Month: January 2014

Snapshots: The Chairs

Every night since the Dream came to visit, the old man has been helping the children get ready.

He began by painting the chairs the colors of a summertime carnival, arranging them in a circle around the trunk of the sycamore tree.

After that, the children began to play.

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He has watched through the broken window of the garage as neighborhood parents gather each evening at the edge of the front yard, discussing things like mortgage rates and food allergies while their children play tag around the chairs or blindfold each other in a game they call Guess the Color.

The parents pay no attention, but the old man knows why the children never fail to guess the correct color of their particular chair: One night, after the families had gone, he sat in a purple chair and the unmistakable flavor of grape lingered on his tongue for an hour.

A few nights ago, he placed red plastic party cups upside-down on the metal seats of the chairs.

After that, the children began to listen.

They walk around the inside of the circle, pressing their ears to the bottom of each cup. As the parents stand around complaining to each other about taxes and road construction, the children run over to them, presenting dazzling, solemn pronouncements of what they’ve heard.

Bees, buzzing inside a can.

Marching bands, fighting with each other.

Dinosaurs, roaring for their babies.

The parents pay little mind. But the old man knows it won’t be long now, because the children are describing the vision that came to him in the Dream.

The ships will appear as a humming hive of ancient galleons, silver and brilliant against the sun. They will float in a dead calm over the city, blasting their brassy, dissonant chords each morning at daybreak.

And then, the children will be gone.

It makes the old man a little sad to know that the parents will pound on his door, seeking their children, searching for answers.

He, too, will be gone but vows to do the best he can for them.

He will leave the lone, pink chair under the sycamore tree so that the parents can whisper into its red cup and listen for a reply.

If they are lucky, he thinks, if they have even the smallest drop of imagination left in their dried-up souls, their ears may catch the slightest shimmer of their children’s laughter wafting down from above.

 

© Michele Miller Nelson 2014

Making The Right Choice

I recently watched Jon Stewart’s interview with Oscar Isaac, the star of Inside Llweyn Davis.

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Stewart asked Isaac what it is that makes up the genius of the Coen Brothers, and I loved his answer:

“Their instincts always take them to the choice with the most history in it.”

Take the choice with the most history in it. This could be a mantra for writing. If you focused on the writing of each sentence, each paragraph, with this in mind, you’d be well on your way to writing a compelling story of great depth and detail.

The Next New Year

Today I am hosting the neighborhood book club meeting and have been working since 7 a.m. trying to get the house ready. I’m not planning anything fancy (some of my neighbors have done fabulous book-themed soirees), but there is still the setting up of chairs, getting the wine and drinks prepped, ice in the ice bucket, glasses out on the counter, vacuuming of the living room, and many other things that weren’t on my to-do list but reared their ugly heads once I started to look around the part of the house we’ll be using.

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I’m secretly pleased with myself that it’s taking so long, because that means I’ve let a number of things go in the “fanatically clean and organized” department since I’ve started writing. My mother would be shocked at my lackadaisical attitude toward clean counters and floors and the accumulation of dust, but I’m reveling in how good it feels. It’s a sign that I should let go of even more because I still feel like I’m giving short shrift to my writing time. I think this small revelation will go into my blessing jar.

I haven’t written on the blog for a long time, for many reasons. Writing the first draft of the novel (finished) was central on my radar. I lost my father in November, which wasn’t that traumatic but is worthy of a blog post or essay in the near future. Then the holidays, of course, which is no excuse at all. All to say that writing regularly in this space is one of my goals for 2014. While writing was supposed to be only a one-year sabbatical, it has turned into a permanent situation for me, thanks to the support and understanding of my composer husband. It would be foolish for me to let this gift lie fallow.

Onward.