writing skills monthly theme | april 11

My mother cleared away bills and photos and books to reveal a coaster where she placed my mug of tea. I felt claustrophobic in the room, which had gained many items in my decade-long absence, but had lost none. At my feet, cookbooks and envelopes with crinkly, plastic windows spilled out from under the sofa. A thick Victorian area rug showed evidence of Ginger the cat, long dead. The walls were heavy with the same dark wood paneling that had loomed over my childhood. I was reminded of the invocation spoken ad nauseam by both my parents: We should Do Something about the Paneling. A proverb, not a prophecy.


As I suggested on Friday, I’m going to be working with characterization for a while. For this piece I began by writing down everything I could think of about my mother. Then, I tried to choose a scene that would naturally include a handful of those things. I’m not getting to the core of what I’m trying to do, though. It’s still a very simplistic, what-I-would-normally-do treatment of the subject. I’ve told you my mother is a hoarder who doesn’t like change, but I haven’t made you love her. There are other details you could pick out, but she’s not a sympathetic character here. She’s also not the focus—the room is. That’s where I’m failing. My interpretation of a room which gives hints about my mother’s character, is not “my mother.”

If you’d like, you can share your work with me here.

Keep writing,

anne

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