I actually did take a short walk after we exchanged our Sunday email.
I got a few shots of some leaves floating on the surface of a still
pond, which might be worthy of enlarging some day. Today, I’m
enjoying the peace and quiet after a three day nature/science
overnight with 71 fifth graders, bad food, and moldy cabins.
You’ve outdone yourself again. Your essay is ready for publication.
The opening paragraph of “This is What Happened” got better and
better after I read it a few times. At first I didn’t think it was
strong enough to open an essay, but then I thought about it for a
while, and remembered how hard it is to think of our parents as
children or teenagers. Thus, the opening scene puts us in a mildly
uncomfortable place, momentarily, and that is a good thing. And this,
of course, gets worse where David is stuck in the laundry shoot.
(Seeing how I am mildly claustrophobic, this gave me the shudders…)
You then break the tension with the white space and discuss the
relationship between family antics and storytelling. The next part,
the hysterically funny ransacked apartment, seems to interrupt the
lecture-like format the reader was just getting used to. What would
happen if you kept this part connected to the family antics section
above as demonstration of how stories continued in your generation?
It’s only a thought, because the essay works fine in the order you
have these sections.
Notice how your story unfolds geographically and then comes home
again. First the memories of your father, then your generation and
then the wide world of the storytelling festival. Nevertheless, you
don’t let us readers off too easily. You keep up the tension with
your thinking about the lack of intimacy and the well-rehearsed
performances of the culturally diverse storytellers. (Thank you for
avoiding any hints of patronizing!) The icing on the cake here, is
the fact that the terrific storyteller, drive-in guy, is named Davis.
This magically hearkens back to your father David (just one letter
away), and the circle is going around again, not letting the reader
forget how the essay began. We are no longer uneasy at the distance
among the cultures of the previous ruminations. We’re back to the
familiar. Okay, the essay is culturally biased some would say, but we
white folk have a culture too, which we need to celebrate. The
intimacy of you and your husband under the stars is a great way to
finish off the final thoughts. If you wanted to truly come full
circle, some other anecdote about your father and the milk scene
might be a nice way to tie up the end.
It’s obvious that you have a strength when it comes to understanding
the intricacies and beauty of local folk culture, and I believe this
was one of your goals. You have come a long way since the early dance
piece, and what a journey this has been. I am looking forward to your
next submission already. Anything interesting in the way of food down
I now have to prepare a poetry workshop for my faculty’s professional
development as part of our year-long look at writing genres. With
your permission, I’d like to share this latest essay with them when
we discuss memoir writing later on in the year.
So, This is what happened when I sent “This is What Happened” in to be assessed.Yippee.
Ya know, I will be out of school in June, and then I plan to turn all my attentions to doing something
with my writing aspirations. I am looking forward to returning to writing what I love with more skill and
the dash of confidence I need to tackle the obstacles awaiting me.(Yes, I want to return to writing historicals
that make you laugh and sigh – so shoot me, I appreciate literary work, but I don’t need all that painful
reality bogging down my stories. I am a romantic at heart and I aim to celebrate it with my own unique
messages to the world.)
I will take you along on the journey, of course.
Now, I am thinking about the next assignment. David asked about food. Is he kidding? Like I couldn’t write about
food with both hands tied behind my back, hanging upside down and with a fork pointed at my throat.
Ha. Food and I have been lovers a long time. I will kiss and tell, if that will make a good essay.