Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Story Time Tuesday - Writing Fiction - Chapter 1B

Jenny Matlock
If you missed Chapter 1A of Writing Fiction, just click here to read it.

Now...

With no further ado...

I give you...

Writing Fiction - Chapter 1B

Some of my friends used to ask me how I was really doing. They’d put their casserole in the fridge and then lead me gently to a kitchen chair. “Talk to me,” they’d say with the number “11” etched between their solemn, caring eyes. “Tell me how you’re really doing.” But I learned early on that’s not what they were really asking me. They were really asking me to tell them what they wanted to hear: that I was doing just fine, thank you very much for asking.

Whenever I told one of them the actual truth of my soul, their mournful eyes morphed into worried, raised-eyebrow astonishment. “Really, Pearl, you don’t mean that. You don’t want to die. You have so much to live for,” they’d insist. “Oh heavens, Pearl, let me find someone to help you through this. You‘re not old! You’re in the prime of your life. Are you taking those anti-depressants the doctor gave you?”

Between you and me, I think sometimes they asked me how I was so they could tell me how quickly and heroically they’d recovered from great personal loss, or how surprising unsuccessful I was at the actual grieving process. Oh, they never came right out and called me a big, fat failure, but often, right after they’d tell me I was in the prime of my life, they’d regale me with a story of how their sister’s neighbor’s daughter-in-law’s house burned down (with several scalloped ham and potato casseroles inside), right after she’d lost her entire family because a plane part fell from the sky; and three months later she was giving belly dancing lessons and loving life! “Would you like me to get her e-mail or phone number for you, sweetie?” they‘d ask. “I’m sure she can get you into one of her classes. It’s time to make some changes, dear.”

Well, geez. Anyone could recover from a single, incredibly dramatic loss. How else would you be able to look wan, wistful and ethereal for your interviews when the made-for-TV movie people started knocking at your door? Of course she took up belly dancing!

But how are you supposed to find the energy to taking belly dancing lessons after enduring hundreds of small, non-dramatic deaths every single day? Do the made-for-TV movie people care that figuring out where my husband kept the light bulbs is cause for dissolving into tears? Does anyone care that every time I forget to take the recycling bin out to the curb leaves me so upset that pop tarts don’t even help

During the time following my husband ‘terminating his contract’ before ‘heading to the pearly gates’, I not only found out I was a failure at grief, I also discovered I was a violent person. Even as I made the correct noises and conciliatory remarks during visits from caring friends, I just wanted to give their casseroles right back by squashing them over their heads. I’ve read the chapters about anger in books about grief, but nowhere does it address casserole squashing.

And right after I recognized those two big character flaws in myself, I found out that three times must be indeed the charm, when I discovered I had also become a failure at being a Mom.

To be continued, Tuesday, September 14.

A bit question for you all. Do you like reading a whole chapter at once even though it's long or do you like it split up like this? Just wanted to get your opinion. Thanks!

(c) 2010 Jennifer R. Matlock
This publication is the exclusive property of Jennifer R. Matlock and is protected
under the US Copyright Act of 1976 and all other applicable international, federal, state and local laws. The contents of this post/story may not be reproduced as a whole or in part, by any means whatsoever, without consent of the author, Jennifer R. Matlock. All rights reserved.

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20 comments:

Julie Schuler said...

I think this prose fits you exactly. I know something dramatic is coming, and the way you use humor to arrive at it is your unique, distinctive style.

Terra said...

oh man, pearl is really being hard on herself. Such an easy thing to do. I anxious to hear about her losses, her failures, her downturn, her awakening....so to speak. I am really enjoying Rose so far and at risk for adding a cliche comment...I want more sooner!

Terry said...

I prefer a whole chapter at a time. Actually I'd prefer the whole story at one time but for some reason I don't think you're going to do that! LOL

Margaret (Peggy or Peg too) said...

Whole chapter at once!

My name is PJ. said...

“Talk to me,” they’d say with the number “11” etched between their solemn, caring eyes.---Absolute perfection!!!!

Meri Wiley said...

Hey lovely lady,

Just my opinion, but I'd rather have the whole chapter together, of course I want the whole book right now......hey does this mean I really need to come up with her character now? How cool.

Love ya'
Meri

Jeanie said...

"figuring out where my husband kept the light bulbs is cause for dissolving into tears?"
You've made Pearl very real here and captured the essence of her grief. Well done.

Viki said...

I vote for whole chapter even if it's a long one.

Mumsy said...

I am really loving this...can't wait to read more. I would read it either way, but the whole chapter would be great. Super wiring! I love reading stories true or fiction that relate to real life. Hugs

Tina said...

I agree with some of the comments, I'd prefer a whole chapter. I think it would flow better. I had to think back to where part A had ended, and if you'd posted the whole thing, then I'd have had less clicks. Yes, extremely lazy. One compromise would be that if you don't have part b done, then just post a. But when you do post b, re-post a with it. Anyways...I love Pearl and you're wonderful humor in the midst of grieving. (I can personally relate to the casserole-smashing need...sometimes I'd rather do the cooking myself if the casserole means I also get "advice."

Amy said...

Whole chapter. And I sort of feel the need to cry now. I am a big baby when it comes to books, though. :)

Marlene said...

Oh I LOVE LOVE LOVE this story already!!!! You had me hooked from the FIRST chapter. I thought I loved the last story (I did) - but this one is even BETTER!

Nancy C said...

I adore this. So compelling, so natural, not a word wasted.

The details of the "eleven" and the anger, and all of it...so perfect.

Please continue to break it up...this is just enough for me to read and reflect upon with some thoughtfulness.

You are so, so good.

The Words Crafter said...

I'm with Terry-I would love the whole thing...but that ain't gonna happen, is it?

That's one of the things I just hate. People trying to tell us how to feel. Sorry, I thought I was an INDIVIDUAL! Individuals have individual feelings, processes, thresholds, tolerances, etc. It's what makes them INDIVIDUAL!

And I have to say that I worry about those people who snap right back into the groove after suffering a loss or some other kind of shock. Me, I think they're in denial and eventually, it will catch up with them.

A really insightful post, and moving. I wanted to squash some casseroles for her!

Mighty M said...

I like reading them like this.....Anyone who has gone through a grieving process (or processes) like Pearl can totally relate to these emotions - and that is probably just about everyone!

JDaniel4's Mom said...

I love that you left me hanging.

H said...

Whole chapter please. Pearl mustn't give up hope. Life is still worth living. It's a long, slow process, but time does heal.

Lourie said...

I want to write like you!! This story has me pulled right in.

Brenda said...

OMG! I'm hooked. I have to go back and find the beginning of this one. I'm so far behind!Jenny you're so talented. Honestly, I love reading your stories, B.

Sue said...

Whole chapter! And I am really enjoying Pearl's voice. Can't wait to see where this story takes us.

=)