Letter to Erica. 10.24.03
So I have been thinking about story ideas for you. Because I promised! And I would like to think that if you asked any of my friends about me, I respect most highly the pact made in a promise. I like to keep my word, especially when I’ve promised to do something that is beyond me, or more creative than I’ve been in a long time.
Or I’ve got verbal flatulence. I’m saying, I had some hella good and silly ideas. But let me tell you the lines that I’ve been thinking along, maybe you’ll find them inspirational and motivating and warm and fuzzy and all that. My spirits are a little worn from the all day scratch fest and no it’s not over. But reduced.
So, I am always fans of stories about what happens “post.” After the breakup, after the victory, after the hero, bloody and bruised, emerges from the crashed airplane and “gets the girl.” Those stories are the best but nothing will measure up to the explosions. The quiet times will seem so much quieter. A diaspora, of a sort.
Here is an idea that has nothing to do with that. I thought of it this morning—I had a set of naps filled with the best dreams I’ve had in months. Granted, I haven’t dreamed in months. Still. I was thinking of
1. a man (or a woman, of course—this was my dream to be modified freely) who is living a fine life, maybe an Upper West Side yuppie type, but not offensive, gives to social causes, likes the country—
And there’s the problem because the country, leaving NYC, isn’t always the country. You find your neighbors on line with you for a boat, so and so wants to meet for lunch/ picnics. Maybe there are children. It makes our protagonist a little sick and he/ she wants to get away. Every attempt to get further away is met by more people, or well-wishers trying to find our protagonist, make sure they are safe, make sure they have cellular service, what have you. This should of course be a claustrophobic world, and the descent spiral-like with repetition of themes and rhythm—like the same person could be the one he/she sees in the end of each failed attempt to get away.
And maybe it turns out that the best way to leave everyone, to get that full day alone, is to buy an apartment in an anonymous building. And then, once achieved, what will our protagonist aspire to? Hmm. That reminds me of Preston Falls.
What else do I have? I’m working on ideas right now that have more to do with race and class and identity, I think, so it’s hard to jump off of those tracks. I’d squeeze out some of those ideas but they don’t all make sense yet.
2. I was thinking of rabbits. I really was. Of a litter of 8 rabbits, all of them sold off by the owner to a disparate group that answers a posted paper ad in Brooklyn. I mean, there are all kinds of stories here; we have to think, who’d rip down a strip of paper posted at the Carroll Street stop and call immediately? Who are those first people? A man with a gift for his 5-year old? The woman who works at the Laundromat? One thing, I think they have to be a little or a lot lonely to suddenly decide—I wanna wabbit!
But I do know that while rabbits are cute, they are also an effective vehicle because everyone loves rabbits. Unlike pit bulls. We’ll see the best out of people through the rabbits, their loves and hates and all that. And it’s like 8 short stories. With rabbits being rabbit-y… and lonely in the background. Wondering what their brother-sister rabbits are doing. And we can look at the ways these people are connected, and the ways in which they think that they are separate, individual, not a community.
3. How about a story about the assistant to your favorite inventor? Make the inventor a complete windbag. Add intensity about research and a slack, unexciting social life. A little television, a lot of reading. Some movies alone. Some deep admiration of a rival inventor, or our inventor him/ herself. Hoping the inventor will notice our assistant-- sort of a love story. Or a hate story, those are fun too.
4. I’d like to read a good story about a high school kid in NYC, the kid who is ostracized as the slut. She’s in the hallways alone, she eats alone, and soon, she finds something else to do besides sit around and talk about pop music and stealing clothes and style and what clubs they can get into. Hmm. Maybe that’s a little hackneyed. I still love such tales.