Getting Rubber to Meet the Pavement

March 14, 2008

I’ve been pulling my hair out with work problems as well as trying to come up with ideas for my composition class homework, which is due this Sunday.  The first 250 words needs to describe the scene after a Thanksgiving dinner — dirty dishes, etc.  The second 250 words needs to be either the beginning, or a full story somehow involving that scene.  Every single free second I’ve had, I’ve been dwelling on this story and what I’m going to write.

Last night after my shower I sat down to do some stream-of-consciousness writing on the first part, the scene.  I wrote about the smells of food, how the sun had just gone down and the lights were just getting turned on in the house, how the house was cold, and food and dirty dishes everywhere, including some gravy running down the cabinet onto the floor where a dog is lapping it up.  I wrote about the mixture of food, candles, and mulled wine in the air, the sounds of a football game and chatter in the next room.  I wrote about the window above the sink with small, fist-sized glass figurines on top of peeling white paint on the sill.  I wrote about the dull yellow linoleum, curled up in the corner, with years of caked food etched into the surface.

I wrote about a young doe, unseen, passing in front of the window, stepping lightly in the snow and pausing to reflect on the middle-aged brunette standing in front of the sink, her hair tied up in a ponytail with a runaway strand dangling down the middle of her forehead into her eyes.  She picks up each dish and spends a good minute or two, cleaning the top and then turning it over and cleaning the bottom, and then holding it under hot water, moving it back and forth so as not to leave even a hint of detergent.

I went on and on like this, and I’m still left with nothing really — no story, no real substance or texture.

Dunno….  this is where the rubber meets the pavement.  After all, if I can’t get through 500 words of creative thought, is this really where I’m supposed to spend the rest of my life?

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2 Responses to “Getting Rubber to Meet the Pavement”

  1. Ned said

    I think you are being too hard on yourself. Which may be a sign that you are truly a writer.

    I’ve been going out of my mind lately because I really didn’t want this job. I wanted to write for a living. I put a lot of unnecessary pressure on myself to perform some literary miracle. This made my writing terrible. It made me an asshole and utterly misserable. I have to write like I don’t care about the outcome. Ironically, getting a job may be the best thing for my writing (and sanity).

    The two paragraphs you offer above are good (given that you are talking about writing them).

    The line about the woman seeing a doe made me think of age reflecting on innocence. She’s being meticulous with the dishes, like she is avoiding something. Maybe she wants a divorce from her husband sleeping in the easy chair. A half-eaten carcass of a bird that took six hours to cook. A lifetime to make perfection, but reality keeps seeping through. Maybe she’s never worked for herself before. Maybe she doesn’t have any assets of her own. Nonetheless, she has to get out of this relationship. Why?

    I’m just running with this, hoping that it might prompt you.

  2. Jane said

    Ned, thank you so much for your comment and encouragement. Your ideas were some of the ones that I took with me as I did my zillions of plot rewrites. Even when I was finished, I found that there was never an end to the rewrites. I finally had to settle with the last thing I had at 10 last night, since the homework was due at midnight 🙂

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