was thinking of someone I've never met, or maybe she is a woman, sitting alone in the dark with only her word.


Blogger kim said...

YOU make me feel hopeful! This makes me feel hopeful. Now, about the rest of the story...ummm...gonna leave me hanging? she chooses the White, not the blue, blue needs special soil! ; )

Mon May 08, 10:38:00 pm GMT-4  

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