Monday, January 30, 2006

I went on my first ever writer's retreat this past weekend, to the same place where I'll be co-leading a writer's workshop in May. (Photos to follow when Blogger behaves later today). For two and a half days I wrote, sat in silence, read, wrote and wrote and wrote, and learned how to build and stoke a fire effectively. In fact, fire was so inspiring that not only did I get a haiku out of it, but the beginning of what feels like another novel and that has me so jazzed I could spit with joy. (there's an image for you!)

The Haiku:

In the quiet, fire
taught me how to make it burn
by unmaking myself

And here is a snippet from the new thing, which I'm calling "Little Alien," for the moment:

Some women in burn recovery (I was the only child) had doting husbands who came and stroked their wives' cheeks tenderly with a desperate, savior look in their eyes. Because they already knew their wives they could still see the beautiful woman within, remember her dimples or great cheekbones or strong chin, and recreate that face with their eyes closed.

Me? I was just the shiny little alien--I don't even know which of my parents I would have resembled more. There was only ever this shiny patchwork oval. The green eyes seemed silly, wasted after a time, like emeralds stuffed into a ratty old teddy bear. And the tightened skin had shrunk my smile, giving me a gloomy expression.

You couldn't do simple make-up on me, which my mother discovered the year I was pronounced "recovered" and brought to a family Easter party--almost two years after the fire. I'm sure I looked like something freakish in my mother's orange rouge and coral lipstick. She brushed on a suggestion of eyebrows, which made my eyes look surprised while my lips kept their forced grim line, made lurid with lipstick.

My cousins looked repulsed; the youngest took one look at me and burst into tears. Uncles talked around me, Aunts tried to force food on me, but I eventually crept away to my grandmother's rose garden and let the weak early spring sun--the hottest thing I could bear touching me--warm the scarred surface of my face.


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