There comes a point in every writer’s week where the print is overpowering, or the words lie insipid on the page like a wilting peony from yesterday’s luncheon. A time where you just can’t slog it alone anymore and fresh inspiration is welcome, even if it means leaving your
padded cell desk for the company of other writerly souls in *gasp* public.
In addition to my classes and casual conversations in Point Loma, I’ve discovered a little writer’s meet-up group closer to home. They converge on a coffee shop every Thursday night, throw out a prompt, set a timer for 30 minutes, and off we all go into the sunset. When the bell rings, we take turns reading our bits aloud, enjoying the huge variety of styles, thoughts, and grammarly gymnastics that are spawned by the prompt. It’s just for fun.
Last week, the prompt was, “From a certain point of view”, originally pulled from Obi Wan’s explanation to Luke Skywalker about why he’d “lied” about Luke’s dad being dead. Yeah, rubbish. But we don’t have any rules about opinions, so our examples of perspective were interesting, as we took turns reading around the table.
There was a sad story told in a positive way. An ugly character turned out to be the protagonist. Mine, of course, was a play on the audience. You know I’ve been pulling the twist on you for the last two of blogs (lol). This exercise and it’s results turned out to be a surprising peek into what is lurking in our own assumptive subconscious.
Here is the piece I wrote for “From a certain point of view”. Read it out loud for full effect, because it’s a monologue.
“Maybe you want the soup?
Can you eat it yourself or do you want help?
Here’s a napkin for under your chin.
Let me lift the spoon with you…there, that’s tasty, isn’t it?
It’s one of my better recipes, nice and smooth.
So good for you too, lots of pureed veggies.
Uh oh, there’s the phone. I’ll just be a minute.
Sit right there and wait for me.
What, I can’t turn my back for a minute?
Where have you thrown the spoon?
Look at this mess. Here, I’ve got it. There we go.
How much have we got left? Not much. Here, eat this laaaast bit.
Shall we get ready for a nap now? I know I could use one!
Up we go. I’ve got you. Aren’t you getting so strong!
Lift your arms, up and up and up…
Where’s that quilt?
Look how nicely it brings out the blues in your eyes.
So soft. Settle in now, there we go. Let me pull the shades.
Now sleep, my love, and I’ll be in to check on you in only a minute.
I read this aloud to the group in as neutral a tone as possible. Then, I asked them to tell me what point of view they, themselves, had chosen as an interpretation tool.
You see, this could have been me addressing my happy eight month old child. Or, this could have been me addressing my silent eighty year old mother who has dementia. Was I a nurse, working with a paraplegic teenager? Was I Annie Wilkes speaking to Paul Sheldon? Was I a doctor in Luxembourg assisting a suicide?
For all you know, without context, this is someone with schizophrenia speaking to herself. Hey, as a mom, I have those kinds of days where I have to talk myself into eating and taking a nap.
It was funny to hear the ideas and discover what a wide range of possibilities the group came up with, and perhaps you came up with your own. I’m also curious whether, as your own point of view colored in what you thought you were reading, your tone of voice changed to fit it?
It’s important to remember that, although writers can create a message – sometimes as clearly as they possibly can – everyone else reads it through the lens of their own colored glasses. A good writer will capitalize on the reader’s assumptions and take everyone for a ride.
Lamborghini or Chevy? Even then, you could be surprised.