As Addictive as Popping Bubble Wrap

I’m having a mellow afternoon, sitting out in the sunshine, revising the manuscript for a collection of stories from my preschool years. I call this collection The Albuquerque Years. These were the very first lifestories I ever wrote, an experience I tell about in The Heart and Craft of Lifestory Writing. More than once I’ve assumed the collection was finished, and more than once I’ve been surprised when I reread it and discovered that many stories were missing, and that the ones there could be told better.

I’m working on several aspects of the stories, but for now I’ll tell you about a new discovery, or at least one that’s new to me. One paragraph tells of my toy sewing machine:
When they came home, Mommy and Daddy brought me a tiny chain stitch sewing machine that had been in Mummo’s attic. It never worked right and even Mommy could only make tangles on it most of the time. But I liked having it.
That isn’t adequate to describe my memory of that treasured toy. I kept thinking of the oddly satisfying sound the thread made as it began tangling. I want to convey the sense of perverse pleasure it gave me. But words seemed inadequate. On a whim I turned my paper over, and began writing random words as I thought of the sound. I didn’t make an orderly list — I just wrote words across the page as I thought of them. I came up with:
tangly thread pulling over metal    clangy    tangly    rubbing    song    chewing    thumping    ripe    resonant    watermelon    tight    straining    rubbing    cranky    grating    metallic
Then I tried a sentence:
I took perverse pleasure in the cranky, metallic resonance of thread straining against metal, getting tighter and becoming more shrill until it finally broke. It was as addictive as popping bubble wrap.
Now that has a ring to it. But ... it does not sound like anything a five-year-old child would say. So I tried again:
I kept playing with it because I liked the cranky, crunchy song the thread made when it was tangling up, getting ready to break.
Next time you feel stuck for words, try turning your paper over and writing what comes to mind. Don’t stop with the first word or two. Try for at least a dozen. If you feel stuck after two or three, relax. Focus on the image in your mind from different angles until more words come to you. Finding new descriptions this way could become as addictive as popping bubble wrap!

I’ll keep you posted on my progress with Albuquerque Years. I hope to send it off to within a few weeks.

Write on,

Sharon Lippincott, aka Ritergal

No comments :