A very warm Thank You to Danica Winters for hosting me today!
I’m thrilled to announce the release of my new short story!
In 2007, I decided to break from work on my novel and write a new short story. Problem was, I had no ideas…I tried doing writing exercises, but the results were lame and embarrassing. Embarrassing I could work with, but lame has to be left alone to nurse its sore leg. I tried not caring, but that only reminded me that I wasn’t writing.
Some ingredients were already in place: I wanted a character who used the old-fashioned Quaker plain speech; I wanted to question liberal white racial attitudes, but not in a heavy-handed way. (There’s a line of dialogue in “Casual Day at the Crazy House” that someone actually said it to me. Anyone who correctly identifies it will receive a previous story, free.)
Then we went to the movies: The Darjeeling Limited, (directed by Wes Anderson), a study in privilege if there ever was one.
3 brothers tote very expensive luggage across India in search of their estranged mother. Photo courtesy of: http://emmab90.wordpress.com/2010/04/04/the-darjeeling-limited-2007/
The only direct relationship between the movie and “Crazy House” is that two of my characters are Indian. I didn’t make the connection until several drafts into the story. I didn’t watch it and think, Wow, Indian characters would make this piece! I hijacked them without realizing it.
The actual inspiration was murky, but I left the theater with a solid idea in place: What if the father in a family suddenly moves into the bathroom and won’t come out? It’s a quirky, Wes-Anderson-y idea.
My conscious mind, which had been grinding away, took a vacation during the movie. The unconscious, often the smarter sibling, was free to soak in the movie’s fantastic imagery.
*Bloggers: Anyone who re-posts this blog will receive a free copy of “Casual Day,” but please send me your link: firstname.lastname@example.org
Enjoy this excerpt from “Casual Day at the Crazy House”
“Dad?” He didn’t move. I noticed his bald spot was getting bigger. “Dad. I’ve got a question?”
“Everything changes,” he told the window. Then he turned. “Ah, Livvie.” His smile looked like it hurt.
I gave him the Cheezits. “My thanks. Have a seat.” The chair Dad offered visitors was the toilet, but I never sat there. He slept in what used to be a large, old-fashioned bathtub before he moved his bedding in here. He kept clean in the freestanding shower, which otherwise held a rack with extra clothes.
I shook my head. Dad sat on the bathtub’s edge, munching and sad. “You’ll graduate soon.” He sounded like I had stage three cancer.
“How’s that English seminar going? Seaver still as sharp as when I had him?”
How would I know? “Maybe.” Dad used to take me out, comparing restaurants. Then poof. Last October in the middle of roast lamb and vegetables, he stood up white-faced and gasped— as if he’d suddenly remembered something—knocking over his chair. He straightened it and left the room. Mom went right on with her story about a stray bat in the Assisted Living wing where she worked….Within a week he had moved into the bathroom. There, thanks to wireless and his cell, he continued running his company. Nobody seemed to think all this was as weird as I did. “The energy in the house is imbalanced,” Mom had said, pushing out a laugh. Gammy got an inward look. “There always was more to him. Give it time.”
When you’re stuck for a story idea, how do you handle it? A random commenter will receive a copy of my story, “You Say You Want a Revolution”
The Next Big Thing! “Casual Day at the Crazy House” http://ftheeiwasateenagequaker.wordpress.com/