Writing Wrongs

March 08, 2005

You know, itís a good thing Anne Lamott is always around when you need her, at least on the internet. I realized that Iíve been sidestepping those ďsmall assignments,Ē and neglecting to fill that one-inch picture frame she talks about in Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life.

It reminds me that all I have to do is to write down as much as I can see through a one-inch picture frame. This is all I have to bite off for the time being.

What Iíve been doing is jumping to the fun stuff, which is okay, up to a point. Fun stuff is only going to get me so much of a first draft. I know this from experience. There are some scenes I simply have to hack my way through.

And while Iím hacking, Iím convinced itís the worst stuff ever. Sometimes it is and sometimes Iím shocked when I go to revise. Iím all geared up for a major edit and Surprise! Thereís not much I need to do. On the other hand, Iíve written scenes that I thought were terrific that later were clearly not.

On my desk is a picture frame. Itís larger than one inch and it isnít empty. Itís a Christmas present from Andrew. The frame is decorated with mod-podged tissue paper in rainbow colors. Inside is a photo of Andrew taken at school. In it, you can tell he has my mouth, and Bobís chin, complete with cleft. Beneath the left eye are the telltale remains of a black eye, the result of him taking a fall rather than landing on and crushing his puppy.

Thereís more, the artwork of fishes in the background, the orange shirt heís wearing, the fact his haircut is fairly recent. It isnít a stylized photo, but I like it better than something youíd pay a studio several hundred dollars for. It has a story. From now on, it will be my own personal reminder.

All I have to do is fill in the frame (and not crush the puppy in the process).

Charity Tahmaseb wrote at 12:57 p.m.