Journal Entry: 05032010
Part I: Gala Apples & Brie
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I stood at the wrought iron fence, wrangling with my thoughts. What should I say? How should I greet him? Did he remember our appointment? Where the hell is the lock for this gate? (The pedestrian lock was found in plain sight where all gate locks are found).
At the sound of my knock, he answered the door, “Are you Denise?”
The older gentleman stood in the doorway of his abode, cautious and distinguished as he had appeared at the public reading years before. I followed the man in the dark YALE sweater and slacks, into the warm, homely art framed foyer, then into the sitting room where bookshelves covered the perimeter of the wall. I surmised by a quick and likely inaccurate estimate that there were 1,400 books stored on those shelves and an additional hundred in his study. The view was better from the floor where I sat, removed my notepad and a copy of More.
He returned to the room, light on his feet, having retrieved his afternoon Martini.
“Now let’s hear about this story.”
The simple request, which I would come to learn, is a common cause for writers’ anxiety, frightened me. An answer did not flow freely. I’d never articulated the ‘what’ aloud.
Here is a little girl, it begins.
But the story is about Aretha as told by her eldest daughter, Delia.
The process went something like this, I’d summarize then he would make suggestions such as the following:
- Decide who the narrator is.
- Establish the relationship between the characters.
- Determine the perspective.
I remained stationary on the rug as he floated about the house, drink in hand. He stopped in the kitchen, from which he emerged on one occasion to offer me a saucer of sliced Gala apple and brie. I was thankful because I had forgotten to eat. My writing origin story would not begin with me fainting in the presence of literary royalty.
“Thank you, this is delicious.”
“Good,” he said. “Tell me the story again.”
Next, Part II: Martini